Son Jii arrives at the hospital. She finally parks her car after 15 minutes looking for a spot. Being a top surgeon’s daughter does not give you privilege in car parking, apparently. She’s already half an hour late for her father. Earlier in the morning, her father summoned her to come to the hospital. He told her that some of his colleagues want to see his daughter and offered lunch together afterwards. She’s not sure what to expect, but she has nothing to do for the day, so….
The elevator brings her to the 2nd floor, where his father’s room is located. The hospital is busy as usual, nurses and patients walk here and there in the corridor. As she approaches his door, a nurse calls her, “Excuse me, Miss. Do you have an appointment?”.
“No…”, she answers and confused about what to do. Must she make an appointment just to see her father? Just in time, her father opens the door. “Sorry, Dr. Park. She does not have an appointment”, the nurse apologizes to him for Son Jii. “She does not need to, she’s my daughter”, he answers coldly and leads Son Jii back to the main corridor. The nurse, again, apologizes for the misunderstanding. Now, Son Jii starts to feel the privilege of being Dr. Park’s daughter. But she’s not sure if the privilege is a good thing or not.
“Let’s go, the others are waiting in the cafeteria”, he said. Fortunately, her father does not bring up about her tardiness. Both of them reach for the elevator and press on the ground floor button. “You still remember Mr. Ri Woo Jin, right?”, Mr. Park asked. Mr. Ri is one of her father’s colleague, specializing in haematology and oncology treatment. He and Mr. Park got into the hospital at the same time and become close since then. They also work together to treat patients for a few times. Therefore, Mr. Ri has known Son Jii since she was only 10. Last time he saw her was in high school.
“Yes, of course”, Son Jii answers expressionlessly. “He’s gonna be there”, her father said. No further conversation is made until they arrive at the cafeteria. Three male figures in her father’s age can be seen from afar, sitting by the window. Even though they are not wearing their uniforms, it is really obvious that they play important roles in the hospital, as doctors. They are waving at Son Jii and her father as they approach them.
“Hello, there!”, the man with the biggest figure greets them first. “We’ve been waiting for you, go order”, the man continues. “What do you want?”, Mr. Park quickly turns to Son Jii. “Just get me a sandwich and coffee”, Son Jii answers. Her father then heads to the cashier. Before Son Jii could follow him, a familiar voice greets her, “Son Jii, it’s been a long time. Do you still remember me?”, another man stands next to her.
“Ahh, yes, of course, Mr. Ri. It’s been a long time, how are you?”, Son Jii bows down to greet him politely. “I’m great. Ahh, look at you. You have grown so much”, Mr. Ri said, just like what adults would normally say. His hand gestures Son Jii to take a seat. Her father’s colleagues begin to question her a lot of stuff, like how is it studying abroad, what’s her major and stuff.
Just enough time, her father returns with a food tray. “So, what have you guys been talking about?”, Mr. Park asks and smiles. Son Jii never expects her father to be this friendly, he genuinely smiled in front of his colleagues. “I just know your daughter is taking medical school too”, the biggest man, whose name is Kil Young Ho, commented.
“Psychology? It’s not medical yet”, her father answers. Son Jii’s heart sinks right away. Again, she was reminded that her father never approves her to be a psychologist. For him, psychology doesn’t make one be a proper medical doctor, which is true that it is a whole different study. It is, however, still, a branch of medical study. These dilemmas might not be an issue to Son Jii, but an issue to his father. His father always wanted her to be a proper hospital doctor, just like him.
“Ah, come on. The study, I bet, is also interesting”, Kil Young Ho added. Son Jii replies to him with a smile. Mr. Park tries to divert the conversation, “Well, Young Ho. Tell her what you do, it may interest her”. Look at him, still trying. Son Jii starts to realize that her father’s intention to invite her over is to show her other medical studies, with the hope that she’ll be interested in them and switch her study. Three years, after all, did not change her father.
Son Jii starts to listen to each of them, explaining what they do and what they studied. They all sound interesting, Son Jii admits. However, none is close to Son Jii’s heart. She still listens to them only out of courtesy. She looks like intrigued when deep down, she’s drained. She just wants to flee the situation and stops her father from trying to persuade her.
