I used to have a Korean pen pal named Naru. I don’t remember how we started our correspondense, but all I know is that one day out of the blue, she stopped writing to me. Perhaps it’s because she grew restless of me and our budding friendship or perhaps Kim Jong Ill had her entire family kidnapped, but whatever the reason, I am still distraught over the whole ordeal. Over the years, I’ve kept her letters, and oddly enough, copies of letters I wrote to her. I’d like to share then with you all now.
January 12, 1991
Dear Erin! Hello! My name is Kang Naru and I am 11 years old. How many are you? I live in Seoul, South Korea. Do you know where that is? I do not know where you live, only that it is in the United States of America. I would very much like to visit one day, but my family is poor. In fact, I am writing this letter to you on the back of a cereal box and using a charred stick from our campfire to write out my thoughts to you. Life is very hard for me and my family. My father was taken away from us, so it is just me, my baby brother Steve, and my mother. We live with my grandparents in their one bedroom apartment in downtown Seoul. It is very hard sometimes because my grandparents are very fat and since we share the same bed, I almost suffocate at night when they roll over. But enough about me, please, share with me of your family! I would very much like to hear of you and of America. Well, that is all for now–it is supper time and it’s my turn to look for wild mushrooms and berries. Please write back, Erin. We will be best friends! Your new friend, Naru.
Feburary 1, 1991
Dear “Kangaroo”. Ha ha! That’s a silly name. All Asian people have really silly names. My grandpa told me a joke that all Asian people name their kids by throwing silverwear down a staircase and they name the kids after the weird sounds the forks make! Ching Chong Ping Pong Wang! My grandpa is the funniest man I know. It really sucks about YOUR grandparents almost killing you by being so fat. How can you live like that?! My grandparents live like, 100 miles away and even my mom says thats not far enough. My mom hates her parents. Are you really that poor? What’s that like? My family isn’t poor–we have a Nintendo. Do you have a Nintendo? I bet so, because I’m pretty sure you guys make all that stuff for us over here in America. Speaking of America, living here is EXCELLENT! We have cable tv, so I get to watch all the best new shows; my mom and dad are rich, so my brother and I get all the coolest new toys and games and the best new clothes, too! Do you ever watch Alf? I love ALF!! He’s from Melmac. I want to go to Melmac one day and get my own Alf so he can be my best friend. Well, gotta run–my pony is outside my window whining to be ridden around! TTFN! Your bud, Erin
Feburary 25, 1991
Dear Erin. Hello again! Thank you kindly for your letter! I was so excited to recieve a reply from you! I hope you don’t mind that I am writing back to you on the backside of your letter you wrote to me…we ran out of cereal boxes a few days ago and I couldn’t use our toilet paper because we only have one roll left and it has to last us another 8 days…Mother doesn’t get paid from her job at Nike until then. Please, tell me; who is this Alf person? And what is a Melmac? You must be so lucky and rich to know of such things. I am humbled by you and your knowledge of so many wonderful things. And I admit, I am envious of your pony. We too, have a family pet. It is a rather large sewer rat that has taken hostel in our bathroom, but he is friendly, so we decided to keep him as our own. I’ve named him Kenji-wa, after my baby brother who died a few years ago. He was such a gentle baby–much like our rat is, so I thought the name fitting. Well, again, I must end my letter here. Mother is calling me to help unclog our toilet, and I am out of room to write anymore. Please write back with more stories! I cherish them all, much like I cherish our friendship. Your friend, Naru
August 9, 1991
Dear Naru. Sorry so long to write back! I’ve been super busy with summer camp, playing with my friends all summer and celebrating my 12th birthday! I was born on the 4th of July! Isn’t that awesome?! I would like to thank you and your people for making the coolest fireworks! They were totally tubular this year! I got a puppy AND another pony for my birthday this year! Isn’t that gnarly? I named my dog “Bubbles” and my pony “Lenny.” They are the best presents a kid like me could ever ask for! Gotta run–I’m going to California to stay at a beach house until school starts again! Smell ya later!! Ha ha. BFF, Erin
September 15, 1991
Erin. I’m happy you are having such a great summer. Here, it is winter and a cruel one it has been to my and my family. My grandparents died last week. I am very sad and have had many terrible thoughts of ending my young life to join them in the arms of Buddha. I am so cold and hungry. I’m sorry, I must stop now. I am too weak to continue. Your friend, N
October 27, 1991
Dear Naru. Sorry about your grandparents, but at least they won’t smoosh you while you sleep anymore! I don’t have much time to write; the weather here is pretty nice and my mom is making me clean our pool. I hate my mom!! Your pal,Erin
This was about the time that Naru stopped writing to me. The last letter I wrote to her was marked “return to sender”…I guess she just couldn’t take my total awesome radness anymore, which is understandable. Her loss!
Or maybe it was because I was a little racist bastard….