Wednesday, August 8, 2012


  1. 오늘의 첮잔, My Morning Coffee
  2. 밤이면 더 생각나는 향긋한 Coffee
  3. 뉘집 아드님이세요?
  4. chapter 4: writing in progress...

1. 오늘의 첮잔, My Morning Coffee (Back to the Table of Contents)

The sluggish rays from the late winter sunrise flood the West Street Coffee Shop in a cozy glow during a lull in the rush of the regular morning crowd.

“Americano, vanilla soy latte,” the barista calls out from behind the bar.

Esther Park/박보람, a twenty-five year old Korean-American woman, picks up the espresso drinks and grabs some napkins from the bar and walks them over to a small table near the back of the shop. Her ivory, wool blend, knee-length, sheath dress stretches over her knees with each stride, her high-heeled, knee-high, camel-colored leather boots click-clacking all the way across the tiles.

She hands off the Americano to the lazily outstretched right hand of her companion, Jae-Hee “Jae” Kim/김재희 (age 25), already seated at the table. She then places her vanilla soy latte and the napkins on the table. She carefully re-adjusts her slim, fur-trimmed, white, puffer that is draped over the back of her chair before she takes a seat at the table.

Jae sits facing the door. Slouched in her chair, her left arm limply dangles over its back. A loose over-stretched blue hair-tie rests precariously across the knuckles of her dangling hand. As she sinks lower into her chair the chunky, red, knit scarf that she wears pushes up around her face and forces her shortcut bob to balloon around her head.

“You really didn’t have to call me out here at the break of dawn to thank me.” The scarf muffles the words.

“Thank you?” Esther repeats.

Esther’s hands wrap around her cup of coffee. A ridiculously large 4 karat, cushion-cut diamond, bordered by a string of small diamonds, sits atop a diamond encrusted platinum band engagement ring on her finger.

“마음에 쏙 드는, 너가 상상했던 것과 똑같은 반지를 받고서도,” Jae sits up while she speaks and 농담 반 진담 반 makes an accusation, “you’re not going to thank me?”

“어, 김재희! 너 어떻게 알았어? Did Charles tell you?”

“친구의 도리 라며. If there ever is a time when your man is ready to propose, it is my duty as your girlfriend to get your man to buy the right ring.” Jae rolls her eyes at Esther’s genuine face of surprise. “Esther, you even drew out a sketch on a napkin, remember?”
The spark of recognition sets off a giggle. “그게 언제쩍 얘기야? You mean you kept that napkin?”

“You think I kept that napkin?”

There is a pause in the conversation as Esther ponders the rhetorical nature of the question. “아무튼, 고맙다 친구야.”

Esther pulls a pen from her bag and places it atop a napkin as she slides them both toward Jae.

“Here, you draw what you want and I’ll repay you the favor when the time comes.”

“됐어.” Jae pushes the pen and napkin back to the middle of the table. “근데, 그렇게 좋아?”

The shop front window behind Esther creates a halo through the edges of her long, dark brown hair framing her 눈웃음 짖는 얼굴. Her silver hoop earrings glint in the light. 매혹적이다.

“응, 좋아.”

Jae recovers from the momentary spell and rolls her eyes as the words start flowing from Esther’s mouth.

“넌 아직 모르겠지만 being a woman is just better with a man. There are just some things a woman can’t do by herself. 그리고, 자기 만의 사람이 네 옆에 있다는게 얼마나 행복한건지, 그사람이 영원을 약속한다는게 얼마나 기쁜일인지…”

Esther shoots Jae an accusing glare. “너 같은 독신은 모를꺼야.”

Esther dramatically clasps Jae’s hands and worriedly gazes into her eyes. “솔로의 삶을 택한다해도, whatever, I’ll still love you, but 연애도 한번 안해보고 그렇게 쉽게 결정할일이 안인것같다.”

“못해본게 아니고?”

“항상 관심없어 했잖아.”

“딱히 기회가 없었지. I just haven’t met the right guy.”

On cue the bell on the shop door tinkles and Jae instinctively glances towards the door. In steps “the right guy.”

