It had been a while since he last visited Gwanghwamun.
He visited the area when he was there to buy books for his college classes and work, but that was it. Instead, Jaehwan saw the place on TV and various news stations. It used to be full of people with candles and people shouting to protect something.
But none of them were here anymore.
People went back to their normal lives. To their original lives. The only ones left here were the ones who did not have anywhere to return. Jaehwan saw people sitting inside the tent in front of General Lee’s statue eating cup noodles. Some fought for the dead people while some fought for the living. Some fought for the greater good while some fought for their organization.
And in the middle of all of them, Jaehwan had not fought for anything yet.
“Hey, why did you bring me out here? You two have jobs but I’m still unemployed.”
Yoonhwan spoke grumpily and Seoyul scolded him.
“We were fired, remember?”
After Jaehwan quit the job, Seoyul also quit working for the company. It was after an incident as it was bound to happen. Jaehwan felt apologetic for Seoyul who tried hard to get a job, but Seoyul seemed happy. Yoonhwan added, “Oh, right? Haha, we’re all in the same boat then.”
“Yoonhwan, you look too happy.”
Yoonhwan laughed and Seoyul snapped at him.
“Huh? What’s that? What’s the crowd there?”
As they walked past the tent area toward the King Sejong statue, the number of people increased. Some organizations were shouting something in protest.
“Ugh. This place is always too noisy.”
Yoonhwan frowned and looked around.
“Huh? Hey, isn’t it him? The doctor?”
Yoonhwan then pointed at a giant object installed next to the statue. It looked like a tower. It was a strange tower to most people, but to Jaehwan, it looked familiar. The tower was created by various trash and abandoned furniture, but Jaehwan had a strange feeling about it.
“Oh, I saw him too! I saw it on the news that he was creating that there.”
They then approached the tower. It was a very high tower, and it was hard to believe that it was created by one man. There was metal reinforcements and cement holding it in place in various places.
The height was probably was a taller than ten meters.
It was lower than the other high buildings, but it was tall enough to kill a man if they fell off. The doctor was on top of it.
-Everyone! We must realize! We are trapped inside the tower!
The doctor who said the same thing every time was there. People murmured as they passed by.
“Whoa, he’s still doing that?”
“How did he even make that?”
But the protesters who were always here didn’t seem to be interested in the doctor. Some of their leaders even came to confront the doctor, saying that the doctor was in the way of their protests.
“I heard he’s getting paid to do that,” someone said. But Jaehwan couldn’t understand. Who would pay him? He wasn’t representing anyone. Why? For what reason?
“Really? Yeah, I guess he wouldn’t do that otherwise.”
“It’s all for show. It’s just politics. If he becomes famous, the politicians will…”
Jaehwan wanted to burst in anger. He wanted to shout to the people or at the doctor himself.
‘Why are you still here? You had everything in this world and you adapted better than anyone in this world. Why are you being treated like that there?’
But Jaehwan did not speak. He couldn’t. He didn’t know why. Maybe there was still something missing within him. Instead, he just looked silently at the doctor. He shouted and kept on reinforcing the tower.
The cold winter laid shallow ice on the floor. He saw Seoyul blowing on her hands. Yoonhwan, who had a light jacket, spoke grumpily.
“Hey, how long are you going to stay here? I’m sure you aren’t here to look at that.”
“I’m here to look at that.”
“There’s something I need to know.”
Yoonhwan looked confused but Jaehwan did not answer. He didn’t have any answer. He didn’t know what he wanted to know, or what he didn’t know. Time passed and the weather got colder. But strangely, enough, the number of protesters was increasing. Was it a large protest day? There were protests surrounding Jaehwan and his friends now.
Jaehwan was then pushed by people coming from the back. Yoonhwan and Seoyul screamed as they were pulled away. Shouts came from everywhere. It became even more serious as police came against to block the protesters from advancing.
Jaehwan couldn’t understand any word that anyone said. There were too many shouts from all over the place. Police were barely holding back the line and fights broke out everywhere, with reporters busily trying to capture what is going on.
And in the middle of everything, the doctor was shouting alone.
“Everyone! You must realize it!”
It was a strange sight. The doctor continuously shouted words that no one listened to. Why? What meaning did it have? Jaehwan found himself shouting at the doctor.
Stop! Stop it now!
No one listens to you anymore!
No matter how hard you try, the voice will not be heard by the people!
However, Jaehwan’s voice was swept away by the protesters shouting. As the protesting became intense, the number of people bumping into the tower increased. The cement began to crack and the old rugged metal construct began to twist.
The tower was falling down.
Some people were shocked, but that was it. Most only cared about advancing. The doctor was barely holding onto the tower, trying to keep himself from falling down. But it looked helpless, as if he would fall in any second.
Why? Why wasn’t anyone trying to help?
Jaehwan shouted at the people. But no one looked at him. No one saved the doctor.
People stood there like trees that had deep roots in the ground. They were like trees that just stood there, waiting for the sun to come. Trees with slight movement would kill themselves.
Jaehwan bit his lips.
A group of women shouted for women rights, a group of laborers who shouted for labor rights, college organizations protested to lower the tuition costs, and the police blocked all of them. No one looked at the doctor. They acted as if the doctor did not even exist.
That’s when Jaehwan realized.
It was a sad and powerful realization.
The reason why no one was trying to save the doctor was because the doctor was not a ‘man of this world’.
To them, the doctor was beyond their understanding and was cast out. To them, the doctor was invisible. They were together, but as if the doctor was in a parallel universe, he wasn’t here.
Only Jaehwan was looking at the doctor.
Jaehwan then began to move.
He saw Yoonhwan who caught up, trying to stop Jaehwan from moving out, but Jaehwan pulled Yoonhwan’s hand away and walked forward.
Just a little more.
Just as if he pushed away into an impossible way, he pushed past the people. He pushed and pushed. There were people cursing or hitting him, but Jaehwan took in everything to walk forward.
He was at the place where the doctor had fallen.
Jaehwan brought the doctor up. He was opening his eye faintly. His eye shook for a second and faintly smiled.
“…Jaehwan. You finally came.”
Jaehwan looked down at the doctor. What should he say? After many tries, Jaehwan was barely able to speak. But it wasn’t what he wanted to ask.
“Who are you?”
Jaehwan still asked anyway.
“You knew about the tower from the beginning, didn’t you?”
“Chunghuh? Cayman? Karlton? Runald? Or Jay? Who are you? WHO ARE YOU! Why did you do all this…”
Doctor shook his head silently.
“If I tell you who I am, will you believe me?”
Jaehwan became lost for words. Doctor laughed as he bled from his mouth.
“Yes. Maybe I am Chunghuh. He was a doctor there, so maybe I am Chunghuh.”
“Or maybe I am Karlton. Just like he had law book, I always had books with me.”
“Maybe I am Runald. Because I may be your only Follower right now.”
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