After 9/11: A Korean Girl’s Sexual Journey by Younghee Cha©
Chapter Seven…Got Soju?

December 3rd, Monday morning…I jumped in my car to go to language school, but it wouldn’t start.
The battery had run down again. My fifteen-year-old car easily lost its battery, if I hadn’t driven it for at
least three days.

If Jose was there, it was no big deal at all. I called the AAA Auto Club; they recommended that I
replace the battery. I didn’t know what to do with my troubled car, but one thing was for sure: this was
not a good time to buy a new one, since I had to pay double my previous rent…while waiting for Jose
to come back.

Several days before Christmas, the rain started; anyhow, I felt that Jose would come back home. I
stood on my balcony, having a smoke with Sopep—that is, soju with Pepsi—and looking down at the
rain-soaked garden below my apartment.

As always, Los Angeles winter rains fed life throughout the hills and mountains…which changed its
cloth from brown to green. That is the reason why, sometimes, I like rainy L.A. more than sunny L.A.

Looking down at the apartment gate, I saw two maple trees in the garden. They stood side by side,
sucking in the rain, with still-green leaves.

Some Los Angeles maple trees had forgotten to change their leaves from green to red…even though
it was December. They were supposed to be naked…abandoning their leaves on the ground, after
the leaves turned from green to red.

Some of the trees on earth should be naked during the winter season, because God said so. They
are created like that. The most important thing is, when they’re supposed to be naked, being naked is
the most beautiful thing they can do. Unfortunately, L.A.’s maple trees forgot to be naked. Maybe they
were perfectly integrated, like so many Angelinos…or maybe they were too busy struggling to survive

I poured myself a glass of straight soju and Pepsi. I drained the glass, bottoms-up.

Rain kept coming down. I wished I could run at the Santa Monica Pier in the rain, while naked. I
missed Jose a lot. If he was with me right then and there, I could have given him a more passionate
blow job than burning red maple leaves.

I wanted to hug Jose for all I was worth. Jose was the second man I made love to. It was the second
time in my life that I’d had sex. More importantly, he was the first man I had dated. I wished “the first
time” effect wouldn’t go last.

Cold rain finally flowed into my heart, like a river. I never knew, until that moment, how much I really
missed Jose. I wanted to kiss him lovingly on the eyes, which resembled my uncle’s.

At the Christmas Mass, we prayed for those who had died on 9/11, and for their grieving families, and
for the American troops who went to Afghanistan. I prayed for all those victims, dead and living alike. I
added a prayer for Jose’s safety, and for his dream, which was the DREAM Act. I really wished that,
wherever he was, he would achieve his dream.


In early January, 2002 with the New Year, TV delivered bad news for aliens: the visa laws regarding
foreigners were getting tougher than ever. Also, they mentioned that government was checking out all
international students.

Me? I wasn’t really concerned about that. I needed to study English, and to attend language school. I
had stayed at the same school for almost four years.

One thing bothered me: I worked from time to time as a freelance graphic designer for an advertising
agency, and as a temporary waitress; both jobs paid me in cash. So to speak, it was illegal; my visa
didn’t allow me to work in America.

“Hello, Younghee. You got soju?”

Halfway through January, my best friend Sunmi called to say that she was returning to Korea for
good…after finishing Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is given to international students for
work, during their first year in America, after graduating from domestic college.

After Sunmi and I met for the very first time at CSULA, we immediately hit it off and became the
dearest of friends. Each of us knew everything about the other. We both loved soju, and we
supported each other’s American dream.

She dreamed of being the next Bill Gates. Then she went to San Jose, after graduating from UCLA.
She told me she’d gotten a job in South Korea, and I invited her to spend her last night in America at
my apartment.

The day before Sunmi was to leave for South Korea, Hilary and I threw a going-away party—a soju-
cocktail party, to be exact—for her at my apartment. Sunmi loved making soju cocktails.

I prepared numerous bottles of soju, Pepsi, 7 UP, lemonade, grape juice, orange juice, strawberry
juice, apple juice and cranberry juice. Sunmi named the various cocktails as she mixed them: SoUp
(soju plus 7 UP), Lusty Lips (soju plus apple juice); Hot Ass (soju plus strawberry juice); Fiery Nipple
(soju plus cranberry juice); Cold Pussy (soju plus lemonade)…and so on. I preferred Sopep; Hilary
preferred Fiery Nipple; Sunmi preferred Cold Pussy.

For the party, Nara couldn’t make it because her husband needed her. So Sunmi and Nara promised
to share a goodbye at LAX, on the day of Sunmi’s flight home. Also, Nara said she had something to
tell me in person.

