[Hyerim's Pick] Debut book offers a look into the mind of a close friend

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[Hyerim's Pick] Debut book offers a look into the mind of a close friend

HA:TFELT, left, also known as Ye-eun, gifts her new book to Woo Hye-rim, right. Both were former members of Wonder Girls. [WOO HYE-RIM]

HA:TFELT, left, also known as Ye-eun, gifts her new book to Woo Hye-rim, right. Both were former members of Wonder Girls. [WOO HYE-RIM]

Former Wonder Girls member HA:TFELT gets brutally honest in 'Concealed Thoughts and Emotions' 

Last year around this time, I texted my former Wonder Girls teammate Ye-eun, also known as HA:TFELT, to wish her a happy birthday and asked her what she wants for her special day. She replied saying, “A good meal would be nice.” Busy schedules kept us apart, but finally, a year later, we met up at a restaurant and in her hand was a fresh copy of her new release, “Concealed Thoughts and Emotions.”  
 
In fact, the book is her first publication, and she told me that I was also the very first person she was giving the book to as a gift. She carefully signed the book and had to briefly leave the room for a minute to do a quick telephone interview. So there I was, left alone in a private room of the restaurant with the book: a perfect time to flip through the pages. As I read the list of chapter titles, I knew right away that this wouldn't be an easy read.  
 
“I don’t think I can finish this book without a box of tissues,” I said to Ye-eun when she returned from her interview. She nodded.  
 
HA:TFELT's first book titled "Concealed Thoughts and Emotions." [AMOEBA CULTURE]

HA:TFELT's first book titled "Concealed Thoughts and Emotions." [AMOEBA CULTURE]

That night, I opened a new bottle of cabernet sauvignon and placed a box of tissues next to it instead of cheese and crackers. After taking a deep breath, I started reading. Actually, I was quite afraid to read the book and enter into the detailed emotions of a sister-like friend, a colleague and a former roommate whom I had spent many years living and working with and learning about what she’d been through and felt that she hadn’t even told her closest friends about.  
 
"How would I console her after reading this?" "Why couldn’t I reach out to her earlier?" These were some of the thoughts that went through my head before I started reading. But I know she no longer feels clogged up inside, and I took the chance to truly understand my friend.  
 
“Life Sucks.” It’s the title of the first chapter, which has the subtitle, “I wish my father would die.” I knew to a certain degree that Ye-eun did not have a strong bond with her father, but since she’s always been quite reserved in talking about her feelings, I never dared to ask her what was wrong and ask her about anything that she did not want to talk about. When I heard the news about her father’s imprisonment after our group’s disbandment in 2017, I was hesitant to contact her. First, I didn’t want to remind her of her father’s jail time, and second, I did not know what to say or how to console her. After thinking over and over, I decided to pray for her quietly, rather than leave a message on her phone that I figured would already have been bombarded with messages from others.  
 
Despite living and working together in Wonder Girls for 10 years, I realized how little I knew about Ye-eun all these years after reading the book. I guess it’s because I was hesitant to ask her questions about the subjects that may create discomfort and spoil the happy mood. I guess I wanted to avoid any type of friction. But sometimes, you just have to have the courage, choose the right words and bring up the subject to show that you care and that you are ready to listen, even if it creates a serious mood. I think the same rule applies to any type of close relationship we try to form — between couples and family members.  
 
This book was truly a heartfelt one, just like her name HA:TFELT. She really poured out all of her emotions in the book, and I think that female celebrities in Korea can especially identify with many of the feelings she has experienced. She talks not only about family issues and her experiences with drinking and smoking as the member of a girl group, but also her sex life. It will feel like you are peeking into her diary.  
 
I wanted to finish the book in one sitting because I didn’t want to be interrupted, trying to understand what my friend had gone through. So I did, and as I turned the final page, all I wanted to do was give her a big hug without saying anything. People go through so much and become stronger, and it may seem like HA:TFELT too has turned into a tempered glass that doesn’t easily break. But I know there’s a frail side in her, and in everybody, and that is why we need to be there for each other and show that we care. She said she found hope in a hopeless place, and she survived the agonizing times because of love. Although the book took me on a dark roller-coaster ride and left me with bloated eyes the next morning, it reminded me once again that “Love always wins,” as she writes.  
 
After a decade of friendship, I can finally say that I think I know a little about my friend now.  
 
BY WOO HYE-RIM   [kjdculture@joongang.co.kr]
 
Former Wonder Girls member  
Senior of EICC at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
Major: English for international conferences and communication (EICC) 
 

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