The man smiles as the baristas wave him in. A defined nose centers his chiseled, masculine face, and nerdy, large lens glasses frame his eyes. On his head the 흔히 볼수없는 Asian 천연 자연산 곱슬머리 is pulled back into a haphazard ponytail, and some loose curls fall around his face. Stubble of an undeterminable number of day’s growth outlines his lips and jaw.

“남자를 사궈보지도 않고 어떻게 알아, if he’s the right guy or not?”

“몰라. 끌리는 남자가 나타나면 그 남자가 그 남자 아니겠어?”

The man wears a dark blue track suit with white detailing. The jacket is zipped only halfway revealing an old worn-in t-shirt with holes. In his hands is a white mug with a mustache graphic near the rim.

Jae follows him with her eyes as he walks across her field of vision behind Esther’s shoulders toward the counter. He hands his mug to one of the baristas and they chat as she fills it. The barista sets his mug, now full of coffee, down on the counter and they continue chatting.

“그래. 근데, I’m speaking from experience when I say there is no such thing as the ‘right guy.’ There’s better. There’s worse. But there’s no one right answer.”

“That’s not very believable coming from someone who is going to marry a person she’s only known for a couple months.”

“아무튼. 지금 부터 관심을 갔고 남자를 만나봐. You never know, right? 그리고 기회는 만드는거다. Like I always say, every chance is an opportunity.”

The man picks up his mustache mug, waves good-bye to the baristas and nonchalantly walks out the door. The sound of the tinkling bell lingers in the air.

Jae abruptly gets up and starts putting on her coat. She grabs for her bag. “I’d better go,” she says.


“I don’t want to be late for work.”

Jae lifts her left hand to convincingly look at her watch only to stupidly stare at her over-stretched blue hair-tie sadly hanging on her wrist. There is no watch. She quickly tugs her coat sleeve over her wrist.

“미안하다. If I had known you already knew I wouldn’t have made you come out here.”

“아니야. I came because I wanted to see your happy face.”

“고마워. We’re going out tonight to celebrate, just us girls - you, me, 나라. I’ll let you know the details later.”

“응, I’ll see you later.”


Jae stops outside the coffee shop and looks left then right down the sidewalk for the man that very recently left the coffee shop. The street is devoid of people. She again looks left and then right and spies a wispy, lingering trail of steam hanging in the still and frigid winter air. She breaks into a brisk walk.

The coffee steam trail turns right at the corner, and so does Jae. Down the street she sees the man.

She shouts to him picking up her pace to a light jog.

“Excuse me.”

The man looks over his shoulder and spying Jae stops, giving her a chance to catch up to him.

“Hi. I saw you in the coffee shop. I wanted to talk to you, but you weren’t there very long. I mean, you didn’t even pay.”

The man quizzically looks over the woman, and answers matter-of-factly, “I have a tab.”

“Oh? Yeah. I guess you must live nearby. It’s 30 degrees outside.” Jae directs her gaze downward, and the man follows suit.

The man’s bare feet are in Adidas slippers. He wiggles his toes.

“Yeah, it’s pretty chilly,” he says dryly.

Jae snaps her head up to look at him and apologizes, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to keep you out here in the cold.”

His eyes flit across her face. His eyes meet hers. Their gaze holds.

“I live right here.”


“Would you like to come up for some coffee?”

The steam from the stopped coffee cup during the length of their conversation has imbued the still winter air between them with the aroma of coffee.



Inside an apartment moments later, the moustache cup full of coffee, still faintly steaming, sits on the coffee table. The chunky, red, knit scarf haphazardly lies on the floor in front of the slightly open bedroom door. Morning light from the balcony windows washes the whole apartment in a hazy glow.

2. 밤이면 더 생각나는 향긋한 Coffee (Back to the Table of Contents)

The restaurant space is intimate. The interior is dark and the lighting dim. Three women – Esther, Jae, and a third woman, presumably 나라 – are seated in tall stools around a small, round table.

They raise their wine glasses.

“To Esther and Charles!” Jae toasts.

“위하여!” They cheer in unison.

The three wines glasses are gently clicked together in tribute.

“근데 나 혼자 이렇게 행복해도 되나 모르겠다. 너희들 도 빨리 좋은 사람 만나서 행복하길~” Esther beams.

Each of the three women brings her glass to her lips.

