Semantic Error - Chapter 2.1
Chapter 2 – Red
The first time he saw that nut job was at a welcoming party for freshmen during the first semester of third year.
The Department of Visual Design and the Department of Computer Science had jointly chosen the same location for their MT.1 The new students from both departments were sitting at the same BBQ restaurant with a few tables between them. Although everyone was the same age, they felt as though they were from different species. People from the design department made an effort to look unique. However, those from computer science appeared to be a monochromatic sea, seeming as if there were a rule that they would be caught if they splashed out. Even by just comparing the number of dyed heads, it was obvious they had different views of expressing their individuality.
Jaeyoung saw him as he was heading towards some freshmen who were getting drunk.
“I don’t want to.”
Jaeyoung had sharp eyes, but it was impossible to remember the appearance of a person he’d seen four years ago in detail. In addition, his appearance was not that noticeable. The only impression left on him until now, was that he was moderately ordinary and had a good temper. If there was one unusual thing, it was that his neck was exceptionally thin, so his eyes lingered there.
“You can’t drink? Are you religious?”
“It doesn’t matter if I drink, but right now, I don’t feel like drinking.”
The department student representatives2 and the freshmen were replacing the liquids in the makgeolli bowls with bomb shots. At that point, the design department noticed the appearance of the nut job from the next department. The representatives stopped what they were doing and watched what was transpiring at the next table.
“Do you find your sunbae3 ridiculous ? Are you defying your sunbae?”4
“It’s not because it is alcohol that sunbae gave me, but because I do not want to drink alcohol at this point.”
Jaeyoung remembers when the guy clicked his tongue in disapproval and how earnest he was in saying something so unlikely. As 90% of students in the CS department were male, there was a culture of letting off steam by drinking together.
Rather than insisting on not drinking because he was religious or allergic, the wacko just got the computer science department into trouble for no reason. It would have been better if it just ended like that, but things blew up as the somewhat intoxicated department yelled for more drinks. Normal people would’ve given in by then, but the nut job picked up his phone.
“What are you doing? Where are you calling?”
It was really crazy. On one side, they reached out to grab his cell phone, as the nut job ran around the restaurant to avoid them, while on the other side, the CS department loudly yelled for someone to bring a baseball bat. It was an astonishing sight.
Jaeyoung, who was spectating the fire next to him, stepped in as the situation became serious.
Fighting hand-to-hand, the cell phone was grabbed and after the battery was thrown out, Jaeyoung blocked the CS representative who was holding a frying pan, which allowed the nut job to make his escape. While this was happening, Jaeyoung got hit by a blow? He couldn’t remember clearly.
The MT had become a mess, but the college students drank to their heart’s content amidst the chaos. The nut job, who became a fresh side dish, was crushed to powder and chewed up like a squid. The CS department finally declared that they would kill the fucking bastard…
Seeing the nut job still alive instead of walking around as a headless ghost, was not as easy as it sounded. In fact, it would have been difficult to torment someone who doesn’t participate in clubs, doesn’t participate in student council activities, and only takes classes. The sophomores in the CS department seemed to have tried all the misdeeds they could think of, but Jaeyoung heard that the nut job hadn’t been affected at all.
As if it were a given, the nut job ate on his own and ignored it when he got cursed at, and when the bullying was too much (whenever there were hints of assault or he was blocked on his way to class), he dialed 112* on his phone.5
What was even more surprising, was that the nut job was a very sincere and excellent student. There had been a lot of talk among the CS students that the guy speaks programming languages like his native language, because he’s a machine. Despite the obstruction he brought along with him, his overtaking of the top spot in his department and becoming number one in ranking, would have remained a dark part of the history of the CS department.
Up until this point, the nut job had only been a distant source of gossip for Jaeyoung.
One day, Jaeyoung ran into the nut job in front of the snack bar. He looked at Jaeyoung with a glance that slightly rose and gave off an air of indifference.
“Senior, give me back the 850 won you borrowed three days ago.”
He said that out of the blue. Perhaps because he was the owner of the neck that he had always peeked at, Jaeyoung was embarrassed but took out a 1,000 won bill. After receiving the money, the nut job lowered his eyes and checked it as if it were counterfeit money. His eyelashes were thick. He couldn’t see well because of the hat’s visor, so Jaeyoung felt that he wanted to take off the stuffed ball cap on his head.
“I have to give you change, but I don’t have 50 won in change.”
“You don’t have to give it to me.”
He put 150 won in Jaeyoung’s palm. In that moment, a kind of triangular structure was formed when the nut job ran into a large male student. When the student greeted him, the nut job looked awkward while circling around the student and Jaeyoung.
“Wait, did I borrow money from you? Or was it someone else?” said the big student to the nut job.
“It’s me. And it’s 850 won.”
“It’s okay. Take 1,000 won.”
The nut job received the money from the student and gave it to Jaeyoung.
“I mistook you for someone else. Give me 150 won again, please.”
Jaeyoung returned the coin after receiving the bill, feeling like an idiot. The nut job passed the coin to the boy and suddenly disappeared. Only after standing there for a long time could Jaeyoung grasp the situation. The tall male student did not have a single feature that looked similar to Jaeyoung, but there was only one thing in common, brightly bleached hair.
The absurd incident had long since subsided in memory, because he had joined the army after the second semester of his third year. Jaeyoung, who returned to school after being discharged from the military, was very busy with classes, outsourcing work, exercising, and acting in the theater department. So, there was no opportunity to think of the nut job.
In the second semester of the fourth year and the last semester of his busy schedule, Jaeyoung could not refuse his junior’s earnest request to be the MC at the school festival. He held several events and used intermission to walk around the campus with a broadcasting station camera and interviewed students with microphones.
Jaeyoung met him again in front of the engineering college.
