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Asian Spirit: Another Kim Hye-gyong    By Keiko Iwata
Chapter 10: Separation
Asian Spirit Archive

About Asian Spirit

A compilation of nonfiction essays, the book comprises the experiences, both good and bad, that author Keiko Iwata shared with South Korean students living and studying in Japan.

About Keiko Iwata

Keiko Iwata is the representative of the NPO Heart Connections, which provides non-Japanese students with consultation services to help them solve problems related to living and studying in Japan. Iwata authored the book "Asian Spirit" (published in February 2004).

About Larry Greenberg

Larry Greenberg is the founder of Urban Connections Co. Ltd., an enterprising group of professionals that strives to provide innovative solutions to the latest challenges.

Just as Hye-gyong's life was leading toward a bright future, it was hit by a tragic experience.

At the end of August when summer break was coming to a close, there was a devastating traffic accident involving one of Hye-gyong's friends.

The train she had just gotten off left Hirai Station, and it gradually gained momentum as it left the platform. In contrast with the swiftness of the train, her steps were stiff and rough.

Tears strolled down her cheeks like a broken dam. Hye-gyong didn't have any spare emotions even to be embarrassed when she saw people looking at her curiously.

It had only been an hour since she broke up with her boyfriend.

"You like someone else, don't you?" Even in the face of his blame and suspicion, she had kept an emotionless expression on her face. She reenacted this scene in her mind, which only left her with a bitter taste and an increasing repugnance toward the cold attitude she had taken with him.

She cried all the way home, and her decision wavered as she thought, "maybe this is an illusion."

"I'm so sorry. Thank you for all the memories." As she looked away, it took all her might to say these parting words to him, but she hadn't forgotten about how he helped her live in Japan with a rich spirit.

"I'm sorry, thank you," she whispered once again. The importance and preciousness of what she had lost spread throughout her heart like a stain.

A few days before this, she had received news of the accident late at night.

Hye-gyong and her boyfriend, Q-chan, had a mutual friend through volunteer work, where they helped foreign students from other Asian countries adjust to Japan. But their friend also had a part-time job, and he got into an accident while he was on his way home from work.

"I'm going to the scene of the accident," her boyfriend said and hung up.

"Immediate death on the highway," they said.

Hye-gyong mourned the death of her friend who was only in his mid-20's. In addition to this, she didn't know then that she would suffer a bigger upheaval in her near future.

The people who came to the funeral had few words to say. Hye-gyong couldn't even find a word of comfort for her friend's family and could only remain silent.

Then, her boyfriend muttered by her side, "He was a smart guy. If he had lived longer, he would have made lots of money."

The instant those words came out of his mouth, Hye-gyong felt her whole body freeze. She had recently noticed his attachment to money, and from time to time she hesitated and felt bothered by this.

She felt a sudden repulsion toward him but swallowed her words.

She thought, "If he could live longer, I'm sure his parents would want him to live happily with them rather than make a lot of money." She vicariously went through the parents' minds.

As she saw the other face of her boyfriend, who always looked at her tenderly and told her, "You're the best," she could not stop the loneliness that spread throughout her whole body.

A few days after the incident that shed light on the gap between their values that couldn't be easily filled, her boyfriend called her.

"I want to decide on an exact date for our end-of-the-year trip to Taiwan." When he asked her when he could see her to talk about this, Hye-gyong felt reluctant.

It was a trip for them to officially inform his parents that they were getting married, but she didn't know how to deal with her increasing distaste toward him and felt scared to meet his parents. Even when she postponed her answer until the next day, her heart just sank deeper.

"Did I think of marriage as something too easy and simple?"

"This marriage will give me permanent residency in Japan. Did I just want to get the conditions to be able to continue studying here?"

"It would be a lie to say that this wasn't a factor in her decision," she answered her own question. As she realized this, she started to feel cornered.

She glanced at her cell phone with an empty expression when it started ringing. As she reached over to her phone, the joint of her shoulder was twitching.

"Oh it's you, Mother," she said. "I was just thinking about how I wanted to hear your voice." Hye-gyong couldn't continue with her words, but she desperately sought acceptance from the other side of the phone.

Because Hye-gyong had changed her part-time job from working at a restaurant to an office, she hadn't gone out for a meal with Mother in a few months.

"Mother would definitely blame me," she told herself as she mentally prepared for their conversation. However, Mother wrapped her with warm words.

"A marriage without sparks is nonsense. If you want to continue studying in Japan, I could adopt you as my daughter.

Her words resonated throughout Hye-gyong's heart like a lullaby. "Be true to yourself ." Her advice added to Hye-gyong's courage to make her decision.

"God, forgive me for not being able to continue loving him when he most needed me." As a true, devoted Christian, Hye-gyong asked for repentance.


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