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By Kim Haeun | | Updated: Jan 28, 2022

[Republic of Korea] Kim Haeun, Dalian Maritime University

Kim Haeun (R) collects the package. [Photo provided to]

“A man once lost his axe. He thought it was the son of his neighbor stole it. He saw whether form his steps, his facial color or his words, all seemed to prove that the son of his neighbor did it. But a few days later, when he shouldered his corn, he found his axe.And when he met the son of his neighbor another day, his actions and attitudes seemed to prove that he did not steal the axe.”

This is a fable in the book of Liezi about the “suspected neighbor stealing axe”. And I once made a similar mistake because of the subjective assumption, and I still feel ashamed.

It happened three years ago, when I just came to Dalian, because I didn’t know how to pay by Alipay, WeChat and other mobile Apps, I went out with my red wallet every day, it contains my bank card, student ID card, living expenses, and my keys and two lipsticks, in short, that is my “all my belongs”. My wallet and I are arguably intimate and inseparable.

I remembered that it was a weekend, the sun was very good, I went out with several Korean friends all day long, but when I returned home happily, I suddenly found that my wallet was missing! I was suddenly confused, and even felt that the sky outside the window was overcast. In South Korea, I often heard negative news about China, theft, fraud and other crimes, which all flashed in my mind. Yes, my wallet must have been stolen! And must have been stolen by a Chinese thief!

I began to recall my trip during the day, trying to find clues of thieves with the criminal investigation knowledge learned from films and TV series. Maybe the downstairs supermarket selling fruit aunt! I took out my wallet when I was shopping in the supermarket on the morning, and the old woman came to ask me if I was used to it in China. It seemed that she chatted me enthusiastically only to look for an opportunity to steal my wallet! In this way, I did not take out my wallet any more except in the supermarket. Then there was another possibility that the wallet fell on the taxi! When I was in a taxi, a male friend sat in the front seat and paid the fare. The other two female friends and I sat in the back seats. Maybe the wallet fell on the car at that time.

The campus scenery of Dalian Maritime University [Photo provided to]

Thinking of this, I seemed to see the taxi driver looking back to see a wallet in the back seat, two eyes lit up, as if to pick up a big fortune. If I really left my wallet on the taxi, the driver could not return it to me, and I thought to myself. There was also a possibility that the wallet…

As I fabricated the story for my lost wallet, pondering who is most likely to be the thief, my mobile phone rang, it is my friend’s phone: “Haeun, when you went to the bathroom, you let me help keep the wallet, I put your wallet in my bag and forget to return it to you…”

At that moment I was pleasantly surprised and ashamed. I was happy that the wallet was back, and I also felt regret I saw people with tinted glasses and hastily make negative judgments before the truth is out.

The city view of Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning [Photo provided to]

That is the story of my lost wallet and an experience I will never forget. In life, due to lack of trust, we often draw unjust and inconsistent conclusions of fact. In fact, for a long time, the supermarket aunt still care about me, and give me more when I buy fruit, and said to me that a girl is not easy, eat more fruit, it is good for health; the taxi master know I was an overseas student and often teach me a few words of Dalian dialect, chattering with me warmly and politely; and the delivery brother always “delivers to the door”, and does not forget to remind me of “eating well” or “paying attention to safety”.

Their warm words and considerate faces always lifted my spirit, although I study alone in China. This is a country full of warmth and human feelings, to study and live here, I feel at ease and happy!

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).