My Black Padded Boots

Soo Kyeong Lee


Soo Kyeong Lee was content in South Korea, where she and her husband had built a good life. But when he wanted to study in Canada, she left her mother and homeland behind.


In South Korea, some people are very superstitious; my mother is one of those people. The number 4 is bad luck in Korea, so some buildings don’t have the 4th floor. Another superstition is that you must cook red beans before moving into a new house to prevent ghosts from haunting it. Before moving into our first new house, we went there to clean. We saw some small round things in every corner. I called my mom, and she explained that she had put beans in the corners instead of cooking them. Another superstition is that if shoes are given as a present, the person who receives them will run away from the relationship.

One day, at the beginning of the winter in Incheon, my mother and I went to a mall to look for winter boots for her. When we entered the shop, I saw a pair of padded boots that I liked. So I tried them on. They were very comfortable, warm and soft. I liked them a lot, but they were expensive. I just looked and touched them.

           “Do you like those?” my mom asked. “I will pay for them, so take them to the counter.”

I was so surprised about her buying them for me. That was the first gift I received from her since I was twenty years old. She only bought shoes for me when I was a child. 

One year later, while I was having dinner with my husband, Colin suddenly said, “I want to back to Canada and become a teacher. I’d like to go to school this September.” 

           “What? I said. This September? 

           “Yes, it seems rushed, but the sooner, the better… I know it’s a really big decision for us, but I promise to make your life so much better and happier.”

           “Well, okay.” I knew when I married him; I would have to move to his country one day.

So, we decided to move. After that, we were very busy wrapping up everything, but it took so long that Colin had to go to Canada before me. Finally, when I left South Korea, my mother cried a lot at the airport, and she said, “I shouldn’t have bought those boots.” I knew I should wear the boots because I wanted to show my mom how much I liked her gift. But they were very hot and uncomfortable on the plane.

However, when I stepped outside the Halifax airport, it was freezing!

“Oh my god! It’s very cold.”  

“Yes, welcome to Canada,” Colin said.

One month after I had arrived in Canada, I received a letter from Immigration. I was already in Canada, but I had to leave and come back again for what is called the ‘landing process.’ So, I decided to go to my sister’s house in the US for two weeks without Colin. When I got to the Toronto airport, it was snowing a lot, so my next flights were cancelled. The Delta worker sent me in a different direction, which meant I had two days without sleep. Honestly, I was scared and lonely at first, but I started to talk to my boots as if they were my mother. Of course, I wore my boots throughout the whole journey. So I stopped being scared and lonely: I was with my mother. Three weeks later, I landed in Canada and finally received my permanent residency.

Well, It’s winter again. I’m wearing my boots every day, and if I ever get lonely again, I can always talk to my padded boots as if they were my mom.

SOO KYEONG LEE is from Incheon, on the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea. While living there, she worked at a lawyer’s office. After marrying a Canadian teacher, she came to Nova Scotia. She is studying English and employment skills with Antigonish County Adult Learning Association (ACALA).

More Stories from Antigonish 2019