The only phrase I know, the only thing I’ll ever be able to say somewhat-authentically in Korean. I can remember like yesterday how you would repeat it to me over and over again, during spring cast party when I couldn’t get the vowels right for the life of me, laughing when I kept butchering the pronunciation, patiently saying it back until I finally got it weeks later, never annoyed that it was the go-to phrase I’d blurt — along with a proffered handshake — whenever I saw you anywhere ever after. The highest praise was, “If I was half asleep and I heard you say that, I might believe you were actually Korean!”
Mannaseo bangawoyo. Pleased to meet you.
I remember when you walked into VTone auditions last fall and somehow everyone already knew we wanted to take you. Something in the way you carried yourself. Do people know that you starred in Korean TV shows? When someone has such good looks and hair and brains and musical talent, pretentiousness is almost a given. Not with you — not even close. I was always struck by your humility, your kindness, your silliness and contagious laughter, the unassuming way you walked through life — except when you howled rock songs by Muse.
We were co-publicity chairs this past year. It would be unfair to say you were easy to work with. You would forget to send emails, not know performance dates that had been decided upon months in advance, be slow at responding to my messages. But we had so much fun together. Even when I was furious at you for oversleeping yet another meeting, when you did show up you were the most fascinating person to be around. The big-eyed way you looked at the world, the way you’d randomly insert Chinese idioms into the conversation, the blunt way you’d say things that was so, so funny even when you weren’t trying to be. I cannot recall a single interaction that did not end in philosophical musings or laughter — usually both. And our publicity photoshoots. Thank you for putting up with my crazy ideas. I have so many photos of us on my computer that we took behind the scenes. Did I ever send them to you? I don’t remember, but I’m in tears just looking at them now.
Ironic, isn’t it, how fitting this phrase is now that you’re gone? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wrap my mind around it, the numbness that engulfed me as I tried to process that awful email. I can only picture you saying over and over again, exaggerating every syllable — man-na-seo-ban-ga-wo-yo-man-na-seo-ban-ga-wo-yo. Pleased to meet you. Pleased to meet you.
It was such a pleasure to have met you Wonshik. Mannaseo bangawosseoyo.
It was such a pleasure to have known someone who shined as bright as you did, who sang as passionately as you did, who laughed as unreservedly as you did. How many times did we get in trouble during rehearsal for losing it over something ridiculous? What I wouldn’t give to share that laughter with you again.
만나서 반가웠어요, my friend. The world is emptier without your light.
Zoe Tu is a chemistry major from Maple Grove, MN. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Editor's Note: The Daily Princetonian will dedicate a significant portion of our first issue of January to the memory of Wonshik Shin '19. For that, we need your help. If you wish to share your memory of him, please contact email@example.com; if you wish to send an open letter to Wonshik similar to this one, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.