Over a Cold Pussy, Sunmi explained her future plans. She had received two different job offers; both
were construction projects in Korea. One was for South Korea’s New Capital city; the other was for
Las Vegas in Jeju Island. She would accept at least one of those offers soon.

I strongly recommended taking the Jeju Island Project, explaining to her that there was huge potential
in cities such as Las Vegas. Moreover, Jeju Island was much closer than Macao—the only city in
China that permits gambling—to Shanghai, Beijing and the other major Chinese population centers. In
fact, Jeju Island is only 10 minutes by air from Shanghai.

She was more attracted to the New Capital Project. She believed that a new capital city would help to
make South Korea a bigger country, as it were.

Over a Fiery Nipple, Hilary supported Sunmi…even though Hilary didn’t know much about the
situation in South Korea. Nevertheless, I wished Sunmi would take the Jeju Island Project.

Actually, Jeju Island was the place my uncle wanted to visit before he died. That spring when my
uncle passed away, he spoke a great deal about Jeju Island and showed me numerous pictures of it.
My favorite picture was an endless yellow field of beautiful rape flowers.

We toasted each other for luck, raising our glasses. Cold Pussy, Fiery Nipple and Sopep met in the
air with our well-wishes for each other.

Right after finishing dinner, Hilary exchanged a hug with Sunmi and then left. Hilary was busy writing
a dissertation for her PhD, the title of which was, Bisexuality Does Not Exist; It’s All a Lie. Actually,
Sunmi and I were most curious about her dissertation. By the way, I almost had sex with a gay man,
due to her dissertation. Hilary wanted to be the next Alfred Kinsey.

After Hilary left, Sunmi abruptly mentioned that she didn’t really want to leave America. I asked her
why she was going back to Korea, if such were the case. She put lemonade and soju in her glass.
After drinking the Cold Pussy, she lit up a smoke.

“Technically, I’m an illegal resident,” Sunmi said, spewing smoke like a chimney.

I couldn’t believe it. She was among the smartest people I knew, having studied at one of the best
universities in the world. She explained how easy it was to become illegal. At the end of her OPT, her
company changed their minds…deciding not to sponsor her efforts to get a green card and a working
visa through Employment-Based Immigration. She couldn’t find any other company to sponsor her,
not on such short notice.

“It is easy to turn in illegal here…You know, just after 9/11…I couldn’t work for over three months.”
Her smile was bitter.

“Then how did you pay all those expenses?” I drank straight soju.

“I’ve heard that nobody can relieve illegal residents, not even God.” Sunmi, ready to cry, drank
another Cold Pussy.

I wanted to tell her it wasn’t true, but I didn’t want to talk about unlawfulness anymore. I was still
struggling with painful memories about illegal resident Jose. I missed him a lot. There was a thick
silence between her Cold Pussy and my Sopep.

“Do you remember Matt Lauer?” Sunmi asked cheerfully, changing the entire atmosphere of the

The name “Matt Lauer.” How could I forget about him? I didn’t know his real name from the beginning,
but he was the first man ever to walk into my virginity castle. To us Korean girls, the first man we have
sex with is the second most important person in the world, following God. Sunmi told me she met him
by accident; he had just married an Asian girl. I lost my virginity, when my American name was

Sunmi asked me how I had sex with Matt, and whether it was true or false that I had lost my virginity to

“Why don’t you tell me what really happened, Madonna?”

Regardless of that, Sunmi was really wondering whether or not I was a virgin. I decided to tell her my
first-sex story, just to change the gloomy mood.

My Uncle’s Diary: 5/17/1985

…A batch of student demonstrators just passed by me. They shouted out as to why our President
killed over four thousand citizens on May 17, 1980.

It was shocking, so I went to see the photos. This was an illegal exhibition…right on Campus Street,
no less. The picture was a scene from out of Hell: people being blown away by guns; cut to pieces by
knives or even smashed by tanks; kids with shattered faces; pregnant women who had a bloody hole
where a boob used to be; etcetera.

Somebody screamed while watching the picture, “How come the Korean military moved a hundred
miles to Gwangju, killing citizens over a month’s time? And what was the American military thinking all
this time? The Korean military cannot move even one inch without the say-so of the American military.”

All of a sudden, hundreds of Korean SWAT personnel entered the University campus, setting off tear-
gas. The campus became hell, and everybody there started fleeing in panic. Running away, I asked
myself: How would that massacre have been kept secret for over five years?

