On March 30, Hwang Shin-hye (03’ Korean Language and Literature) and more than 20 visitors celebrated the publishing of her book, “Journey Of Dirt”, a memoir of her penniless, year-long travels in Japan, India, Nepal, Thailand, and China. In an interview with the Ewha Voice, Hwang shared what she learned during her travel and how she found happiness.
After graduation, Hwang went through a set of failures which made her feel depressed. She recalls “feeling like dirt which would soon be blown away and destroyed.”
It was when Hwang met a couple of pilgrims in front of the Hak-gwan that her life became meaningful again. As she talked with them, she was impressed by the fact that the couple was happy though they had nothing. Giving the couple directions around Seoul, she decided to go travelling without penny, just like them.
The main purpose of Hwang’s journey was not sightseeing or experiencing diverse cultures.
"I wanted to be happy. I wanted to find my own, inner voice inside me," Hwang said.
Her parents were against her decision. However, she boarded a plane with a one-way ticket for Tokyo.
At that time, I didn’t know how I was going to travel or how much I would change from the journey,” Hwang said. “I just tried to follow what I wanted.”
During her journey, Hwang learned that a strong desire could cause miraculous events to happen. Even without money, she continued travelling with others' help.
"I learned that money circulates. The money I have right now can belong to someone else and vice versa. I stopped worrying about money." Hwang said.
One incident in Hong Kong strengthened her belief even more. When Hwang and a friend needed airplane tickets to go back to Korea, they happened to meet a man in a park. After having a conversation with them, he decided to buy the tickets, saying he was looking for a way to do what Jesus did.
Hwang said that she was surprised that she and her friend also had something to offer the man.
“He later invited us to dinner and told us that his daughter ran away from home to study art. We reminded him of his daughter. We held our hands together and prayed for her.”
The one time when Hwang wanted to go back was when she hurt her back in Northern India and had to stay in bed for about three weeks.
“I missed my friends and family but soon realized that going back to Korea wouldn’t make me happy. I reminded myself of why I had left home,” she said.
During her travel, Hwang gained weight and stopped suffering from nervous headaches and stomachaches.
Now she is planning her next penniless journey to Russia, on April 5.
Hwang said,“I travel because I want to be more true to my inner voice and be inspired. I want to create my own way in life, instead of following what others do. That’s how I became happy.”