Missed Connections

“I wanted to know more about you,” if not in the moment, he’d at least have a way with words after the fact. “I wanted to know everything but instead couldn’t ask anything…”

This was the fifth missed connections post he’d written in the last…three months? He hadn’t actually found the girls he was writing about, but he had made some interesting friends in the process. That was the thing about these posts: you weren’t necessarily looking for the person you were writing about, you were just looking for someone, anyone.

“All I know is that you boarded KAL bus 6702 at Dongdaemun Plaza station a little after 3pm and exited at Incheon airport two hours later. Maybe that’s all I’ll ever know.” There, finished, the perfect line to invite others to his pity party. Of course, no matter the details of this post, it could really be about anyone – they’d gone to the airport. People go to the airport to leave the country. They wouldn’t be checking this page, but people who lived in Seoul would. People who felt sorry for him.

The first time he’d posted on this website, he didn’t know what to expect. All he knew was that he’d locked eyes with a girl on the bus and he couldn’t get her out of his brain. He’d been lonely, and he’d found someone. He was sure she was interested, it wasn’t just him. So, realizing what a long shot it was, he’d made a Missed Connections post to try to find her. He hadn’t found her, but he had found Soo-jin.

Soo-jin was nice company for a night, but then she’d stopped answering his messages. Maybe she felt guilty about what she did. Maybe she had a boyfriend. He didn’t really care. She wasn’t the girl he was looking for in the first place.

The second time he posted, he realized how things might go again, but, thinking Soo-jin hadn’t been so bad, he decided to take the shot in the dark again. Either he’d find the amazing girl he’d seen in Hongdae, or he’d find another Soo-jin. New Soo-jin’s name was Ji-yeon.

Ji-yeon wasn’t even there for a night. She only stayed through coffee. He figured she had other plans with a friend, but she never messaged him back after that. Typical. Girls were all the same. It was a pain to feel like he needed one in is life. He wasn’t even sure why he did, yet he kept seeing these women, like the one in the Starbucks at Myeongdong…

The fourth time, there was no girl. He knew it was wrong but, he was feeling lonely one day and just figured, if there’d been a Soo-jin and a Ji-yeon and a Minji, surely there would be someone else to comfort him. Unfortunately, it was only guys that responded to his post.

He realized now the error in his ways. He couldn’t just make up a post entirely, he had to base it in some reality. So here he was, writing his fifth post. There really had been a girl with an orange bag, but they hadn’t exactly made the eye contact he claimed. He was sure the details about the time and her clothes would be vague enough to resonate with anyone, yet specific enough to keep people believing in his story. He even specified the woman as being Japanese, a little touch he thought could bring a new type into his life.

Her name was Akari, and she was meeting him for coffee. Hopefully she would stick around longer than Ji-yeon. He’d actually prepared some extra details and material just for that purpose. He hadn’t tried Japanese before, maybe they were nicer than Koreans.

“Minhyung?” She approached him with the kind of soft, shy demeanour he’d hoped for. She wouldn’t run away. “Hi, I’m Akari. It’s nice to meet you.”

He held out his hand to shake hers, a casual grin placed on his face.

“It really is. Shall we go inside?” He led her into the cafe, some stand-alone one in an alley with a decent atmosphere. Pretty typical for Korea. Girls loved those kinds of places.

They ordered some lattes and sat down at a table near the window where they could look out at any passer-by’s. Maybe he’d see someone else to inspire his next post, that is, if Akari didn’t stick around like he hoped.

“So, did you ever hear from that girl?” Her eyes widened with sincere concern for him. Women were so predictable.

“No, no I haven’t. I’m afraid she’s gone forever,” he tried to convey his sorrow as effectively as possible. The worse she felt for him, the better.

“That’s a shame. It sounds like you really felt something,” she paused for a second, clearly moved by his pitiful story. “It can be so hard to meet people these days.”

“Yeah,” he gave a small, sad smile, his speciality. “It can be. But at least I was able to meet you.” He reached his hand across the table and touched hers. He wasn’t actually sure how this would look to a Japanese woman. It was pretty bold for a Korean on their first meeting, but younger people really weren’t as traditional as they told their parents they were.

She pulled her hand back slightly. Apparently it was too bold for her. A minor setback, but he’d work past it.

“What are you doing?” Her face looked concerned still, but not with the addition of confusion.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” That at least wasn’t a lie.

“Then what did you mean to do?” Both the concern and confusion were slowly leaving her face. He began to sweat a little. This wasn’t part of the plan.

“E-excuse me? What do you mean?” He tried to play dumb as best as he could.

“What do you mean to do? Why did you meet me?” Her tone was rising, this couldn’t be good. “What about this other girl – does she even exist?”

“Y-yeah..” he tried to backtrack quickly. “Of course she does! What do you think I did just make her up?”

“Well I’m not the one who said it, now am I?” Full rage shone on her face now. “How often do you do this? How many posts have you made, so you can prey on the good will of women you would never otherwise have a chance at talking to??”

“I-I-I…”

“I came here to help you. I thought maybe I could try to track down this woman back home. How stupid of me to think that anything decent could have come from this meeting,” she paused again, this time clearly collecting her thoughts, which must have been whirling around her head with all of that rage. “Do every woman in Seoul a favour and stop, okay? Just stop. It’s creepy and it’s wrong and you’re gross. If you want to meet women, go to a club, go to a bar, get your friends to set you up on blind dates. Don’t act like we’re toys to be manipulated. Learn some respect,” and with that, she stormed off, latte left on the table.

He’d have to rule out Japanese women. Maybe an American next time, he’d heard they were a lot easier.

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