신나라 (age 26) dressed in a very conservative dress suit tosses her head back to drink all of the burgundy liquid in her glass in one shot. Her laser-straight, mid-length hair sweeps over her shoulders as she leans forward placing her elbows and her empty wine glass on the table in front of her and says, “이 언니는 연애질을 좀 쉴랜다.”

Unfazed, Esther is quick to pour 나라 another glass, and responds, “그래 나라는 숴야데.”

“What’s the count at now?” Jae muses aloud as she absentmindedly swirls the wine in her glass.

“Eight,” Esther enlightens.

“You’ve dumped eight guys in two years?”

나라 not acknowledging the rhetorical question takes a languid swig of her wine.

Esther alleges, “마음에 준비가 안된 상태인데 좋은 만남은 불가능하지.” She turns to 나라 and places a reassuring hand on her arm and suggests, “이한이에대한 미련을 다 버리고 재대로 다시 시작하는거야.”

나라 brusquely lowers her glass onto the table with a clank. The burgundy liquid sloshes turbulently in the glass.

“좋은 분위기 망치게 왜 그런 재수없는 이름을 꺼내고 그래.”

“아니, 벌서 헤어지고 친구로지네다가, 그것도 못해서 깨진게 몇년전 일인데. 아직도 이름만 들어도 그렇게 발광하는거보면 it’s a sign of a serious psychological disturbance.”

“내가 싸이코라고? 제가 싸이코지, 내가 싸이코냐?”

Jae inquires, “I’ve been hearing about this guy as long as we’ve been friends – high school sweethearts and on-again, off-again long-distance relations in college - but you’ve never specified what’s so bad about him. 뭐, 바람끼가 좀 있다고는 들었지만…”

“그걸로 부족하다고?” 나라 retorts.

“I mean, I guess that gives you a reason to dislike him 남자로서, but 사람이로서는 좀 부족하자나?”

“바람둥이라는 그 자체가 한도 끝도 없이 이기적이다는 걸 증명하지. 넌 한번도 안 만난게 다행이라고 생각해.”

Esther interjects, “You’ve never met him? Never ever? 코리아 하우스의 이한을 모르다니… 너 정말 특종이구나.”

“그런 놈은 모르는게 나. 게네집이 한국부페점을 몇게 운영한다고 게는 재벌뻘인줄 아는데, 하! 천만의 말씀! 잘난척은 또 얼마나하는지… 허세! 허풍! 그인간은 진지함이 뭔지도 모르는 놈이라고. 그런 인간은 딱 질색이야.”

“But you did date him,” Jae emphasizes.

“그렇지. 어려서 뭣도 모르고 그 족제비같은 얼굴에 홀려서 괜한 고생만했잖니.”


“응. 꽃미남이 따로없지,” Esther enthusiastically responds.

“I don’t think Charles would be very appreciative of that sentiment.”

“뭐? 객관적으로 잘생겼다는 말이지 난.”

“인정,” 나라 humbly agrees.

“But eight years? Eight years to completely call it quits with that guy? 잘생겨서? That’s it?”

“무슨 말을 듣고 싶은건데? 독신인 너나 잘하세요. 혼자 사는거, 그거, 몹쓸 짓이다.”

“Really? That bad?”

“그래. 사회적인 본분을 떨치고 너 혼자 좋으라고 이기적이게 사는게 몹쓸 짓이다.” 나라 pauses to change her tone and continues, “혼자 사는거 아무나 하는줄 아니?”

“내가 아무난가?”


An awkward silence descends upon the three women as they each contemplate the moment with wry smiles on their faces.

“You know,” Jae breaks the silence, “I was late to work this morning…”


Meanwhile, in the apartment where that very morning two strangers had the pleasure of conducting a quite clandestine meeting, two men sit around the coffee table drinking bottled beer. The hazy glow of morning has long since cleared and the twinkling black of city night fills the balcony windows.

One man is none other than Joon Han/한준 (age 29), Mr. Right-Guy himself. And while Mr. Right-Guy’s aesthetic appeal relies heavily on subjective preference, there is hardly any controversy regarding the appeal of the other man. He is taller and thinner and has a refined look about him. His facial features are clean-cut, proportional, and diabolically symmetrical. His short, sleek, shiny, black hair is deeply parted to one side and his bangs swept back with product in an undyingly classic fashion.

