12 (Sat) September 2015
with the wife & kids, Mom, Aunt H, LH
The Prodigal Son Returns to Attend His Son’s Preschool Open House, Day 1.
Fall 1998 to fall 1999, while interning at a law firm in Seoul before entering law school, I spent most of my nights at Teum, a bar. Tucked away in an unassuming back alley of Cheongdam-Dong, a couple blocks from my parents’ house where I was staying, I’d discovered the place on my way to the video store. From then on, I was there 4-5 days a week, often going out for more drinks with everyone after closing*. I grew very close to them, from the owner* and staff to the other regulars, including many celebrities, such as Kim Gun Mo* — who bought me a drink when I told him that my family had once lived in the unit directly above his mother’s apartment in Bundang.
Indeed, by the time that I flew off to the States for school, I was engaged to the bartender* — she broke it off*, before the end of the first semester.
In 2001, the owner sold the business to a member of the staff. YW had started out in the bar as a part-time server — incidentally, I was the one who’d poached* her from a neighboring establishment. Teum went on, but it was never quite the same.
Returning to Korea for good in 2003, I no longer frequented the bar on a regular basis, just stopping by every few weeks to see YW.
On that infamous night in 2006, when three streams of destiny collided as I cheated on my girlfriend, met my future wife, and got dumped by my movie star mistress, all within a 3-hour period, it all culminated at Teum*.
I stopped going to Teum altogether after I got married, later that year in 2006, mostly because the wife had always suspected something between me and YW — no — and gave me grief whenever I went there, and I got tired of defending myself over nothing.
Eventually, for reasons that I can’t recall, I fell out of touch with YW.
A few years ago, I was driving by and saw that Teum had shut down for good, the space available for lease.
*Each in itself a story for a rainy day.
Don’t know what possessed me to suggest Duru for dinner, as we hadn’t been there in nearly 5 years (see most recently 1.330 Guksi), and it had never been a go-to venue for us.
Calling to verify that it was still in business, we were informed of the relocation, a half-block away.
Upon arrival, I realized that the new location is in the building where Teum used to be.
The food, just as I remembered. Mains, passable yet overpriced. Noodle soup, the only item really worth getting. Better for a quick bite at lunch than a full meal at dinner.
Earlier today, we spent the morning at IZ’s preschool, which held an open house for parents.
Last year, at a similar event, I ran into YW, much to our mutual surprise. Her: “What are you doing here?!” Me: “What are you doing here?!” Her: “My kid goes here.” Me: “My kid goes here.” Her: “…(as the realization kicks in)…you’re the Hahm in Ian Hahm?!?!” I still suspect that this may be an elaborate drawn-out practical joke.
IZ and JW
Turns out that my kid and her kid are BFFs. Apparently, whatever connection between the dad of one and the mom of the other was carried on to the next generation.