In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Nearly
  • Choi Jinyoung (bio)
    Translated by Bonnie Tilland (bio)

K94-1

K94 regretted everything. If only he hadn't gone to church. No. If only he hadn't gotten close to M. M was the first friend he had made in high school. The first question he had thrown at M, in that unfamiliar classroom in that unfamiliar building, had been "Did you pick a locker?" Or maybe, "Is this your bag?" At M's short answer, K-94 had thought, This kid is fucking wholesome. In those days he and his friends ran their mouths all the time, cursing up a storm. Besides, that was at the beginning of the semester. Exaggerated expressions and body movements were the most effective ways he knew to establish his reputation. But M drew kids to him without exaggerations or posturing, using only brief and cheerful expressions.

A month after being put in the same class as M, K94 followed M to church. After suggesting one day to M that they shoot hoops on the weekend or something, M replied that he had to go to church, so how about meeting in the afternoon? Well, how about if I give your church a try? Are there a lot of pretty girls? K-94 snickered. But M replied with his unrelentingly wholesome face: Of course, they're all pretty.

M wasn't lying. There really were a lot of pretty girls. And they were all kind and graceful. They treated K94, whom they were [End Page 99] seeing for the first time, as if he were family, and were appropriately shy in front of boys their age. They all had pretty voices and sang well. Maybe it was because he had gone to an all-boys' middle school and was now going to an all-boys' high school, but to him girls seemed fundamentally good. For the sake of meeting pretty and kind girls, he would give up things like sleeping in on the weekends. K94 stopped distinguishing between weekends and weekdays and went to church religiously every day of the week, and eventually fell in love with the prettiest girl. Of course, it was unrequited love. He had a lot of competitors, both inside and outside the church. It seemed like every high school boy in town loved that girl. There were even rumors that she had gotten confessions of love from college guys. That girl loved everyone and was nice to everyone. Because of this she caused chaos for everyone, and feelings of betrayal. K94 felt discouraged every day but never gave up, because you must never abandon unrequited love. Love between people could be used up, but solitary love would never be exhausted. The moment that unabandonable, unusable emotion inflates to capacity and finally bursts, all that's left is to pick yourself up and wonder, with embarrassment and anxiety, who that person you loved even was.

Though it seemed that K94 had been stuck in this murky place between hope and disappointment for only five minutes, suddenly he was in his final year of high school. For the three previous years what had obsessed him hadn't been studying or athletics or rebelling or fighting, but unrequited love. Though he hadn't even gotten past page ten of his Mathematical Formulas textbook, he had read all of the New and Old Testaments of the Bible. He had also learned how to pray fervently enough to reach the ears of a busy God. When it came time to write his university applications he really agonized. Should I go to a seminary? It wasn't just because he had heard rumors that the girl was also looking into going to a seminary. All he knew was unrequited love and how to pray, and the only thing he could say he knew well were the word [End Page 100] and life of God. He didn't have to worry for long. He didn't have the grades to get into a seminary (at least not the one the girl was going to). His parents were also deeply opposed. What he lost to this unrequited love wasn't only time, his studies, and friendship...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6500
Print ISSN
1939-6120
Pages
pp. 99-124
Launched on MUSE
2019-05-22
Open Access
No
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