We’re freezing our butts off in Central Park trying to get shots for our NYC photo book. It was in between shots when we got to wrap ourselves in blankets the PAs had brought.
“Kwaench’ana?” Jae Joong asked me. “Your lips are turning blue,” he laughed.
“I’m just not used to the cold. Must they always shoot everything a season before it’s due?” I complained.
“You know how it is,” he smiled, and pulled the blanket tighter around my neck for me.
“Jae Joong!” the producer called. It was his turn again. He threw off his blanket and braved the cold for his next shot.
We were dressed in summer clothing and shooting in Central Park during the New York winter. Imagine that! The guys didn’t find it as cold as they were used to the Korean winter, which was definitely harsher than New York winter. I was the only one struggling since I refused to get used to any weather other than the tropical one I was born to. As I stood near the crew shooting Jae Joong, while sipping the hot drink the PA had brought me, Yun Ho came up beside me.
“Cold?” Yun Ho asked. He didn’t look at me when he asked his question. He looked to his left, as if he was looking at something far away; as he rubbed his hands together and stuffed them in his pockets.
“I’m fine,” I said as I turned away, since he didn’t intend to look at me.
“Didn’t seem fine when you were complaining to Jae Joong,” he laughed.
“You know me,” I said.
“I know,” he said. “Makes me miss the days you used to complain to me.”
I sighed and turned to walk away. Ever since we’d arrived in New York, Yun Ho has been acting really weird. He’d come to me several times to reminisce about our past together. Just yesterday, before the concert began, he’d come to me while I sat in the chair, waiting for the hairstylist to do my hair. Jae Joong had walked off somewhere a moment ago.
“Ready?” he asked me. He was a one-liner whenever he started a conversation with me these days.
“Do I look like I’m ready?” I laughed nervously.
“You’ve looked like you were ready since the day we met,” he said.
“Thanks… You’re like my No.1 supporter,” I smiled.
“And where does Jae Joong stand, then?” he asked.
“You’re both my No.1 supporters. In fact, all my friends and family are my No.1 supporters.”
“Hmm… So I’m just a friend?” he asked.
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“It’s tough to know that I don’t mean as much to you as I used to,” he said.
“Yun Ho-yah,” I pleaded. Did he have to bring up the past now?
“Mian,” he mumbled, and walked away.
I’m sitting on a bench some distance away from the shoot. I looked at the trees around me. They were bare, and though many may say that it looked depressing, I think it looks beautiful. As I sat there and daydreamed, Chang Min came to sit down beside me.
“Why are you here alone?” he asked me.
“Just enjoying the scenery, and the peace.”
“There’s nothing here you won’t find in Korea,” he smiled.
“No need to be so patriotic,” I laughed. “Korea’s beautiful, but New York has its own charm too.”
“I guess,” Chang Min said as he leaned forward, with his hands sandwiched between his thighs.
“So how’s New York for you?” I asked him.
“It’s okay. But I’m missing Korean food,” he said and gave me a sad look.
“Aww…” I laughed and patted him on the back. “We can always go to a Korean restaurant tonight.”
“That’s what I suggested, and Jun Su hyung said that he wanted to try out more of the local food instead.”
“He’s just teasing you. I’m sure he misses Korean food as well.”
Just then we heard a commotion coming from the set. We looked up and saw a big group of girls talking to one of the producers.
“What's wrong?” Chang Min muttered to no one in particular.
“Fans…” I said as I got up to walk toward the set and Chang Min trailed after me.
As we approached the group, we could hear the girls having a heated discussion with our producer.
“We’ll just stand here and we won’t bother them, we promise,” the girl said. I squinted and recognized that it was Tresa from Asteria.
“Tresa!” I called out.
“Onni!” she squealed. “Please tell this evil man here that we’re just here to watch.”
“Hyung, it’s fine. They know how to conduct themselves.”
“What if one of them barges in and ruins the shoot?” he said. “We don’t have time to waste here today.”
“They’ll be good, hyung. Just let them stand somewhere and watch,” I said as I looked at the group. “There are just like, 20 of them here. It's not a mob.”
“Fine,” he said and turned to walk away. “I don’t want any trouble from the lot of you,” he added loudly as he was walking off.
The girls cheered as soon as the producer was some distance away.
