Posted by: Juweon | April 11, 2009

“Testicle” Friend?!?!

left to right: 7-year old me, my younger brother and my formerly lost BFF Daesung on our first day of elementary school.  (already starting with that suit jacket...)

left to right: 7-year old me, my younger brother and my formerly lost BFF Daesung on our first day of elementary school. (already starting with that suit jacket...)

This is one of the many amazing stories that were added to my book of life through the magic of the Best Job in the World campaign…

We all have our childhood BFFs (for those who are acronym-challenged, BFF=best friend forever).  Whether it was in preschool, kindergarten or elementary school, differs from person to person, but we all had that friend that we were attached at the hips.  Koreans have a funny word for a friend like this, they call them 불알친구, bul-al chin-gu, literally translated as “bul-al = testicle; chin-gu = friend.”  Yeah… I know, very weird but it makes sense because it’s one of those friends that you knew since you were so little that you have the “infamous” bathtub photo (you guys know what I’m talking about, it’s the one where your mothers thought it would be cute if they took a picture of you guys being bathed together as babies).  It can also have an added meaning if you take in the public bath culture here in Korea, but that’s a whole another blog that I won’t be writing unless I need to drastically increase the hits on my blog.  Anyways, simply put, a bul-al chingu is a friend who goes way back into your childhood.

Michael Knight and KITT = the epitome of "cool" in my childhood

Michael Knight and KITT = the epitome of "cool" in my childhood

Before my time in the US, I had such a friend here in Korea.  In fact, he is the reason why my middle name is Jonathan.  His name was Daesung and our friendship began in preschool.  I remember one winter, we begged our moms to buy us the same black leather jacket so we can both pretend to be Michael Knight – David Hasselhoff’s character in the popular 80’s TV series Knight Rider (we got American TV shows dubbed in Korean).  MacGyver, The A-Team, and Air Wolf were some of my other American import favorites along with The Wonder Years and Murder She Wrote.  When my parents gave my brother and I the option of choosing our own English names, we both wanted to be called Michael for obvious reasons but my

MacGyver... awesome mullet, not so awesome as a first name

MacGyver... awesome mullet, not so awesome as a first name

brother won the rock, paper, scissors match.  I then opted for the second coolest American I knew, MacGyver, but I was told by my American born cousins that choosing that route would cause me years of mental and possibly, physical turmoil (although Juweon MacGyver Kim does have a nice flow to it).  So I chose Jonathan because Daesung and I always used to say that we were best friends like the Biblical characters David and Jonathan in the Old Testament.  Since my Korean name started with a J, I went with Jonathan.

Daesung and I were inseparable.  If either of our moms wanted to locate us, all they had to do was call the other’s house.  We always walked back from preschool together, raced our bikes around the neighborhood and built Lego fortresses for our imaginary intergalactic wars.  I recall being so disappointed at the fact that Daesung and I were not in the same 1st grade class when we entered elementary school, but since his apartment was right across the street from the school, neither of us showed any symptoms of withdrawal.

My family moved after I finished the 1st grade.  Daesung and I did exchange letters and pictures through the snail mail for a couple of years.  I’m sure if I go dig around some of the shoe boxes back in my parent’s home, I could find a couple of those letters.  But after a while, both of us got busy with our own lives half way across the world from each other and we soon lost contact.

I’ve been trying to find Daesung ever since my visit to Korea in 2001.  It was my first time being back after 10 years of being away from Korea, but I couldn’t locate him.  In 2006, when I moved to Korea after college, I set out to find him again, even asking a family friend who worked in the central prosecutors’ office, but to no avail since Daesung was such a common name in the country.  I had basically given up any hope of finding my childhood BFF until last Monday.

Naver - the reason why Google will never make it big here in Korea

Naver - the reason why Google will never make it big here in Korea

Monday, April 6th was when Korea’s internet newspapers and portals exploded with my story of making the final 16.  I was on the front page of Naver and Daum, two of Korea’s biggest search engines and my story was on the front page of Cyworld, Korea’s version of facebook.  My Cyworld page got 1499 hits that day, which was more than double the total number of visitors I had until then.  I got scores of random messages from perfect strangers congratulating me and wishing me luck, but one of them stood out.  It was from a girl that said that my picture looked very familiar and asked me if I happened to live in Hongjae-dong, my old neighborhood.  She then wrote that her younger brother, Daesung had a best friend that looked a lot like me and had the same name as me.

check it out - www.cyworld.com/texasjon BUT be warned... very mac-unfriendly :(

check it out - http://www.cyworld.com/texasjon BUT be warned... very mac-unfriendly 😦

I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT!  The one person I wanted to see the most here in Korea actually found me because of the BJITW campaign.  Life really is so unpredictable and it finds a way to surprise you when you least expect it.  So after 20 years of not seeing each other, I’m meeting Daesung this afternoon in my old neighborhood of Hongjae-dong.  I’ll keep you guys posted.

Oh, one more thing…

THANK YOU TQ for making this possible.

TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE DAY:


P.S.  I know it’s only April and X-mas is really far away, but for those of you who like to shop early, these would make EXCELLENT stocking-stuffers for one island caretaker candidate from Seoul.

Knight Rider - The Complete Set on DVD

Knight Rider - The Complete Set on DVD

MacGyver - The Complete Set on DVD

MacGyver - The Complete Set on DVD

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Responses

  1. See~aren’t you glad I helped you actually get your cyworld up and running~~ have fun today oppa~ miss u~<3

  2. I remember we once found a bust statue of Beethoven in our “fortress” bush by our apartment one day.

    Umm…that’s about it.

  3. Michael, the bust was actually found in Shindaebangdong when we lived with Grandpa and Grandma(fixed it) right before we moved to the US. Daesung wasn’t there for that.

  4. Jonathan, we lived with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa is not gay.

  5. That’s SOOO great Juweon I’m so happy for you!

    Linda

  6. […] 20 years.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out part I of this story here.)  We decided to meet in front of the Shinsegae department store in Banpo, partly because it was a […]


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