“You?” The handsome man accusingly points a finger at his cohort.

“This morning?” He pointedly jabs the same finger downward to emphasize this.

“With a stranger?” He raises his eyebrows.

“At 7 in the morning?” He widens his eyes.

“그꼴로?” He opens his palm and points all five fingers at the other man as if presenting him to an audience.

Joon abidingly looks over his shabby vestments and concedes, “내말이.”


나라’s piercing screeches shatter the mellow atmosphere of the wine bar drowning out the ambient jazz music.

“싸이코는 따로 있었네. 넌 생판 모르는 사람이랑 그게 돼디?”

“At 7AM?” Esther appends.

“그러게, 엉큼한 밤에 술에 취해 클럽에서 부비부비 하다가 분위기에 휩쓸려 따라간것도 아니고…”

“You speak as if from experience.”

The handsome man shakes his head with furrowed brows, working to make heads or tails of the morning’s events as relayed by his cohort.

“So, she was ugly.”

“Hey, no. No.”

“Hey, hey, no shame in having tapped a few uglies in a lifetime. It happens to the best of us.”

“No, no, she was… average? I dunno. I wouldn’t call her ‘sexy.’ 그리고 예쁘기 보다는 귀엽다고 해야되나? And anyway, do really ugly girls have the balls to approach strangers on the street?”

“I do not underestimate the driving power of sex. She probably thought you were an easy target, that slut.”

“I just wanted to talk to him and maybe get his number.”

“But I was the one that propositioned her.”

“By asking if you wanted to come up for some coffee?”

“That is beyond ironic. You have completely destroyed the carefully crafted subtlety and subtext of that classic line for all of mankind.”


“But she said, ‘Okay.’”

“I did said, ‘Okay.’”

“So, she was dumb.”

“You didn’t actually think he was inviting you up for coffee, did you?”

“Please don’t tell me you raped some mentally handicapped woman.”

There is a pause in the conversations as he and she stare unamusedly at their respective companion(s).

“Are you sure you’re not missing anything?”

“No, I already checked.”

The handsome man huffs in amusement. “그래서 모닝 커피는 맛있었어?” he asks.

“너무 오랜만에 맛보는 커피라선가… 겁도없이 한번에 꿀꺽했다,” he muses.

The handsome man breaks into a fit of laughter, clutching his stomach.

“그렇게 재밌냐?”

“살다보니까 이런일도 다 있네.”


“야, 에스터, 너 그 변태 자식 봤어?”

Esther shakes her head.

“어떻게 생겼길래 이런 일이 생기니? 어떻게 생겼길래?”

“Well, he had this hair…”

“So, he had hair. That’s important.”

“헤어스타일이 멋있었다? 너 지금 장난하니?”

“I mean, it wasn’t just his hair, but his hair… it was…”

The two women waited.

“You know, 사극에 보면 무사들이 하고 나오는 그 머리.”


“It’s wavy and unkempt. It embodies freedom and independence. It speaks of rebellion. It’s manly. It’s rugged. It’s romantic.”



“I know you’ve been busy working, cooped up in here coding your program, but you have completely let yourself go. I mean, what’s the deal with those glasses?”

“These? These are my glasses from high school.”

“I can’t believe you still have those.”

“I can’t either, but they’ve been a lifesaver. I broke my other pair.”

“I can’t believe some girl came on to you with you looking like… that.”

“I can’t either.”

“You know what? She might be a keeper. 내가 알아볼까? 찾아줘?”

“그게 가능하긴하냐?”

“준형, 나 몰라? 나 코리아 하우스의 이한이야.”

3. 뉘집 아드님이세요? (Back to the Table of Contents)

The next morning finds Joon in a groggy beer-induced fog. The night had been a long one in which the two men had let the alcohol philosophize on their behalf.

Spreading his arms wide on his bed in a warranted morning stretch, Joon feels a foreign object under his forearm. Upon inspection with his tactile senses and his compromised vision he concludes it is an over-stretched blue hair-tie.

