“…….for a brief moment, he hung there from the chains. But he pulled up, standing straight on his feet and readies himself for the next blow. “
Pounding on his bare feet running the streets and alleys of Joseon, his feet were covered in blisters which painfully broke and healed just to repeat the process over and over again. Until the calluses formed and the skin became a hide. Even then, it was offered little protection in summer when the pavements burnt his soles and the cold of the winter bit his feet.
Blow after blow came down on his scrawny back as he curled into a ball. These beatings have become almost a daily part of his life as he often ran into the opposing gangs controlling the network of rickshaw pullers. The police were no different and just as cruel. All demanded money. The pittance he made had disappeared into the pockets of such. What little he had left could hardly bring food back. He lost track of the times he filled his stomach with water so that the pain would not gnaw his insides. His body was covered in black and blue but he was careful not to let his uhmma and his hyung see it. They never knew but it was going to be all worth it one day.
As the lashes rained down mercilessly and his body swayed from each blow, his breathing quicken sharply. At first, the heavy whip cut through his clothing, grazing his skin, leaving a deep weepy welt. As the blows continue, the rope cut deeper into his skin and blood oozed. His entire body felt like it was on fire, stinging hot fire as the lashes fell on opened skin. Perspiration dripped down his face; he looked like a mad man with his veins straining and his eyes bulging out of their sockets. But his mind was not on the tormentor standing there. No. His thoughts drifted to the pain he inflicted on his loved ones, his uhmma, she was so utterly disappointed in him. Is she watching from the heavens now? Why didn’t god give him a chance to tell her how much he loved her, how much he wanted to give her back what she lost? How much he wanted to be the son whom she could be proud of? And his hyung. How much agony and pain he must have gone through pretending to be the idiot? Receiving blows from his own brother and on behalf of his brother. How terrible the burden he carried? How tragic that he had to die by the hand of the one he loved most? And Shunji, his friend. His only friend, his confidante. In a way, he was like a brother, taking the place of his hyung who could no longer understand him. How did the sweet Shunji turn into this monster standing right in front of him? What has he done to drag Shunji into this hell? How can he stop him now? Many nights, he had a dream. It was the same, he shot Gaksital. But as he pulled off the mask, it was not his hyung Kangsan, it was Shunji lying there motionless. Then like magic the evil face transformed back to the innocent and kind Shunji he once knew. And he would wake up drenched in sweat with a scream in his throat
One particularly hard one knocked him off his feet and for a brief moment, he hung there from the chains. But he pulled up, standing straight on his feet and readies himself for the next blow.
He looked at the box as they hauled him towards it. The blood stained nails and the blood soaked floor of the cage beckoned menacingly to him. 100 nails. How many patriots have suffered and died in this inhumane contraption? He has never thought that one day; he would be one of them. As they pushed his body into the cage, the nails pierced his skin and scratched deep into flesh. As the cage rocked like a cradle, a million stars exploded in his eyes, a million blades sunk deeper than he could ever imagine his clothes sticky and wet with his blood as they clung to his open flesh. He started to hyperventilate and shook uncontrollably. He groaned as the rocking stopped. A promise to stop all this if he reveals the information they want. Do they not understand him? Do they not know Lee Kangto? Pain is his acquaintance and Death has no hold on him. As one kick sent the cage rocking forth and back violently, bloodcurdling screams rang from his innermost being.
I wrote this as I realised how much pain Kangto has gone through all these years, not just physical but mental as well. He has suffered enough and I hope the writer will let him and his love Boon Yi ride into the sunset. I no longer care about cliche’ or realism, I just want Kangto to be happy, Mok Dan to be happy, both to be happy.