17 years later…
Summer came to the Littoral Province of Russia, often called the frozen land.
Yu Zuung opened her arms and breathed in as much as she could.
“This land has finally returned to Korea, right?”
Hyunwoo nodded at her asking. After the two Koreas were united, Hyunwoo and South Korea kept their promise to the Vikal Federation, and finally, the Littoral Province and Sakhalin islands were returned to the unified Korea.
Hyunwoo and Yu Zuung travelled to Sakhalin to celebrate their historic return.
“You’re really great, honey. I wish my homeland Vietnam reclaimed its ancient lands.”
She praised Hyunwoo.
But he was not that thrilled.
In retrospect, he began to feel empty after he watched the last moments of his parents. His feelings of emptiness deepened as time went by.
Hyunwoo was suffering from a serious panic disorder. The best medical staff tried to treat him but in vain.
Yu Zuung made a sad expression at that.
But she soon brightened her expression because Hyunwoo’s life would be completely different from now on. He gave up all his posts at his companies and turned into an ordinary man.
Perhaps he could gain a new joy in his life as an ordinary man.
Hyunwoo and Yu Zuung didn’t use cars because they didn’t need to hurry, no matter what they did. Basically, they enjoyed taking a walk together.
Though Hyunwoo was over 70 now, he continued to maintain his health by doing a workout regularly, so his walking tour was not so hard on him.
There were many people on walking tours like Hyunwoo and Yu Zuung in the Littoral Province.
Sometimes, they met couples taking a break on the roads. There were inns for such people.
“Sir, would you want to try this?”
Were they a couple? A couple of middle-aged travelers in their mid or late-40s called Hyunwoo and Yu Zuung. They were sitting on a mat with some fruits and snacks on it.
In fact, Hyunwo and Yu Zuung were a bit thirsty, so they were about to take some water.
And the middle-aged couple looked good and kind-hearted.
Instead of refusing their suggestion, Hyunwoo and Yu Zuung sat on the mat.
“Thanks, young men.”
Hyunwoo and Yu Zuung were once global figures and got the most press attention when they were outside.
But there were not many who recognized them these days.
The middle-aged couple, too, didn’t know who they were.
“Are you on a trip here?” asked Hyunwoo, drinking water.
“Yes, sir. We’ve taken a vacation to come here.”
“You look like a couple. How about your children?”
They looked gloomy at his question.
Hyunwoo felt sorry he asked the wrong question.
The middle-aged man answered, though.
“As you might have sensed it already, we could not have a baby even ten years after we got married. I think we couldn’t be happier if we had a baby.”
“Well, we had the same experience. We had a baby long after we got married, though we didn’t wait for ten years. So, I know your feelings. But don’t give up. You will certainly have good news.”
They brightened their expressions and said, “Yes, that’s what we strongly hope for. So, we are now leading a happy life, thinking about what we can do for our baby when it’s born. If we have a baby, we would like to make him or her the happiest because we had such a hard time having a baby.”
“Haha, it looks like your future babies might be very happy to hear that. What would you do? I’d like to hear.”
“Well, we have thought about lots of things. I think I saw it somewhere in a book, which I think is best.”
“What is it?” asked Hyunwoo, showing great interest.
“I hear there is the best gift that parents can give to their children. Do you know what it is?”
At that moment, Hyunwoo felt he was struck by electricity. He felt he said something about it to his parents but couldn’t remember.
He quietly looked at the middle-aged man.
With a smile, he said, “My parents passed away after leading a happy life. You have to leave your children with such memories. That’s what I read from a book.”
Hyunwoo’s jaw dropped at that.
Only then did he remember something. When Jisook was hospitalized, she reproached herself, saying the hospital bills could give Hyunwoo a hard time.
The middle-aged man continued, “Come to think of it, I think I received such a gift from my parents. I don’t have a millstone around my neck because my parents passed away after a happy life. The only regrets I have is that they didn’t see their grandchildren. Haha.”
Hyunwoo felt the same way.
Though Duyoung and Jisook were not healthy and had a hard time because of poverty for a long time, they actually led a happy life. They were happy until the last moments of their life.
But Hyunwoo felt he alone was sad. Even now he felt his heart was broken when he thought about his parents.
And that might have caused a panic disorder for him.
His sickness like that gave his family a hard time. His wife Yu Zuung and children Yonju and Kyonghak did their best to help Hyunwoo take back his happiness.
But Hyunwoo alone could not get out of the sad memories of the past.
Suddenly, he felt sorry for his family.
And at the same time, he felt he could take a load off his mind from now on.
Yea, I did my best for my parents. And they passed away happily anyway.
Hyunwoo held their hands tightly.
“Thanks so much for your moving episode. I’ve learned a good thing from you. Can you give me your contact number? Let’s meet again if fate allows it.”
He gave his name card to Hyunwoo. His name was Kangho Kim, and he was a sales manager of a small company.
Kangho stood up first, “We took a good break, sir. We’re going to leave now. Have a good time”
Hyunwoo and Yu Zuung took a walk again.
Suddenly, Hyunwoo felt refreshed about everything he saw on the road he just passed by.
One clump of grass and each tree along the road were reflected in his eyes as he had never seen them before.
