• Yangji Children's Home can be seen in the You Never Walk Alone graphic lyrics book!

    • "Seokjin hyung, can't you say something to your father? You know, hyung, you know what that place means to me. The orphanage is my home, and if the orphanage is gone then all the kids who live there will end up getting scattered. Even if they have to redevelop the area they could do it without affecting the orphanage."

      Words poured forth from me as I entered the container. Everyone looked at me in surprise. Only Seokjin hyung's expression was unchanged. Even though I was holding back tears as I spoke, Seokjin hyung looked at me as if it was nothing.

      "It's already been decided. There's nothing I can do."

      Each word hyung spoke reached me slowly. It was clear to me, the line those words drew between me and Seokjin hyung. Hyung belonged to a decisive world, and I belonged to a world that couldn't even complain about those decisions. I had thought of Seokjin hyung as a friend. But now I thought that maybe it was impossible for me to be friends with someone like hyung in the real world.

      I got angry at him, a little. I shouted, asking how he could be like this, and I begged him to help. But even then, I already knew they were all just words. There was nothing I could do. The words I said, the anger I showed-it wasn't directed at him, it was directed at me. Me, who could do nothing. Me, who was nothing.


      I got up, rubbing at my eyes. The hyungs gestured like they wanted me to quietly follow them. Honestly, I wanted to sleep more, but I obeyed their words. We left the room quietly and went into the hallway. It was dark all around me. I wondered what time it was, but I had no way of knowing anything other than that it was past time to be asleep. We went up the stairs toward the roof and opened the metal door. Screech. At that noise, the hyungs came to a shocked pause and I did the same. We looked around.

      We sat all together on the roof. "Why are we up here?" I asked.

      The oldest hyung answered. "Just wait, Jung Hoseok."

      At that moment, I heard an explosion, and the northern sky grew bright. I was so shocked I closed my eyes and curled up. It smelled like something was burning "wow," someone shouted, and the oldest hyung told them to be quiet. I peeked my eyes open and looked up at the northern sky. I heard the explosion again and stars appeared in the sky.

      "Not stars-fireworks," hyung said.

      The fireworks kept blooming. I laid down on the roof and looked up at the stars, fires, flowers that exploded in the sky "Jung Hoseok is crying, he's crying,” I heard the hyungs tease.

      "Hey." I wiped my eyes with my sleeves, but the tears kept coming.


      When I came to my senses, I was walking along the bridge. The sun was so bright that it was hard to open my eyes. I wondered how I had gotten here, but then I felt dizzy and my vision blurred. I wondered if my legs were collapsing under me, and the sounds of car horns coming and going assaulted my ears. At one side of my vision, I could see the black water of yangjicheon.

      The auntie at the orphanage was the first person who comforted me after I lost my mother. She had been at my side when I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever, in my empty bed after a friend was adopted, when I woke in the hospital after a narcolepsy seizure, from my elementary school entrance ceremony to my high school graduation.

      She had gotten sick. The voice on the other end of the ordinary phone call had been that of a friend from the orphanage. I couldn't remember how I made it to the auntie's house. What I remembered was her house, and her face through the open window. She was talking with someone, and then she laughed. That she was sick, that she needed surgery. That there was no hope--all of it sounded like lies. When we almost made eye contact, I hid myself. I felt like I would burst into tears if I saw her face. I felt like I would spit out words of resentment like, “even you're going to leave me?" I started walking. It seemed like someone called to me. But I didn't look back.

      A large bus kicked up a wind as it passed me. “Mom,” I muttered as I watched the bus drive away. On the day I lost her, we had ridden that kind of bus. Would the auntie leave my side too, just like my mom? Would I lose another person who was so precious to me? I lifted my head and sunlight poured down. Then the world started to collapse. The sibilant noise of tires on asphalt, the wind coming off the river, and all the memories I had with the auntie all crumbled under the sunlight. I collapsed to the ground.


      My entire world changed again after my nineteenth birthday passed. I was no longer a ward of the state and I couldn't stay at the orphanage I looked for my own place with the money I'd saved from working part-time jobs and from the stipend I got when I left the system. I couldn't bring myself to look near Two Star Burger. I tried going around near Songju Station, but there wasn't much difference. In the end, all I could do was walk up the slope. It was a rooftop room at the very end of a dead-end street.

