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Strawberries and Dreams 딸기와 꿈

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“Are you ready, Jungkook? The car is here!” Yoongi yelled and checked his hand bag for a final time. Yoongi was twenty-five and a slender man, shorter than most of his band mates but what he lacked in height, he more than made up for in creativity and genius in music. He was a rapper and songwriter and together with their leader Namjoon the backbone of writing for the band as well as an independent producer of music. This year, to celebrate their new era music wise he sported a mint green mushroom head. Other than some of his band mates who sported hair colours like pink peach or blush lavender – who came up with these names anyway? - at least he had no trouble colour coordinating his hair with his outfits: he usually wore black and white. Yoongi was also the second eldest of a six member boy band based in Korea.

It was early summer and for the following two weeks the band that Yoongi and Jungkook were members of had time off before going on a four-month long world tour. As the members were of various ages between twenty-one and twenty-six, five of the six members had played a round of Rock Paper Scissors to determine whose turn it was to take their maknae on holiday with them, and Yoongi had lost. Not that he minded. Over the last couple of years young Jungkook had spent several holidays with his family after he had noticed that the kid’s own family didn’t seem to bother very much where exactly he spent holidays and time off. He even had deliberately lost a few times, not that he would ‘fess up to this anytime soon. He was Jungkook’s Hyung, his older brother if not by birth, and over the years since they had been trainees and then debuted as idols in their company, Yoongi had looked out for the younger boy.

Yoongi’s family liked Jungkook and had extended their invitation to the young man to spend time with them in their home in Daegu. With a shrug, Yoongi looked up as he heard the twenty-one year old approach.

“I’m coming, Yoongi-Hyung” Jungkook mumbled and hauled a heavy black duffle bag over his shoulder. Yoongi shook his head when he noticed the younger man’s clothes.

“You got to be kidding me,” he said and stared. “You do know that it is summer and Daegu is all hot baking sun and stuffy hills, right?”

Jungkook looked down at himself and inspected his outfit.

“I always wear this, I don’t have anything else,” he said and frowned. Yoongi shook his head again. They were all millionaires and their youngest still dressed as if he got his clothes from the year end sales aisle of the local thrift store. Which Yoongi knew he did not as he looked at the younger one’s outfit of heavy combat boots, all-purpose army trousers and an oversized long-sleeved shirt – all in black. This was all topped off by a black bucket hat, all of it by top brands.

“Whatever,” Yoongi said. “Just don’t get a heat stroke.”

“Hyung, I am okay,” Jungkook replied and grinned. “Just keep applying that 50+ sun lotion or your little white limbs will burn.” He was referring to the older man’s black surf shorts and wide oversized t-shirt, also black.

“Yah!” Yoongi yelled in mock anger and gave the taller one a shove towards the door. “Go already before I reconsider taking you on holiday with me, brat.”

“Oh, I can stay at the dorm,” Jungkook said. “I am old enough anyway so why do you guys always take me with you?” He complained but helped his older band mate to carry one of his two huge suitcases.

“Staff is not getting paid enough to babysit you, brat. Besides, Jin and Namjoon, don’t want to worry about you once in a while,” Yoongi replied matter-of-fact and followed the young man into the elevator and down to the waiting car.

Jungkook watched the landscape flit by their window. After having left their dorm, their manager’s car had driven them straight to the train station where they had boarded a KTX high speed train on the Gyeongbu line. Sure, they could have taken the car for the 277 kilometres drive to Daegu from Seoul but Yoongi hated to be cooped up in a car for too long and the train ride actually cut the four hour car drive into half, so the train was preferable. Besides, it gave Jungkook the opportunity of people watching. He was always fascinated what kind of people would ride on the train with them. With a side glance towards Yoongi who sat comfortably in his 1st class seat, dozing off, Jungkook stood up and stretched his long legs. He was still tickled by the fact that of all six members he was now the second tallest after their leader Namjoon. Who would have thought that the scrawny, little mushroom-hair-headed 14-year-old from Busan would grow up into a tall, attractive man who made millions of male and female fans’ hearts go pitter-patter during concerts?

While he had had his fair share of colourful hair over the years, the constant bleaching had taken a toll on his hair, so nowadays he was almost always the one member in their group who sported his natural hair colour of dark chocolate black. Usually he wore his hair straight but when it got to a certain length, usually beyond his ears, it started to curl, which he was happy about. But fans thought he looked too Western with it and management usually told him to cut his hair by then.

Management could do that. He was an idol and while his company was not as bad as the other bigger companies in the Korean entertainment business, their talents were basically in indentured servitude. Thousands each year applied to those companies and agencies and most signed their lives away for seven to ten years and more. Gave up their families and loved ones to train in singing, dancing, and acting for that one chance to debut and make millions if they were lucky. He still could not believe that he had endured and made it, even after seven exhausting years in the entertainment industry as a trainee and five since he debuted. Deep down he was still that emo kid from Busan who loved baggy clothes over designer outfits and who’d rather play computer games all day than do what other celebrities seemed to do, like partying all night and spending ridiculous amounts of money on bling.

