• Yangji Stream can be seen in the You Never Walk Alone graphic lyrics book!

    • I raced towards the yangji riverbank as the sunset deepened. Pressing heavily on the bike pedals as I headed toward a sky full of mixed pinks and purples made me feel as if I were escaping from the weight of my everyday life. Today, too, I had taken my bike out as soon as I heard my mom start to prepare dinner. I didn't want to see anyone. My house was a place where not even one person would smile at me. Just because we lived together didn't make us family. Nothing changed just by leaving. My hyungs had left one after another, and even though we lived in the same city. It had been a long time since we'd contacted one another. Now there was no one left inside my house or out of it who would smile at me.

      When the sun was gone but the moon hadn't risen yet, darkness settled down on the riverbank. The scenery changed depending on where I rode my bike past the road that had been turned into a park, there was a place full of garbage, abandoned cars and abandoned motorbikes and tires. I leaned my bike against a pillar under the bridge and made my way down the riverbank. On the other side of the river was a group of kids lighting fires and drinking and swinging sticks around. But on this side there was nobody, nobody came to this kind of ruined place. Maybe that was the reason nobody came to me, either. I was most comfortable like this, in a place nobody would come to find me. Alone in total darkness. I thought that it would be nice if this moment never ended.


      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.


      When I looked back, the hospital was really far away. I could no longer see the bench where I had left the wildflowers, nor the window through which I used to watch the river with that kid. Upon reflection, that kid had been a space to breathe in the otherwise stuffy hospital life. As we sat on the hospital bench in the late afternoon and talked about this and that, before we knew it the sun had set. I told [her] about playing in the hideout and going on vacation to the beach, and about walking all the way to the train station. [She] told me about all the corners of the hospital. Which window you could see the river from, about which staircase to take to secretly climb up to the roof. There was nothing [she] didn't know about the hospital.

      [Her] hospital room was empty. Had she been discharged, or moved to another hospital? I asked the nurses, but none of them could tell me. For some reason, a corner of my heart felt empty. I turned around and kept walking. In the distance I could see the school. It seemed that most of the things I had told [her] about had to do with the hyungs, and almost all the stories I told started with them. To me, who had been totally alone, the hyungs had become my friends, family, and teachers. My story was contained within their stories, and I only existed inside my relationship with them.

      But at some point, I started to think like this. That there may come a day when they would no longer be at my side. I might go looking only to find them gone, without giving any reason. Or maybe something even more could happen, I didn't know.

      I thought of that night. When the huge moon rose in the sky, the world turned upside-down, the headlamps I saw from an inverted view, the shape of the car that passed by me and disappeared. The sound of an engine, familiar for some reason. I didn't want to jump to conclusions. But even so, I kept thinking about that moment.


      The announcement that we would soon land came on overhead. There was nothing visible but fluffy clouds outside the windows. I looked back on my time in Los Angeles. It was nice, having a beach. Besides that, there was nothing particularly memorable. The plane made a large turn and the city became visible.

      Returning to Songju had happened suddenly. My father had called and told me, “come back." Of course there was a reason, my father wasn't the type of person who did anything without a reason, but he hadn't told me what that reason was. I didn't ask, either, since I knew I would realize once I arrived. But then again-maybe coming back to Songju hadn't been so sudden after all. Maybe everything had already been decided, and it was just that I didn't know anything.

      I heard the kid in the row ahead of me ask, “is that our house?" I looked out the window.

      "No, our house is across the river,” said someone who seemed to be the kid's father.

      Home. I repeated that word inside myself. I didn't feel like I was going home. But it wasn't like Los Angeles was my home either. Los Angeles and Songju. They were both my addresses, but neither place was my home.


      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.


      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.

      • SEOKJIN YEAR 22 AUGUST 15:

        Seokjin recounts how he first met the girl , one month ago (July 11th) by the railroad tracks after visiting Jungkook at the hospital. As he contemplates how lonely he feels, he sees the girl crossing the tracks towards him. She drops her diary which contained her wish list, and one of the things in it was a clipping of the Smeraldo Flower and a paragraph from The Art Of Loving by Erich Fromm. Seokjin tries to do a lot of things from the book with her for the following month. He also finds the Smeraldo Flower Shop and arranges for their delivery on August 30.

        Although he knows that he is doing the wrong thing, he is unable to come clean because he is afraid the girl might leave him. He says he wants to make her happy and confess his love for her. He decides to confess on August 30 during the Firework display at the Yangji River because it's her favorite time and her favorite place.

      • 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.