Ep 1 The same old thing, but different look
Masan, Gyeonggi Province, Maret 1991
Sung Dong-il’s house in a Monday morning
The door opens from the outside. A student boy enters, puts off his shoes, goes straight to the dining room. A man is reading local newspaper while waiting for his wife preparing for breakfast.
“Good morning, Aboji, Eomoni!” says the boy in a strong local dialect while pulling out a chair in front of the man. Once he sits down, he takes out a comic book from his school backpack. A second later, he has been sinking in that new volume of Adachi Mitsuru’s Slow Step.
“Son, have you got your breakfast?” asks the woman as she puts the rice into three bowls.
“Yes, I had, Eomoni. At house.” He replies without taking his eyes of the comic book.
“Ya, Sseureki (Trash)! Your dad told me he’d burn down all your comic books if you do not stop reading them. You are senior right now. 3rd year. 3rd year! You should learn, you know. How will you get into a university? Aigoo, I even can’t imagine you go into college. Go study! Stop reading that useless stuff!” the man suddenly yells at him.
“Aboji~, who said I don’t study. I study. Everyday I study. Where’s kid who is only studying nowadays? That’s that and this is this.” says the boy scratching his neck.
The man turns his newspaper pages while mouthing the boy’s words.
“But, Aboji, why are you home now? You’re not in Seoul?”
“Ya punk! If I’m not here, where should I be? Huh? This is my house. Of course I’m here!” says the man as he folds up his newspaper and hits it on the boy’s head.
“The practice for new season will just begin next week.” says her wife as she puts down a bowl of rice in front of his husband who is a couch for Korean National Baseball Team, Seoul Twins.
The sound of a door opens. A girl joins in the table. She sits down on the left side of the boy. He seems too busy to care on her present, however. His eyes are still on the comic book. The girl puts a big portion of japchae into her rice bowl. She then eats like she never eats before.
“Jeong-ah, aren’t you going to be late? What time did you say the ceremony for new students begin?” asks her mom.
“8.30. Don’t worry, Eomma. It’s going to take only 16 minutes with bus. It’s less than 2 km from here. I’m planning to go home by walk. Oppa said there’s a shortcut behind the civil theater. If I can save 350 won everyday, in 22 days I’ll be able to buy a new cassette tape! Ho ho~” says her with mouth full of meal.
“Then, just go through that shortcut everyday! So I can cut down your daily money” says her father.
The boy just sighs in the middle of his concern on his reading. He continues reading while waiting the girl finishes up her meal.
“Oppa-ya, let’s go. I’m done!” says the girl finally as she puts on her backpack.
“O.” The boy closes his book, puts it back into his backpack that he put on his right. He tries to close the bag, but the zipper gets him trouble.
“Why? Your bag can’t be unzipped again? I told you,you should get a new one! Why don’t you hear me, huh? Look at that bag! People will think you’re a beggar if you still use it!”
“You know, it’s my favorite. Come on, come on, backpack~ You, you bad zipper, you don’t hear me, huh?” he mumbles, still trying pulling out the zipper.
“Let me try, bring it here!”
The boy turns left to hand on the backpack to the girl. Then suddenly he feels strange for his blood is running to his head as he looks at her. He blinks twice to find that the girl whom he always knows since forever for today–he doesn’t know why–looks different. The girl which until yesterday morning is still that little girl who ran around in t-shirt and sweatpants with 5:5 pony-tailed hair now has her hair in bob cut with bangs fall smoothly on the her left forehead. The hair on her left is placed behind her ear. And with her high school uniform which also the first time for him to see her wearing it, she looks… different. He thinks he probably finds her pretty.
“She got her hair cut yesterday. She said it’s high school, she didn’t want too look like a child anymore. She cut it out to throw her innocent image. Cck, what innocent image? Ya, girl, people will surprised if they know an innocent child speak the way you do! it’s not the hair you should throw off, your mouth. Your dirty mouth!” realizing the silent moment, her father speaks out.
Najeong just gives a rebel gaze to her father and sticks out her tongue before she turns back to the boy.
“Oppa-ya, how do I look? Pretty, right?” the girl poses and sways out her new haircut.
“You…” the boy’s eyes are surely shivered for a moment but immediately he turns them into a michievous look. He clears his throat. He then strokes her hair gently just before messing it up, making the girl look like she just comes back from a storm. “Jeong, you know that ajumma… that ajumma who used to walk around our elementary school? The woman whose hair like you, hmm… she wore the same long coat everyday along the year. You remember? She always brought a doll and smiled to everyone. You… you just seem like her. Right. Very similar. Now, let’s go! The bus will leave us.” He then mumbles again to his bag, “Ahh, this backpack… what should I do?”
“WHO?! Who did you say? You just said that I’m like a mentally-ill woman?!” she grabs his hair but fortunately he successfully runs away before she gets her both hands on his hair. The boy immediately reaches the door, putting on his shoes while running with the girl chases after him. The parents just continue with what they were doing. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s just usual. As if that’s the way the kids go to school everyday.
Only two minutes later, quick steps sound entering the house again. The man and his wife who are eating while chatting about the new bakery on the corner of the big street look up for a moment. Once they know who is that, they continue their chat.
“You idiot! Tell me a day when you do not forget something! Aish, really…” the girl’s shouting sounds from the outside.
The boy picks up the bag that was left on the chair.
“Aboji, eomoni, I’m leaving!”
The sound of the door closed. And the peaceful morning back to the Masan house.
For a while.