Cartel of Silence

by Euree Kim


Day 1

Nurse told me to be stripped naked.

I asked: Do you have my consent? what about my rights?

Nurse replied, I do not need your consent. You do not have rights.

Yesterday, my friend B reported me to police.

I told them not to. But they did.

Police arrived.

They said I looked a bit lucid.

They asked whether I needed anything.

I said I wanted to go home.

They said I needed to go to hospital.

I said I did not want to.

They said I did not have right to refuse because it was protocol.

They took me.

Doctors and nurses made me sign a voluntary admission form.

I became imprisoned in a mental institution.

B said: You abandoned your life.

That is your illusion.

Windows were covered with mirror film for the purpose of privacy.

Outside people could not see inside people.

Doctors asked: What happened?

Doctors: Well, we can see you do not want to be here, but we are concerned that you went to lake. We want you to stay here for a few days and make sure that you are okay, then you are free.

I asked: Few days? How long?

Doctors: We don’t know. It is up to you.

I: Then I do not want to stay here. Can I leave?

Doctors: No.

I: But I signed the admission form against my will.

Doctors: Then submit another form which is called Dispute Request. It takes 5 days to be processed.

There were 14 inmates in this ward.

Every week, new people came.

Nurse said: No one wants to stay here.

There are three total computers and phones for use.

We are allowed to use them for only certain periods of time.

I called B.

Truth is not something that is accurate or objective.

Truth is a malleable thing which can be appropriated and interpreted to benefit others.

Truth is defined by people with power.

I said: Please help me B.

B said: Why?

I: I do not want to be here. They do not believe me. This is a misunderstanding.

B: What misunderstanding?

I: That I wanted to die.

B: Then tell them.

I: They do not believe me. They think I am lying.

B: How do you know that?

I: Then why am I here?

B: ….

I: Can you advocate for me?

B: Why?

I: They trust your words more than mine. Also, you are the one who initially reported…

B: ………

I: B, I am asking for your help.

B: That is not an attitude of asking for help. How can I trust you? Also, you tried making me feel guilty.

I: Then what should I say? How should I speak to make you want to help me? How can I make you trust me?

B: …………


Roasted Beef and edamame. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. Dry sponge cake. A scoop of salad.

My sister visited.

She brought some underwear, sweaters, and pants.

When she saw me, she cried.

She asked: what happened?

Day 2

Nurses woke me up early in morning to sample my blood and measure my blood pressure.

I sent messages to my friends.

They asked: what happened?


Baked potatoes. Scrambled egg. Orange Juice. Fat free milk. Canned fruit.

Nurse came into my room and wrote my daily schedule on a board.

Hallway. Patients in the ward were milling around. Gym was closed.

Social worker asked: What happened?

Well, she said

Social worker: I am concerned that you went to the lake. I want you to stay a couple of days so that we can see how you are doing. And if you seem fine, you can go home.

I thought: Fuck you.

There were fake sky ceilings in hallways and lounges.

Sometimes I went to my room to see the real sky. Pale blue and grey.


Roasted chicken breast. Asparagus. Baked corn. Salty soup. A bun. Apple juice.

I wanted to have a warm bap.

*Bap: Korean word for steamed rice or a meal.

Every moment nurses checked us and wrote something on their notepads.

Meeting room for patients and visitors are like where prisoners meet visitors in movies.

There are tables and chairs for people to sit. Nurses monitor people.

Meeting time is two hours per day.

B visited.


Day 3

I woke up in the middle of the night because I heard someone entering my room.

The person came into my room and stared at me in darkness.

I heard the sound of scribbling on a notepad.

They left.


Oatmeal. Cereal. 2% Milk. Banana. Yoplait. Canned fruit.

What day is it today?

Social skill session.

Nurse laid out puzzle games, coloring pages, board games, and awful Christmas cards.

She played classical music on the radio.

No one wanted to play with another, so everyone did stuff individually.

I chose a word puzzle.

Doctors and Social Worker called me.

They asked: How are you doing so far?

I said: Good, feeling calm.

They: Do you have any feeling of harming yourself or other people?

I said: No I don’t. Not at all.

They: We decided to let you free tomorrow.

I talked with one patient before another session.

I said: It is snowing again.

She replied: Yeah. It is also very windy.

I: My sister told me how cold it was.


Chicken risotto. Roasted veggies. Artificial Chocolate cake. Cranberry Juice.

Focus group.

Nurse said: Let’s talk about the best dinner ever!

He elaborated on his fabulous course food at home.

He never said whether he had any company for his meals but just gluttony.

I remembered having Shabu-shabu with my family.


Roasted beef and green beans. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. Lemon bar. A scoop of salad. Tea.

My sister visited. We talked in Korean.

Day 4


Oatmeal. Cereal. Fat Free Milk. Banana. Yoplait.

I waited.

My sister came to take me home. We walked outside the building.

I breathed cold winter air.

At school. Care manager asked, What happened?



About the Author
Euree Kim is a disability activist and co-founder of Nothing About Us Without Us (NAUWU). NAUWU aims to raise awareness of intersectional issue of social oppression and create positive change for proper representation of minorities and inclusive environment. Its projects ranges from workshops, publications, and discussions in collaboration with different groups.