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    “If you’re hungry, let’s stop at a rest area.”

    Jeong Hee-seo finally turned on the music. It had been almost an hour since Ji-an got into the car.

    “It’s possible to overcome that level of sadness. They say there were people who wanted to eat under a rainbow, but I guess they couldn’t do that. My stomach is still within human limits.”

    “You can’t see rainbows at night.”

    “Ah, I know that too.”

    Ji-an continued to answer and glanced at Jeong Hee-seo’s face. A faint smile appeared, suggesting his mood had somewhat improved. Ji-an was relieved.

    As Jeong Hee-seo mentioned, there was a place where it wasn’t raining. About an hour after passing the boundary between Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do, a cloudless night sky appeared.

    Ji-an rolled down the window, shaking away the water droplets that had formed. A puff of warm, dry air rushed in.

    “Wow, that’s amazing.”

    Even within the small land of Korea, there was such a difference. A strong wind blowing from the direction they were heading was pushing the dark clouds away. Ji-an propped his arm on the window and enjoyed the blowing wind.

    Jeong Hee-seo navigated the narrow roads well, even without a navigation system. They left the highway for a national road, then found an even narrower road, driving for a while longer. The constant sound of stones hitting the car made Ji-an wonder if there was anything out there. Just when his doubts peaked, a shabby restaurant appeared before his eyes.

    The small building had concrete walls and a brown sash door but no illuminated sign. The only indication was a wooden board on the side with “Meat Restaurant” written in red paint.


    “What are you doing? Let’s go in.”

    Jeong Hee-seo held Ji-an’s hesitant elbow and crossed the store door. In the room without air conditioning, there were three round tables where a fireplace could be placed.

    No one came out to greet them even after they sat down. The sound of a large fan was so loud it could be mistaken for a jet engine.

    Thanks to the cold wind descending from the mountain, it didn’t feel like summer at all. With the uneven log pillars and the collection of fermented rice wine covering one wall, it felt like another world. After finishing looking around the restaurant and rubbing his arms against the coolness, an elderly man, presumably the owner, came out carrying a charcoal fire.

    “It’s been a while since you came. Are you going to eat meat?”

    “Yes. I would like some rice and stew, too.”

    Seeing the old man’s gaze on him, Ji-an bowed in greeting. The old man disappeared inside without a word. Jeong Hee-seo tore open a wet towel and handed it to Ji-an.

    “How do you even know about a place like this?”

    It seemed like it would be a delicious restaurant. Ji-an couldn’t hide his curiosity, thinking that perhaps finding good restaurants was his hobby. Jeong Hee-seo smiled at Ji-an’s interest.

    “This place is connected to my grandmother. She used to come here with my grandfather before he passed away. I sometimes come here too. If you go a little further, there’s a small monastery.”

    On the wall that Jeong Hee-seo pointed to was a picture in an old frame that looked like Myeong Hyeon-suk when she was young. When Ji-an looked closely, he saw it was signed by JM Group’s chairman. It was a record that seemed to be more than forty years old.

    “Wow, amazing. A really old…family restaurant kind of thing?”

    Ji-an was genuinely impressed. After hearing the story, the shabby restaurant looked different. The moment the old wooden chairs that didn’t seem like they could be recycled started to look like antiques.

    Then a thought occurred to him. Did his older brother know all these details when he wrote his story? If it were in a drama, it would be just a piece of the world… Ji-an took his eyes off the man in front of him and looked out the store.

    Moths the size of sparrows were swarming around outside the large mosquito net. Below on the wooden deck, even millipedes were crawling around. Ji-an watched with wide eyes, mouth closed.

    The yellow lights outside the store and the sound of insects created a calming atmosphere. The clock had already passed 9 PM, and his hunger was reaching its peak.

    The old man brought out food until the tray was bent and filled the table one after another. The table was covered with soybean paste stew filled with tofu, high mounds of rice, and various vegetables. Thick chunks of meat sprinkled with coarse salt were laid out on the grill.

    “Is the kid a student? Can you drink alcohol?”

    The yellowish liquor bottle made a loud thunk as it was set down. Inside the orange liquid, dead bees had completely sunken to the bottom. Ji-an stretched his lips sideways with a repulsed “Ugh” sound.

    “No sir. We just plan to eat and then head back.”

    “What time do you think it is?”

    The old man gave an incredulous look. Then from inside, a hunched elderly woman came out carrying a basket full of lettuce leaves for ssam wraps. The water droplets that splashed when she set down the basket were ice cold.

