Ms. President Choi left Gun-Ho's table when a group of new customers entered the restaurant. Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda asked Gun-Ho, "It seems that you've known Ms. Mori Aikko for a long while, Mr. President Goo. If you don't mind me asking can I ask you how you know Ms. Mori Aikko, sir?"
"Umm, actually I'm Mori Aikko's sponsor."
"Huh? Mori Aikko's sponsor, sir? That's surprising. I thought that Mori Aikko would have a Japanese sponsor with an enormous amount of money. I've never expected to see her having a foreigner as her sponsor."
Director Woon-Hak Sim didn't seem to understand the conversation between Gun-Ho and Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda. He asked, "What is a sponsor for a geisha?"
Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda didn't answer Director Sim's question, but instead, he asked another question to Gun-Ho, "I guess you put her hair up then, Mr. President Goo."
"Yes, I did."
"Of course, you are an Otoko (man)."
Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda clapped in amazement.
Gun-Ho then explained to Director Woon-Hak Sim and Director Yan Wu about the "culture of a geisha's sponsor."
Director Yan Wu nodded his head first and said, "I watched the movieMemories of a Geishaand it showed the sponsor culture in the geishas' world. In the movie, the actressZiyi Zhangwho played a geisha role, had a sponsor."
Gun-Ho ordered one more bottle of soju and said, "What we talked about here must be kept between us. It shouldn't go outside of the room, okay? Especially, you can't talk about it to Ms. President Jeong-Sook Shin when we go back to Korea. President Shin is in a very close relationship with my wife. Once my wife finds out about Mori Aikko, I will be kicked out of my house."
Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda and Director Woon-Hak Sim laughed out loud. When Gun-Ho saw Director Yan Wu looking puzzled, he briefly explained the situation. Director Yan Wu joined the other two men in laughing out loud.
Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda said as he was opening the new bottle of soju that they ordered additionally, "Sir, we have this proverb in Japan. In the world between men, we don't talk about anything that happened below our belly button. If someone talks about another man's story related to whatever below his belly button, that person is deemed not a man."
"Thank you. By the way, I have a question for you, Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda, if you don't mind me asking. Since I'm drunk, I will be less careful hoping you understand. I've been wondering about your family. Where are they living?"
Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda replied with a cynical smile, "You've been wondering about my family? I have a wife and a daughter too. She is a senior in high school."
"Oh, is that right?"
"I'm divorced though. My wife and I didn't get along. Speaking of a sponsor, to be honest with you, I liked Segawa Joonkko a lot when I was younger."
"Were you her sponsor?"
"No way. I was just a newbie journalist in a newspaper company in Japan when I saw Segawa Joonkko for the first time. Going to a secret bar itself wasn't easy for me at that time. I once went to the bar with my boss who was the owner of the newspaper company that I was working for, and that was the time when I saw Segawa Joonkko for the first time. I fell in love with her at first sight. She was dancing entrancingly just like Mori Aikko was."
"Segawa Joonkko is now a middle-aged woman, but when she was younger, she was strikingly beautiful. She was extremely popular just like Mori Aikko back then."
"Was your employer her sponsor then?"
"No, but his friend was. My boss had a friend who was running a company in the mining industry. He put Segawa Joonkko's hair up."
"Hmm, I see."
"The bar that she is running right now was a present from that manthe owner of the mining company. That man passed away not long ago. He was around 20 years older than Segawa Joonkko."
"Well, since Segawa Joonkko is single now, why don't you ask her out?"
Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda shook his head.
"A geisha stays faithful to her man. Having another man is a betrayal in their world even though her sponsor is old enough to be her father."
"I once told Segawa Joonkko that I would keep her in my heart forever and that she would stay as a beautiful piece of memory to me. That's why I'm staying as a good friend of her even now."
Gun-Ho thought about it with his arms crossed,
'Is it bad or good? Maybe I will be the only man to Mori Aikko for the rest of her life. Well, it sounds good to some extent, but also, it sounds a bit creepy too.
Knowing the special relationship between Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda and Segawa Joonkko reminds me of the love story of the poetBaek Seokand the bar ownerYoung-Han Kim. Young-Eun and I talked about it when we visited Gilsangsa Temple in Seongbuk Town when we were still dating.'
Gun-Ho asked Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda, "Do you, by any chance, know of a Korean poetBaek Seok?"
"I've heard of the name."
"There was a poem written by him about his love story with a bar owner. The title of the poet is 'Me, Natasha and a white donkey.'"
"I remember this part of the poem; it says, 'Me, the poor man / Love the beautiful Natasha / And tonight, the snow falls softly.'"
"Oh, it's romantic and beautiful. I'm not talking about the poet, but I'm talking about you, Mr. President Goo. You are indeed a man of refined taste. I see a different part of you tonight, sir."
Mr. Yoshitaka Matsuda seemed to be impressed by the artistic side of Gun-Ho, and he clapped for it, and Director Woon-Hak Sim clapped along with him.
The trip of two nights and three days in Japan was a romantic trip to Gun-Ho, and it was the time when he had to go back home. Before leaving Japan at the Haneda Airport, Gun-Ho stopped by the duty-free shop and bought some gifts for his family such as Shiseido skincare products, liquors, t-shirts for women, baby stuff, and toys. Gun-Ho wanted to butter up Young-Eun.
Gun-Ho came back home with lots of gifts that he purchased at the duty-free shop in the airport.
"Sang-Min, daddy is home."
"How was your trip?" Young-Eun came out to the front door to greet Gun-Ho.
"Good. How are you?"
"What are all those?"
"These are for you and our baby boy. I bought some cosmetics for you and toys for Sang-Min."
Young-Eun opened what Gun-Ho brought home.
"I have skincare products at home already. You didn't have to buy all these."
"Just save them somewhere, and use them after you finish the ones that you are using right now."
"Did you pick these toys yourself? I don't understand why you chose these."
"These toys are for older boys like elementary schoolers. Our baby boy is not even one year old yet. He can't possibly play with these now. Did you seriously pick a robot toy for Sang-Min?"
"Umm, well, we will save them until Sang-Min grows old enough to play with them then."
"What are these for?"
"Oh, those are for your father in Silim Town. I bought two bottles of liquor for him. And, the t-shirts and pajamas over there are for you."
"The t-shirts look okay. I like them. Well, I'm glad you are back home safely. Go and wash yourself. I will set the dinner table."
Gun-Ho quickly went to the bathroom and took a deep shower. He meticulously washed himself as if he tried to wash off any trace that might be still on him from Mori Aikko.