My soju routine: A poem

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Tonight’s menu: Chamisul soju, a variety of Kimchi, Toppogi chips, ramen. 

Topic: Breakup, friendship, etc. 


First cup: Complaining Phase — “Like, seriously, can you believe what happened to me??”

I grab a seat along with my friends 

surrounding an orange plastic round table, 

so ready to talk all night. 

Sensing that, my friends order 

my natural prescription: Chamisul soju. 


I explain the tragedy 

that struck me recently:

the love triangle 

with my ex and 

best friend (or so I thought)

who were both my close friends. 


I was infatuated with him somehow:

motorcycle rides, skiing, 

11 pages of letters,

love letters that I wrote.


I was betrayed by these two but 

kept believing the good in them. 

Unable to learn the lessons, 

I forgave them the first time, 

only to be fooled again.


Second cup: Anger phase — “If you think I was born yesterday, you’ve got me wrong, SO WRONG!!!”


Getting furious 

with how they treated me with no respect, 

my anger boiling at the surface 

like Jjigae hot pot.

I kick an empty can of beer, 

do the ‘Joker laugh,’ 

complain faster, growl in fury, 

and scream. 


Devouring Kimchi 

my mouth painted red with rage and chili

Looking at this, 

friends refill my empty soju cup,

nodding, occasionally expressing their shock,

but in silence, 

allowing my argument to loop by itself. 


Soon I start listening 

to Dua Lipa songs 

for inspiration as to 

what I should do next.


Twenty minutes later, naturally, I come to a cliche conclusion: “I’m cutting them off!”


Third cup: Sad Phase — “Why? Why do bad things happen to good people?”


I suffer, watching 

the two who gave me presents, 

planned surprises for my birthday 

and said that they loved me,

Those very two

Say that they have no bad intentions,

even after they hurt me.


Then I soon realize

the toxicity of my former connections,

but also my idiocy 

to choose them as my friends 

in the first place. 


Sobbing, I cry out, “But I didn’t see it at first! they seemed like nice, funny people! BAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!”


Fourth cup: Denial phase — “Good people don’t exist in this world; this is just a FACT.”


No longer being able to believe 

my discernment people’s personalities, 

I deny the existence of good people



Putting my soju cup on the table, I declare: “Friendships are flimsy, love is fake, I’m just gonna live by myself!”


But as I throw Toppogi chips into my mouth, 

a new thought comes to mind.

Going through various emotions 

with every single cup along the way, 

my heart,

even with how much it’s been hurt, 

is still alive,

like an amoeba constantly reshaping. 


Fifth cup: Reflection phase — “… I’m sorry, I should have listened…”


Friend A: “I told you that they seemed toxic from the start but you never listened!”


Friend B: “You are gullible; you have to realize that yourself.”


Friend C: “You have to remain objective and listen to me when I give you a warning, okay?” 


Me: “… sorry, I, I don’t know what to say. Love is blind, you know? I just couldn’t see anything else that time. I’ll listen next time, promise!”


In hindsight, they did warn me

a number of times: everyone frowned 

when I told them the story,

when I started the whole thing. 

They said I should be suspicious 

and that I shouldn’t fall so easily, 

while another said “Don’t do it” in a text. 

Our text history serves as evidence

of mistakes they tried to



Sixth cup: Appreciation phase — “I don’t know what I would do without you!”


I realize my friends have been listening

to my complaining for four hours.

Sitting beside them,

I remember I’m not alone. 

I have the kind of friends 

who’ll always listen to my endless complaints, 

scold me for my fool decisions 

and yet give me a big, warm hug. 


Some friendships are real after all, 

and there are good people

sitting right next to me! 


With that blissful realization, 

I make instant ramen. 

Spicy, of course,

serving all my friends who listened to me tonight 

as thank you gifts.


Seventh cup: Pink cheek phase — “Bluhh bluhh bluhh” 


Reaching soju euphoria, 

my problems seem to have resolved. 

Alcohol kicks in, 

I start blubbering some inscrutable language. 

Worn out from complaining, I doze off. 


Friends, smiling, 

post my sleeping face on Instagram. 


Two empty bottles later: 




This is my soju routine, 

a selfish, 

self-centered way 

of coping through my emotional hardships. 


Alcohol doesn’t solve problems, I know. 

But maybe, the friends who drink with you, listen to you and give you hugs at the end of the night do. 

Contact Eriko Yamakuma at [email protected]