“Nayoung’s Journey” is a story about a young Korean woman coming of age in America with her broken dream. Although it has yet to find a literary representation, I’m pleased to introduce an excerpt: “A Forgotten Story of War”
It is a story of a war-stricken 7-year-old girl, Nayoung, braving the rippling tides of the war, in which she witnesses the pain and destruction as well as love and humanity abound. This June 25, 2019 will be the 69th anniversary of the Korean War.
A forgotten story it may be, but unforgettable, like all other wars that remind us, time and again, we should continue striving for the lasting peace and harmony among the nations, in this one beautiful planet we have, in this one precious life we are given to live.
I firmly believe that the gentle spirit of humanity and social ethos will becalm the climate of all seasons, creating the good karma between the humen and nature in their symbiotic relationship.
I’d like to quote the very first paragraph of “A Forgotten Story of War” that illustrates how little Nayoung encounters the war when Han river bridge is bombarded, and the hunger she endures after being separated from her father during the exodus out of their hometown in Seoul.
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June 25, 1950 in Blackstone Village near Seoul, the night fell gently upon a garden abloom with flowers on a soft bed of soil. Lying on the cotton Yo in the cozy comfort before curling up to snooze, Nayoung listened dreamily to the sputtering from the little fountain pool in the fishpond outside her window. Ready to repose for the night also, five goldfish kept circling round in the pond. The tall red gladioli standing next to the fishpond were gently waving in the breeze as if they had something to tell her. As Nayoung tried to decipher their message in her sleepy eyes, a thunderous noise shook the village.
Rumors spread that the capital city of Seoul was being flattened by the bombing from the North, aided by Chinese manpower and Soviet arms, producing numerous casualties. The South Korean Army was now being reinforced in their attempt to drive the North out of Seoul. These consisted of foreign soldiers from as far as America and other parts of the world who came with all types of fancy weapons to rescue the South.
In the meantime, Suhho’s empty belly was ballooning like a pumpkin. Namee, who was smaller and less sturdy than Nayoung, stayed in bed weak and hungry. “Something has to be done!” cried Nayoung to herself. “There must be some dandelions growing under the snow! There must be fish swimming in the stream of Clear Brook!” Nayoung slipped out of a quiltcover and put on layers of the clothing to get out in the cold.
“Where are you going, daugh--ter?” called out Nayoung's mom, Chinju, in her feeble state of hunger. “I am going outside, Umma. I’ll be back with something to eat,” said Nayoung resolutely and picked up a straw basket laced with dry dirt from the dandelion picking she had done with Chinju in the fall. She then quickly slipped out of the sliding door.
When Nayoung stepped out into the field behind the cottage, she saw no signs of life around, except for the wind whipping through bare trees and dusting off the snow that had piled on the tree branches. Nayoung bent over the ground on her knees and started to dug into the snow with her fingernails, but there were no dandelions. All she could dig up was a handful of coarse brown grass in the frozen soil. Knowing they were inedible, Nayoung headed to the brook, ignoring her fear of the ghosts that she believed was living atop the tall pine trees.
Standing by the brook, she stared hard into the stream rushing by. It appeared only her ankle deep. A nearby weeping willow standing nearby threshed thin branches around her face. To steady herself, Nayoung kept her feet firmly planted at the water’s edge and stooped over the water with the straw basket. She now held the basket firmly in both hands and lowered it under the stream, unaware that her feet were getting cold from being submerged in the frigid water. She let the basket sit under water for a while before she quickly lifted it up. Water streamed out of the tiny basket holes.
To her surprise, flip-flopping in a frenzy in the bottom of the basket were about half a dozen tiny fish. No less surprised than the fish that started to grow larger and larger before her eyes, Nayoung dropped the basket in panic when the wind began to howl into her ear as if screaming at her. The long scratchy limbs of the willow threshed across her face in the wind and the noise of the brook started to sound like a malevolent chorus.
Nayoung turned to run away when a dark figure appeared behind a tree across the brook, looking like a man in green uniform with a red-striped hat, who was stooping over the stream with cupped hands. The first thing that came to Nayoung’s mind was he must be a northern soldier. Swept by fear, she tried to drag herself away from the stream, but her legs wouldn’t move as if her feet were frozen stiff. She dropped the basket, losing all the fish she had caught.
“Bang, bang, bang!” Nayoung jumped like a rabbit at the piercing sound and started to run up the bank, only to fall. She picked herself up, falling again. Just when she finally regained her footing, she saw above the treetops a female figure in the colorful robe, her long strands of hair flying in the wind and her arms flapping like an eagle’s wings, inching closer and closer toward Nayoung, who suddenly collapsed.”
(Above excerpt from “Nayoung’s Journey”)
The full story can be found in: http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/07/14/fiction-forgotten-story-war/
A special hello
and thank you
to Mr. Michael Organ All rights reserved by
© Therese Young Kim