Sep 30, 2006
"Have We Ever Loved" Revisited
At the beginning of the year, I had the privilege of translating a beautiful piece of writing by our Japanese sister nory (aka "n829" on JOB).
Reading a posting today on KOB related to this drama, I was compelled to read nory's piece again. I find this tribute to one of Yong Joon-ssi's most extraordinary works, is just as moving as the drama itself.
So, to lovers of Jae Ho and "Have We Ever Love", I would like to share this piece again.
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What Jae-Ho Left Behind
The main character of “HWRL”, Kang Jae-Ho was a boy who lived in the poor part of Seoul, literally laying his life on the line.He was a poor nobody, with no backing, and being abandoned by his own mother in his childhood days, he bore an emotional scar that would never heal. From the very day that his mother left him, he seals off the innocent and sweet boy he used to be. If he didn’t, it was going to be very difficult for him to keep on living. As a 12 year old boy with a wound in his fragile heart that was still bleeding, he would have to support his younger sister, and survive in a world that was not only suffering from depression, but filled with prejudice. This intelligent child probably learned about the irrationalities of the world the hard way. While diligently working for his living, he is ambitiously on the look out for a girl who he could use to climb up the social ladder. For a boy who could not love his own life, to live, was to fight.Until he meets a certain girl….
By being with her, he discovers his true self – the good person that he had buried in his young age. By discovering the utmost joy in the plain happiness of loving her and being loved in return, Jae-Ho experiences “happiness” for the first time in his life, and attains tranquility in his heart.And when he almost loses that happiness, it is then that he realizes the most important thing for him. That “to love her, is to love his own life.”
Attaining love in exchange for his own life, he even acquires a sense of appreciation for what he has, and leaves behind to those around him, things that are most important in life.
To Suk-Kook, he left behind “trust”.Jae-Ho was betrayed by this man countless times.But in the very end, he was the only friend that he could rely on.Jae-Ho entrusts his beloved sister to him. And on the very day that he was to be summoned to heaven, he held in his arms, the child who was born to Suk-Kook and his sister. Jae-Ho passes on his own life to this newly born baby, who was named after him. ”Raise him with care.”Smiling, he left his last words to his friend.
To Jin-Sook, he left “the affection of a son”.They were not mother-son by blood.In the days gone by, Jae-Ho must have suffered love-hate emotions towards this aunt.Jin-Sook, who was desperate in trying to survive in her own life, Jae-Ho gradually became a precious son to her.To this aunt, Jae-Ho was able to reveal his true feelings.Jae-Ho said to her. “Aunt, you mean more to me than my own mother…”For Jin-Sook, there were no words that could please her more. To his sister, he left behind the “affection of a blood relative.”Jae-Young too, had been abandoned by her mother, but not a day went by when her older brother’s affection was not bestowed on her.Protected by her brother who was both a father and mother to her, she was even allowed some self-indulgence at times, and was able to feel the warmth of a real family.Having become a mother, she would no doubt bestow the deep love she received from her brother on to her own son.
To his real mother, he left behind “forgiveness”.He resented his mother who had abandoned him, and there were times when that resentment was the only thing that kept him going.There were times when he would look back on the hard days he lived through, and thought he would never be able to forgive her.But even as he hated her, what made him long for her some where in his heart, and that gave him the courage to live, was a photo of her.Many experiences gradually melted his heart.In the end, mother and son parted after feeling the warmth of each other’s hand.
To hyon Gil-Jin, he left behind “true manliness”.Hyon was someone that Jae-Ho often could not surpass, and was like a older brother to him.Gil-Jin was born to an affluent home, and compared to Jae-Ho, he seemed to have everything.But even this Gil-Jin fought with all his might in order to help the woman Jae-Ho loves.He was the one who beheld the figure possessing “true manliness”, which must have left a strong impression in his mind.The two men had a special bond, and they respected each other, regardless of their differences in age and position.
To Hyn-Soo, he left “pain”.She was a sad woman, who could only love Jae-Ho in her own special way.No one was able to stop her from her outlandish conduct.However, she was finally able to come to her senses, when she saw Jae-Ho silently seek love in the limited time he had left.In living her life, she shall never be able to forget the pain.This pain was a path she had to go through on her way to becoming an adult.
And to his most beloved Shin-Hyung, he left the image of himself trying his best, an image which was to live forever in her memory.Shin-Hyung, who accepted the love from Jae-Ho who gave his all, embraced his life with love.“Do you know that I love you from the bottom of my heart?”“I am content just to have you realize that.”In the end, it was as though he was sleeping - the child-like beauty and innocence that had come over him was imprinted strongly in Shin-Hyung’s mind as she prayed.“May he rest in a world where he shall never feel pain again…”.Shin-Hyung shall live on. Proudly she will live for the rest of her life, with love always in her heart.
What then, did Jae-Ho leave for Bae Yong Joon?
Yong Joon claimed that he had a drink with this best friend of his, on the final evening.
Did he send him off in tears?Did he send him off with quiet words?
Only he knows the answer.
He, after filming “HWRL”, left show business to make a late entry to college, like Jae-Ho.
He is a man who continues to participate in volunteer activities for underprivileged children like Jae-Ho.
When Yong Joon speaks of “doing his best”, could it be that he is reminded of his close friend ?
This friend of his, who was not able to actualize his dreams, but was able to obtain love, the most precious thing of all, and left this world with a deep feeling of gratitude?
Bae Yong Joon should never be able to forget him.
Jae-Ho’s strength is Bae Yong Joon’s strength.The image of Jae-Ho living his life to the fullest, is the very image of Yong Joon living his life.
I would like to believe that Jae-Ho always has a place some where deep in Yong Joon’s heart.
Jae-Ho is not a figure who accomplished something.On the contrary, he had lost his father and mother, and due to his illness, he was not able to work for his beloved. In the end, he was not even able to see her or hear her voice.
Why is it then, that someone who has so little, can move us so?It is because he taught us what is most important in life, through the way he lived. He was not a clever man. Struggling with many things, he often shed tears. But even through these hardships, he never gave up on his life.He loved his woman with all the strength he could muster, and supported by her love, he loved his own life, and then made his exit from it.
We will never be able to forget what Jae-Ho has left us.What I want to remember more than anything Jae-Ho, is your smile.Jae-Ho, who is a real living figure for us, is probably working in the fish market of Seoul even today, working in sweat, dreaming of a happy life with the woman whom he loves most.