Cho Hoon was back in Seoul.

Two years ago, when Hoon left Seoul for high school in Pittsburgh, he was told to never come back unless he could speak English fluently. No one knew how to test “fluent English,” but Hoon understood the weight on his shoulders. His parents had borrowed money from a bunch of family members so that he could yuhak in the United States.

A day after his arrival, Hoon joined a big family lunch in a Chinese restaurant. “They are so curious about your time in America,” Hoon’s parents said. Hoon knew he was expected to express gratitude to his uncles and aunts. Hoon could never leave Korea unless the family pitched in. His yuhak was a family business. The time has come to report his earnings to those shareholders.

“Can you speak like an American?” Uncle Cho said.

“No, Samchon. Learning a language is not that easy."

“You are too humble. You spent two years in America. I bet you speak way better than my kids. I’ve paid at least 500,000 won every month for their tutors, and the kids still can’t even introduce themselves in English. Hoon-a, one must leave this country to learn real English. Thank your parents. You really are the lucky one."

“I’m grateful,” Hoon nodded like a fat pigeon.

The restaurant stayed silent for a moment. No one asked the boy’s struggle in another country. He stared at the closest window as if he could fly out of the room filled with ignorance and lies.

“Welcome back home,” someone in the room said. Waking up from daydreaming, Hoon turned to say thanks.