Chapter Eight…My Taekwondo Cost My Virginity

My first sexual adventure involved the fiancé of Sunmi’s roommate Samantha. We named him “Matt

When I began studying under the American Culture and Language Program at CSULA, I took my
American name—Madonna—which my uncle loved, as did most of my classmates. Also, my
classmates and I started the new practice of putting famous names on Americans…depending on how
similar the appearance, since my friends and I couldn’t match most American names with the people
who had them. The habit stuck, not only with me but also with several of my friends.

Once, Sunmi and I shared a language class which spoke of the series pilot for NBC’s Today Show.
We watched the VHS of Today in class often. This was to improve our listening and speaking ability.
On the day we met Samantha’s fiancé for the first time, we greeted him loudly, and in dead sync:
“Matt Lauer!” He didn’t know what we were talking about. He looked to be in his late twenties. All the
same, he became “Matt Lauer.” I don’t even remember his real name. I don’t know my virginity-
breaker’s name, either.

Until I was twenty-three, I remained a virgin…even though it was well known that I had been “doing it”
thousands of times since I was thirteen. Nonetheless, after I moved to America, I considered throwing
away my virginity for no special reason.

On January 6th, exactly one year after I had first come to America, I visited Sunmi’s dormitory
apartment. We planned to have dinner together for my American anniversary, but for some reason I
visited her apartment in the afternoon. I met Matt, who was sitting by Sunmi’s door. I smiled at him.

“Hi, Madonna. Sunmi’s not here, and nobody’s in the apartment. Do you want to wait for them with

I decided to wait there for Sunmi, sitting downstairs from Matt’s place. When I looked up at him, he
was very attractive…especially his big smile.

At that time, I couldn’t stand just losing my virginity; I wanted to throw it away before I got any older. I
thought Matt deserved to be my first encounter. I recalled rumors that Matt had a pervert side. I
prayed to God that I might lose my virginity.

About fifteen minutes later, Matt asked where the closest men’s room was. I knew the dormitory office
was close, but I mentioned my apartment immediately.

My housemate Hilary was not in the apartment. I thought I was lucky. I called out, “Oh, nobody’s here

Matt went to use the men’s room, and I asked him loudly if he wanted a drink. He asked for “Soda
with a little soju.” I made Sopep…a little Pepsi with a lot of soju.

While we were sharing Sopep, Matt smiled, and I smiled back. When I stood up, for some reason, he
stood up as well…and moved a little closer to me, while I just stayed there. He tried to kiss me on the
lips, but I avoided it. I let him hug me. I wanted to lose my virginity, but I didn’t want to kiss him.

He started rubbing my body passionately. I thought the Good Lord has blessed me. Yet, I wasn’t
blessed. My cell phone’s ringtone kicked in.

…Like a virgin…Touched for the very first time…Like a virgin…

It was, supposedly, a call from my mom. For some reason, I believed it was important. I wanted Matt
to stop, but he didn’t.

…When your heart beats…Next to mine…Gonna give you all my love,


I tried hard to make him stop, but he began rubbing my crotch with his half-erected dick. I told him
loudly to stop, to no avail. All of a sudden, my past came back to haunt me. It was exactly the same
situation as that night when I almost got raped by a stranger near my village. Matt was getting
obsessed; I shook my head and body, saying “No…NO!” It was so gross, I thought I might vomit.
Madonna’s song was getting louder, more irritating. Nevertheless, this guy didn’t stop. Instinctively,
the Taekwondo Girl in me was brought out with a tremendous fighting-yell: “Hi-Yap!”

Everything I had learned in martial-arts class came back to me in a second. I sent my knee crashing
into his crotch.

“Agh!” With a short moan, he collapsed, covering his crotch. He began shaking his legs, posing like a
shrimp. I looked down at him, breathing heavily. His face was pale-white. His eyes almost popped out
from the extreme pain. He tried to say something, but just groaned instead. He looked like he was
having trouble breathing, as if he might die.

I suddenly got scared, Am I losing him? He was an American citizen; I was just an international
student. If there was a problem with his manhood, it would be considered murder—or at least
attempted murder—in a court of law.

There was deep silence in the world. The phone’s ringtone stopped, and I stopped breathing. Only
his thin, painful grunting could be heard.

“Water…water…” moaned Matt.

I brought water and tried to sit him up; but he couldn’t move, or even straighten his leg. All he could
do was avoid moving. I brought a straw and tried to help him drink. About ten minutes later, he
struggled his way to my bed; I had to help him lie down there.

“Sorry,” I said. Matt said he was sorry, too. We started talking about this, that and the other.
Somehow, he brought himself to ask me how I learned taekwondo. I explained that it was due to my
almost being raped, but I didn’t tell him it was in connection with my uncle’s death.

After several hours had passed, we felt like good friends with each other. By that time, it was dark
outside. He looked normal again, with his boyish face. He said, “I’m so sorry; you looked so attractive,

“I know.”

“So you’re still a virgin? I’ve been having sex since high-school;

I’ve never met any virgins in my life. Of course, I’ve never asked any of them about it either. You
know…It’s obviously…”

“Really? You’ve never seen a virgin’s womanhood?” I was shocked.

“Nope, I haven’t. But I wish I could say I have. Wait a minute. I think I might have to check the balls,”
he said.

“What balls?”

“My balls.”

“Oh, your balls. Actually, you know what? I’ve never seen a real pair of balls,” I said, with my sexiest
smile and gaze.

“Interesting…You want to see?” With his perverted smile, Matt rubbed his chin.

“No…Maybe…Okay.” I hesitated, but welcomed the idea.

“I hope it’s not broken.” He sat on the bed and opened his fly.

His manhood was a small sausage with lots of wrinkles. It was the first time in my life that I’d ever seen
a real penis. It didn’t look as good as I’d expected it to, either; not after reading all those books, and
after watching all those pornographic videotapes. He checked his jewels carefully.

“Is it okay?” I looked at his nuts carefully, but without any idea of what I was looking at.

“Well, I am not sure…Madonna, I need your help to figure out whether it’s totally fine or not.”


“First, rub it with your fingers—carefully. Fondle it, and I’ll sense whether the feeling is right or wrong.
This is important to me, and to most men.” He was concerned.

I felt sorry for him, so I put Matt’s jewels on my palms. I started to rub them. It was like handling rubber
balls underwater. Smaller than eggs, they felt soft and fragile. Somehow, it felt like wave-foam, like I
could catch it…I never knew there was hair on the testicles. I rubbed them a couple of times. Oddly,
his small and chubby manhood soon began standing up little by little…becoming thicker, wider and

“Oh, it’s great!” he said.

Blushing, I withdrew my hands.

“Don’t you think it’s only fair that you show me yours?” he complained.

“What? No…no way!”

“Please, Madonna. Please, please…” He smiled broadly, shaking his head.

“Okay, I’ll show you mine. But don’t touch.” I insisted.

“Sure. You are ‘Taekwondo Girl,’” he said, shrugging. Then he lay back and I climbed into the bed,
after taking off my jeans and pink underwear. I stood up and straddled his head, with my ankles at his

With a bit of shame, I asked, “Can you see it?”

“Not yet,” Matt said, lifting his head to see my virginity.

I lowered my pelvis over his eyes, spreading my vagina more. “Something different?”

“I don’t know.” He opened his eyes wider.

Actually I wasn’t sure I qualified—technically—as a virgin until that day. That was because no fun-gun
had ever visited my vagina. In reality, my finger had visited there over a thousand times. I wasn’t sure
whether my vagina was different or not. At the same time, he tried to see my womanhood closer and
closer. I lowered myself more and more.

Somehow, I lost my balance and fell on him…smashing his face with my vagina. He smothered,
choking on my pubic hair. I tried to stand up, but he grabbed my butt and started to suck my

I felt so bad; it was my first sexual encounter. It was supposed to be beautiful and romantic. Some
prince visited my palace, gave me flowers (especially sunflowers) and asked me for a kiss. Well, he
was no prince; he was a gorgeous guy, but somebody else’s fiancé…no flowers…no romantic first
kiss on the lips…just a first kiss on my womanhood.

Anyway, he was really good at handling ladies. He made me comfortable with his perverted sexual
experience. Then he walked into my virgin country—after donning a rubber.

We both started exploring my virgin world…Walking slowly, and then faster…Running leisurely, then
harder, toward the peak of Virgin Mountain…Holding each other’s sweating bodies tightly. It was
tough. It was steep. It was painful. It was breathtaking. It was exhausting.

No paved road.

No resting stop.

No direction.

It was just wild and untouched. There was nothing we could do except speed up. Pumping each
others’ bodies, scratching each others’ backs…Biting each others’ ears, or wherever we could
reach…Groaning like jaguars, panting like wolves, we became part of virgin nature. We were nature.

He arrived at the climax first; I just followed him, and then reached. We were right there; he was still in
me. I was holding him, thinking, Thank God I did it. I’m not a virgin anymore.

Just a couple of minutes later, as he was about to leave my body, there came a knock at the door of
my room.

“Who is it?” I asked with surprise.

Instead of replying, whoever it was simply opened the door. It was Sunmi! She saw Matt’s naked butt
and my naked breasts.

