Author’s note: When I first wrote the flashback I thought when it took place it would be considered the Joseon Period of Korean history but my dating actually would have been the later part of the Goryeo so I altered the time signatures to being around 500 years ago because I don’t think the Confucian-inspired court structure would’ve been in place 900 years ago then as it was a period of civil war resulting in the Joseon being established. Also, when I discovered this error I altered the dates in the story so my flashbacks can more easily fall into some of the time periods I want to include. I’m not good with math so that was my bad.
I also want to apologise if there are more spelling mistakes than normal since my spell-checker has stopped working and I tend to miss things on my own.
Leanna was in shock. She felt like she must be living a nightmare because that’s the only way this day would make sense. She would’ve pinched herself to check if she was really awake if not for the black-and-blue marks on her arm where she’d tried it before.
Although the next day had already begun she hadn’t been able to sleep so she came to the library and picked up the journal laying on the desk hoping it was the one her Grandmother had told her was Auntie Hyun’s. Taking it to the living area she sat down and began thumbing through it.
Just as her Grandmother had said the first part was in Korean. She stopped as a photograph stuck in the pages caught her eye. It was of a family including two young girls, posing in front of what looked very much like the property in which she now sat.
Though they were much younger she could see the unmistakable features of her Grandmother and Great Aunt on the young women. Holding onto the photo she continued flipping through the Korean filled pages. She next found a series of photographs including one of Hanuel Cho.
Leanna smirked. “It looks like he wasn’t too happy with his picture being taken.”
She placed the family photograph on top of the others with a sigh. There was so much she didn’t know about her Great Aunt and Grandmother. What was is like growing up in this house? What kind of relationship did they have with the Gumiho she was now supposed to watch over?
“Is that Grandma and Auntie?” the voice of her brother startled her.
Leanna placed the journal on her lap and glanced over her shoulder at her twin. It surprised her how soothing his presence was to her but it had always been that way. She was the hot-headed one and Finn was calm and easy-going balancing her out.
“Well this is supposed to be Auntie Hyun’s journal so I think so.”
“You should ask the Fox. He should remember what they looked like at that age, right?”
Leanna grimaced. “He’s the last person, well creature, I’d ask.”
“It’s not like he’s going to disappear if you ignore him, Lee.” Finn sat across from her. She sat her book down musing at how mysteriously her brother seemed to cut through the crap and got straight to the heart of the matter. It was one of his simultaneously best and most annoying qualities.
“I know that but I’m not so sure I should be asking him stuff about the family. Grandma Hye warned he that he’d try to find ways to hurt me and so I think I should be cautious. She said to find out about Hanuel Cho by reading this journal first.”
“How? It looks like it’s in Korean?”
“Thanks, Captain Obvious! Not all of it is supposed to be but I will need to learn it to read this and the other journals.”
“So you’ll need a teacher?”
“How about my buddy Joe? He can read and speak Korean and he could use a few extra simoleans.”
Leanna narrowed her eyes. “Let me guess Finn, he’s one of your band bum buddies?”
“Hey, there is nothing wrong with making a living playing music.”
“If you’re making a living-”
“Don’t you start on me like mom and dad Leanna. I’ve offered to stay and help you haven’t I? I’m not afraid to work and I do work hard its just not that easy to get noticed by the right people.”
Leanna smiled thinking back to how her entire family had descended on the house when she called them. However, her smile quickly faded when she’d recalled just how much she’d realized her father had hidden from her for most of her life about the Park Family Legacy.
After the medical examiner had left with Grandma Hye’s remains she was slightly surprised how quickly her father had asked about Hanuel Cho.
“Is that freeloader still here?” Joon Park looked at Leanna gravely.
“If you mean the Gumiho, then yes, he must still be in his shrine I suppose.”
“Gumiho?” Finn frowned.
Leanna took a small bit of comfort from the confused expressions on her brother and mother’s faces. “Yeah Finn, it turns out the crazy story Auntie Hyun used to tell us is true. Apparently, she made me her heir and I’m supposed to take care of the Gumiho now. My head is spinning and I feel so lost, right now. Maybe I could do this if Grandma were still alive to help me but now-“
Leanna couldn’t hold the tears back and her father pulled her into his comforting arms as if she still were a child. “Leanna, I’m sorry. I tried to keep you and your brother safe by keeping you away from here but I think it made it worse in the end.”
“Leanna, please don’t tell me you believe all of your Grandmother and Aunt’s ravings?” The concern was evident on Laura Park’s face as Leanna’s eyes met hers.
Releasing his daughter from his embrace Joon Park turned to his wife with a serious air. “No, Honey, she’s right. He really is a Gumiho. I met him that day and it was just easier to let you all think it was hallucinations. I didn’t want to pull you into this mess.”
“I don’t believe this!”
“I’m sorry Honey, I kept this from all of you. I foolishly thought any of us would have to face this burden.”
