Chapter 381

“What do you think of that guy?”

“The one in brown?”

“Yeah, him.”

Breaktime. