I’m writing you this letter because i’m going to Jeju Island today but I didn’t get to see you before I left.
Hopefully you find this letter tomorrow when I’m there.
Maybe my friends can message their mom’s to let you know i’m here.
I wish I could bring my smartphone but you have hidden it from me until I come back.
You think I use it too much right? I know I do.
You’ll be proud of me though mom – i’m going to bring my drawing set you gave me last year!
I’m so excited for Children’s Day when I get back!
It’s going to be even better than last time, and that day was the best ever.
Can you remember when we went to City Hall in Seoul and we had a picnic? The weather was so good!
I love that you said we can go back to City Hall on Children’s Day.
This time i’m going to play lots because I don’t have school that day. It’s going to be so much fun.
I love all the pretty flowers on display at City Hall. I just know that there will be more than ever before on Children’s day, because Spring came early this year so everywhere will be full of life.
First, I can’t wait for Jeju Island!
I’m a little nervous about going on a boat for the first time but also excited. One of my hopes was to go to Jeju remember?
I can’t wait to have fun with my friends on the trip and draw lots of pictures.
I told you that I want to be an artist when I grow up.
I hope there will be lots of art at City Hall again on Children’s Day.
I know you saved up lots of money to let me go to Jeju mom, remember when you thought you couldn’t afford for me to go?
But you worked hard and I appreciate how much you did to make it happen.
I almost didn’t go.
Don’t worry about me mom, i’ll be fine! Just think of me being happy with my friends.
Even though things haven’t been easy since dad went away, I know you won’t miss me too much while I’m away.
You will have lots of time to do nice things.
Don’t worry, dad will watch over me from heaven and I will be safe.
After I get back, and we go to City Hall for Children’s Day, can we go to the Cheonggyecheon stream?
I love the lanterns there. I hope it’s not too crowded.
After Children’s Day it’s Buddha’s Birthday and it will be so much fun because I want to visit a temple.
Remember when we did that temple stay because Grandma wanted us to be Buddhist?
I liked it mom. I want to do it again.
I still remember what the monk said to us.
He said: “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
I thought about that a lot. I think I know what it means, mom.
It’s about change. Everything always changes.
Everything grows and changes and finds a way into light.
I think that’s where flowers go when they die, mom. They don’t really die.
They go into light.
See you soon mom.
This was a fictional letter written as an account of one any of the hundreds of children that lost their lives in the Sewol ferry sinking. It was inspired by artwork and scenes from Seoul Plaza and City Hall on the weekend before Children’s Day on May 5th, 2014.
My mother had flown from England to visit me and mass tributes and gatherings had replaced a scheduled festival. We were struck with the weight of collective respects being bestowed upon the victims of the tragedy.
This Children’s Day, the bodies of many of the children who boarded the Sewol will still not have made it back to their families, but their their spirits are no longer amidst those cold oceans. They are in every letter written on every one of the tens of millions of yellow ribbons. On every message board and every candle lit in remembrance.
“After your death you will be what you were before your birth.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer
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