“YS (Kim Young-sam) stands a good chance of getting in. He can make a clean sweep of the capital area,” said the grandfather’s most reliable, Sunyang construction’s CEO.
“What about DJ (Kim Dae-jung)?”
“It still seems possible that the two Kims will unify behind DJ, but because of the red complex he is suffering from (antipathy toward communism, the North that the Korean war aroused. DJ was suspected to have been involved in pro-communist activities, which labeled him as a communist), DJ will more likely concede,”
Everyone saw eye to eye.
“Any other comments?” the grandfather asked.
A slow smile curved his mouth.
They didn’t have a hint of doubt that the two Kims would unify. So didn’t the whole nation.
But his youngest grandson who was insightful doubted it.
His smile made other CEOs nervous and wonder whether he found the meeting
“Let’s call it a day. Gather more information.” the grandfather finished the meeting, with a gentle smile on his face.
It was time to do the thing I’d been putting off.
Rather than putting off, I was afraid to do it. But it was something I would encounter some time or other.
I asked my tutor first, “Why don’t we have an outdoor class?”
“Yes. in Dangjin on the west coast,”
“Dangin? What’s with the west coast, all of a sudden?”
“I saw in textbooks that Dangjin is the one and only place where you can watch the sunrise and sunset, and I want to see it for myself,”
Although it was such a poor excuse, the tutor would not reject unless he want to lose his big money job.
“Can you drive? Have a driver’s license?”
“Yeah, I have,”
“I’ll ask my father for the car. Could you ask my parents for permission to have an outdoor class?”
The tutor smiled quietly, thinking of driving the luxury car.
We got that permission easily later.
As my parents had always been worried about me studying too hard and wanted me to go out and get some air.
No navigations or smart phones, we pulled out a thick map book.
“Now, speak your mind. Why do you want to go to Dangjin?” the tutor asked once he got used to being behind the wheel.
I already had a made up answer.
“Well, I have a friend who moved to Dangjin, I wanted to see him,”
“Yeah? Why didn’t tell your parents the truth?”
“If I told them the truth, they would be nosily. Annoying,”
“Haha, you’ve all grown up now,”
Grown up? I’m grown old, you small thing.
We shot the breeze until we got into Dangjin.
That brought back the vague memories of 30 years ago.
There was no sign of progressive development of the west coast.
The car bounced over the rough dirt road, the washboard bumps made our teeth rattle.
The beach was not lined with pensions, instead mom and pop stores were scattered.
As soon as I saw my neighborhood, I got choked up and my throat tightened.
A small, familiar barber shop reminded me of my hair style in my childhood while a hair salon reminded me of my mother when she was young.
When we past the front gate of my school, old friends and teachers’ faces were so vividly brought back to my mind.
Starring my memories, we approached the house I grew up in.
“Could you wait here a moment? that is the house he lives in,”
“Have you been here? How did you know the way to the house?”
“The friend explained it so many times,” I said, then rushed out of the car.
My throat tightened again and my heart pounded as I saw the shop sigh in the distance,
I wavered with each step I took.
What if I can’t look at my parents’ faces?
What if I utter ‘father’?
My greatest dread, what if I encounter me, Yun Hyun-woo?
After letting out a loud breath, I took a few steps forward, right up to the window.
I looked at my parents through it. My father had a metal steam iron in his right hand and stood behind an ironing board while my mother was arranging the laundry.
The moment I laid my eyes upon her, I instantly burst into tears.
Leaning against the wall, I waited until my eyes dried.
I braced myself as I entered.
The sound of the creaking door caught their attention.
“Yeah, can I help you?” the father asked.
What should I say?
“Are you lost? You don't live in the neighborhood, do you?” the mother said, looking at me from head to toe.
The wrinkles on her face made my heart feel heavy.
She raised her eyebrows, frowning “Say something?”
I had my mouth open.
“I came here to meet Jin-woo, Yun Jin-woo,”
I was going to say I mistook his house, then leave.
“Jin-woo? No such name here,”
“I’m sorry, I think…”
“You know anyone named Jin-woo?” the mother asked the father.
“Well, ask Hyun-ji if she has a friend named Jin-woo,”
I felt electricity flow through my body.
Who is Hyun-ji?
“Hyun-ji?” I asked.
“Hyun-ji is our daughter. You look her age,” the mother continued, “You obviously don't live in this neighborhood, do you? Because she is so pretty that there is no one who doesn’t know her in the neighborhood,” she said and chuckled.
If my ears heard right, I, Yun Hyun-woo don’t exist.
I slipped out of the laundry before I plunked myself down.
“What’s wrong? Did you meet your friend?”
“Ah, yes, but no… I mean, he wasn’t there,”
“Would you like to wait for him?”
“No, ah… let’s just go home, please,”
The tutor eyed me suspiciously, then looked outside of the car window.
“It would be okay if I took a nap?”
“Oh, sure. I will wake you up when we get home,” he said.
Watching the laundry get further and further away, I leaned back in the seat and closed my eyes.
Reincarnation? Time travel?
What is going on…
When I wiped my tears away with my sleeve the tutor glanced at me through the car room mirror but he pretended not to notice. And he asked nothing, only drove.
I was sitting absent-mindedly, gazing at my notebook.
All the details of the future I’d written down could be good for nothing as my existence brought a great change.
I, Yun Hyun-yoo was not even born. It meant the future could be different and I could change the future.
My head churned with thoughts. And one thing that was certainly unchangeable: I, Yun Hyun-woo, don’t exist in this world.
My eyes watered and I rubbed them with the back of my hand.
Only the imprinted emotions were in my head. Those would slowly fade aways and so would Yun Hyun-woo.
I should let go of the past.
And shape the future.
I should live as 100% Jin Do-jun, to take office as chairman of Sunyang.
It will not be easy though…
Young-jun, Hye-kyung, Kyung-jun, Su-kyung, Tae-jun…
Including me, the grandfather has thirteen grandchildren.
But how come it is 12 in my memory?
One missing. Who is that?
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