The story not for somebody, but for everybody - The Webtoon, 'Vacantly'

조경숙 | 2019-08-01 16:37

The story not for somebody, but for everybody - The Webtoon, 'Vacantly'

 Kyung-suk Jo

“I want to make a badge called ' A person who likes to meet a baby mother‘.”


I heard this when I met a friend. I became almost tearful as I was so happy I was to hear this. The friend had set the time and place to my convenience and welcomed me even if I had to bring my child due to the circumstances. On the day when we could 'luckily' meet as all the circumstances worked for us, including my husband leaving right on time and my child being taken care of, I told her that I was genuinely sorry for the past situations. And then, she replied to me by saying such sentence with a smile. What she meant by the term 'A person who likes to meet a baby mother' was that I didn't have to feel sorry for all the variables caused by a child.


You can't pause or rest when you care for a child. You may take annual leave at work if something urgent comes up, but you can't possibly rest in childcare unless you find a person to replace you. In my case, I had to mainly care for my child, however, caring efforts could be demanded by more people. People with disabilities and elderly people who can't move freely also need cares. The webtoon that was recently finished in Daum, has gained many readers' sympathies by portraying a couple that cares for the wife's father who is suffering from Alzheimer's.



The plot of the webtoon progresses in a quiet and slow manner, but the father's Alzheimer's develops fast in the story. The main narrator of the webtoon is the daughter. Despite that her father had shown the symptoms of Alzheimer's before, as they weren't distinguishable from the signs of simply getting old, the father's Alzheimer's could not be detected in it's early stages. However, as the time proceeds, the father's Alzheimer's grows little by little to the point where he loses his temper to Seung-ah (the daughter) in a manner that she has never seen before.


The father's Alzheimer's progresses slowly. The father becomes suspicious of Seung-ah for the things that she hasn't done, says strange words and gets angry for trivial events. As she watches her father's symptoms get worse every night, she weeps quietly in her room. "When the street gets covered in dark outside the window, my father's mind also becomes dark and he seems to lose his ways in the darkness. I guess there are no moon or stars in there." (From the webtoon, )


But taking care of the father's Alzheimer's isn't always painful and depressing. Seung-ah and Young-woo regularly take the father outside for a walk and encourages him to ride an indoor bicycle when the weather is bad. While they usually cook to eat at home, they eat out sometimes to refresh the atmosphere. Though the Alzheimer's is a strange world that the couple has never experienced before, Seung-ah looks for ways to live with her father's Alzheimer's by remembering the love that she has been receiving from her dad for a long time.


But unfortunately, such attempts soon fail. The father continues to have unreasonable suspicions toward the couple, and Seung-ah eventually decides to take her father to the nursing home. When I follow the narrative of the webtoon , I think of certain scenes. It reminds me of an episode that Jang Hye-young (the considerate, second eldest sister in a family who lives with her little sister, Hye-jung who has a developmental disorder) has presented in her book, .In the episode, when her sister Hye-jung climbs up the stage of a singer who was performing at the venue, the singer willingly dances with Hye-jung to change the air. Dancing can be interpreted in various ways. When I read the webtoon , it seems like you are dancing with Alzheimer's that has suddenly jumped onto the stage of one's life. But to be able to dance together, you need to adjust yourself to the Alzheimer's that has suddenly appeared on your stage and have the nerve to 'dance'.However, it is almost impossible for you to develop such nerves on your own.No matter how hard you try, individual efforts are not enough.


Our society is growing old as many figures suggest that the six-pocket syndrome is coming soon. Yet, it is still unclear whether our society is ready to be with those who are getting older. I wonder how many people would be able to welcome their later years in such society. Who would have to bear the burden of aged care? What's certain is that whether the society is prepared or not, the future where I would not be able to take care of myself would surely come.

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