“So you’re telling me that man is actually a Korean fairy tale creature? How am I supposed to accept that?”
“I didn’t either mom, until Hanuel Cho changed right before my eyes.”
Her twin brother suddenly broke his silence injecting some sanity into the conversation. “Leanna, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, do you? There are other relatives in SimsKorea and SimAmerica-“
“No Finn, I’ve decided I should. Auntie Hyun and Grandma have put a lot of faith in me and after meeting Hanuel Cho I don’t think it’s wise to toss the responsibility for him around like a football.” Leanna remembered back to the Gumiho’s threats of escalation and was sure passing his custodianship on again would only make matters worse. All of the legends she was told as a child painted Gumiho as duplicative, beguiling and cruel creatures so she took his threat seriously.
“Are you sure Leanna? The day I met Hanuel Cho he was furious with both my mother and I for not wanting to be his custodians.”
“You met him, Joon?”
“That one day we came here when the kids were young, I met him, I saw the way he talked to my mother and I refused to even consider being the family Heir.”
“Yeah, he said you were “good-for-nothing” and “had no honor” when he met me. He didn’t like my attitude either.”
Leanna could only nod. She didn’t really understand the Korean view of respect her Great Aunt and Grandmother seemed to have. She could only imagine if they found her lacking in manners how would a thousands of years old relic of ancient Sim-Korea like Hanuel Cho think of her?
“Just what is our daughter getting into Joon?”
“I really don’t know much. Our family has passed down a legacy of caring for this Gumiho. I don’t know all of the histories but I know things were very rocky between my mother and aunt for a long time over her stepping down as heir. Mom never set foot here again until my father died. Then her attitude changed, she introduced me to the Gumiho and she started pressuring me to become the next heir.” Joon Park’s focus changed to his daughter. “When I refused both my Aunt and Grandma changed their focus to Leanna.”
Finn sat in a chair and rubbed his temples. “So Leanna is supposed to watch over this Gumiho who hates all of you?”
Leanna shook her head. “He seemed to be getting along with Grandma okay he just didn’t like my refusal to call him “Lord Cho” in Korean like I was a servant or something.”
“That’s it! I refuse to let you do this Leanna! How can you expect us to accept your doing this? You’d be alone with some antagonistic man or creature- I just can’t understand any of this-“
“She won’t be alone. I’ll move in here with Leanna.” Everyone turned toward Finn. “I won’t let my favorite sister face something like this on her own.”
Leanna realized she owed a lot to her brother. It was only because Finn had promised to stay with her that she managed to get her parents to leave without them insisting on meeting Hanuel Cho. She’s certain that would’ve turned out badly.
“I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful Finn. Give this friend of yours a call. It can’t hurt. I need to learn to read Korean somehow and I suppose your friend is as good a way as any.”
“There’s the spirit!” He grinned at her. “So where is the mysterious Gumiho?”
“In his shrine I guess. I’m surprised he hasn’t come out yet. I guess he didn’t want to run into mom and dad?”
“He could be grieving in his own way too.”
Leanna frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Grandma and Auntie Hyun were a big part of his life so he’s got to feel something with them both dying two days apart, right?”
Leanna looked at her brother’s earnest face and wondered if he was, right. Did Hanuel Cho care at all about her Grandmother and Great Aunt? He was capable of emotion from what she’d seen but she’d just assumed he had been hiding all day because of all the strange humans running around. She hadn’t stopped to think that Hanuel Cho hadn’t emerged from his shrine even after her parents had left though.
“Maybe-” Leanna set her hand on her stomach as it gurgled.
“Hungry? I can make something if you want.” Finn got up and headed to the kitchen before she’d even answered. “There’s not much in this refrigerator.”
“It doesn’t matter as long as its food.” She said picking up the journal from the floor her eyes feel on the photograph of the Gumiho. “Make enough for Hanuel Cho too. I can’t let him starve and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t eaten anything today either.”
While her brother busied himself in the kitchen Leanna thumbed through the pages until she came to the first entry in English.
I’m very upset. Things didn’t go as I’d hoped but I’m sure my nephew will come to his senses at least in time for one of his children to be trained to take over the family legacy. Of course, it would be his oldest, Leanna that is would naturally fall to but there is also her twin brother if she refuses. Its for thier benefit I’m now writing this in english.
I suppose I should address this to you Leanna. I know it isn’t the easiest thing to agree to take on Daegam Cho but he isn’t entirely unreasonable. In fact, he has more of a heart than we Park’s give him credit for. Maybe because I haven’t had a family to distract me but I think I’ve come to understand him a little. There are times I feel as if he seems to enjoy my company though there still is a wall between us ever really being friends. Some of this comes from the hurt of what he feels is my sister’s betrayal. If you read the front of this book and see her entries then you might understand as well.