“Ohmigod…I’m sorry.” She walked back slowly and closed the door. I wasn’t the one who was really
surprised; it was Matt. He popped up like a spring and took a shirt to cover his bottom. Then he
followed her into the living room.

“Sunmi, stop! Listen, don’t tell Samantha about this!”

I could hear it clearly from my room; he was concerned about his fiancée. He dropped a bomb:
“Madonna wanted to lose her virginity, so I helped her.”

“What!?” Sunmi shouted.

What! My head dropped between my legs, That White-Bread-ass

Matt! I gave him my secret virginity; yet the first penis that entered my pants betrayed me, before my
vagina had even dried out! Just within three minutes!

After Matt left, Sunmi walked slowly into my room, as if she were the Queen of the World.

“So, now you’re not a virgin anymore.” Sunmi continued, “Was it your first sex in America…Or in your
life? I wonder what people would say, if they knew you just had your first sex?”

I was speechless. Nevertheless, I made up something new. I told her that I just wanted to eat him;
ergo, I tricked him into thinking that I was a virgin.

“That makes sense,” Sunmi agreed, “Actually, I want to eat him myself. You’re so lucky, girl.”


After I finished telling Sunmi my first-sex story, she wondered why I had rejected Matt’s kiss. I didn’t
want to tell her. Actually, I couldn’t. It was something big…too big to tell somebody else.

I suggested having another Cold Pussy…promising to tell her everything after our reunion. Then we
proceeded to drink her Cold Pussy and my Sopep.

“Sunmi, you are really good at making soju cocktails.”

We started to dance in the living room, holding cocktails and cigarettes. We celebrated her return
home, and her work toward Korea’s future.

Chapter Nine…My Best Friend Shot Me

The morning after Sunmi’s going-away party, I woke up early. Sunmi told me that, after 9/11, we
would have to go to the airport earlier. Sunmi wasn’t in the living room or the bathroom or the kitchen.

It was strange. Was she smoking? I checked the balcony. She wasn’t there either. I called her name
loudly, but just then I discovered something: Sunmi’s package was gone; so was she!

I tried to imagine what could be going on. I went to the fridge for some ice-water. All of a sudden,
something occurred to me. I rushed into the living room, to my desk, where I had hidden all my cash. I
checked under the desk. My cash—exactly $9,850—was gone! Only the scotch tape which had held it
in place was left.

I felt the sky fall on me. I felt the hijacked plane crash right into me. That $9,850 in cash was my
whole life. I rushed toward the elevator like a madwoman…and then took the stairs instead, to the
ground floor.

I checked here and there on the street; it was just around 6:05 A.M. I was standing in the middle of
the street, feeling lost. The street didn’t LOOK any different from yesterday, but it FELT different.
Something old…something painful…I realized my feet were bare.

After I came back to my apartment, I called out for Sunmi again, and again. Anyhow, I thought she
had made a joke. More or less, I wished that was the case. At that time, my mother sent money for my
basic expenses: rent and tuition. It wasn’t enough for living here, and I couldn’t ask for more.
Therefore I worked for extra money, as a freelance graphic designer, and as a temporary waitress in

I saved all of it at home instead of depositing it at the bank, since I was making that cash illegally. My
first plan for using that money was to buy a new car. After 9/11, the economy got tough. I was waiting
for a better situation. Then Jose left. I was charged double-rent. Therefore, I just kept that money for
precisely the right moment.

I checked out the clock. It was 6:15 A.M., too early to call Nara or Hilary. I couldn’t believe what Sunmi
had done to me. Only in my mind could I remember how I had saved all that money. I was a veritable
miser; I didn’t spend anything on cosmetics or clothes. I even wore used bras, most of which I got from
friends who left them behind when they returned to Korea for good. Also, whenever I spent even one
quarter, I considered it at least ten times beforehand. I didn’t even park my car at meters, or any other
pay spots. I was really famous as a Salt (Korean version of Scrooge) among my friends.

I called Nara at 6:20 A.M. Her husband, Doctor Park, answered Nara’s cell phone for her. At first, I
had a strange feeling about all this; what was Nara’s husband doing with his wife’s cell? Then I simply
figured that they’re husband and wife. After telling him how sorry I was, I asked to speak with Nara. I
explained everything to her; she told me to calm down, and promised

to call me back. Nara was sorry that she had to cut me off, but she was preparing her husband’s

Later, Nara called me—asking whether or not I had seen the money there the previous day. I told her
I hadn’t checked for myself. She asked me whether or not I had evidence that Sunmi stole my cash.