After a long moment, spent in a supine position with hands hovering closely over his face stretching and relaxing the thread-wrapped rubber band, he suddenly heaves himself into a seated position. With as much skill as an eight-year-old girl, he pulls his hair into a haphazard ponytail and ties it with the found object. Joon puts on his glasses, his track pants and jacket. He slips his bare feet into his slippers, and without as much as a glance in the mirror, grabs his mustache mug as he heads out the door to the coffee shop for his morning fix.


Esther and 나라 had already been sitting in the West Street Coffee Shop for the better part of an hour. Their cups of vanilla soy latte and hot chocolate had long since been emptied and gone cold.

The atmosphere surrounding the women is as awkward as their unnatural positioning around their table. Seated in the very back, both women face the front of the shop.

“오. 마이. 갓. 무사 대가리!” 나라 nearly shouts as she points at Mr. Right-Guy passing in front of the shop window.

His entrance is announced by a tinkle of bells on the door, and he is warmly greeted by the people behind the counter.

While 나라 conspicuously spies on the man from behind an upside-down open magazine, Esther openly stares at him with furrowed brows.

When the man turns away from the bar with filled coffee mug in hand Esther suddenly gets up and moves towards the man in her sights.

Alarmed, 나라 hisses in hushed tones, “야, 너 어디가,” as she grabs Esther’s sleeve dropping the magazine in the process.

Esther tries to shake off the grip of her companion and make her way to the man, but when she sees that he is already at the door she shouts, “준오빠!”

Startled, 나라 loosens her grip on Esther’s sleeve.

The man stops in his tracks and slowly turns around as Esther quickly closes the gap between them. The two shuffle to stand at the side of the door as new customers enter the coffee shop.

From her seat at the back of shop, 나라 can’t hear their conversation.

“준오빠, 너무 오랜만이에요.”

“Esther. Hey.”

“You look really different. 그 안경 아니었으면 몰라볼 뻔했어요.”

“아 이거.” He laughs awkwardly. “You look different too. I mean, 딴 말이 아니고 많이 예뻐졌다고. Not that I’m saying you weren’t before. 그냥… 그게… 어… Eunice told me you were getting married. Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” Esther beams, and after a pause, “오빠는 결혼 안해요?”

“하…” Joon breathes through an awkward grin as he rubs the stubble on his chin.



“없구나. 내가 소개시켜 줄까? Then again, maybe you’re just enjoying the uncommitted single life? I never pegged you as that type though. 오빠 취향이 바꼈나? 쭉쭉빵빵 글래머 걸 좋아하지 않았어요?”

Joon’s grimace mimics a smile as he uncomfortably shifts his weight.

“에이, 그 심각한 표정 짓지 말아요. 농담이에요, 농담. 하긴, 어떤 남자가 섹시한 여자가 싫다고 하겠어요? 그래도 이건 좀…” Esther leaves her last thought unspoken before she changes the topic, “사업 한다면서요?”

“Eh, you know, 좋은 말로 사업이지 아직까진 백수인 주제에 삽질 만 하고 다니는 거지,” he jokes.

“아, 그래요?” She nods her head. “많이 힘들어 보여요.”


“I shouldn’t keep my friend waiting.” Esther says as she turns slightly and indicates 나라 with her pointer.

그 둘은 멀리서 어색한 고개인사를 나눈다.

“Yeah, uh, I should go too.”

“그럼 다음에 또 봐요.”

“Yeah, sure.” Joon shuffles his way out the door and manages to wave goodbye through the glass of the shop window.

Esther waves back and continues to stand at the front of the shop in a daze shaking her head and muttering to herself as 나라 scrambles to her side.

“그 남자가 그남자라니. How the mighty have fallen.”

“그 남자 누구야? 어떻게 아는 살람이야? 어떤 남잔대? 뭐래? 야!”

“어? 그냥 아는 오빠. 세월이 참 무섭다. 고등학교땐 완전 멋있었는데…”

“같은 고등학교 나왔어? 나이는? 뭐하는 사람인데? 이름…”

“맞다! 준오빠가 이한이의 사촌형이였지.”


When Joon returns to his apartment he finds Han Lee, his mother’s sister’s son, sitting on the couch. The handsome man is dressed similarly albeit not so shabbily as Mr. Right-guy, and his hair is no longer coiffed just so.

