I sometimes wonder if the universe runs out of people to place in our lives. That somewhere along the way it just doesn’t have enough characters and is forced to recast old friends or family.

I often find friends or acquaintances popping up in unexpected places. Usually it is a pleasant surprise. It happened a fair bit when I was living in Hobart, Tasmania. A quick trip into town could take a little longer as we bumped into people we knew and sometimes stopped for a chat. It happens less in Sydney.

The craziest coincidence was when we ran into a friend we got to know in Australia in a busy street in Seoul.

I was spending the day in Insa-dong with my husband and son. A suburb full of antiques and art galleries. They say the place is about 500 years old, but the old world is hidden among the high-rise buildings and traffic. You glimpse it here and there.


There is a building within Insa-dong with a spiralling walkway, surrounded by small artisan shops, that leads to a sky garden. It’s called ssamjigil. The place was about six years old when we last visited. It was frequented by locals and tourists.

I enjoyed the place. I liked watching people spruik traditional sweets still made the old way and loved the hand crafted accessories in the many shops.

The suburb is full of old fashioned tea houses and cafes. When Starbucks first moved into the neighbourhood, it was met with a lot of local resistance. They say the American coffee chain had to change its signage to fit into the area.

Our family had just left a tea house and was wandering the streets when we heard a “Hello!”

Out of more than 26 million people in Seoul, we ran into J. For a time J lived in Australia to learn English. She came to our church in Sydney, and once a week she was a part of our lives. It was years since she left our fellowship to move back to Korea. We lost touch.

Suddenly there she was in front of us, leading a group of students she tutored on an excursion. It wasn’t all fun for her students. They were there for a purpose — to find a tourist and have a conversation with them in English. They had a worksheet of questions they needed to ask people and write down their answers in English.

J told us she was happy to be home, but she missed her time in Australia. She asked us to send her regards to all the friends at our church and to let them know she still remembered their many kindnesses. And then she was gone. Back into the crowd to take her students back to class.

via the Daily Prompt: Coincidence

Featured image by Manki Kim on Unsplash

2 Comments

  1. I love this.it really resonated with me, as i’ve Lived in the same place for 18years, and a trip anywhere tends to be a social event. But i’ve also had experiences like your Seoul one; especially in the UK where we seemed to bump into other Kiwis we’d once known on a regular basis. 😀

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