“Sorry, Younghee, but doesn’t Jose still have your apartment key? I know Jose wasn’t that kind of
person. My point is this: you don’t have a shred of evidence that Sunmi stole your cash. I know how
important this is to you. Why don’t you check out something else you lost? After that, go to LAX to
look for Sunmi. Just remember, you have no proof. I’ll be there soon, okay?” Nara was too rational; it
didn’t feel like she was my best friend.

After we hung up, I was surer than ever that Sunmi did it. I checked out my jewelry and yin & yang
rings, which Sunmi had always liked a lot. Everything was fine. After that, I rushed over to LAX…Tom
Bradley International Terminal.

Since 9/11, it was not just an airport. Everything there reminded me that we were at war. Everywhere
were heavily-armed security guards; passengers waited in extremely long lines, in the name of
homeland security. I got scared myself, and I thought it would be dangerous if I was considered a
stranger to the guards.

I reminded myself to stay calm, no matter what happened, and proceeded to look for
Sunmi…everywhere, from the lobby to the coffee shop to the gift shop to the ladies’ room.

It wasn’t easy, because I didn’t want to be considered a stranger at LAX. There were many, many
security guards; I could even hear (but not see) their security cameras taking photos to find bombs
and bombers.

Time went past; Korean passengers showed up, little by little, at the ticket-place. Somebody tapped
me on the shoulder from behind. It’s a wonder I didn’t jump clear through the ceiling; that’s how
surprised I was. I turned around…and there were Gina and Haesoo.

We had gone to the same language school once. They were close with Sunmi. Nara and I didn’t like
them…and the feeling was mutual. Gina and Haesoo were well-known among Korean students at
CSULA…especially Gina, who was famous as a slut while living at the dorm. She knelt in front of all
kinds of guys, not caring about how old their manhood was or how big it was

or what color or religion it was. She seemed to give Heaven to them, based on the principles of

When Sunmi told us Gina was returning to South Korea for good, everybody’s first concern was how
her sex life was going. Some girl being labeled a slut in Korea was the equivalent of somebody being
labeled a communist in 1950s Hollywood.

Anyway, whether I liked them or not, I was sitting there waiting for Sunmi. The funny thing was that
these two people had quite-different reasons for going to South Korea. So they didn’t seem
comfortable with each other as well.

Haesoo, whose parents were filthy stinking rich, was going to Korea for a one-week vacation. Even
though she was a student, she could afford about $1,000 in airfare.

Her heart pitter-pattered with travel. Her body and soul seemed to float on the ceiling of the lobby.
Her face looked exactly like that of a ten-year-old girl visiting Disneyland for the first time.

Gina was going to Korea for good because she couldn’t find a sponsor for her working visa. She had
to escape from America, before she became an illegal resident…regardless of how much she loved
living in Southern California. Her face looked exactly like that of an airport bomber.

Me? I was a five-year-old girl who’d lost her parents at Disneyland…

just looking around uncertainly, ready to cry.

In the meantime, we started talking about how difficult it was to get a working visa after 9/11. Many
students were returned to their home countries. Many students who wanted to come to America could
not get a student visa; this included tourists who wanted to visit America but couldn’t.

I didn’t want to talk about my visa status, but Gina wouldn’t stop talking about it: studying at the same
language school for over four years; she mentioned that it was relatively dangerous, since certain
terrorists had had language-school visa-status.

I wished Nara or Sunmi would show up soon; I kept checking the entrance for any sign of them.
Luckily, across the lobby was Nara—looking for me. I shouted her name, standing up. “Nara! Nara”
…Then she joined in, realizing I was with Haesoo and Gina.

“Hi, Younghee! Look who’s here…Hello, Busan friend…and Ulsan friend!” Nara mentioned their
home-town names instead of their real names, because she didn’t like them.

“Hi, Nara!” After Gina greeted Nara, she went on, “…Have you heard about the Students and
Exchange Visitor Information System? It’s going to kill every international student in America!” Gina
continued, even though Nara had joined us.

“What was it you wanted to tell me?” I asked Nara, hoping

to change the subject.

“As you know, I’m preparing a dissertation for my PhD. It’s entitled, Baby Boomers’ Communication
Behavior. Do you know some of them spend ten hours a day on the internet?”

“Ten hours a day?” Haesoo opened her big eyes bigger.

“So?” I urged Nara.

“So I suggest you film it as a documentary while I do my research,” Nara said.

“Who’s going to see that kind of documentary? Maybe people would like to see a documentary on
Baby Boomers’ Sex Life.” Gina guffawed.

“I’m talking about the dissertation for my PhD,” Nara snapped.

