Chapter 145

Moonjoong separated from his group when he got the chance. Chulmin gestured for him to stay, but Moonjoong wasn’t a fan of such meetings. He decided to leave while Chulmin was busy talking with the event organizers. Inside the hall were a lot of students, all holding a packed lunch in their hands. They had an hour of rest. Even as they ate, they were practicing their lines. What passion.

Moonjoong couldn’t be more thankful that these kids existed. Nowadays, there were many other things to watch for entertainment than just plays. Plays were a very niche genre of entertainment at this point. Despite that, these kids were acting. They were enjoying it. As long as kids like this existed, the art of plays would never disappear. In that sense, the industry needed hard-working people like Chulmin and talented people like Geunsoo.

“You’re working hard.”

“Ah, yes.”

The kids looked a little wary of him. The makeup on their faces looked a little awkward, but their eyes were like that of a pro’s.

“Is acting fun?”

Moonjoong wondered for a second if he was coming off as nosy, but the kids answered him surprisingly kindly.

“It’s not always fun, but… It feels good to complete a play we’ve been practicing.”

The kids had such a pure smile on their faces. Moonjoong told them to perform a play they could be satisfied in before taking his leave. Looking at young kids like this reminded him of someone. He put on his glasses and started pressing the buttons on his phone. Soon, a voice came from the other side of the phone.

- Yes, sir.

“Maru?”

- Yes, that’s me.

“I can’t find you nearby.”

- By that, do you mean…

“I’m here at the Anyang hall. Did you leave already?”

- You were there in the building?

“I ended up here one way or the other.”

- We just came back to the school after cleaning up. The waiting room is small, so we had to get out quickly.

“I see.”

So that’s why he couldn’t find Maru anywhere. Moonjoong thought for a brief second before opening his mouth.

“Is your instructor next to you?”

- Yes.

“Ask her if she minds if I visit, would you?”

- You’re coming here?

“In about one or two hours. If you’re there by then. It’s nothing special, just...”

Moonjoong looked behind him as he trailed off at his last sentence. He could still see the students practicing in the hall.

“...I was curious about the person behind that play and I would like to say a few things to you if I have the chance.”

- That would be an honor.

“Haha, it’s nothing.”

- I’ll ask my instructor in that case, sir. I want to hear you speak any time, but the instructor…

“Ahh, of course. I just wanted to visit with the instructor’s permission.”

- If the instructor declines, I would like to visit by myself. I thought I got on your bad side when you didn’t contact me.

What a kid. Moonjoong often found himself wondering if Maru really was just a teenager whenever he talked to the boy.

“I’m quite grateful you think of me so highly.”

People say you get stubborn as you age. At the beginning of his career, Moonjoong was definitely quite stubborn. He was arrogant, too. He used to think that plays couldn’t be successful without him. That those who didn’t cast him were out of their minds. He thought his fame would continue forever. He stopped telling himself to be humble at some point and he started thinking that those who tried to become more successful than him were simply foolish. Around then, he left the industry to take a break. He was in his mid-fifties then and the year-long break taught him many powerful lessons. One of which was that relationships established through fame were as fragile as glass.

That was when he decided to take a step back to teach the children. It wasn’t that he lost his passion, he was just embarrassed. He thought he had everything in his grasp, but it was actually flowing out like sand. He only realized that people mature within their loneliness when he turned sixty. The one relieving thing he’s realized though was that the person that was Yoon Moonjoong wasn’t as big an asshole as he thought himself to be. The worst thing he’s heard about himself from his peers only described his behavior to be ‘expensive’. Hearing that question could only make him laugh.

After he retired from the industry, people started treating him like some grand old thing. Frankly, it was pretty embarrassing to be treated with such respect, but ah well. From then on, the first thing he felt whenever people came to him for something was thankfulness.

- I’ll call you back in a few minutes, sir.

“Take your time. I’ll have to stay here for about two more hours anyway.”

Moonjoong hung up with a smile. He knew how difficult and dangerous it was to raise a person, that’s why he made it explicit to Junmin that he was willing to teach just a single person. Teaching someone meant that you were influencing that person’s life. Like it or not, you were changing the person’s trajectory in life one way or another. Taking such an act lightly would be a sin, that’s why Moonjoong didn’t use the word “teach” a lot. The most he usually did was to give advice to people based on his experiences. As he walked around a bit more outside, he heard someone call out to him. It was Chulmin.

“What’s the main character of the show doing outside?”

“Main character? No way.”

“The director and the writer are here. Talk to them for a bit.”

“Will it take long?”

“No, this is just a simple greeting. We can talk about the specifics some other time. We just need to make sure that you’ll get along.”

“You think an oldie like me would care about who I work with?”

“Is that really something you should say, Mr. Yoon?”

The two of them walked back inside with a grin.

* * *

“Who?” Miso asked again.

“Mr. Yoon Moonjoong.”

“Who is that, a teacher?”

“No, the actor.”

“...Who?”

“The actor, Mr. Yoon Moonjoong.”

“Just a person with the same name, right?”

“Don’t think so.”

