A few weeks ago, I remember reading Hyejin’s “Getting Through #2016” and feeling a tremendous sense of relief. For better or worse, 2016 was coming to an end, and I could leave all the bad things behind. Unfortunately, little did I know, the worst was yet to come.
When I first took over the Intersections blog, I honestly did not know if anything would work out. No one who had written in past iterations of the blog wanted to come back, and recruiting was a foreign process to me. I semi-jokingly tried to get a number of my friends to join, and I remember hearing from another friend that Wonshik was actually interested in writing. For me, that was the first sign of hope. I don’t think his interest was necessarily meant to be a sign of support, but it was all I needed to push myself harder to make the section successful. Someone like him deserved to be read.
Wonshik had that uncanny effect on me. In VTone, I would always try to goad him into signing up to be in my Korean pieces. Part of this was because we didn’t have a lot of Korean speakers, and I really liked his voice, but truth be told, Wonshik just always gave me a strong sense of comfort. This is the part of Wonshik for which I’ll always remember him most. Wonshik was a super popular and likeable guy, and in many rooms, he was definitely the center of attention. Despite this, he never failed to notice you, and he would always make an effort to say “Hi” and ask how you were doing, all the while having that warm smile on his face. I know it sounds cheesy, but no matter where you were, it became a more inviting place whenever Wonshik was around.
That’s not to say that Wonshik was just a super friendly, gregarious guy. The more I got to know him, the more I learned how much he thought about literally everything. Even taking the "Prince," for example, I always had to give him at least an extra week on articles — not because he was putting it off, but because he didn’t feel as though he had fully thought through the topic enough to write about it yet. While this was a bit frustrating at times for me as an editor, I couldn’t help but admire how deeply he considered things and how much he cared about putting forth his best work.
Quick progress check-ins would turn into lengthy discussions on anything ranging from neuroscience to Korea to the music he was currently listening to. I remember him telling me about how he always wanted to perform a Queen song or sing Korean rock in VTone. I remember learning about how he got interested in Chinese and how he always wanted to keep improving. He was so passionate about the things he loved, and he always wanted to find ways to do more, do better. But looking back, even though he often came to me for advice, I can’t help but feel like he taught me much more in the time that we spent together.
Wonshik, to be honest, I still don’t feel like I have the right words to tell you how I feel, but you were always good at inferring and understanding what I meant. After a semester of being the editor for the blog, Intersections has turned out better than I could have imagined, but it doesn’t feel complete without you. In both the "Prince" and VTone, you were one of the biggest reasons why I persevered and got to where I am now. I wish you were here so that I could tell you how much it meant to me to just know that you were rooting for me all these times. But more than anything, I wish you were here just so I could see you smile again.
Rest in peace, Wonshik. You made an unforgettable impression on all of us, and we are all so lucky to have been blessed with your presence in our lives. You last wrote about “Blindness and Darkness” on this blog, and I can say for sure the world is a bit darker now without your light. I promised your mother that I will never forget you, and that’s a promise I plan on honoring forever. Thank you for all the laughs and smiles and deep conversations. You’ve always inspired me to be a better person, and I’ll carry that with me for the rest of my life.
Michael Zhang ‘17 is the Blog Editor for the Daily Princetonian and a psychology major from St. James, New York.