“I think the sex life of Baby Boomers is a thousand times more important than their communication
behavior. Look at the reality. Do you guys really know about their sex? Do you care about Baby
Boomers’ sex lives, healthy or otherwise?” Gina insisted, causing the rest of us to lose our minds.

Gina was concerned about sex life among Baby Boomers, even though she was the one who was
being (technically) kicked out of the country by the American government! She didn’t stop there.

“Hey, Younghee…I forgot to tell you, I left my old clothes at Haesoo’s house. Check it out, there’s
something you could still wear. I left Victoria’s Secret, too; they are wonderfully sexy. You wear used
bras, too…right?”

“Is it true? You wear other people’s used bras?” Haesoo sounded like the world was about to end.
Feeling insulted, I rushed to my own defense, albeit uncertainly. “You know…Just the same size, still
good quality…Why not?”

“Even with the same size, and the good quality—isn’t it weird, wearing somebody else’s bra?” Gina
had a talent for putdowns.

“Hey, what’s wrong with used bras? Don’t you know all manhood is used? There’s no such thing as a
brand-new penis. But you never felt weird about it when you give Heaven to a stranger.” Nara tried to
help me, “Even a used bra is better than a used penis; you can check the quality and size of a used
bra, before you wear it. But do you check the size and quality of a penis before you suck it?” Nara
explained her Used Manhood theory slowly, word by word.

Mentally, I let out a big Yahoo! against Gina…who looked every bit the loser of this round. At the
same time, I got shocked. Even though Nara was married, she was from a traditional family. Nara’s
husband was the first and only man in her life.

Only once, prior to marriage, had Nara dated a guy: a class mate of hers. It hadn’t been serious. She
was a virgin until age twenty-five, and strict with herself about sex. It was the first time I’d heard her
mention the word “penis.”

Gina was no loser. “Hey, I don’t care about the size and quality of a fucking cock. At least I check
their fucking butts, before I open their fucking flies. The most important thing is fucking this: the more
a fucking cock is used, the more it develops and the more fucking functional it gets. But the more a
fucking bra is used, the less functional it becomes. Don’t you think?”

The maiden Gina—who had tasted manhood thousands of times—killed the married Nara, who knew
only one penis so far. I shouted out mentally, Gina you ignorant slut! Luckily, Nara and I were saved
by the voice of Jesus Christ, spreading out from the sky:

…Asiana flight oz201: service to Miryang International Airport Korea

is ready to board. Passengers, please proceed to gate 101…Asiana flight oz201: service to Miryang
International Airport Korea…

Haesoo and that slut Gina started toward the line…mingling with the other passengers…wondering
where Sunmi was. Nara and I started to open our eyes wider, for capturing Sunmi. Thirty minutes
later, after all the passengers had entered the hallway to board the plane, we discovered only Nara
and I were there. I told Nara, “You go home; I would like to be here a little more.”

I was there for a long time, alone. I was just there, no reason, just looking around absent-mindedly.
After I realized my face was getting turned into a terrorist’s face, I decided to leave there. While I was
walking toward the gate, Nara called me.

“Younghee, why don’t you come over to my home? I will make kimbob (Korean roll) for you. It’s
around 3 P.M. You were there from 7 A.M. Just come over here. I will make your favorite: Nude

Even though she was the best kimbob-maker in the world, her suggestion didn’t change my feeling.
After I thanked her, I started to leave the lobby.

At the parking lot, after I smoked three cigarettes in a row, I saw a rosary hanging from a rearview
mirror. I took the rosary and held it by the crucifix: “Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women. Please help me to drive this car one year more! Just one year
more…In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy…my fifteen-year-old car. Amen.”

I couldn’t start my car. $9,850 in cash…it was killing me. I made that money by working hard…while
writing my screenplay, studying English, and even wearing somebody else’s used bra.

I hated Sunmi so much. I couldn’t believe she had shot me in the back. After I cursed her some more,
I smoked another cigarette and then left the airport parking lot.

After I got onto the 405 Freeway North, I heard a strange sound. I realized it was my car’s horn. It
made a big noise which I couldn’t control. I was puzzled and surprised and startled. I got off the 405
Freeway at the next exit, with my car’s horn blaring, and parked as soon as I could…in a residential
area, as it turned out. Unfortunately, my car’s horn made a tremendous noise…one fit to explode my

The residents, who were surprised by 9/11, came out onto the street; their faces all looked anxious
and irritated. It was so embarrassing that I got the hiccups. I hit the horn with all my might and
strength, repeatedly, but it was useless.

After about ten minutes, the horn stopped by itself and I hit the cigarette lighter. I blamed my uncle
for making me come to America in the first place. I put on a Madonna CD. Her song American Life
started in my car.

