Sergeant Jeung Ji Hoon’s duty is complete. He can put the last 21 months behind him and get back to doing what he does best. Oh wait, he does a few things pretty well, come to think of it! Well, just do anything but be soldier in the ROK Army. He has done that pretty well and can now just file it away as something else he has accomplished and accomplished successfully. That will suffice for me!
I never anticipated spending the night outside the West Gate at the Defense Media Agency of the ROK Army in Seoul, South Korea on a rainy July night. Never anticipated having to make trips to a park restroom to charge my devices. Never anticipated seeing my fangirl artwork of a poster get washed away by a momentary monsoon at 2AM. Never anticipated having an MP reprimand me not once, but twice for text messaging (he thought I was taking pictures). No, never anticipated any of that when I planned this trip. But there I was, among a group of fans from all over the world waiting for one thing and one thing only: to see Sergeant Jeung Ji Hoon be discharged from his duty as an officer in the ROK Army.
It all started out really good. It was cloudy and the rain seemed to be keeping its distance so the other Rain could make an appearance. But the wait for the Sergeant was going to be a long one and the night even longer. We were ready.
We arrived at the gate around 11:30AM on July 9th. Sergeant Handsome Rain was to be discharged at 8:00 AM July 10th. See what I mean, it was going to be a long one. At some point in the afternoon we were approached by a man who seemed very interested in why were there and where we were from. In fact, he even wrote down the various countries being represented at that early stage: Japan, Philippines, USA, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Pretty eclectic group if I do say so myself. He then proceeded to show us a picture on his cell phone of himself and Sgt. Rain! Wow! Was not expecting THAT! Thankfully we had a fluent Korean speaker in our bunch (thank you Josie!!) and she was able to converse with him. We discovered he was a high-ranking officer with the ROK Army and that he knew Rain. Fortuitous, indeed.
Furthermore, he took our info down because he wanted to let Rain know we were there. He told us that Rain had a very busy day ahead and a party in the evening (probably with his unit). As it turned out, our friendly officer was the one coordinating the area and readying it for Rain’s discharge. This is why I am 100% confident that Rain KNEW we were out there and most likely knew we were going to be out there the entire night.
Clouds are a dedicated bunch. And I met some really wonderful ones. You know, you really get to bond with people when you are sitting outside in the rain all night long. Because the rain did fall. Goodness, it poured! Still, spirits were high because Sgt. Rain was coming home!
And, we were ready to celebrate!
As the night slowly made its way to day, the anticipation was growing. As was the crowd. Throughout the night we were approached by media. But nothing could have prepared us for the onslaught that came around 6:00 AM, about two hours prior to the discharge time. Yes, the media was arriving and arriving in throngs.
They were like a virus. They kept coming and they kept spreading. They eventually blocked our view of the gate and we knew we were not going to get a chance to see Rain.
I had to make a move. I knew that if I did not get up in there with them, I would not see Rain walk out. I just could not wrap my brain around NOT seeing him after being out there for 18 hours!!!!! I just wanted to catch him walking out. Really though, more than anything, I wanted to see him smile. I wanted him to be happy knowing we were there. My poker media face on, I infiltrated and managed to grab two shots the moment he walked out.
Oh, it was so good to see him!! The moment we waited for. Twenty-one long months all ending right then, right there! He moved fast. He stopped in front of the press, made a statement we could not hear and then made his way to the vehicle waiting to whisk him away. He made two attempts to stop and greet his fans. He tried. He sincerely tried. The media wouldn’t allow him a moment with his Clouds. From the moment he walked out of the gate to the two attempts he made to see the fans, he looked visibly tense, and did not smile his full and beautiful Ji Hoon smile. The one thing I hoped for, the only thing I hoped for did not happen. This fancam captures the mayhem pretty well.
Now that this is all said and done and Rain is a civilian again, I can look back on it and say….it was GREAT to be there. It was wonderful to share that moment with other fans and with him. And although it happened so fast and was over in a flash, I am still elated that I could be a part of it. There is so much to look forward to now that he has completed his duty. I cannot wait to see what he brings to us. But for this moment, I hope he is basking in the comfort of family and friends and that tucked away in the back of his mind is the knowledge that we were there for him and that we are so happy to have him back! And, I am confident we will see that big, beautiful smile again, really soon!