Eying the cup of coffee in Joon’s hand he says, “참 뻔뻔하다. What if she shows up?”

“Huh? Who?”

“Who? 모닝 커피!”

What if she does show up?”

“You want her to show up?”

“No, but if she does show up it’s not like I have any obligations to that woman. I mean, I didn’t do anything wrong. We were two consenting adults. It’s not like we exchanged contact information and told her I would call her and then decidedly, like a douchebag, made up my mind not to call her.”

“The thing is you don’t actually know anything about her. She could be a minor for all you know.”

“You think I can’t tell the difference between a teenager and someone who is in her twenties?”

Han stares at him with tight lips and raised eyebrows.

“Gawd, you’re right. What have I done?” He feigns horror.

“Congratulations on statutorily raping an underage mentally challenged individual.”

Joon huffs at the ridiculousness.

“I met Esther Park at the coffee shop. It was so awkward. You know her? I dated her older sister Eunice in high school. Gawd, that was so long ago. You know she’s getting married? Esther. Not Eunice.”

“Yeah, I heard. Apparently to some hotshot fund manager.”

“She was with her friend, your ex-girlfriend, or should I say the ex-girlfriend.”


“Why are you even here?”

“Let me crash here a couple days. Just until Jessica gets her stuff together and moves out.”

“Another sudden but amicable breakup as of this morning?”

“Yeah, I just want to give her some space.”

“I see.”

“She should be heading off to work soon so I’m going to go back and pack some stuff and get ready to head out to the restaurant.”


“I’ll see you later.”


After a mere twenty minutes after Han’s departure Joon hears from his seat in front of the computer the rattle and squeak of the opening of his apartment door, then the thud and click of it closing.

“That was quick. You forget something?” He says as he exits the room acting as his home office.

“누구 기다리고 있었니?” an older woman asks in reply from the kitchen.

“아니요. 엄마는 웬일로 여기까지…”

“왜? 내 자식 얼굴 좀 보겠다는데. 너는 어떻게 된게 코빼기도 안보일수있니? 어른을 오가게 만들고. 불효자식 같으니. 뉘집 아들은 자기 어머니 비엠더블유를 사줬다는데,” she says while unpacking plastic containers filled with food from her bag and packing them neatly into the refrigerator.

“누가 그랬대?”


“한이가?” He rolls his eyes and massages his temple.

His mother finishes filling the refrigerator and asks, “너 요즘 만나는 여자있니?”


“저기 헤어샵 원장님 미세스 Kim 알지? 조카가 뉴욕에서 이사왔다는데 한번 만나봐라.”

“엄마…” He closes his eyes and furrows his eyebrows.

“중학교 선생님 이라는데 사진 보니까 참하게 생겼더라. 한번 만나봐라.”

“어머나, 여자를 만나도 제가 알아서 만나요.”

“그래, 그러니까 너가 알아서 만나보라고.” She tucks a carefully folded piece of paper into the palm of his hand before she begins to reprimand him. “그리고 너 요즘 그런 몰골로 다니는 거니? 너가 그 꼴로 다니면 다들 ‘뉘집 아들이길래, 부모가 어떻길래 아들을 그꼴로 다니게 놔둘까’ 라고 생각할거다. 혹은 부모없는 떠돌이인 줄 알겠다.”

Joon rubs at the stubble on his chin and massages his temple as his mother continues to talk at him.

“불효짓 말고, 머리, 수염 깍고 사람답게 하고 다녀라. 넌 그놈의 추리닝 지긋지긋하지도 않니?”

“중요한 투자자랑 미팅이 있어서, 안그래도 그럴 판이였어요.”

“그래? 그럼 그렇게 해.” She makes her way out of the kitchen. ”김치랑 밑반찬 냉장고에 넣났으니까 밥해서 꺼내 먹고.”

“벌서 가시게요?”

“너의 엄마 바쁜 사람이다. 귀찮다고 끼니를 거르지 말고.”


“그 아가씨 꼭 연락하고.” She puts on her shoes.


“다들 이렇게 짝 찾아가는거다.” She opens the door.

“네. 조심히가세요.”

“그래, 나 간다.”

