“Yes, I heard that you passed the audition. Did you get the role you wanted?”
Maru checked that his glass was full before putting it back down.
“Yes. The person in charge seemed to think well of me and I was able to get the role I wanted.”
“Then you must be the delinquent.”
“And that means you’ll be swearing at me.”
“I’m a very bad person so I’m confident in saying words that will make you feel bad. If you’re worried about bland insults, then you need not worry.”
“Haha, please go easy on me. Don’t bully this old man. I’m at an age where I can get sick from just getting emotional.”
Moonjoong gestured to him to raise his glass with a smile. Maru turned his face around to drink the glass. Although a high-class vodka would fit this place better, the drink on the table was soju.
“It’s a single scene, but it’ll take quite some time if you consider scene switching, waiting and filming itself. Prepare a warm jacket because we’ll be filming during the night, and don’t forget to take care of yourself. No one looks after bottom-of-the-rung actors on the scene.”
This time, Maru picked up the soju bottle to pour Moonjoong a glass but Moonjoong shook his head.
“I thought I’d start to restrain myself since I’m at the age that I am.”
“If you say so.”
Maru put down the bottle and picked up the green tea contained in a plastic bottle. Moonjoong slowly reached out with his glass.
“Please stay healthy. Now that you’ve returned, you’ll have other films to do.”
“That’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s natural for me to become weaker as I grow older. But even so… thank you for those words.”
Drinking a sip of green tea, Moonjoong heaved out a breath.
“Maru. You should be aware that there is no such thing as an easy job in this world, actors included. Every year, tens to hundreds of thousands of people step into this industry in hopes to become an actor, but only a select few gets to see the light of day. The rest become forgotten by the people without even getting their names known. That’s why the first feeling I have when I see youngsters wanting to become actors is pity. How long will that child be able to endure? And will he or she see the light of day?”
“That applies to everything.”
Hearing those words, Moonjoong chuckled.
“Yes. It does apply to everything. Everyone dreams of becoming successful, but not everyone can grasp it. Maru, what do you think is the most important to become successful?”
“I think the most important thing is the obsession with success. Usually the word ‘obsession’ is used in a negative connotation, but I don’t think it’s possible to become successful without staking that much on the line. Everyone wants the same success, so there’s no way someone not putting as much effort in can take it.”
“Yes. You’re right. One must be obsessed. Success, dreams, ambitions. One must try being obsessed with such things at least once. Only when they try their hardest to grab the success that’s floating afar can they fully realize what it actually is; whether they can reach it; or whether they have to give up. The ones that can reach it will take it, and if they can’t then they’ll have to turn their heads away. The principles of this world are quite strange and they do not allow one person to be in possession of two things. No matter how successful a person is, if you dig deeper into him, then you’ll find numerous things he or she gave up in order to become so successful. The obsession with success also means a resolve to give up other things.”
“Do you have things you gave up on too, elder?”
“I do. This is something I thought about recently, but giving up was always related to time. Others should be in a similar situation. As a result of investing my time for the public, I was able to become a decent actor, but at the same time, I became an insufficient breadwinner. Above all else, I became an incompetent husband. If I abandoned my desire for materialistic things earlier, I would have retired much earlier, but I would also have discovered my beloved wife’s heart disease much earlier as well.”
Moonjoong reached out with his glass again and Maru quietly filled it.
“Adults will always tell you the same thing - cherish your time with your loved ones. You might have had enough of it, but the fact that they always say those words to you is because it has to be remembered.”
Maru nodded his head a little as he heard those words. There was a reason that people said those words regardless of which era it was. In the end, time was limited and it was up to the people to divide that time. When he thought about her, and the child that looked like her, success didn’t seem to be something so special. After all, any sort of success was intended to protect that warmth.
“However, therein lies a contradiction. What comes first, the success, or the person? I cannot deny the fact that the quality of time I spent with those people went up thanks to my success. People are very greedy and do not know what satisfaction is. The poor Yoon Moonjoong’s love and the successful Yoon Moonjoong’s love, as much as I hate to admit it, were different.”
