Read the newest installment of the Lia Park Young Adult Fiction series

“Maybe you should use your magic,” he whispered to me. I stared at him. Was he joking?

From chapter fourteen of Lia Park and the Missing Jewel. Used with permission from Aladdin: an imprint of Simon & Schusters Children's Publishing



            “Got something!”

Joon walked over and sat down next to me. I pushed against one end of the brick and the other side popped out just a little. “Help me pull this out.” He grabbed the brick and yanked it out. I stuck my hand inside and fished out a piece of paper. “What does it say?” I read out loud, “‘Like your closet / In front / <Dokkaebi Bangmangi>’”

“What does it mean? Do you get it?”

 I waved my hand at him to be quiet so I could think. Like my closet? I had clothes in there. Some boxes. And then my secret IMA closet. That must be it!

Joon stood with his hands on his hips and stared up at the window. “I still think this is our best shot in.”

“Will you just wait a second? I almost cracked it.” Now for the second part. That was easy. Stand in front. And the third? Had no idea what that was about.

“What do you have so far?” Joon asked.

“Okay. So we are looking for a secret door, and it’s in front,” I said. “The third part, I’m not sure.” “The last part seems kind of important, doesn’t it?” Joon asked as he reread the clue. “What do you remember from ‘Dokkaebi Bangmangi’?”

It was one of the many Korean folktales my parents used to read to me. This one was about a woodcutter who was gathering acorns for his family when he came across a group of dokkaebi, also known as goblins. He saw them do magic with a bangmangi, which was basically a magic club. The woodcutter got so hungry, he ate one acorn, and the noise scared the dokkaebi away. But they left behind the bangmangi, which he took home and used for good.

“You know what? There was a song. A special one that the dokkaebi sang when using the bangmangi,” I said.

“Now that you brought it up, I can almost hear the tune in my head,” Joon said. I thought back for a moment and remembered that after reading the book, I would play a game with my parents. They’d hand me a rolled-up piece of newspaper, and I’d swing it around, pretending it was a magical bat. But my memories ended there.

 “We need to hurry up. The tours are going to start soon,” Joon said. I really wanted to get inside, but where would I begin? Without the third part, it would be impossible to find the next clue. But maybe focusing on the first two parts would jog my memory. I stood in front of the structure, and no matter how hard I stared at it, no door appeared.

“Maybe you should use your magic,” he whispered to me. I stared at him. Was he joking?

“Uh. Negative. No way.” Clearly, I couldn’t control my powers yet. What if I accidentally hurt him and he couldn’t heal?

As if he knew what I was thinking Joon said, “You don’t have to worry about injuring me.”

I smiled weakly. But I still felt uneasy about using magic again. So much could go wrong.

            “Just think about it, okay?” He paused and then added, “It’s the only way if we want to save your parents.”

Fair point. Then there was one other big reason I couldn’t possibly use magic.

“Didn’t you hear Halmoni? If I do, the shadows will find me.”

“So what? It’s not like Gaya doesn’t know what we’re up to.”

That was true. She pretty much gave me her blessing to go find this jewel. But the problem was I only knew two spells. Although there seemed to be a lot of variations to them. There wasn’t enough time to learn a new one right now. I’d have to make do with the ones I knew.

“This was made for you. Only you can do it, and I’m sure your parents knew you’d be up to the task. They could’ve kept all this secret, but they didn’t.” Joon held my shoulders firmly and looked me in the eye. “I believe in you, Lia.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. He looked so serious. “Thanks for the pep talk.”

Feeling encouraged, I inhaled the crisp morning air and pictured Umma and Appa in hopes of centering my thoughts. But I couldn’t get the image of them bound up out of my head. I needed to find my happy place, because my heart was pounding against my chest and I couldn’t concentrate. I thought about our Saturday family movie nights and how Umma let me put extra butter on my popcorn. My hands would get all greasy from the butter, and I would lick them while my parents fake-gasped in horror.

Here goes. I thought about moving bricks around to form a larger opening and chanted, “Idong.” And just for good measure I added, “Umjigyeora.”

Move, bricks. Move! Nothing budged. I focused harder on the structure and chanted. A loud crumbling sound filled the air. The bricks from the top of the structure crashed to the ground one by one.

“Undo whatever you just did!”

I stopped chanting and the bricks stopped falling.

He looked at his watch. “It’s eight forty-five! The park opens at nine. You need to think of something quick.”

Maybe the entrance was hidden somewhere in the grass, like a trapdoor. I pictured the grass parting and chanted again, “Umjigyeora.”

Move. Please move.

Joon gasped and shook my arm. “Look!”

The grass swayed as if blowing in the wind, except there wasn’t even the slightest breeze today. I covered my mouth and stepped back to get a better look. The grass stopped moving.

“Keep doing what you just did. You can’t stop.”

I really hoped this was the right spell, but there was only one way to find out. “Umjigyeora.” “It’s working again!” Joon yelled. “Keep going!”

As I chanted, the grass around the structure rustled until it began to part, revealing the soil underneath.

Joon ran over and sifted through the soil with his fingers. “There’s nothing here.”

“I need the last clue. I can’t do it without it.” I racked my brain for the words to the childhood song about the magical bat.

“Is this it?” He hummed a tune.

“Got it!” I shouted. “Geum nawara ttukttak! Eun nawara ttukttak!”

Now I remembered. I had thought it was silly but oh so fun to dance and shout, “Gold, appear! Silver, appear!” Of course, I didn’t have magic back then, so nothing happened.

I stood in front of the structure and pictured a door opening—just like my secret IMA closet door that disappeared—and chanted, “Geum nawara ttukttak! Eun nawara ttukttak!”

A row of bricks along the base floated out in front of me. Then another row on top of that. And then another.

I cringed and waited for the structure to collapse, but it stood firm.

Joon gasped and got down on the ground and peeked inside. I continued to chant and jumped up and down. It was working. I had done something right. The bricks floated in midair, leaving a hole in the structure just big enough for us to slip through.

In the distance we heard whistles and a man shouting, “Hey! Get away from there!”

 I turned around and saw a group of people and a police officer racing toward us. A man in glasses yelled, “Someone stop them! This tower is a national treasure.”

There was only one thing to do now. Go inside this hole. I needed to trust this was what my parents had intended to happen.


Jenna Yoon studied Art History at Wellesley College and received her master’s degree in Korean art history from Ewha Womans University. She’s lived about half her life in both Korea and the United States. When she’s not writing, Jenna loves to travel, find yummy eats, play board games, and take skin care very seriously. Currently, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two kids. You can find her online at her website,, or on Twitter and Instagram @AuthorJennaYoon.