STUFFED

Cheese-stuffed dukk (rice cakes) on top of barbecue chicken at Hoolala in Ochang, South Korea.

It had been a few weeks since I’d seen Kim Min Suk, my barista friend from Caffe Bene. It turns out he was fired from the coffee shop for talking too much. Sometimes that happens in life. He’s better for it anyway. Now he’ll have more time to look after his snakes, and focus on training for Kendo. And I won’t spend unnecessary amounts of money just to see him.

This evening we got together for dinner at Hoolala here in Ochang. The place specializes in spicy chicken dishes. I wanted to treat Min Suk to dinner, since he paid for coffee last time. So far, most of my Korean friends haven’t let me pay for anything. They say, "Next time, next time you pay." Well, tonight was our 'next time', and Min Suk still didn’t let me pay.

We stuffed our faces with bowls of Korean rice puffs, a plate of fried potatoes, and a platter of cheese stuffed dukk (rice cakes) on top of barbecue chicken. In between stuffs we chatted and laughed, showed pictures of our families and hobbies, and taught each other English and Korean. Three hours later we were wholly stuffed by food and fun. It was a delicious time!

What I appreciate most about Min Suk is his thankfulness for the time we spend together. This is perhaps the most clearly communicated aspect of the moments we’ve shared so far. Our goodbyes last forever, and he thanks me over and over again in smiles, waves and hugs.

I’m grateful for Min Suk as well. He’s reminded me time is the greatest gift I could ever give someone, and is the most precious present to receive. Nothing else seems to matter as much. And when we do finally part ways, Min Suk looks back at me several times to see if I’m looking back at him. He understands. He gets it. Not many do. We share a language of love; there's nothing more important.

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