      I dragged my thunking suitcase up the iron stairs. I had spent more than ten years at the orphanage, but I didn't have that much stuff all I had to do was organize a few articles of clothing and pairs of shoes and arrange the furniture I'd bought at the recycling center.

      But moving is still moving. So by the time I could stretch out. It was already night even in february, there was sweat on my back. When I opened the screeching iron door, a cold late-winter wind blew in. I went out and leaned on the banister. I looked down at Songju. I tried to guess where the orphanage was. I followed the river along to the left. Then to the left of the clover-shaped sign among all the neon and lights. I couldn't make the orphanage out.

      I lifted my head and looked up at the rooftop room. It was small, barely one room. It was shabby and poorly kept up. Hot as a sauna in summer and made cold by drafts in winter but it was the only place in the world that was mine. A place where I could be myself. A place where I could be foolishly afraid. Or have hope that others would sneer at. Somewhere I could laugh all I wanted and cry all I wanted.

      "Let's do well!' I shouted toward the room, this place at the top of the city, nearly touching the sky, would be my home from today onward.


      I looked up at the building. There were lights on here and there. Maybe because it was the city center, there were lots of signs for accountants and lawyers. On the top floor, the fifth floor. All of the lights were on. For the last few weeks. Taehyung and I had looked from the tops of all the tallest buildings in Songju. We didn't know what we were looking for. The only clue we had was Taehyung's dream. The can coffee and four-leaf clover he'd seen in his dream. We took that one clue and stayed up all night climbing up and down buildings. It rained for a few days. At first we had brought umbrellas to explore the buildings. But these days we just let ourselves get wet. We found ourselves in a few conflicts because of it. Once, soaking wet, we had been mistaken for hooligans on the building stairs and chased out. It was common for the iron doors to the rooftops to be locked. And it was impossible to check from the landing of the stairs.

      I looked up at the building again. I thought to myself, will this be what we have to find? There was a familiar name on the door. The Offices of Assemblyman Kim Chang-Jun.

      "Who's that”? Taehyung asked.

      I looked over at him, “you don't know?”

      Taehyung looked back at me, his gaze pure and naive and totally unknowing. Lately I had been feeling at a loss about Kim Taehyung. There were things that seemed impossible not to know, but Taehyung really didn't know them. Taehyung looked unhesitatingly at things I was too afraid to look at, and who reached out obstinately to take someone's hand when no one else would extend theirs.

      I said, “it's Seokjin hyung's father.”


      I liked being between people. When I left the orphanage I got a part time job at a fast-food restaurant, where I had to interact with people, always laugh, and always be cheerful. I liked that job. Honestly, in my life there had been very few reasons to laugh or be cheerful. Clearly, I had seen more bad people than good. That could have been why I liked that job so much. If I smiled brightly and spoke loudly and reacted cheerfully, even if by force, I could eventually trick myself into believing I actually felt that way. My mood improved when I laughed loudly, and when I treated people kindly I became a kind person. There were hard days too. After cleaning up the store and heading home, even taking one step was difficult. There were days filled only with fussy customers. But even so, it was easier to withstand those things when I had friends, compared to now.

      Sometimes I thought of my friends as I looked at the store full of customers. Seokjin hyung, who transferred schools without a word; Namjoon, who disappeared one morning; Yoongi hyung, who wouldn't take our calls after being expelled; Taehyung, whose whereabouts we didn't know, whether he was getting in trouble or not; and Jimin, who never came back to school after the last time I saw him in the emergency room. I had seen Jungkook in his school uniform a few times through the window, but for some reason he had never visited the store. I wondered if maybe those times had all passed now.

      At the sound of a customer coming in, I gave a loud greeting. Then, with a cheerful and healthy smile, I looked toward the door.


