Chapter 292

He was told that he actually cried a lot when he was young. He cried while eating the candy that their grandma gave him, suddenly cried while playing with friends, and even woke up in the middle of the night crying, which made his mom worry about him a lot. But curiously, he did not cry when he was with his sister. His eyes turned red and looked as though he was about to cry, but he never showed his tears.

Bangjoo was vaguely aware of the reason. His grandma and mom were people who he wanted to spoil him, while his sister was a target of admiration.

During elementary school, his grandma’s health worsened dramatically. The house was always covered in a gloomy atmosphere and his grandma’s thick coughing sound was mixed in with that gloomy atmosphere. Bangjoo cried whenever he heard the violent coughs. Whenever he did, his grandma would forcefully tell him that she was okay with a cheerful voice. Bangjoo cried even more since those words were obviously a lie, and whenever that happened, his sister would come and scold him.

Bangjoo held in his tears between his grandma who told his sister to stop and his sister who told him that he should understand grandma a little more. He had no choice but to hold them in. Bangjoo knew. He knew that his sister always cried without a sound. His sister, who liked grandma more than anyone, wasn’t crying, so he couldn’t cry in front of her.

Not long after, his grandma went to Jeju island saying that she’s going to a place with cleaner air, and his parents went down with her to look after her. It was around that time that his sister started going on stages. Bangjoo grabbed his sister’s hands and visited many theaters. His sister, who acted under the spotlight in a small theater looked so cool to him that he couldn’t help but stare at her, and that made Bangjoo dream of becoming an actor as well.

He watched the popular movies at that time that featured Jackie Chan, and told his sister every day that he wanted to become an actor like him. While his sister smiled back at him saying that it would be hard, she explained to him what acting was about whenever she had the chance to. Although he somewhat impulsively decided that he wanted to become an actor, Bangjoo thought that it wasn’t that bad.

Since then, good days with good news about his sister continued. His sister’s acting was seen in a positive light, allowing her to move to a bigger stage, while his grandma’s health took a turn for the better to the point that she was able to take walks outside without anyone’s help. Bangjoo was also showing his talent in his elementary school soccer club, and he was asked if he wanted to do it seriously. He was briefly tempted because he liked sports, but he ended up refusing, saying that his dream was to become an action star.

One day, his sister came home cheerfully saying that she was cast in a drama. She cried endlessly on the phone that day. Bangjoo was young, but he knew that she wasn’t crying because she was sad. After that, his sister sometimes came home with a tired face, but she never stopped smiling. A few months later, his sister appeared on TV. It was a short one-act drama that was broadcasted late at night. His sister always told him that he had to sleep early and usually did not allow him to watch TV late into the night, but she gave him special permission for that day. She kept looking for her own appearances on TV while wiping away her tears. When he asked why she was crying, she replied that it was because she felt happy.

After that, his sister became even busier. Their mother, who came back from Jeju island, was worried about her because she was working so hard. His sister became so busy that she had to leave the acting troupe that she belonged to and started staying nights out. Eventually, she showed up at home at most once every ten days. His sister teasingly asked him if he missed her, but Bangjoo replied to her with a snort saying that she should mind her business. He did feel a little lonely, but he didn’t want to say it out loud. He was a boy after all.

While everything seemed to be going well, bad news came from the South. His grandma had collapsed again. His mother, who came back home, went back down to Jeju island. He asked if he could go with her, but his mother sternly said no. Seeing her being so strict, Bangjoo intuitively realized that his grandma was in a bad condition. A gloomy atmosphere started filling the house again. The house was without his mom or his sister. Just as he was receiving help from his uncle, something bad happened to his sister.

Bangjoo clearly remembered that moment. His sister came back drenched in the rain, and she powerlessly walked into the house while looking into the empty void. Her wet feet created disturbing sounds. Bangjoo carefully spoke to her as she walked to her room. His sister, who would usually reply that nothing had happened, just walked into her room without saying anything.

That silence was frightening. Bangjoo felt fear from his sister’s taut lips. The house was filled with the heavy air of frustration. Bangjoo wanted to help his sister out. He wanted to help her, who had looked after him when he was young. He knocked on her door asking if she was okay several times, but he never got a reply back.

