“I dreamed of living a graceful and fancy life just as a princess in the castle when I was a little girl. Without my knowing, I happened to find myself to be a South Korea’s middle-aged women called “ajumma,” who is humorously notorious for a unparalleled level of strength and grits. “Since I opened a convenience store, I have been growing a stronger lady over time,”says Hyun Mi-sook, the author of “Special Tone Singing Convenience Stores,” in the first sentence of the book.
Each convenience store owner runs their business based on all different stories and motivations. You may remember few friends during your childhood wishing to become a supermarket owner although they might have envied a boy whose father ran a supermarket because he seemingly had unlimited access to yummy chips and ice cream.
Doctors, teachers and scientists were those most-aspired future jobs among young children. A couple of millions of convenience stores were opened up with such different stories written in the backdrops – by those who were fired at work; hoping to earn as much money as an apparently popular convenience store in the neighborhoods does; or who happened to make up their mind after weathering difficulties and adversity.
Running a convenience store requires a great deal of patience and resilience in front of ups and downs in sales every day, part-timers irresponsibly notifying them of skipping their shifts on short notice and foul-mouthed customers hurting their feelings. Almost weeping over a snacky meal of triangle-shaped rice packets past expiration, they feel a sense of gratitude for living every single day on their own. They are thankful for running their business to pay a monthly rent, give some allowances to their aging parents and pay for their children’s cram school classes. Even a minor reward for their work feels like a seed of thanks.
Just as middle aged generations who run convenience stores, you all live every day. This is what life is like. Although you make a living in a field that is distant from your childhood dreams, your heart is filled with vague but surely existent expectations of the better days and you feel satisfied and thankful where you have chosen to be. Part of you may hope that things will turn the tables someday. However, your inner voice says at the time that it is where you are supposed to be. You resign yourself to a bunch of familiar facts that make for who you are now.
Nevertheless, new dreams arise in your mind at the moment. You wish your family well while dreaming of a successful business and hoping your children to realize their goals and dreams although you may have failed. As a poet says, you may be dreaming of what you are allowed to love. The glittering star is glowing up in the skies out of the window of your convenience store. I wish you a peaceful dream.