The train was fast approaching their destination and for a moment Jungkook considered persuading Yoongi to let him have a little adventure of his own in his home town of Busan which was the ending station of the Gyeongbu line, but he also knew that his parents were not home and he still didn’t have any keys or access codes to their new home in Busan. A home that had been paid for with his money, money he had earned when he had still been a teenager. He didn’t mind, though sometimes he wished they would ask about his schedule and perhaps plan their family holidays with instead of without him. He hated getting holiday postcards from his brother from exotic places while he was stuck at the studio either practising dance routines or singing.
With a shake of his head, he turned from the window he was staring out of and returned to Yoongi to wake him up.


“Oh my baby!” Mrs. Min was a woman in her early forties, small like her son, and with the perfect smooth skin you usually saw in beauty adverts. Jungkook knew where his hyung got that porcelain skin from which was the envy of all female idols and the source of ridicule from his bandmates. She hugged her youngest son fiercely before he even had a chance to cross the threshold to the family home.

“MOM!” Yoongi whined loudly but nevertheless showed his gummiest smile as he hugged his mother back.

“It is good to see you, son,” Mr. Min also hugged his son then placed an arm around Jungkook’s shoulder. “Welcome back, Jungkook. Have you grown?” he asked the younger man and Jungkook nodded.

“Oh look at them both, they are so skinny,” Mrs Min exclaimed and ushered them into the house. Jungkook had to grin to see his older band mate being babied over by his mom but he knew that any of his band mates – himself included – enjoyed being fussed over for a change. Even though they had each other‘s company, they all missed their individual families, for all that it was worth in some cases like his own.


For the following two days both Yoongi and Jungkook decompressed. While the older one mostly slept in the heat of the summer days, Jungkook had found a shaded place in the garden of the Min family home that looked out over a field or two of strawberries as well as a small orchard. He liked the sound of the cicadas as well as watching the heat shimmering over the neat fields during mid day. It was an ideal spot both for being lazy and productive. He was glad that he had brought his drawing supplies with him.

With music playing softly from his Bluetooth speaker, Jungkook spent the time painting, dozing or jotting down lyric ideas but overall he did not do anything that was part of his daily routine of his life back in Seoul. It was a nice change of pace.
On day three, he found himself at his usual spot and he had just started to draw when he heard the tut-tut sound of an old engine in the distance. When he looked up squinting his eyes against the sun and saw a small tractor approaching the strawberry field nearest his spot. Curiosity got the better of him and Jungkook stood up and walked slowly over to the fence that marked the boundary between the fields and the Min’s garden. The figure on top of the little tractor seemed to be out of place. Jungkook had expected to see an elderly gentleman wearing workman’s dungarees and a towel wrapped around his head similar to a bandana, the typical image of every farmer in Korea that it had become a cliché of its own. Instead he saw a young man, little older than himself from what he could see, wearing wide, dark trousers tucked into wellingtons, a kimono-like long shirt with vivid whirls of blue and red printed on it as well as a big straw hat on top of a blonde curly mullet. He couldn’t help but stare. Even from a distance and with the hat shadowing half his face, he could see that this guy was beautiful, and for a short moment his breath hitched. Watching this vision coming closer, seeing the slight spark in the other man’s eyes as he noticed him, he tried to remember how to breathe.

“Hullo there,” a voice greeted him and pulled Jungkook out of his staring stupor. The voice was surprisingly deep and thickly laced with the Daegu accent which seemed to wrap itself around the base of Jungkook’s spine like warm molasses. The other man killed the engine and looked down expectantly from his perch.

“Hi,” Jungkook replied shyly while watching this stunner on the old tractor. He couldn’t tear his eyes away. The guy was not only handsome in the classical way, he was actually strikingly beautiful.

“I didn’t know the Min family had moved,” the stranger said and climbed off the vehicle only to step to the small trailer filled with bales of straw. “I’d rather liked Mrs Min’s strawberry pies.”

“Oh no, they are still here. I’m a friend of their youngest son, Yoongi. We are work colleagues,” Jungkook said in a rush and inwardly he cringed. He sounded like an imbecile to his own ears.

“I see,” the other man said and started to scatter a handful of straw around fragile looking strawberry plants. “Please tell her that she can come pick strawberries any time, the ones she likes are ripe now.” He gestured over his shoulder before climbing up his tractor again and fiddling with the starter button of his vehicle.

“So you are a strawberry farmer?” Jungkook asked, delaying the other man’s departure. Leaning forward on the stirring wheel, the stranger nodded. The sleeves of his kimono rode up elegant yet deeply tanned arms.