“Thanks, onni!” Anna hugged me.
“No problem,” I smiled. “I’m just a fan helping out my fellow fans,” I winked.
“Onni,” Lisa came up to me. She held out a thermos flask, motioning for me to take it.
“What’s this?” I asked as I took it from her.
“It’s spicy tofu soup, for Chang Min,” she smiled shyly. “But the other guys can have some too. I just thought he might be cold and he probably missed Korean food.”
“Aww,” I teased and I handed the flask back to her. “Why don’t you give it to him yourself?”
“I can?” she said, her eyes widening in surprise.
“Sure, I’ll take you to him.”
“And we’ll be right here,” Tresa laughed.
I put my arm around Lisa as I lead her towards the trailer about 20 feet away, where Chang Min was playing di-bi-di-bi-dib, that game from Heroine 6, with Skye. How mature…
“Chang Min!” I called.
“Wae?” he said as he turned to look at me and when he noticed Lisa, he grinned.
“Come here!” I said and he jogged over.
“Annyong!” he exclaimed to Lisa, who just stared at him, star struck.
“Erm… annyong,” she said shyly after I’d nudged her.
“Aren’t you the girl who brought me mandu yesterday?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Is that for me?” Chang Min asked, eyeing the flask in her hands.
“Yes,” she said and she thrust the flask into his hands, like some kind of sudden reflex.
“Komawo,” Chang Min laughed as he started to unscrew the cap of the flask. He peered in and then looked up to smile broadly at Lisa. “Sundubu!!” he exclaimed.
“Yes,” she smiled.
“How lucky are you, Chang Min,” I teased. “Someone actually loved you enough to bring you soup.”
“Did you make it yourself?” he asked Lisa.
“No,” she replied. “I got a takeaway from a nearby restaurant on my way here.”
“Komawo!” he said as he brought the flask to his mouth to drink it.
“Be careful, it’s hot!” Lisa warned, but it was too late.
“Ahh…” Chang Min exclaimed when he scalded his tongue.
“Are you okay?” Lisa asked him.
“I’m fine?” he laughed. “I was just so excited. I really miss Korean food.”
“I know,” Lisa smiled.
“I’ll leave you two lovebirds alone,” I laughed. “Don’t take too long, Lisa. The producer is giving me the evil eye again.”
“Sure, onni,” Lisa smiled as I walked away. As I turned around, I saw that Yoo Chun had found his way to the group and was chatting up Tresa.
“Yah! Yoo Chun!” I hollered as I walked up to him. “Leave those innocent girls alone.”
“Sierra-yah… what do you mean by that?” he said and pretended to look hurt.
“You know what I mean,” I said as I smacked his arm.
“See what I have to put up with when on tour?” he whined to Tresa as he rubbed his arm.
“Onni,” Tresa said. “Don’t bully Yoo Chun.”
“Bully him? He bullies me more often.”
“I find that hard to believe,” Tresa winked at Yoo Chun.
“Finally!” Yoo Chun exclaimed and put his arm around Tresa. “Someone who believes me.”
The look on Tresa’s face was priceless. She was in shock for a moment, then she smiled happily when she realized the position she was in.
“Man, it’s cold,” Anna said as she walked towards us. The other girls were busy ogling at Yun Ho and Jun Su who were being shot together.
“I know,” I grumbled. “I hate the cold.”
“So how are things with you and Jae Joong,” Anna asked me. It was pretty weird to talk to her about Jae Joong, because I knew that she was a Jae Joong fan. But she seemed to be a real sport about it.
“Fine,” I smiled. “Learning each day.”
“Treat him well, onni. He needs lots of love,” she said. “And if you don’t do your job, I’m gonna step in,” she added with a mischievous glint in her eye.
“As if,” I retorted playfully.
“If what?” Jae Joong said as he walked up from behind me.
“I told onni that if she didn’t take good care of you, I’d take over her job,” Anna told Jae Joong.
“Ooh! Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind,” he laughed.
“Yah!” I shouted and smacked him on the arm. “What do you mean by that?”
“It’s just a backup plan,” he continued to laugh.
“I’m not your mother,” I said. “I’m not responsible for taking care of you.”
“But you’re my girlfriend,” he pouted, “You have to at least show some concern for me.”
