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Asian Spirit: Another Kim Hye-gyong    By Keiko Iwata
Chapter 13: A New Encounter
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.

One day when she had finished her church services for the day and started walking toward the exit, she felt a light tap on her shoulder.

When she looked back, she saw a young man with a raised hand behind the person who was immediately behind her. Hye-gyong stopped and asked, "Do I know you?"

"What a surprise! I didn't expect to see you here," he said. This person, who claimed that he had seen her at a social event for international students, told her that he still participated in the event that took place about once every two months.

"Now that you mention it, I seem to recall that I went maybe twice to that event that my ex-boyfriend, Q-chan, and I found on the internet. . ." She faintly remembered meeting a young man, who introduced himself as having come to Japan from Indonesia when he was 19.

She had attended this event without much knowledge of it apart from that it was a volunteer system that was sponsored by "Daddy Long Legs" of Hong Kong. The event had around 30 participants each time.

Anyone could participate if they paid the cost of 3,000 yen for adult men and 2,000 yen for adult women and for all students. Generally young people from other Asian countries attended this event, and it was a place where they exchanged information and consulted each other about their worries and problems from living in Japan.

There were some young Japanese people, and Hye-gyong became close with a Japanese woman here. Now, she maintains her relationship with her by going out for meals and exchanging text messages with her.

After she once again met this young man who approached her saying he knew her from the event, she walked with him for a few minutes to the nearest station, Ishikawa-cho on the JR Negishi Line (Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.)

It had been three months since she had broken up with her ex-boyfriend.

Since then she had found it suffocating to talk to anyone of the opposite sex alone. But as she walked by his side, she got drawn into the cheerful character of this young man who introduced himself as "Budi.".

Hye-gyong was baptized at 15 years old when she was in the second year of middle school.

Even since she had come to Japan, she had been going to church every Sunday in Higashi Nakano. Her friends at church cared for Hye-gyong who lived alone, and occasionally visited her home.

She felt at home at the church that was dominated by Korean culture, but when she was suffering heavily following her break up with Q-chan, she felt that she wanted to "be left alone," even by the church.

This was when, with her Japanese friend's recommendation, she relocated her "place of comfort" to another church in Yokohama.

It was an area where many foreigners lived. The church was very international with people from the U.S., European countries such as England and France, and Asian countries such as China, Thailand, and Indonesia. Nevertheless, Hye-gyong was their first Korean member.

Every Sunday, about 200 Christians travel to this church on the second floor of a fast-food restaurant located near the entrance of Yokohama's China Town. There is a kitchen and stage inside, and there are times when everyone cooks or enjoys karaoke together after prayers. There are also seminars for languages such as English and Chinese, so there are many opportunities for members to interact with each other.

Time passed quickly and before Hye-gyong knew it, spring had come. She had gradually rediscovered her optimistic outlook with the help of Budi, who had always been looking at her with a gentle gaze ever since he approached her at church.

The breeze that blew from the slightly warm sea brought a salty scent to Hye-gyong. On a Sunday during the spring equinox, Hye-gyong and Budi took a longer route back home from church and merrily stroll around the twilight of Yamashita Park.

Budi had graduated from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Faculty of Engineering after four years, then studied engineering at Chuo University graduate school for two years, and that spring he had just gotten a job at a major car manufacturer. He passionately talked about his dream to "devote his energy to manufacturing" and then took a deep breath.

"You don't have to try to forget about your ex-boyfriend if you can't. I'll wait for you until the day when your suffering will have become a memory."

She smiled back at him when she realized that her feelings for the young man in front of her had gradually changed.

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