He felt he could think straight now. Though he thought a lot while he was walking a while ago, he now thought about different stuff.
He thought about his work a while ago. Though he stopped working at the recommendation of his wife, he was still worried about his former companies.
But he now thought about his children only.
Come to think of it, he didn’t pay any attention or care to his children. Though Yu Zuung had a hard time having the first and second baby, and he was so happy when they were born, he didn’t make them happy.
He didn’t take good care of his children with the excuse of a busy schedule. Though he had brought them up in wealth, he felt he didn’t give fatherly love to them properly.
Again, he recalled what Kangho said to him and what he told his mother Jisook.
The biggest gift that parents can give to their children.
Hyunwoo had not yet given his children such a gift.
‘Yea, I should be happy. How can I make anybody happy when I’m not happy? Let’s live for myself from now on.’
Hyunwoo held Yu Zuung’s hand tightly.
She looked at him.
Hyunwoo made a bright smile, and so did she.
She was as beautiful as ever, and she always smiled at him.
But her smile hadn’t looked happy for some time. Perhaps that’s because he began to suffer from panic disorder.
“It looks like it’s getting dark. Let’s walk a bit faster.”
Hyunwoo walked back, holding her hand.
There was an inn 3 km away from his place. So, they decided to stay there for the night.
Perhaps they might see Kangho and his wife there again.
When they walked back about an hour, they noticed lodging.
There were four rooms available there.
When they arrived there, it was almost occupied, except for a small room.
It looked like God reserved it for them.
“Great. Let’s stay here tonight.”
Unpacking their stuff, Hyunwoo asked the worker at the inn.
“Did you happen to see a young couple? They are in their 40s. I think they got here about 30 minutes earlier.”
As if he remembered the couple, the young worker snapped his fingers and said, “Oh, they just left. They asked me if there was any room available, so when I said only one room was left, they hesitated a bit and then left.”
“Is there any other lodging near here?”
“Well, you have to walk up about 10 km to find one.”
Hyunwoo was convinced that the Kangho couple expected he would come here for the night, so he asked if there were any rooms available. When he found out there was only one left, they just passed by. If they took it, they knew Hyunwoo and his wife couldn’t find any room.
Hyunwoo was touched by Kangho’s warm consideration.
Yu Zuung was so happy to hear that.
“We have to pay them back when we have a chance.”
Hyunwoo and Yu Zuung traveled through the Littoral Province to Sakhalin. It was a month-long trip for them.
Hyunwoo learned a very big thing from this trip. He felt he was reborn.
As soon as he arrived in Sosan, he called Kangho Kim.
Kangho lived in Seoul.
Back to the office after three days’ trip to the Littoral Province, he was working hard.
Hyunwoo drove to Seoul and expressed deep thanks to him.
“I really appreciate your hospitality in the Littoral Province. This is my little gift for you. Please accept it.”
It was a file envelope. Kangho could not confirm what it was. Obviously, it was not money.
But Kangho didn’t take it thoughtlessly.
“Oh, I didn’t do anything for you, sir.”
“I know you intentionally left the room for us. I guess you walked very long that day.”
“Oh, we just wanted to take a walk a little longer. So, don’t feel any burden.”
“Besides, I learned a lot from you on that day. Just accept it. I think I will feel more comfortable if you accept this.”
“What is this?”
“Oh, this is a free ticket to use my hospital. I think it can be of help to your wife.”
Kangho received the envelope and opened it.
In the envelope was a lifelong free ticket to use Taean Ob/Gyn Hospital.
At that moment, Kangho’s jaw dropped. The hospital was one of the world’s best Ob/Gyn hospitals with 70 branches around the world.
But the reason Kangho was more surprised was that he knew who owned the hospital.
“Are you Chairman Hyunwoo Jang?”
“Haha. I’m moving around like this. So different from what you see me on TV, right?”
“I’m so sorry that I didn’t recognize you first.”
Making a hearty laugh, Hyunwoo patted him on the shoulder.
15 years later…
Hyunwoo’s whole family members gathered together. Even Yu Zuung’s relatives came from Vietnam.
Hyunwoo was in bed with all of them watching.
Yu Zuung was right beside her, holding his hands tightly.
“It’s me who wants to say thanks, honey. Thanks.”
She held his hands more tightly.
She was smiling at him with a sad look in her eyes.
Hyunwoo smiled feebly at that.
“Why is everybody making such a sad expression? Don’t feel sad. Everybody has his last moment, right? I think I have come to that point now. I have had a really happy life and all thanks to you. Thanks.”
His relatives didn’t say anything. Only Yu Zuung replied feebly.
“I’m following you soon. Go there first and wait for me.”
“Hahahah..I’ll see you again hen. Hahaah.”
Hyunwoo made a weak laugh, which became weaker and weaker. And finally, he let go of her hands.
A little later, he slowly closed his eyes. And then he gasped for breath and passed away.
There were so many people coming over missing him that the memorial hall itself and its vicinity were packed with them.
So, there were lots of memorial places installed in many parts of the country.
According to his wishes, Hyunwoo’s body was cremated, and the ashes were spread in a forest.
The government set up a bronze statue of Hyunwoo in the forest and gave a special posthumous epithet.
Hyunwoo’s posthumous epithet was Famous Millionaire.