Koka is a lesbian in a country that doesn’t recognize homosexuality.
South Korea, when I was there, was going through a bit of a 50s era. All commercials feature a husband and wife and one or two kids, a white picket fence, and a dog. There is a lot of emphasis on being “Normal.” Telling someone they are weird is something the kids I was teaching didn’t like. They would call me weird on a regular basis because I had long hair and would dance around to make them laugh.
So, being homosexual is something most Koreans just ignore. Or they might even believe it doesn’t actually exist, I’m not sure. But of course Koka couldn’t ignore it because you don’t choose the hand you’re dealt. She is gay and that’s all there was too it.
Sitting on my heated floor and swaying slightly this way and that from all the beer we drank Koka told me this:
“You know plastic surgery is very popular here. My family is very rich. So rich. You wouldn’t believe it. When I was young my brothers and father wanted me to get plastic surgery because I’m not pretty. They wanted to change me face. I was like, I don’t want to change my face. This is my face. My mother was afraid I wouldn’t meet a man and get married. I was never interested in men. Ever. I wanted to keep my face.
“One morning I woke up and was tied up. I was 16 I think and my brothers and father had tied me up and carried me to the van and were taking me to the plastic surgeons so he would change my face. On the car ride there, they hadn’t tied the ropes very well, I broke free and at a stop I ran out of the car and ran away. My father gave all of us credit cards so before he could cancel it I checked into hotel and books 3 days and paid in advance.
“I called him from there. They had gone back home and after three days living in that hotel I went back home because they promised never to make me change my face. I mean, you know? It’s my face.”
I told her that was one of the craziest stories I’d ever heard. She agreed. it was a crazy story.
“But you know what?”
“What?” I asked.
“Now that he’s gone I realize how much he loved me.”
Inside I cringed. This wasn’t my problem. There was obviously some serious guilt inside of Koka. Why I wasn’t sure. Because she hadn’t been the daughter her father had wanted?
“It wasn’t your fault,” I told her.
“I know that,” she said. “I think it was my brothers fault.”
Those who feel guilt are commonly the ones to place blame elsewhere. This was turning sour in a hurry and I didn’t know what to do.
“I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault,” I said, not wanting to blame her father, as it was, in the end, his decision, but I didn’t think Koka could hear criticism of her father at that moment.