Even when the sky was turning bright again, Bangjoo could not move from the front of his sister’s door. The occasional faint crying sound made him unable to budge from the spot. He thought about what he could do with his small head, but there was only one answer. He couldn’t do anything. Being young and powerless couldn’t feel more frustrating that day.

Bangjoo returned to his room and spoke. What could he do? The moment he brought up that question, the first thing that came to mind was the drama that his sister shot for the first time. The short one-act drama that he stayed up until midnight to watch. In that drama, she cheered for her boyfriend who was having a hard time with a loud voice. She shouted regardless of what other people were doing, and that scene was deeply engraved in Bangjoo’s mind.

When the sun rose, Bangjoo shouted ‘wake up’ with the loudest voice he could muster. He forced his voice out. His sister, who had locked her door, slowly opened the door. It was as though she had left her emotions elsewhere, and she looked like a completely different person from the day before, but Bangjoo cheerfully talked to her without minding it. When he did, his sister very carefully smiled and told him that she was okay now.

After that day, his sister wasn’t as kind and smiling as before, but she became sturdier, and a few years later, she became well-known as the actress with a foul mouth. The actress with a kind image had disappeared, but she did not feel disappointed. In fact, she enjoyed her changed self. And one day, she said this to him in passing - thanks for cheering for me that day.

* * *

“I think he should look into becoming a religious leader rather than into acting.”

“I think so too.”

Maru watched Bangjoo who was speaking out loudly on the terrace of the café. They were doing the same thing they did last year and each member of the club was doing a monodrama on the terrace that was filled with many customers.

Maru started off and Daemyung followed suit to give them an example. They no longer felt that awkward since they had experienced doing it in the same place last year, and above all, the nervousness lessened since they had experience standing on actual stages. After Daemyung was the only 2nd year other than the two. He asked Daemyung if he could skip, but there was no way Daemyung would permit it since he was strict when it came to acting. In the end, Dowook acted out a delinquent and returned to the shop while receiving an applause of encouragement from the people there. Dowook sat down and never lifted his head since he had become beet red.

After that was Aram, who said that she wanted to go first. Unlike her dignified entrance, she became stiff like a statue as soon as she stood at the center of the terrace. Her expression was stiff and she was very awkward as though she was frozen. She went up feeling confident, but she came back like someone who had seen the worst nightmare of her lifetime. It even felt pitiful when she muttered if she could still act.

The second one that went up among the first years was unexpectedly Jiyoon. It seemed that her classmate Aram’s courage provoked her as well. Jiyoon walked up to the center of the terrace in a shy manner, and started off stuttering, but she soon calmed down and showed a decent act. She was the type of person that did not get stage fright. She was the complete opposite of Aram, who was a tomboy who stiffened in front of a crowd, and was someone that became soft in front of a crowd. Jiyoon's actions seemed to indicate that she was only shaking due to her trauma. Jiyoon returned to the table with a happy face. Miso also told her that she got a pass. Dowook and Aram, who went up there before her, kept sighing endlessly.

Next was Bangjoo. Maru thought that he would never get nervous, and he was right. He took a bow like an English gentleman before he went onto the stage and even induced the crowd to applaud before he even started. Then, he started his act, and although there were a few awkward parts, everything was negated with his confidence. Since coming up with an act on the spot was difficult, they were instructed to act out the role they had. However, Bangjoo seemed to have forgotten his lines midway and started talking about what he wanted. His story seemed to be about some drama, and he continued the story until the end with a joyous yet slightly nostalgic-feeling expression.

“It’s his own story.”

“You think so too?”

“Such a plentiful expression doesn’t come without firsthand experience. One can only make those faces when talking about what’s in their heart. However, it’s hard to give him a high score as an actor.”

Miso spoke in disappointment. Maru nodded since he understood where she was coming from. When she said that he should look into becoming a religious leader instead, that was her evaluation of him. Bangjoo’s pronunciation was very crisp and clear. It was the type of voice that could be heard loud and clear no matter how far a person was.

