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).
"I want to go to the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, but do you know anyone who has any information about it?" Hye-gyong asked Kei-chan.
"I know someone!" Kei-chan surprisingly answered right away.
Through her Korean friend, Kei-chan, Hye-gyong was introduced to "Q-chan," who went to the graduate school that Hye-gyong had been interested in.
At the time, he had been volunteering for YMCA and taking care of foreign students who were studying abroad in Japan.
Q-chan and Kei-chan were both members of this. Because the next weekend there was going to be a social event for foreign students from Asian countries to get together, Kei-chan suggested to Hye-gyong, "Q-chan will be there so you should come too!"
Q-chan was told that Hye-gyong wanted to know more about the university in addition to what she found out from him at the event, so a few days later Q-chan agreed to meet her again.
Hye-gyong was often bewildered by the troublesome Japanese-style process she had to go through until she started school.
Q-chan, being a leader of volunteer work, organized things well and was sensibly able to draw out answers from her.
She used a lot of his help. He got the necessary paper work from the university, and he even taught her how to fill them in and to submit a thesis.
At the coffee shop, where they met for the second time, Hye-gyong noticed his restless and nervous attitude.
He uncomfortably shifted around like he wanted to say something...
As he scribbled on his memo pad, he said, "I want to go out with you."
It was a faint voice.
In Hye-gyong's generation in Korea, even now, it is not the type of conversation that people have lightheartedly. She struggled replying.
As they walked, Hye-gyong was touched by the song he sang her.
The melody resonated through his pure voice.
She didn't understand the Chinese lyrics, but the message that reached her was enough.
"In Taiwan, it's a song that men sing to the women they like," he murmured.
Having forgotten all about how she disparagingly thought of him as a "shallow person" until only a little while ago, she felt deeply moved by him.
Q-chan also speaks English and Chinese fluently.
He has Japanese nationality, but his parents live in his father's home country, Taiwan. From college, he remained in Japan with his older brother who became a nurse, and he pursued his studies in "languages." There is something that his heart and vision constantly disseminate throughout Asia.
He is two years younger than Hye-gyong, but he is in a higher grade at school. He has been working part time as an interpreter for five years, and he often goes abroad. Through his work, he has gone to top-class companies and has connections with important foreigners. He seems to be slowly building "his own" future, or rather one with "Hye-gyong as his partner."
"Asia will eventually lead the world." This dream they share together is both a close and large one. Their goal is to reach the East Asian city, Shanghai.
The couple sweetly struggle to find the best way to inform Kei-chan, who has already gone back to Korea and still doesn't know that she was their matchmaker.