From Pangyrus

Soojin texted bright and early, hoping to gather Alexis and me for prep. It was time for our close-up: two international adoptees back in the motherland making our debut on national television. The Korean CNN—YTN—the country’s first all-news TV channel, would be taking us to Bugak Palgakjeong Pavilion, one of the highest peaks in Seoul, offering sweeping panoramic views of the city. Unlike the famous Namsan Seoul Tower with its teddy bear museum, children’s theater, food court, restaurant, digital high-powered telescope, cable car or dramatic “light art” calling attention to itself after sunset, Bugak Palgakjeong Pavilion remains free of tourists. No wishing pond. Nothing to give it the reputation of being a romantic mecca, nothing to lure movie stars to secure their padlocks on the roof deck fence to symbolize their eternal love, and throw away the key. The pavilion is a quiet affair, a place better suited for older couples than young lovers—or those who wish to remember those no longer with us.

"Staring at the other mountains towering over the cityscape, I wondered how many secrets they held."

When the YTN van pulled up, out stepped two cameramen who spoke no English and a young, beautiful producer with the best English I had yet heard spoken by a native Korean. On the way I would learn that she had spent a year in New York City as an English major studying Jane Austen.

“Hello, I’m Junghwa.” She bowed deeply. “Thank you so much for doing this.”

Soojin initiated a short exchange with her and the cameramen to make sure our interview stayed on the rails, before we all piled into the van to begin our drive across town toward the Blue House—Korea’s White House—and beyond.

Our ascent up Bugak Skyway involved driving through a 19-mile forested village peppered with the residences of Korea’s elites: politicians, celebrities, and industry titans. As we drove up the dizzying mountain, the landscape grew lusher and more canopied, hiding us in its nestled wilderness. Then, suddenly, a flash of golden light would interrupt the shadowy vegetation, breaks in its ancient forests revealing a “Hallyu” starlet’s avant-garde abode or a taste of the promised view of Seoul from the top, as the city receded farther and farther into the distance.

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