However, that was all. Others at least put on an act despite being shy and embarrassed. Acting was something that had to be done not through just the body and facial expressions, but through the voice as well. Imbuing emotion into speech. It was something hard to do without proper training, but he had learned the basics, so he had to be able to do it. The other three, albeit awkward, managed to imbue their feelings into their voice. They were conscious of the emotions as they spoke their lines.

On the other hand, Bangjoo just had a ‘good voice’. He put on many different facial expressions, yes, but his voice was cheerful from the beginning to the end. He was speaking with a longing expression, but if his voice did not contain longing, the crowd would be confused due to the disparity. Moreover, they would then proceed to think that it might be black comedy.

“It feels like what’s done on purpose is not being done on purpose. Does he always have a loud voice like that?”

“Yes. His voice is always energetic even when he feels down.”

“Hm, if you let him know about it, there won’t be any problems in this play, but it’ll be hard for him to become a proper actor if he does not fix that. Hey, he’s just in the acting club and is not considering it as a career path, is he?”

“Well, he’s an aspiring action star.”

“Really? Then that’s no good. What the heck is Kim Suyeon doing? Does she not care about the details?”

“Instructor Suyeon focuses on raising everyone’s skill level as a whole rather than on developing one’s talents.

“...Sigh, who am I to say anything. I’m not even related to any of it now. I’m a powerless senior that has to obey every beck and call.”

“Are you holding a grudge because of what I said last time?”

“What makes you think I wouldn’t? I am holding a grudge.”

“....”

“Just joking. I don’t think her method is a bad one. But still, she needs to fix a problem if she sees it.”

“I’ll try asking her later.”

“Okay, that should be better. It’s somewhat awkward for me to ask too.”

Maru watched Bangjoo as he was being applauded. Humans were affected by the law of cause and effect. There had to be a reason behind Bangjoo’s constantly energetic voice. His money was on the fact that Bangjoo had been living alone since young, as well as what might have happened to his sister. Like what Miso said, there was no need to correct him, if his acting career ended with club activities. His character would be a merit rather than a demerit in society. However, if he was aspiring to become an actor, then it was definitely something he had to fix. If his voice was simply loud, then it could be suppressed, but the strange sense of energy had to be adjusted. The act would become horrible if he was putting on an angry act, but with a cheerful voice.

“I did well, didn’t I?”

Bangjoo waved his hand as he returned to the shop. Maru exchanged glances with Daemyung before telling him that he did well.

“Then is it over now?”

Aram asked with a powerless expression.

“That’s it for today. Let’s do the rest as we get something to eat.”

Daemyung stood up as he said that they should switch places. At that time, Miso received a phone call and flinched before speaking into the phone in a low voice. Maru immediately realized who was on the other side of the phone.

“Seonbae-nim, you should go back. We can do the rest.”

“Sh, shall we, then?”

Maru waved his hand at Miso with a smile when she was looking at him with unease. Miso glared at him and wordlessly said that ‘I’ll pay you back for this’ with her mouth.

“See you all later, kiddos.”

After sending Miso off, they started walking towards a nearby restaurant to get dinner. Bangjoo, who was talking with the others, suddenly got a phone call. When he accepted it, he froze on the spot. He made a difficult expression and asked as he put his phone away from his face.

“Uhm, seonbae-nim?”

“Yeah? What is it?”

“My sister says she wants to come. Should I not tell her where we are? It’s better if I don’t, isn’t it?”

Bangjoo rapidly spoke his words in panic. Maru pondered for a moment before taking the phone from Bangjoo’s hands.

“Hello, senior. It’s Han Maru. We haven’t had dinner yet, so why don’t you treat us to something nice? Okay, I’ll tell you where we are right now.”

Maru briefly explained where they were before hanging up. He threw the phone back at Bangjoo who looked dazed.

“We should learn while we still have the chance to, don’t you think?”

Bangjoo became dejected.

There was no reason to stop a super popular actress from coming, especially with the competition approaching. Her words would definitely help out the club members a lot. Moreover, it would be great if she could solve the problem with Bangjoo as well.

“Oh yes!”

Aram and Jiyoon were overjoyed. Maru took the club members to the place Joohyun and he agreed on to meet.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Daemyung's inconfidence, Dowook's sister matters, Jiyoon's trauma, Geunseok's family mattters.

I guess it's Bangjoo's turn now!