Moonjoong slowly laid back on his chair as he reminisced about the past before closing his eyes.
“Peculiarly, when I look at you, I only want to say words like these. I don’t think words like ‘do your best’, ‘endure until the end’, ‘effort will not betray you’ and other hopeful words will help you out in any way. You don’t even look like a youth but someone who’s had a fair share of life…. Sheesh.”
“Elder. Do I really look that mature?”
“I’m saying that your mind is old, not your looks.”
Maru smiled lightly.
‘You’re right on point, elder’.
After that, Maru listened to a few more warnings about this movie and realized that it was about time for him to go. Moonjoong also told him to go.
“Then I’ll take my leave first.”
After bowing, Maru walked towards the door. The moment he turned the door knob, a voice sounded out from behind.
“There’s one more thing I need to tell you.”
Maru turned around to look at Moonjoong.
“Since you’ve decided to take that first step, take a big one.”
After that, Moonjoong closed his eyes again as though he was about to sleep. Maru quietly left the room and closed the door.
At that moment,
“I was wondering why you weren’t coming out.”
When he turned around, he saw Suyeon standing next to the door. She was wearing a fancy pearl-colored one-piece dress that made her look younger. Well, that was probably the reason why she was able to get the role of a high school student despite being in her mid 20s.
“What did you talk about inside?”
“I was advised to be wary around women. Especially those wearing pearl-colored one-piece dresses.”
“Really? I wonder who that is.”
“If you don’t have anything to talk to me about, then I’ll be going.”
“Why are you in a hurry? There are big-name actors gathered over there. Aren’t you going there?”
“There are two kids waiting outside. It’s a real pity. I wanted in too.”
Maru smiled slightly before trying to get out of the way. At that moment Suyeon reached out with her hand and blocked his way.
“If you mean those two, you can see them over there.”
Yoojin and Jiseok were in the place Suyeon was pointing towards. Yoojin was locking arms with a woman with a short haircut and a strong impression, and it looked like she was her mother.
“That unni is not ordinary. She’s introducing her daughter to the people in the industry, and as expected of someone who knows her way around, the way she holds conversations cannot be smoother.”
Yoojin’s mother ran a hair shop in Gangnam. It was one that top stars visited.
- Apparently, Yoojin’s mother is very famous. There was a drama press release at the same time as your school play, and apparently, she was there too.
She talked to Maru about this when they talked about Yoojin before.
“Okay, I get Yoojin, but why him?”
“The one next to her, was it Jiseok? Quite a lot of people recognize him as well. There’s an academy called Film, which many famous actors are affiliated with, and apparently he’s a prominent actor there so a lot of the actors are taking care of him. Though, I guess his affiliation with Yellow Star also has something to do with it.”
When he thought about it, those two had a more concrete foundation in this industry than him. Although they were all of the same age and this was their debut, the quality of gazes they received seemed to be different. Though, to be specific, Yoojin did debut in a drama as a child actor. The fact that Jiseok was contracted to a company was also a proof of his abilities.
- Tens to hundreds of thousands of people step into this industry.
And those two already passed through a hurdle. Maru thought about his own position for a minute.
‘Not bad, I guess.’
When it came down to it, he had a few places he could ask help from. He did not have any thoughts on becoming successful all by himself. That was just inefficient. It was much easier to climb the ladder with sufficient, but not too much, help from his connections. It wasn’t his style to solve everything by himself like how drama protagonists did.
“How about it? Wanna come by?”
Maru glanced at Suyeon who sneakily locked her arms around his. This woman wasn’t someone who would say all those words without any intentions. She should have a motive, and since it would be a loss on Maru’s side to be dragged around without knowing anything, he had to find out what she was thinking. She was obviously trying to use him, so he couldn’t just follow along. At that moment, he saw a familiar face beneath an artificial tree that stood afar. It was Geunsoo, and he was talking with two other men with sturdy builds. Maru had a glance at Suyeon and then looked at Geunsoo once.