The door shuts tightly with a click as he leans on it from the inside. With his eyes closed and head rolled backwards he breathes in and out, in and out.

Regaining his composure he examines the note in his hand. A name, a number, and an email address are meticulously written out on the paper in his mother’s handwriting. He crumples the note in his fist and shoves it into the pocket of his track jacket.

A phone rings and from the other pocket of his track jacket he takes out his cellphone. After looking at the caller he answers with, “You bought your mom a beamer?”


Jae’s cellphone buzzes a total of five times in a span of three minutes near the end of her weekly office morning meeting.

After the end of the meeting and upon returning to her seat behind the reception desk, she checks her phone. There is a missed call from Esther and a follow-up text that reads, “call me”. 나라 had called back-to-back three times.

Jae hits the dial button after 나라’s name. After several rings the call goes to voicemail. Jae hangs up, and to repay the favor she calls two more times, each time ending with her being forwarded to voicemail.

She calls Esther.

“I was wondering when you’d call. You okay to talk right now?”

“Yeah, no one ever comes here. I don’t even know why they even bother to keep a receptionist. Are you okay to talk?” she asks as she spins around in her office chair.

“I have an office.”

“아나 바쁘냐고?”

“Oh, yeah, but this is big.” Esther pauses for emphasis and continues. ”So, we totally staked out that coffee shop this morning to sneak a peek at your guy.”

“You did what?” She brings herself in the spinning chair to an abrupt halt.

“We were there for like over an hour before he showed up. I ended up being late to work, but anyway, it turns out I know him.”


“I know who he is. I mean, I know him know him.”

“Great. It figures. Who don’t you know?”

“누군지 안 물어봐?”

“As if I’d know.”

“Of course you don’t know him, but you’ll know who I’m talking about when I tell you.”

“Ok… so, who is he?”

“준오빠! 한준.”


“알잖아. Remember I told you about that guy, 우리 언니가 고등학교때 사궜던…”

“That doesn’t really help. Who hasn’t your sister dated?”

“Good point. But the thing is that he’s 이한이’s cousin.”


“Yeah. You know how the original코리아 하우스 was started by two sisters.”

“Yeah, I think I heard that somewhere.”

“이한이 is one sister’s son, and 한준 is the other sister’s son. But unlike 한이, 준오빠 never liked being associated with 코리아 하우스. So that’s why people only know about ‘코리아 하수의 이한,’ but they’re from the same money. Although, I’m not sure he’s still in with it now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Remember, I think it was like three years ago, when there was that big buzz because 한이 dropped out from med school.”


“Remember at the same time there was that story about the guy who got disowned because he was caught living with his black girlfriend.”


“That was 준오빠. I don’t know if he was actually disowned though.”


“And as we all know, 한이 got back in the good graces of his parents by taking over 이가옥 and transforming it into the trendy moneymaking E.GahOak that it is today. Remember, he scouted that young chef from New York who had worked in a hotel restaurant in Korea and everything? Have you been to E. recently? Don’t tell 나라, but I was there for happy hour not too long ago. There’s a new pro bartender who manages the bar now. His 막걸리 cocktails are crazy good. And I know everyone does 불고기 tacos, but theirs are actually good.”


“Anyway, my point is that I don’t know what actually happened to 준오빠. It was all rumors really. It doesn’t seem like he’s still with his black girlfriend. And the last I heard from my sister 사업한다더라. But it doesn’t look like it’s really working out… And, I did not know your type was ‘hobo.’”

“Hey, I…”

“Whatever, I do not want to hear you talk about hair again. But seriously, 진짜로 사귈 마음 없는거지?”

“Well, yeah. Imagine how awkward that would be.”

“그래. Trust me, you do not want to get involved with a guy with that kind of drama in his life. 안정걱인 생활을 하는 남자가 좋은 남자야. 내가 좋은 남자 소개시켜줄까?”


“그러지 말고 한번 만나봐. His name is Brian Song, and he’s a consultant for our company. He’s actually the guy that I went to happy hour at E. with. He’s a really cool guy. You like creative guys, right? He’s brand strategist.” Esther pauses in emphasis. “You never know… I think you’ll like him. And like I always say, every chance is an opportunity.”


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