Though I might be able to tell you this in the future I suppose out of caution’s sake I will tell you this. There are written accounts for the last 500 years or so but there are a few accounts of events you should read more than others. Most especially the incident with Park Soo Min has encouraged both sides to remain distant and separate so I encourage you read Park Young Jae’s account if you can though it is in Middle Korean and so will be harder for you to learn to read. If you first read this volume, containing my sister and I’s time with him it will help you deal with him better since we managed to establish a better rapport with him than our parents did at the very least.
Leanna, or perhaps Finn, I believe the key to finally reforming Hanuel Cho is friendship. You man think it sounds cliche or trite but that’s something that stood out to me. Korean convention might have made this harder for all the preceeding generations to connect with Hanuel Cho. The hundreds of years of developing a master/servant way of dealing with the Gumiho based on Josoen custom-
“Leanna come eat!”
Leanna looked up and saw Finn sitting at the counter and three bowls full of weiners and beans. “Thanks, but why are there three bowls?”
“You said to make some for the Fox-man, too right?”
“You should’ve left his in the shrine. I don’t think he’s allowed in our living area.”
“I don’t know-”
“It’s so I couldn’t try to eat any of their guests or seduce any of their women.”
They both looked up blinking to see Hanuel Cho.
“So you must be Hanuel Cho? I’m Finn, Leanna’s twin brother.”
“What is this? It doesn’t look like food-” The Gumiho ignored Finn’s greeting sniffing at the contents of the bowl with a strange expression.
“It’s weiners and beans and it’s all your going to get today so just eat it and don’t complain. I already have a headache.”
“No need to be so bossy, Lee. I’m used to it but he isn’t.” Finn gave the best smile he could manage to the Gumiho while he tried to ignore his sister’s glare. “I know it doesn’t look like much but you might like it. Gumiho are supposed to like hearts and livers from what I’ve been told they throw all kinds of that stuff into Hot Dogs.”
“Stop before I loose my appetite.” Leanna frowned at her bowl shaking her head.
While Finn and Leanna began eating Hanuel Cho gingerly picked up the spoon and picked up a piece of the link before chewing on it.
The twins exchanged silent glances as they tried to gauge the Gumiho’s fairly deadpan expression. They both relaxed when he continued to eat without comment. A nervous silence prevailed until he finally spoke.
“I like these Hot Dogs. You prepared these?” He gestured to Finn.
“Yeah, I did.” Finn answered.
“Then shall you be preparing my meals?”
“Sometimes, I’m not that great of a cook though but I’m better than Leanna.”
“Is this true?” He leveled a measured gaze at her.
Leanna cringed. “I’m afraid so. My mom’s done most of the cooking so far. When I was in school I pretty much ate out every night.”
The Gumiho muttered something in Korean and heaved an enormous sigh setting the bowl down on the counter. “If it’s inadequate I suppose I’ll have to start hunting again.”
Leanna gulped. “Like squirrels and mice?”
“Or the errant human.” He smirked mischievously.
“You’re not serious are you?” Finn coughed.
“I hope you aren’t serious.” Leanna felt an uneasy knot form in the pit of her stomach remembering his earlier threat.
“Why should it matter if I’ve eaten a few humans? You eat living beings as well or do you not believe that those creatures, those cows, chickens and pigs you eat have souls?”
“They aren’t like us though.”
“They aren’t alive?”
“Well, you can’t have a conversation with a cow.”
“Maybe you can’t but they can talk with each other. Perhaps their thoughts aren’t as complex but they have them. If it doesn’t bother you to eat a cow why should it bother me to eat a human?”
“Human and Gumiho seem a little more alike than a human and a cow.”
“There is a reason my kind are considered monsters by yours. I wouldn’t worry, though. I couldn’t eat you even if I wanted a scrawny and stringy meal.”
“Hey! I’m not scrawny!”
Finn interrupted with an uncomfortable grin.”Lee, I’m not sure you want to argue your edibility.”
“Keep me well fed Finn Park and you won’t have to worry.”
“This might not be as easy as I was imaging it to would be.” Finn frowned touching his temple.
“I don’t want to think about it anymore tonight.” Leanna closed her eyes suddenly feeling the weight of sleep caught up to her.
“You look as if you haven’t slept. I suppose I’ll have to do with these for now.” The Gumiho scooped up the bowl and exited the living area.
She wasn’t sure but she almost thought his eyes had landed on the journal for a moment as he passed.
“I’m going to try and get some rest. You should to Finn.”
“Yeah I can clean up.”
Leanna found the stairs and headed down to where she remembered her grandmother showing her where the bedrooms were located fervently hoping she would wake up in the morning to discover it really was all a bad dream.
- I want to point out East Asian Folk Tales are influenced mostly by Animism blending with Confusionist Buddism so the beliefs Han expressed will reflect this. If you want to learn more about Korean mythology in general click here.