“Among other things, but yes. Strawberries and apples. We are in Daegu after all, so you cannot avoid the apples.” He referred to the fruit that was traditionally associated with the city. The stranger smiled and Jungkook was faced with a bright boxy smile. “If you work with Yoongi-Hyung you must be in the entertainment industry, right?”

“Yes,” Jungkook replied tersely and frowned a bit. He always kept quiet about his career path so as not to attract the wrong people. The other man must have seen his frown and he raised his hands in a calming gesture.

“Sorry, I have known the parents for a few of years now, and am familiar with Yoongi-Hyung’s career and while I enjoy his solo projects and his work as a member of BTS, I am not … you know,” he gestured vaguely “… a fan. Now if BTS ever wants to do a jazz inspired album, I might reconsider.”

“So you like jazz?” Jungkook asked which rewarded him with another boxy smile.

“No, I don’t merely like it,” the stranger replied. “I love jazz.”

“Then you must listen to House of Cards, it has a very jazz-like vibe,” Jungkook could not stop himself from staring up at his face. "Oh and Dope has a saxophone part."

“Perhaps I will, thank you for the recommendations.” For a moment they just stared at each other before Taehyung tucked the brim of his hat back into his face. “I need to get going, nice meeting you …”

“Jungkook, my name’s Jeon Jungkook.”

“Nice to meet you, Jeon Jungkook,” the other man said and started the engine. “My name is Kim Taehyung.” With a wave of his hand he slowly backed the tractor around and just as easily he had arrived he vanished across the fields towards a small farm house and greenhouses further down the fields.

For the rest of the day, Jungkook felt like he was in a daze. For the umpteenth time he started a new sketch, tried to capture that special something that seemed to surround Kim Taehyung. He decided to take his camera with him next time he was at the fields. He needed to capture this man, even if it was only on camera.


While the sun set behind the hills, the Min family and their guest were sitting down for dinner of Bulgogi in the court yard of the house. Like on every night the whole family came together, including Yoongi’s older brother and his fiancée. They had a lively discussion, with lots of alcohol and various hand-made side dishes.
They were talking softly when all of a sudden the deep weeping sounds of a saxophone could be heard over the distance. Mrs Min sighed and closed her eyes while Yoongi tried to listen carefully.
“Nice melody …” he said after a while but flinched when there was a wrong note. “Whoa, I thought that was a recording, not live.”

“That is the grandson of the Kim family,” Mrs Min said. “Remember, you went to school with him, Yoongi …Kim Taehyung-ssi?”

“Ah he was younger, right, about two years? So we never had any classes together. He was a very colourful, interesting character if I remember correctly.”

“Oh yes, he is special,” Mrs Min smiled. “People around here have been calling him alien but he is a very kind young man. He stayed with his grandparents while all the others went off to university and picked different careers. He has taken over their farm and has expanded into strawberries. ”

“I never knew he played the saxophone,” Yoongi commented. “Damn, had I known I would have taken some samples.”

“I think he has played since late primary school, I remember a few years ago that he played at his graduation ceremony. He was even scouted by entertainment agencies but he turned them all down.” She shook her head. “This awkward kid has turned into a beautiful young man and a lot of us thought he would move to Seoul to study music or even sign up at one of the big entertainment companies but after school he joined the mandatory military service. His grandmother died while he was away, I think. Since he has been back he takes care of his granddad and the farm.”

Jungkook had listened to their conversation carefully. So his new acquaintance played the saxophone, and if he had to believe Yoongi, he was good. Recalling the young man sitting on his tractor he could understand why Yoongi had called him colourful and interesting.

“Oh, I think I met him today,” Jungkook suddenly blurted and all eyes rested on him. “Out by the fence,” he elaborated.

“And what do you think of Kim Taehyung-ssi?” Mrs Min asked curiously, her tone betraying a soft spot for the young farmer. “He is such a nice young man and the elders all like him in the community.”

“He certainly is an interesting character,” Jungkook felt a blush heating his face. What he really wanted to say was that he thought this man was beautiful and absolutely adorable, but he remained silent.

“He is, isn’t he,” Mrs Min said. “But I think he should go out more, be around people his age. It seems he is always busy with work when his friends are back home, and when he has the time they are all back at university. Poor kid has only the elders of the village for company.”

“I just remembered, he told me to tell you, that the strawberries you like are ripe for picking.” Jungkook said.

“Oh this is fabulous, I wanted to bake a cake anyway, so now we will be having strawberry cake tomorrow.” She looked at her sons in anticipation. “Who volunteers to the picking?” Both her two sons looked anywhere but at her.

Only Jungkook raised his hand. “I’ll help,” he replied and ignored the side-long glance of his older bandmate.