“You want a sidekick? A topic of conversation, perhaps?”
“Quick-witted kids are so adorable.”
“Didn’t you get rejected back at the villa? I think it’s about time you gave up.”
“You don’t know when and what will happen between a man and a woman.”
He could imagine what happened. If Suyeon approached Geunsoo by herself, based on Geunsoo’s personality, it was likely that he would smile and immediately go somewhere else. That man was also a man that didn’t mind the gazes of others after all. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been nicknamed a ‘lunatic’ when he first created Blue Sky.
However, she would be able to hold a conversation if Maru was with her. This was the situation that Suyeon wanted.
“Give and take.”
“Of course. How about a pair of tickets to a movie that’ll be released soon? I heard that you have a girlfriend, right?”
“I can buy movie tickets with my own money though.”
“When did I tell you that it’s an ordinary ticket? It will be for the premiere. There’s also a talk with the cast right after it. I don’t think it’s a bad deal considering that there’s even a meal ticket for the restaurant above the theater.”
“What’s the genre?”
“I would have passed if it was romance, but I’ll take the deal since it’s horror.”
“You know your stuff.”
To make it clear, she was the type of person to go out her way to find horror movies despite absolutely detesting them. She would probably like it. If he got a pair of meal tickets on top of that for hanging out with her for a brief time, then the calculations worked out.
“I’ll just start the conversation, so follow up by yourself.”
Suyeon locked her arms around Maru’s. Maru shrugged and started walking towards where Geunsoo was.
* * *
“What’s he up to now?”
Yoojin looked at Maru who was walking with the actress Kim Suyeon by his side. He had told her that he would be meeting an elder, so what was he doing with her?
‘She’s the elder?’
Yoojin tilted her head and looked his way. From what she saw, it didn’t seem that the two were close. No, it was a little strange. Maru had a flat expression while Suyeon had a bright smile.
“What is it?”
“Oh, mom. It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing.”
Her mother looked towards where Maru was.
“If it isn’t Ms. Suyeon.”
“Mom, you know Kim Suyeon too?”
“I do. I’ve seen her a few times. And girl, call her Suyeon-unni. You should be close with everyone.”
“How can I possibly be close with everyone?”
“Sheesh, you really don’t know your stuff since you’re so young. Rather than that, who’s the guy next to her?”
“He’s Han Maru, and he’s a friend of mine.”
There was a handsome, yet prankful-looking man in the place Maru and Suyeon arrived at. When the three got together, the sturdy-looking men left the place after saying goodbye.
“Oh, if it isn’t Hong Geunsoo.”
“You know him too, mom?”
“I don’t know him personally. I just heard a few stories about him. But watch over him. There’s a rumor that he’ll become a big-name actor in the future. He’s close with director, I mean, president Yoo Chulmin as well as president Lee Junmin. Rather than that, that friend of yours knows a lot of people.”
“Well, I’m not so sure.”
“Stay close with him. Affairs between people are mysterious. He looks a little stiff, but he looks okay.”
“Mom, he has a girlfriend already.”
“So what? I’m telling you to stay close as a friend.”
Yoojin shook her head and looked at the three again. All three of them were not the main characters, yet they seemed to be shining brighter than where the main actors were standing. She wondered if it was because they would all become big-name actors, just like what her mom said.
“Yoojin. The film director is coming. You should go greet him.”
“You should always greet people when you get the chance. Believe in mom. Have I ever done something bad for you?”
Yoojin sighed but she still followed her. Just as she said, she had never done anything bad for her.
 In Korea, younger people face away (to the side) to drink soju in front of elders. This has to do with being polite.
 Can anyone tell me when Maru’s GF told Maru about Yoojin’s mother…? I can’t seem to find it anywhere… It seems to be before chapter 153 since he ‘heard about it’ already and after chapter 138 since that’s when Yoojin tells GF about her mother’s profession… Maybe it happened without being mentioned in the story...