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From campus, they headed north, passing rail yards and fish markets; apartment buildings filled with housewives snapping up the online-auction bargains of the day (bags of oranges, puffy jackets, belly-button-lint removers); clothing stores packed with customers pouting in front of mirrors, as they posed for , the smoke-filled, twenty-four-hour gaming centers that were quickly becoming futuristic anachronisms, populated by dwindling numbers of adolescent boys slurping instant noodles in front of humming terminals.(Now that the Internet was so fast at home, no one needed to go to to compete in multi-player games.) Yundi held on tight to Jimin.
Yundi walked by, and Jimin invited her to join them. When she handed him the plate, he complained, teasingly, that she’d given him only scallions.They’d have to eat chicken together sometime, he said.She told her friends afterward, “He’s twenty-nine, but he’s so cute! As she sat on the train, debating whether it would seem too forward to friend Jimin on Facebook, her phone—a Samsung Galaxy in a pearlescent case—dinged, and a push notification appeared, announcing that Jimin wanted to be her friend. One afternoon, Jimin attended an event at which someone was handing out balloons.He tied them to the back of his motorbike, thinking it would look like a newlyweds’ car, and picked Yundi up after her classes.Among twenty-ﬁve million, they were two, speeding toward the glowing span of the Wonhyo Bridge on a warm spring night, the scooter trailing pink balloons. They were natives of the most wired city in the world, a megalopolis that is nearly twice as dense as New York but maintains the wide margins of the suburbs—roomy restaurants, boulevards lined with trees.The city belonged to them, beaming its vital signs at speeds of more than fifty megabits per second to its citizens, who bunched and flowed in near-instantaneous reply.
Their smartphones were lanterns, illuminating the urban grid.
Bubbles within windows within browsers within screens: it was as though, through some mathematical trick, the smaller the interface the more freedom it afforded. Jimin, a computer engineer with serious eyes and a square jaw, was finishing up his degree at Seoul National University, having taken off several years to perform military service.
He had been a detection analyst, interpreting intelligence signals.
Jiyeon (Yundi), a sophomore, had a heart-shaped face and a chic, whimsical way of dressing: that night, she was wearing a floral do-rag in her long black hair. The boys’ room had called the girls’ room on the hotel phone—since they were strangers, this was the only way to communicate; the boys had got a list of girls’-room numbers from the trip’s chaperones—and asked if they wanted to do a Three months later, the university held a spring fair.
They had first met in February, on a student ski trip to Phoenix Park Ski World. Students bounced on trampolines and belted out songs to a karaoke machine.
Jimin and some friends were sitting on the grass, eating scallion chicken and drinking a sweet rice wine called .