Study Guide

A Step from Heaven Chapter 4

By An Na

Chapter 4

Mi Gook

  • What's Mi Gook? (Short answer: America.)
  • To Young Ju, it's big boxes full of stuff—like toys for her—from Apa's big sister a.k.a. her aunt.
  • By the way, Young Ju is basically scared of clowns, especially ones that pop out of a box.
  • To Apa, Mi Gook is all about the money, even if you're someone without an education; to Uhmma, Mi Gook means pretty mothers and big houses.
  • So of course Apa and Uhmma are all smiles when Apa gets a letter that basically says they're going to Mi Gook.
  • Young Ju thinks Mi Gook is "the best word." She even thinks it's better than the sea or candy.
  • But she doesn't get why her friend Ju Mi pushes her away.
  • In fact, Ju Mi does more than that. She tells Young Ju that Young Ju's moving, which makes her happy since she doesn't have to play with a baby anymore. Ju Mi is pretty much a mean girl in training.
  • Young Ju, of course, is totally upset and runs crying to her mother, at which point Uhmma just lays it out straight.
  • She tells Young Ju that they are moving to Mi Gook and that Mi Gook is far across the sea and only reachable by plane, so there's no way they'll be able to come back to Korea.
  • Young Ju can't imagine being apart from her home and from Ju Mi, but then she thinks about what her mom said about being up in the sky in an airplane.
  • So of course Young Ju figures it all out: they're going to heaven because Mi Gook is heaven. (Hey, she's young—cut her some slack.)
  • The whole idea of moving to Mi Gook even gets her mother to sing—something she never does, even in church, because she says singing takes your heart and her heart's to heavy to give to God. Deep, right?
  • Anyway, Uhmma's singing about America which is further proof to Young Ju that "Mi Gook" really is a magical word.