Chapter 336

“I’ll get going then.”

“Okay. Careful on your way back. See you at practice tomorrow.”

“Yes, seonbae-nim.”

Maru started walking after sending Bangjoo off in a bus. The area around Suwon station was filled with the stuffy air of the night. He could smell something savory from the toast sandwich shop right next to it. Salarymen eating late night dinners were standing in front of the store. One of them suddenly picked up his phone and put down the unfinished toast sandwich. He hurriedly paid the shopkeeper before walking towards the station.

Although it was the time of the day to finish the day off, there were still busy people here. Maru’s mind was also busy thinking about what he learned at the fast food restaurant.

‘Spring Calendar, huh.’

That was a movie from a decade ago. He remembered watching it a couple of times when it aired on TV. However, it was a romance so he didn’t remember watching it till the end. He could remember the beginning parts. The two main characters drenched in rain were talking to each other at the bus stop.

Maru thought about Geunsoo’s words as he avoided the drunk person that came his way.

“It’s a piece that Joohyun-noona appeared in?”

-Yeah. She caught the eye of the director and became a youth star thanks to that movie. She was very popular back then.

“And the director of that movie is director Park Joongjin?”

-That’s right. When that movie became hugely successful and the actors that participated in the movie gained popularity, the director was also interviewed a lot, and that’s when people got to know the name Park Joongjin.

“So he’s not just known for his work. 

-That’s right. He was an eccentric man. Of course, I haven’t seen him in person, so I can’t say for sure, but based on the rumors and the interview, he’s a really strange person. No, I guess I should call him eccentric.

Strange person. Eccentric. Indeed, Joongjin was very different from usual. He was a director that believed in intuition. Although Maru had only seen him for a short time, he left a deep impression on him.

“What made people start calling him eccentric?”

-First up, his first piece of work is Spring Calendar, and the production time of that movie is absurd. Usually, when producing a movie, most of the time is taken up before the pre-production phase, that is, the writing of the scenario. After all, the scenario is the backbone of the movie. You probably know from experience, but for urban-themed movies and movies that don’t require changing places that much to shoot, it takes around two months to finish the whole shoot. However, when it comes to writing the scenario, it takes much longer than that because the director will hold on to it until they feel like it’s perfect, so it takes several months to years to finish it.

Geunsoo chuckled in a small voice as though reminiscing about the past. It was a rather vain laugh.

-But that man said in the interview that it only took him three days to finish the scenario and the editing. He also said that it only took that long because it took time for him to write out the words in his head. With just that, he would be called a genius, but what I found out after that was even more amazing.

“What did you find out?”

-Director Park Joongjin was thirty-four years old when he wrote ‘Spring Calendar’. The reason I remember that is because the interview article was really hard to believe. ‘Director’ Park Joongjin was just the owner of a decent restaurant when he was thirty-four.

“A restaurant owner?”

-Yeah. Such a guy quit his business, which was doing well enough to almost become a franchise, and shot a movie with the money he saved up and some investment solely because he was ‘bored’.

“Did he have any knowledge of production?”

-He said he wanted to learn through books, but quit because it wasn’t his style. Then he went straight into shooting. The result? A huge success. Although people say there were a lot of ups and downs, the movie successfully launched in cinemas and became hugely successful.

A man who quit a successful business and dived straight into the movie industry. He was definitely eccentric.

At the same time, a question popped up in Maru’s head.

A famous movie director would be just as well known as famous actors. He had heard of the name Choi Joonggeun before he started shooting Twilight Struggles. The director of ‘Spring Calendar’, which was known as the greatest romance movie of its time, should have received a lot of attention, and the media should have been noisy about him, yet he had never heard of that name. In this case, it would be one of two things.

He either stopped creating movies, or his following works had failed continuously.

“I don’t seem to remember anything about director Park Joongjin at all. It must be because I’m not paying attention properly, right?”

-That shouldn’t be all of it. From what I know, he did not shoot any commercial movies after that. He instead tried his hand at challenging videos like 5-minute ones, 10-minute ones, and silent movies. However, such a movie doesn’t work in South Korea, so it never became an issue. He was invited to the Berlin International Film Festival as a non-competitive work, but there hasn’t been any news of him for seven years after that, so it’s not that surprising that you don’t know him.

“Seven years?”

-Long, right? That’s why I almost couldn’t remember who he was when you mentioned him. He’s a forgotten name after all. But why do you ask?

“The movie I’m participating in as a minor role this time is directed by him.”

-Really? Is it another person with the same name?

“I don’t think that’s the case. I met him for the first time today, and he was unlike most people. Since he has the same name and the same personality, I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

-Director Park Joongjin is shooting a movie again, huh. Looks like news will spread around in a short while. Wait, you’re participating in it as a minor role? I haven’t heard anything about the audition. There weren’t any notices either.

“I’m not surprised. He finished casting the people he needed on the spot. I think he’s doing things quietly through his acquaintances. 

-He cast people on the spot?

“Yes. He said he’s picking people based on intuition.”

-Haha. He’s really eccentric as people say he is.

“Indeed.”

-If your role is confirmed, I guess I should say congratulations.

“Thank you.”

-In any case, he was once called a genius. You might learn a lot of things working with him. Do your best.

“Yes.”

-Ah, and… hm, nothing. See you next time, with Ganghwan too.

Geunsoo sounded like he was going to say something, but he just hung up.

* * *

“Hey, you fucker. Are you that great?”

Maru saw a drunk man shouting at a streetlamp before going his way. He now knew a little bit about what kind of man Joongjin was. What made him return to movie production after all this time?

‘Because he’s short on money?’

No, that shouldn’t be the case. He was someone who already had some success in his restaurant business. If he needed money, he might as well start another business.