      Jimin's mother paced back and forth through the emergency room. After checking that the name on the head of the bed and the IV bottle were properly placed, she brushed a blade of grass from Jimin's shoulder with one finger. I approached hesitantly, feeling that I should tell her why Jimin was in the emergency room, about the seizure at the bus stop. Jimin's mother seemed to discover my presence only then, and she looked at me with a long, evaluative gaze. I didn't know what to do, so I hung back. Jimin's mother said only 'thank you' and then turned back to him.

      The next time Jimin's mother looked at me, the doctor and nurses had started to move the bed and I moved to follow. Jimin's mother said thank you again and pushed at my shoulder. Rather than pushing, it would be more correct to say that she touched me slightly and then pulled her hand away. But I suddenly felt an invisible line being drawn between Jimin's mother and myself. That line was sure and solid. It was cold and sturdy. It was a line that I could never surmount. I had lived at the orphanage for 10 years. I knew that much with my whole body, my sight, the air. In a moment of bewilderment, I took a step back and then collapsed to the floor. Jimin's mother looked vacantly down at me. She was a small and beautiful person, but her shadow was large and chilly. That shadow fell over me, collapsed on the emergency room floor. When I lifted my head, Jimin's bed had left the emergency room and could no longer be seen. After that day, Jimin didn't come back to school.


      The Notes 1: 花樣年華 [The Most Beautiful Moment in Life]

      • HOSEOK YEAR 22 AUGUST 13:

        Hoseok arrives back in Songju which he left Songju a month before because his ankle was injured and he couldn’t work or dance. On that day, he had been waiting for the other boys to contact him. He realized that he always contacted them first, but did not want to this time. He remembers how he met Yoongi that night. On a whim, he packs a bag and decides to leave Songju for the first time in his life. But his mind was still there. He ends up in a larger city and gets a room at a guesthouse. He wanders around the first two days, and on the third day he ends up at a Citizen’s Hall’ where dancers are rehearsing. He watches a man dance and feels many emotions from his performance. A staff member asks him to leave because outsiders aren’t allowed in rehearsals, so he goes back to the guesthouse and thinks about the performance alot. He receives message from Jimin but he does not respond and neither do the other boys.

        Hoseok watches the rehearsal the next day secretly, and then he comes back for the performance the next day. He notes that the man he saw at rehearsal didn’t perform. Later, Hoseok helps the staff to move stage equipment onto the train. The staff member recognizes him and sits next to him, revealing that the man Hoseok saw is their artistic director who used to be a dancer, but he was injured and couldn’t perform again. Hoseok ends up tagging along with the group and goes to three other cities with them. The director finds out Hoseok is also a dancer. Hoseok recounts how he got into dancing when he was twelve and his friends had dragged him up on stage. Hoseok thinks about how dancing makes him feel refreshing and rewarding because he could be happy and free. The director tells him that you have to go to your lowest low , escape it so that you can find your driving force, and hold on to it. Hoseok thinks a lot about those words. He also comes to know that the director is from Songju. Hoseok recalls the fireworks he saw from his orphanage and later from his apartment.

        Hoseok turns down the offer to join the dancers on tour and decides to go back to Songju. He thinks that he might have not hit his own psychological low point yet, but maybe Yoongi had the day that Hoseok abandoned him when he was in despair. He messages Yoongi to ask if he’s okay. Yoongi responds with a music file the next dawn. Hoseok listens to it and thinks it's the most beautiful song Yoongi has ever made and resembles Yoongi. Yoongi asks Hoseok when he’s coming back. Hoseok returns to Songju and sends a message to the group chat asking them how they are and telling them he’s back. Hoseok thinks of the day he left Songju and how his ankle isn't the only thing that has healed since then.

      • JIMIN YEAR 22 MAY 16:

        Jimin describes Hoseok’s house- it is situated at a hillside - the topmost room of a multi family building. Hoseok boasted to Jimin that he had the topmost view of the city and Jimin agrees. From the house, Jimin looks below at the rail tracks, containers along the rail tracks, Namjoon’s container, the school. His gaze goes a little farther and sees his house perched at the bottom of the mountain, beyond the river. Jimin worries about facing his parents and thinks it is better to stay with Hoseok for now. However he realizes he has to meet his parents someday and tell them that he is not going back to the hospital.