…Do I have to change my name…? Will it get me far…? Should I lose

some weight…? Am I gonna be a star…?

I just closed my eyes and leaned back in my seat. I missed my uncle and mom and grandmother,
missed them a lot.

…I tried to be boy…I tried to be a girl…I tried to be a mess…I tried

to be the best…I guess I did it wrong…This kind of modern life--is it for



That late afternoon, mechanics got rid of my car’s horn. They suggested my car was too old to put a
new horn into. Just ride more, without a horn, until my car was dead. I simply agreed with him, since I
never used the horn anyway.

However, driving without a horn was really inconvenient, especially when the car ahead of me didn’t
start after the light turned green. I had no idea; even so, I couldn’t signal by waving my hand at the
car in front of me. That would have been too embarrassing; I just sat there waiting for the car before
me to start up.

On the freeways, I had to drive ten times more carefully than before. Since I had no horn, I couldn’t
drive defensively. Whenever some crazy driver cut in front of me, I just got petrified, nearly dribbled in
my pants. Running a car with no horn seemed like a running bomb.

One day I tried to figure out if there was any way to change my car, given my meager budget. I also
brought every credit card I had; I compared them to determine which had the lowest Annual
Percentage Rate (APR). I calculated all possibilities from dawn until dusk, but I couldn’t find any way
to get a new car.

I was getting mad at Sunmi; after I cursed her with an acid e-mail, I e-mailed Dokdo. I asked him to
find Sunmi for me—since they did attend the same university—even though they had never met each
other. I knew it was stupid, but it was my best hope of finding Sunmi.

One morning, several days after I had e-mailed Dokdo, I tried to drive to language school. My car
wouldn’t move. Had Jose been there, he would have definitely had a solution like he always did.

No Jose; there was only soju. It was too early to drink, so I just hit the cigarettes. I also hit my cell
phone for the AAA Auto Club. They delivered my car to the local mechanic’s shop.

The mechanic there told me that fixing my car would be more expensive than buying a different, used
car. The mechanic also suggested I call the local junk company. I called them after I hit one more
cigarette. I got $25 for my old car.

Several days later, I bought a seven-year-old car. I started getting anxious about money…and about
how I could survive here, being in such debt with the credit card company My conclusion? I decided to
give up writing my screenplay and study English for a while. I also decided to get a full-time

job in K-town, so I could eat first.

Nevertheless, to me, getting a job wasn’t simple. First I had to find a sponsor who would petition the
USCIS for me, a nonimmigrant worker, to get my working visa.

I visited the company where I used to work as a freelance graphic designer. I asked whether or not
they could sponsor me. The president asked me whether or not I would be writing screenplays
anymore, and added they had no openings.

I started knocking on the doors of every other advertising agency in K-town. I thought it wasn’t
difficult to get a sponsor, because I got mostly-positive feedback regarding my work. Especially when I
was in Korea, I got a lot of awards from various Advertising Contests. Nevertheless, most of the
agencies answered that they had no plans, adding “After 9/11…”, “Because

of September 11th…”, and the like.

After President George Bush proclaimed Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an axis of evil, K-town became
anxious. Everybody was concerned about the war on the Korean Peninsula. Everybody was talking
and asking, “What if another Korean War breaks out?” “What’s going to happen in K-town?” “What

should I do as a Korean American?”

Nevertheless, I didn’t care about anything else; somebody could have told me that nuclear weapons
had dropped on Korea, and I wouldn’t have even shrugged. I was wandering door-to-door, looking for
a sponsor, a green card. That green card was my only concern; even when I saw a green Car on the
street, it looked to me like a green Card. I wondered what it might look like. Is it actually green in color?

Eventually, I got job offers from two different advertising agencies. One was the Hana Advertising
Agency; they said they could not be my sponsor, but they could pay very well (all in cash). The other
was the OB Advertising Agency; they could be my sponsor, but they suggested evaluation…five-time
project-based work with an extremely low salary.

I was in a great dilemma. I needed both money and a sponsor, right away. It was a complicated
situation, so I simply decided to think about my complications over Sunday Mass, as I did with most

The following Sunday, after I asked God (over Mass) what the best solution would be to my problem
at hand, I went to driving nowhere. Then, accidentally, I went to Starbucks in Brentwood Village. I
walked up to the cashier, intending to order green tea. “Can I have a Green Card?”

“Pardon me?” The cashier got confused.

My whole life was turning into one giant embarrassment.

Chapter 1-3      Chapter 4-6

© 2006 Younghee Cha

Thank you for reading this fiction, published January 2006. If you want to know more about this novel,
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