    “I’ll call a chauffeur for you, so drink up. It’s good for your body. I almost went to the afterlife catching those bees. It’s precious stuff.”

    A chauffeur? There’s probably no signal out here… What nonsense. Ji-an squinted his eyes.

    “Hey, I’m serious.”

    The old man must have read the disbelief in Ji-an’s eyes and laughed out loud.

    “There’s a golf course around here, so there are people in the village who work as long-distance drivers. I’ll call the best driver I know, so have a drink and go. This is so delicious. Good for your body too.”

    The old man, as if to prove his point, took out a cell phone from his pocket and called someone. His speech turned into an almost unintelligible dialect, quite different from when he talked to them. It seemed there was indeed a signal. Ji-an leaned in and whispered to Jeong Hee-seo.

    “If it’s okay with you, let’s do as the grandfather says. We’ve come all this way already…I’m fine with it.”


    He felt uneasy about the long drive and the fact that Jeong Hee-seo had been drinking alone before. It was Jeong Hee-seo’s choice to come this far, but Ji-an felt he couldn’t just do as he pleased while accepting his brother’s kindness.

    “But can we drink something other than this?”

    “No, you must drink this. There’s nothing else. It’s good for you. You must be too young to understand. If you drink this, you’ll jump out of bed with energy.”


    Jeong Hee-seo raised his eyebrows without saying anything. It wasn’t until Ji-an made a disgusted face and reached for the liquor bottle that he looked at him. Ji-an carefully opened the lid and filled a ceramic cup to the brim with the orange liquid, not even breathing in case any debris came out too in his overly cautious movements.

    “It’s fine. You can drink this, hyung-nim. Grandfather! I’ll have a cola please.”

    Ji-an cheerfully called out, turning away from Jeong Hee-seo, who looked perplexed.

    “Take it from the fridge.”

    The old man said curtly and went back inside.

    The pitch-black darkness and crisp night breeze heightened the atmosphere. Since the meat was already delicious to begin with, Ji-an felt he could sit and eat for two hours. He thought it would be nice for Jeong Hee-seo to relax and enjoy the supposedly health-boosting drink since they had come this far…and experience this place.

    “They’re offering to call a chauffeur. You must be tired. I’ll feel better if you drink this and take a rest.”

    Ji-an slid the cup towards Jeong Hee-seo with his fingertip.

    “Well, then…”

    Finally, Jeong Hee-seo reluctantly drank the liquor. The amber liquid with a strong scent disappeared through his lips without changing his expression. Jeong Hee-seo picked up some grilled meat and placed several pieces on Ji-an’s plate.

    The old man, who had coldly told them to help themselves from the fridge, appeared like a ghost whenever the meat ran out or the charcoal fire died down. The food kept replenishing without end, and Ji-an’s stomach was reaching its limit.

    By the time Ji-an had to lean back with a completely full stomach, the level of the homebrewed liquor had dropped to a third. The heads of the bees started to surface.

    “Ugh… Do you think this really works?”

    Ji-an shuddered.

    “The effect? Curious? Wondering what will make you get up even from sleep?”

    Jeong Hee-seo smiled faintly as he looked at Ji-an. Despite drinking the strong liquor all by himself, his complexion remained unchanged. On the other hand, Ji-an’s cheeks had turned a rosy red.

    “No, I’m not curious.”

    “…But don’t misunderstand and think I need the effects of this mysterious drink.”

    “Absolutely not. You don’t have to try hard to prove it.”

    Jeong Hee-seo let out a hearty laugh. It was the first time Ji-an had heard it since meeting him today, so he unconsciously opened his eyes wide. He pressed down on his pounding, racing heart for no reason.

    “Maybe it’s like a kind of faith. Blessings come to those who believe.”

    Jeong Hee-seo clasped his hands together playfully.

    * * *

    Before they knew it, the clock had passed 11 PM.

    As if by some unspoken agreement, not a single chauffeur responded to their call. Ji-an washed his hands in the restroom, trying to manage his awkward expression. They were stuck for the night, but he didn’t feel particularly upset or embarrassed.

    Jeong Hee-seo was standing precariously in the small yard outside the store. The yellow light cast deep shadows, making him look even more unsteady. Ji-an wiped his hands dry and approached him.

    “Honestly, hyung, you predicted this, didn’t you? That things would turn out this way…”


    Jeong Hee-seo just looked down at Ji-an without answering. The unusual lack of words from him today felt burdensome. Ji-an’s reflection was clearly visible in his dark pupils. Jeong Hee-seo slowly opened and closed his eyes repeatedly.

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