Dearest Reader:

Though no one else will read this, it doesn’t deprive it of meaning in our eyes. Everything will eventually fade away and be forgotten, no? The status of this work is the same as that of the most famous work plus a long duration of time.


“Cyber Café”

He steps in. Immediately, the flash of exterior light dips into the dark coolness of the cyber café, the PC Bang. Neon lighting runs along the borders of the walls, some with posters for action movies or new games with the title alternatively in Roman script and Korean Hangul. A man stands wearily at a counter in front of him, an older man, his brow furrowed, eyes lightless as he toys with the register. He walks up to the counterman and slides two bright blue bills toward the register, their obverse sides bearing the face of a bearded founder in monochrome. He smiles and adjusts the classes on his nose and slips a bag of Lays from the adjacent chip rack as the old man fingers the two 1000 won notes.

Before him stretches row after row of glassy computer screens crammed into cubicle-like compartments, padded swivel chairs awaiting hosts, some egg-shaped, others occupied at this afternoon hour by dome-haired kids like himself, but younger, clicking away at screens with images of battlefields or a blur of fast-moving squares or pages of Japanese manga. Some screens just glow white. The monitors are mostly ‘94s with a few new ‘98s nestled between the wide, white, rectangular frames. One kid is trying to press every key of a flimsy keyboard in quick succession while two others stand laughing. He smiles as he passes by, walking to the door on the far wall.

On other side it is darker yet. Men sit at computers arranged in a similar fashion, but with smoke dangling beneath dim ceiling lights. A radio in the corner plays a drifting thump of rhythm beside the atonal buzz of the CocaCola vending machine. He keeps walking until he finds a vacant PC.

These are the things he sees glowing: the computer screen before him, the on button of the console, the yellowness of the Lay’s bag, the face of the man beside him with a special focus on the sweat and saliva and other fluids dripping there, a pair of cigarette tips down the row around computers 35-36 and the smoke they emit as it catches the light looking solar and vicious, the orange dome lights hanging above, the greenish neon strips where the walls meet the ceiling, the meniscus inside a plastic water bottle dancing between green and orange, the cornea of the man diagonally across the aisle as it briefly reflects a burst of red from the on screen content, the broth of rice noodles in Styrofoam, an actress’s necklace backlit in the poster’s display case, every single button of the CocaCola machine plus the blazing white logo and surrounding redness, the alien blinking of a digital watch, a pair of disassociated teeth caught momentarily in his peripheries, the glossy headrests of each chairback, the chipbag’s yellow again, his hands as his eyes return to the keyboard, the swoosh logo on someone’s shoe, the piercing translucence of a ATM-sized coffee machine’s display indicating a completed brew. All of it is not just shining, but glowing, holding a sustained brightness, an outward pushing fuzz, pulsing so that when he closes his eyes he can still see the remnants in partly purplish blotches and, if he concentrates, broken outlines of the things themselves. There are no windows in this room.