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Jong Il, from Yang Pyeong

“Heo Jong Il was from Yang Pyeong, a fact as easy to discern as the brownness of his shorts and blueness of his tank. He clutched the elongated bamboo pole of his net tightly as the bus shook along its way. The net was made with layers of spider web, perfect for catching bugs, but easily broken when struck against something solid. Jong Il’s father told him not to bring it to Seoul. It was old and dirty, with crunchy, half-picked leaves scattered across it. He brought it with him anyway. Only when he held it could he remember the melody of “Red Dragonfly” by Cho Yong Pil, hummed to him throughout the hazy blur of his early childhood. Jong Il wanted to make sure he continued to remember.

This was the first time his father had allowed him to take the bus by himself since they moved, and he was determined to catch dragonflies and butterflies in the waning summer heat. His worn, orange backpack clanged with each step from the glass jars inside of it, each of them poked with a tiny air-hole in the lid.

The rumbling ride to the park was not unlike the bus ride from Yang Pyeong to Seoul. Though shorter, it still vibrated with anticipation and excitement and a hint of something else that made him feel like there was a hole in his pockets. He shoved his left hand into his brown left pocket and pulled it out again, looking at his empty palm before tossing his net from his right hand to his left so he could inspect the right pocket as well. No holes, which was a relief since Jong Il could now refocus on the adventure that lay ahead of him instead of whatever else wasn’t there…”


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