Entry #12 – May 4, 1997 / Sunday

When there are no baduk tournaments for me, my family goes to a neighborhood church on Sundays. I often feel sleepy during the pastor’s sermon, but I like listening to the choir music afterward. I also enjoy the feeling of doing a good deed when I put a 500-won coin into the purple velvet pouch when a young volunteer approaches with it. Of course, the coin is from my mom or dad on the way to the church. When the service is over, we take a slow walk from the church to our car, multiple times disrupted by lengthy conversations between my parents and their friends. Sometimes I wish I could skip church to stay at home and read my books, but this morning I was excited to leave home. Yesterday, dad suggested we go to my favorite restaurant for lunch after church, and stop by at a bookstore too!

My favorite restaurant, called Yuki, is a relatively small place in a corner of the commercial area in our neighborhood. The walls, tables, and chairs are all wooden, and the atmosphere is calm. When my family entered for lunch today, there was only one couple waiting for their food at a corner table. Here, we barely need to look at the menu. Jane and I always get the lunch set, my dad a grilled eel rice bowl, and mom a shrimp and fish eggs rice bowl. I like to get a small piece of eel or shrimp from my parents, but Jane and I love the set, because it’s served on a fancy dark tray and has a pork cutlet, fruit salad, and a hot noodle soup. Everything on this set was super tasty.

“Welcome!”

The old man behind the cashier’s desk greeted us as we entered the bookstore. He is the owner of the place and recognizes us whenever we come back.

“Hello! How are you doing?”

Mom greeted him back. She often chats with him while everyone else goes around to look at the books.

“Jane, come here.”

I led her to my favorite section where there are novels for children. I recently finished The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and am excited to get the next book in the series. I told Jane about the story already, and she loves the adventure of the four siblings as well.

“Did you find the book?”

Dad asked. He also heard all about the story from me during the lunch earlier.

“Yes! This is the one.”

I proudly handed Prince Caspian to him.

“Great! We will get this one. I also have another book for you.”

Dad gave me a shiny book. It was a magazine – a monthly baduk magazine. I recognized it from a pile of similar looking books at the baduk school. Our teacher didn’t like it, though, if any of the students was reading those. There are useful lessons, but too many distracting articles, he would say. So, instead, he would make copies of certain pages of the magazine and give them to us as homework.

“I’ve seen this magazine at the baduk school!” I told dad and opened the magazine. It felt exciting to open this usually-forbidden book.

“Have you heard of Choi Yuna?”

“No. Who is it?”

Dad gently took the magazine from me and showed me a picture of a smiling girl. She looked young.

“She just passed a pro qualification last month, and she is only 12 years old.”

“Wow… she is not much older than me.”

“Right. She also studied at Master Grimm’s dojang.”

“Oh!”

Suddenly I realized that dad was encouraging me to take the opportunity of the summer training. My parents had asked me about it a few times, and I had been saying I wasn’t sure about it. I looked at the girl’s picture again. She looked happy.

“Am I getting this too?” I asked dad, indicating the magazine.

“Sure, that’s for you.”

“Can I pick a book for Jane too?”

“Of course. Let us know when you are done. I will be looking around with mom.”

I took Jane to another section where there are more colorful books. Jane often liked stories with cute animal characters. While browsing the section, I couldn’t stop thinking about the girl I saw in the baduk magazine. Next month, I become 9 years old. So, that gives me three years before I get to her age. I knew some of the older students at our baduk school who were also 12 years old. They were nowhere close to the professional level. I should do this training this summer, I thought. And, with that, I turned my focus to Jane, who seemed quite happy with an elephant book she found.