“Onni, oppa… stop!! I can’t watch this anymore,” Anna laughed. “You guys… you’re breaking my heart, oppa. I don’t need to see how much you love onni.”
“Sorry, Anna,” he smiled. “But its true... this girl here has bewitched me,” he said and put an arm around me.
“You remember my name?” Anna asked in surprise.
“Sure I do,” Jae Joong replied, “and don’t you know Yoo Chun’s family in Virginia?”
“Yes, I do,” Anna said excitedly.
“My family?” Yoo Chun suddenly butt in.
“I know your uncle,” Anna explained.
“Oh… so you’re that Anna,” he smiled. “Nice to finally meet you.”
“Omigod… this is surreal. I never thought that you guys would remember me.”
“You’re a memorable fan,” Jae Joong said.
“Komawo, oppa!” Anna smiled.
Shooting wrapped up as the sky darkened. We headed to Kum Gang San on 49 West 32nd Street, in the Holiday Inn building, to have dinner with the 20 odd Asterians who’d showed up at Central Park, and we ordered such a feast for all. Pulgogi (BBQ beef), kimbap (rice wrapped in seaweed), bibimbap (mixed vegetables on rice) for some of them, samgye tang (Ginseng chicken soup), tteokbok-kki (stir-fried rice cake), nakji pokkeum (stir-fried octopus), which I didn’t touch, a huge assortment of kimchi and cold dishes, and the list went on and on. Chang Min looked like he’d died and gone to heaven the moment the food was served.
“Yaaa!!!” he exclaimed happily as he picked up his chopsticks.
Everyone at the table smiled at Chang Min’s antics. We’d made the restaurant staff join up the tables so that we sat in groups of 15. Jae Joong, Chang Min, Skye and I sat at one table, while Yun Ho, Jun Su, Yoo Chun and Shoei sat at the other.
“Konbae!” we yelled as we raised our glasses. The guys and I were of legal age to drink, except Chang Min, of course. In the USA, he was still considered a minor, so we teased him by not allowing him to drink.
“Hyung,” he pouted, “I just want a sip,” he whined to Jae Joong.
“Nope, none for you,” Jae Joong said gleefully. “I don’t want to go to prison in a foreign country just so you can have a little sip of soju.”
“It’s fine, oppa,” Lisa said in Chang Min’s defense. “I’ve drank soju lots of times at the Korean restaurants back in Seattle.”
“We’re law abiding tourists,” Jae Joong laughed.
“Okay, enough,” I laughed and started to pour soju into an empty cup. “Here you go, Chang Min,” I said, as I slid the cup across the table towards him.”
“You party pooper,” Jae Joong jabbed me in the ribs, making me jump.
“Yah!! Don’t do that!” I said and poked him back.
“Thanks, Sierra,” Chang Min smiled and downed his soju in one gulp. “Aaahhh…” he rasped when he was done.
“You look so adorable when you do that,” I smiled. “Lisa looks like she’s gonna gobble you up.”
“Onni!” Lisa gasped and her face started to turn red.
“Lisa’s a polite girl,” Chang Min said as he put his arm around her. “She doesn’t gobble,” he laughed and Lisa looked like she was about to faint.
After dinner, we gathered outside the restaurant and the guys thanked each girl personally.
“Thanks for coming,” Yun Ho smiled at Ari before giving her a quick hug.
“Oppa, will you write to me?” Lisa asked Chang Min.
“Sure I will,” he smiled and fished his pockets. He produced a card and grabbed a pen off Yoo Chun who’d just finished signing a photo. He scribbled something on the back of the card and passed it to Lisa. “This is my email address, for your eyes only,” he winked.
“Komawo oppa!” Lisa squealed and hugged Chang Min.
“Kwaench’ana,” he smiled and hugged her back. “You brought me mandu and sundubu, this is the least I can do.”
The next morning, we boarded the plane to head back to Korea. Hundreds of fans showed up at JFK to see us off. It was touching to see that we had so many fans at an international level. Even though we knew that they were mainly here for TVXQ, it touched us to see some of them carrying banners for S-Cube as well. We waved crazily as we entered the departure hall.
“I really hope that we can come back to perform someday,” Jun Su sighed as we walked towards the immigration counters.
“Sure we will,” Yun Ho smiled, and we all nodded in agreement.