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Summary: Chapter 12

Doc Hata spent four days in the infirmary alone with K, talking with her and giving her rice from his own meager rations. He wondered whether his comrades thought he’d fallen for K. In hindsight, Doc Hata thinks he didn’t know he was becoming interested in K since he continued to believe he was just following Captain Ono’s orders.

Doc Hata spoke about his family. K took an interest in his adoptive parents and asked if they treated him like their real son. He said they did but that he felt unsure about whether he had sufficiently honored them in return.

K explained that her father largely ignored her and her sisters, though he was elated when her brother was born. When the war started, recruiters came for her brother, but her father used his influence to prevent conscription. In his son’s stead, he offered his two unmarried daughters, and the next day the recruiter returned and took K and her sister away. The recruiter told the family that the girls would be put to work in a boot factory in Shimonoseki, Japan, but instead they were transported to Rangoon, Burma, and brought to this camp. The revelation that K and the others did not volunteer horrified Doc Hata.

Doc Hata tried to comfort K by professing that she would persevere through this experience and go on to have a long and decent life. He also told her about his own dream to receive full medical training and become a cardiopulmonary surgeon. He explained his longstanding fascination with the heart, which he thought might serve as a vessel for the human spirit and the source of individual perseverance.

As he approached the infirmary one morning, Doc Hata saw that Captain Ono had raised the black flag. He went inside and asked K if Ono had come. He hadn’t. Once again, K begged Doc Hata to help her commit suicide. Once again, Doc Hata refused.

Their conversation turned away from the present situation, and Doc Hata told K about the places he’d like to travel with her. K revealed more about her family and how her father was a scholar and ambassador. Her father had helped to establish an agreement on the issue of Japanese colonists in Korea, but then he fell on hard times when the agreement turned out not to work.