His skin was less white and soft than in his freshman year (his tan made him look like he had gone to the army), but his indifferent eyes remained the same. Jaeyoung impulsively rushed forward.
“How are you enjoying the festival, fellow student?”
He was glad to see the nut job he hadn’t seen in a long time. He mistook whatever confidence he had of being recognized, because the nut job answered without even as much as looking at Jaeyoung’s face.
“I’m not buying.”
Jaeyoung got annoyed at the moment, but he himself didn’t exactly know why. He didn’t give up, kept walking, and followed the nut job with one more step.
“The camera is filming you, fellow student. How are you enjoying the festival?”
“This kind of culture needs to be eliminated. Don’t force me to enjoy the festival, because I’m not interested in it, and I’m not enjoying it at all.”
As Jaeyoung stopped walking, he had a strange feeling while the nut job walked far away. On the outside, he giggled with a junior in the broadcasting department, because there were all kinds of strange bastards in the world, but Jaeyoung was fuming with rage on the inside.
Jaeyoung, who was about to graduate, won the grand prize at the Branding International Competition and went to an award ceremony in Singapore. Based on several awards and a large portfolio of work, he got accepted into a graduate program at a prestigious design school in the U.S. In the second half of the semester, he barely went to class, using his status as a prospective graduate, and went to play or prepare for his graduation play. There was nothing to be desired, until he received his final grades like a bolt from the blue.
Personality Education for Korean University Students (compulsory subject) – Fail
Decision – No Graduation
He really didn’t know that the two-credit liberal arts class would hold him back. There were more than a hundred students stuffed in the classroom, and whether they were listening or not, they were given a moral lecture. This was a work-on-your-presentations-at-the-last-minute kind of class. It was a trash subject that no one cared about, because it was compulsory, but a passing grade was guaranteed as long as they attended.
Jaeyoung didn’t attend the class even once. He hated subjects dealing with things such as personality. He couldn’t afford to pay attention to other matters, because of the competition exhibition and theater activities. Most of all, he believed in the promise that his junior would be responsible for attendance and group projects in his place. Later, however, this junior was in a similar situation.
“Hyung6, I’m so sorry. I have nothing to say… Actually, I also failed. Even though I attended all classes, I got 0 points for the assignment, so I got an F. That coldblooded bastard group leader… I’m already so sad that my grandmother passed away…”
Jaeyoung hurriedly bought a green tea set from Jeju Island and went to find the professor to repent for his mistake, to tell him how good of a graduate school he got accepted into, and how he would boast of the status of Hanguk University and Korea to the world, but he still failed to get his grade changed.
The professor responded in an exhausted tone: “The situation is unfortunate, but it’s difficult. I went to the head of the administrative department of the arts and had a huge fight, but there’s nothing that can be done. Why didn’t you come and inform me at first that it would be difficult for you to attend the class because you’re graduating? These days, the issue of proxy attendance is also seen on the news, so it’s hard to simply let it go. If no one else knew… The student was very stubborn.”
In other words, it sounded like he only needed to persuade the group leader. Jaeyoung was infuriated and contacted his junior group leader after receiving his phone number, but the rude bastard ignored his messages and didn’t even answer his phone calls. He seemed to have blocked Jaeyoung’s number.
As it was vacation, he had to go to find him himself, but it was not easy to find his address. He was a returning student and had no department activity at all, so the Department of Computer Science also did not know his address. There was no one named “Chu Sangwoo” on the lists of film appreciation, acapella, judo, or any club at all. As things fizzled out, the period of grade correction ended.
Jaeyoung was devastated, but he was able to laugh it off after a few days, because he fundamentally wasn’t able to graduate due to his own laziness. The situation was so funny, and he got used to it, because he got used to being a laughingstock while drinking. After chewing on the team leader with his friends, he was able to shake it off.
Jaeyoung had that much time on his hands. Even if graduation were delayed, it was not as if it were late among male students who had completed military service. In addition, the portfolio was so solid, that he was confident in getting a job or studying abroad, even if he played around for about half a year.
“Hey, good thing I ran into you. There’s a rumor going around that you can’t graduate. Then, why don’t you work on a mobile game project?”
“What game? Is it a student project?”
“Yeah, the developer is known to be a genius in the computer science department, so he’s really good. It’ll probably be fun. If you don’t have anything to do, don’t play around. Why don’t you try this instead?”
“But you’re just passing it on.”
Han Sooyoung was the same age as Jaeyoung, but she had taken a long break from school and graduated this year. She was planning to go to graduate school at Hanguk University, but she joined a large overseas conglomerate, so she was in a hurry to sort out her personal affairs.
“Look at me. There’s no time to care that much. It’s because the developer is a bit sensitive. Even if you won’t do it, go to the meeting instead, and explain that I can’t do it anymore. Yeah?”
“I’ll buy you a drink when it’s all over next month.”
It was Jaeyoung who was playing games in the club room, because there was nothing else to do. He accepted Sooyoung’s request as if he hadn’t been able to oppose it.
- MT = Membership Training. This is an event usually held by universities and other groups and organizations. People get together at a remote location for two days and carry out group bonding activities. Usually, it involves games, drinking games, and BBQ.
- Older students of a department join the MTs to recruit freshmen for college activities to create a bond and sense of community
- Sunbae is the Korean word for ‘senior.’ It is used to address someone of higher rank, or grade, in this case.
- Forcing your subordinates to drink is very prevalent in Korea. More recently, many colleges have been implementing rules and holding seminars to ensure that this doesn’t happen, as many students have been complaining that it gives them anxiety and stresses them out
- 112 is the police emergency number in Korea.
- Hyung is the Korean word for older brother (when called by a male). It is also used between friends, as it indicates a close relationship.
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