“Is it who I’m thinking of right now?”

“Probably.”

“And he’s coming here right now?”

“He wanted to know if you were fine with it first...”

“Fine with it? Of course I am! Of course he’s welcome here!”

The club members all looked at them weirdly from all the noise Miso was making.

“He’s not coming here right now. He said he’s going to take some time.”

“How long?”

“About two hours?”

Two hours. Miso looked around the auditorium. Was there a place for him to sit? No, was this place even good enough for him?

“He also told me to tell you to not make a scene just for him.”

Miso couldn’t calm down despite hearing that. The name Yoon Moonjoong held many meanings to her.

“Do we have any nice chairs here, instead of these wooden ones?”

“Probably in the faculty room.”

“Come with me.”

The two of them walked right down to the first floor. There were quite a few teachers here despite it being a Sunday, they picked a chair that looked pretty comfortable and asked the teacher if they could take it. They looked troubled at first, but their demeanor changed as soon as they heard the name, Yoon Moonjoong.

“Really? Mr. Moonjoong is coming?”

The reaction from one of the older female teachers was quite something. The woman gave them a blanket and even a yokan as a snack. She asked for a signature as well, prompting a nod from Miso.

“Hold this.”

Miso held the blanket and Maru carried the chair. The club members asked them what was happening when the two of them returned to the fifth floor.

“A heavyweight senior might be coming to visit us. Guys, get to practice. Write a list of everything you were unsure about. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You can’t buy experience like this even with money.”

The kids understandably looked a little confused even after hearing Moonjoong’s name. Miso was more than ready to explain how amazing this actor was, but she decided to let it pass for now.

“Ugh, I’m so nervous.”

“Just be yourself, this isn’t normal for you.”

“You’re the weird ones. This is the teacher Yoon we’re talking about. Ahh, to think I’d experience a generational gap with something like this… It’s just a single decade, too.”

“You’re old.”

“Do you want to die, Maru?”

Maru shrugged.

“How did you get to know teacher Yoon, anyway?”

“I met him through Mr. Junmin. He told me a lot of good things.”

“You should’ve told me about that.”

Maru saluted her like a soldier and said “Yes, sir. Any time.”

“What’s he like anyway?”

“He’s a kind person. He listens seriously in conversation, even to the boring stuff. Well, I’ve only met him once, though.”

“Hah, I’m nervous.”

“I could just tell him to not come.”

“Are you kidding me? He retired from the industry by the time I started acting. I had no chance to ever meet him because of that. I can’t believe I’m going to meet him like this.”

Maru looked very cute today to her, all of a sudden. Miso grabbed the boy’s cheeks and shook him sideways.

“Aghh...”

“You damn cutie! You’re a little ball of luck.”

“It hurts.”

“It hurts? I’ll do it more!”

Miso grinned like a child, making the club members stare at the two of them in even more confusion.

* * *

“It was an honor to meet you,” the director said, stepping back.

“An honor, he says.”

“I feel so embarrassed to hear comments like that nowadays.”

“Don’t lie to me. I know you like it.”

Their short meeting ended. The director showed aspiration and the writer showed ambition. When Moonjoong asked the director if he would still be popular on the screen, the director told him that views weren’t an absolute metric for success. The young director had quite the spirit.

“I just hope he doesn’t get corrupted by money.”

“That’s what we all hope, but to be completely honest, how many people do you see that aren’t tempted by money? People only try new things here when they have nothing to lose.”

“Of all the people he could’ve chosen, he got someone like me...”

“Come on, since when did you have so little confidence? You used to go off about how movies couldn’t succeed if you weren’t in it.”

“Why do you keep bringing up stuff from when I was immature?”

“You call 50 immature?”

Chulmin seemed to be taking a great enjoyment out of teasing him. Men just never grow up.

“Alright, I’ll be taking my leave now,” Moonjoong said.

“Where?”

“School.”

“School?”

Moonjoong nodded.

“Is it for that kid?”

“Damn, you’re good. You should make a living off of being a prophet instead of this.”

Moonjoong stepped out of the building, leaving Chulmin inside. When he called Maru a few minutes ago, the boy handed the phone over to the instructor. The instructor introduced herself as Yang Miso and she told him that she would come to greet him right away. He said he was fine, but she was so insistent that he had to give in. Chulmin stepped out of the building behind him with a curious expression.

“Maybe I should go.”

“I thought you were busy?”

“I’m interested in this.”

“Haha, just take care of the people under you. Also, Geunsoo.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Yang Miso was your friend?”

“Yes.”

Moonjoong nodded. Blue Sky… It turns out to be a nest full of dragons. It felt like kids from that club were all incredibly talented. He was kind of excited, actually. What are these kids like? What does Maru look like in practice?

“Let’s go for a drink some time.”

“Sure.”

Chulmin quickly left the area with Geunsoo. As he thought, the man had a lot of things to do. After a few minutes of waiting, a car sped towards him from afar. A young lady got off the car after stopping in front of him.

“Hello! I’m Yang Miso.”

The woman had quite the voice. Moonjoong got into the car with a smile.

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