“A simple change of heart?”

He was someone that quit his business and started a movie production solely because of boredom. It would be a waste of time and energy trying to figure out what he was thinking. What was important was that he once became famous in the past and that such a person decided to use him. It was a great opportunity to experience the movie scene again.

He went inside the convenience store in front of him and bought some milk tea. As he sipped on his drink as he walked, he eventually arrived at the bus stop. Since he had organized his thoughts, it was time to get on the bus.

When he arrived at home, it was past 9. Bada wasn’t at home. When he opened the door to the main bedroom, he heard a faint breathing noise. It was his mother. He quietly closed the door and went to his own room. Bada seemed to be staying the night over at her friend’s house. Since Maru’s parents and Bada’s friend’s parents were close, his mother turned a blind eye to her staying over at her friend’s house.

He picked up the script for ‘I've been really wronged’ on his desk, and lied down on his bed. The day after tomorrow was the preliminaries. Right now, he had to focus on the competition rather than the movie.

“When I just joined the company….”

Maru said his lines in a small voice so that he didn’t wake his mother up, but still did so with emotion. That practice lasted late into the night.

* * *

Suwon Center of Culture. He was back here after nearly a year. Honestly speaking, he really didn’t feel anything. Last year, Woosung High failed to pass the preliminaries. Although the source of the problem was Geunseok, it couldn’t just be blamed on him. In the end, they all stood on the same stage. They all froze because of that mistake, and they could not make up for the mistake. The moment they blamed one person for the failure, was the moment they admitted that that was all they amounted to.

Maru watched Geunseok’s mistake from the audience seats. He also saw that the rest of the members’ expressions froze up as well. They must have panicked. After all, the one they had the most confidence in ended up making a mistake. There was no guarantee that the same thing wouldn’t happen today either. No, it will happen. Mistakes will happen, whether big or small.

“There will be mistakes on today’s stage. Don’t guarantee that you won’t make a mistake. Go about it with the mindset that you will make one. If someone next to you makes a mistake, calm down and react accordingly. If you hurry because you panic, the one that made a mistake will stiffen up as well,” Maru spoke as he unloaded their luggage from the truck.

The ones that were organizing the luggage heavily nodded. This was a stage acted out by people that just started acting. It would instead be abnormal for there to be no mistakes at all. What was important was to smoothly gloss over that mistake. For that to happen, they had to think beforehand about what they would do in case someone next to them made a mistake.

“We’re here!”

Yoojin appeared with a makeup box in one hand. Next to Yoojin was her. She had a box of energy drinks in her hand.

“How did your preliminaries go?”

“Are you asking me or her?”

Yoojin made a mischievous smile and alternately pointed at herself and her. Maru of coursed looked towards her.

“Geez, I knew it.”

Yoojin walked past him towards the others. She had practically become a member of Woosung High’s acting club. The club members also welcomed Yoojin.

“That’s the stage costume?” She asked.

Maru nodded. A suit and a necktie. Of course, the necktie was the one gifted to him by her.

“Does it suit me?”

“Who do you think bought it? Of course, it suits you,” she grinned.

“Ah, we finished our preliminaries without a hitch.”

“Do you think you’re going to pass?”

“Myunghwa High never failed to pass the preliminaries you know?”

“You sound confident.”

“Yeah, I am confident. Rather than that, how do you think it’ll go?”

Maru looked behind him. The club members had dressed up, gotten around in a circle, and were talking to each other. Although they looked nervous, they didn’t stiffen up.

“Good.”

“That’s fortunate.”

“Aren’t you too generous? We’re a rival school.”

“Myunghwa High will take the grand prize anyway. And the individual prize is mine,” She spoke confidently as though she had no intentions of going easy at all.

“Don’t make a mistake. I mean your results weren’t that good last year.”

“That’s because they didn’t have the talent named Han Maru last year.”

“Don’t you feel embarrassed when you say that with your own mouth?”

“I just followed the example of someone who just said that the individual prize is hers. Was I too lacking?”

“Sheesh, why don’t you be a little more nervous?”

“I was too nervous before, so I don’t have any nerves left.”

Maru took the box of energy drinks from her hands.

“Thanks for the drinks.”

“Warn the first years before you give it to them. It has caffeine in it so it might get them agitated instead.”

Maru nodded his head. At that moment, staff from the Center of Culture called for the instructors of each school. Miso and Taesik, who were conversing on one side, walked towards the building. It seemed that they were being briefed on using the waiting rooms.

“Maru, here you are.”

Just then, Maru heard a familiar voice. When he turned around, he saw Suyeon, who was wearing a baseball cap.

“You’re here. I didn’t think you would make it.”

“It’s the competition so I should make some time for it. Rather than that, this is nostalgic. The acting of naïve little students huh.”

Suyeon smiled brightly as she looked around. Maru looked at his girlfriend who was standing left of him. She seemed a little wary.

“Oh, you’re the girl I saw in the ward last time. Hi.”

“Ah, yes. Hello.”

“You’re Maru’s girlfriend?”

“Eh? Ah, yes….”

Seeing her admit to it so easily, Maru made a thick smile. She saw that smile and blushed a little.

“The others are over there.”

“Ah, you’re right.”

Suyeon walked towards the others. The club members cheered after seeing her. It seemed that it was nice to see her since she didn’t show up much recently because she was busy shooting a drama.

“So you don’t like her.”

“Wh-what? Me? I-is it that obvious?” She was startled as she replied.

“You don’t need to be jealous though.”

“Who’s jealous!”

“If you aren’t, you aren’t. Rather than that, help me with makeup. Our turn is early, so we must hurry.”

Maru grabbed her wrist and walked towards the others.

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