As if the universe heard her, her phone suddenly buzzes, a text came in. It’s from Park Bogum.
“Hello, Son Jii-shi. How are you?”
“Hey, doing okay. How about you?”
Son Jii looks up from her phone, to make sure that she’s still being polite to the adults who keep talking about medical studies.
Her phone buzzes again. Son Jii only looks at her homescreen that shows a text,
“Can we meet? I’d like to ask you questions about the exchange and I think it’s easier to meet in person”
She hesitates to reply. She looks back to the doctors who are still having the conversations, but her mind wanders elsewhere. This might be my way to escape. She replies back,
“Are you free today?”
Son Jii gulped down almost half of her ice tea. Her chocolate cake is her next target. She can't wait for the chocolate to melt in , to melt her anger. Bogum, who sits across her, just stares with amusement.
“Are you stressed or what?”, he asks intriguingly. Son Jii stops eating and looks back at him, “Is it that obvious?”. Bogum chuckles and digs into his lemon cake. “Well, we are here because I need you. I need to ask you some questions, but…..”, he looks up to Son Jii, “I don’t mind hearing you out first”, he said with a tease. “So, what bothers you?”
They both ended up hanging out in a café near the hospital. Luckily, Bogum lives nearby and is free for the day. A sudden hangout for two acquaintances. Bogum might think weirdly of Son Jii but Son Jii does not care as long as she’s out of her father’s grasp. As soon as they arrived, they did not even exchange friendly greetings but went straight to ordering food and drinks.
Son Jii takes a spoonful of chocolate cake while looking at Bogum. “I’m not sure. My dad, maybe”, she starts to stare blankly to the window. “What about him?”, Bogum continues asking, without a single sign of judgement in his eyes. Like Son Jii, he’s also focused on his cake. “Well, you know. Parents always expect something out of you that you can’t give”, Son Jii answers.
Bogum nods blankly, deep in his thought as he can relate. His eyes then light up again, “They can be a**holes sometimes….”, Bogum agrees while Son Jii is surprised by his choice of words. “..but is it that wrong to have expectation?”, Bogum continues. Now, he’s not looking at Son Jii anymore, he’s like talking to himself, deeper into his thought. “People can have an expectation because they’ve seen something better or….. or they had been in your shoes before”, he answers firmly.
If they had been in our shoes, shouldn’t they sympathise more? Why would they treat us the same?
Son Jii doesn’t seem to understand what Bogum is trying to tell. However, seeing him being silent and lost, Son Jii feels the need to bring him back. She's still figuring out whether Bogum is the type of person who's deep in being philosophical or he's just a total empath. “Okay, enough about me. How about you? What is it that you wanted to ask?”, Son Jii wakes him up. Bogum quickly meets her eyes again, with his warm and big eyes. His gaze makes Son Jii shivers for a second.
They start talking about their study: about how demanding it is, how similar is the curriculum to Korea’s, how to do assignments, etc. For someone to reach Son Jii out only to ask these questions, this person must be an ambitious one. “Are you always this prepared? I mean in studying and stuff”, Son Jii finally asks, with a friendly tone. Bogum answers, “Well, it’s not like that. It’s just….my uncle sponsored me to go abroad. So, I have to make the opportunity counts”.
Son Jii answers him with a nod. “So, when are you going back to the Netherlands?”, Bogum continues to ask. “In about two weeks and a half, I think. On the 30th”, she answers quickly. “Isn’t it too quick? Only three weeks in Korea?”, he replies with a frown on his forehead. “Yeah, but I have nothing to do here anyway”, she answers nonchalantly. Bogum would likely to reply that she actually could spend a lot of time with her family, but he stops there after figuring out her relationship with her parents is questionable.
“Whoa, you really like that cake, don’t you? You finished it already. Does everything you do need to be fast?”, Bogum points at Son Jii’s chocolate cake (which is already an empty plate) and jokes around. He tries to brighten up the mood. Son Jii, again, shivers as he flashes her a smile. She replies him with a chuckle as she looks away, she doesn’t want to be drawn to those eyes for too long. He really can make someone comfortable even though it is his first meeting. Just like their first meeting, Son Jii doesn’t lead the conversation. It’s always Bogum. But Son Jii lets him be. Because she’s comfortable.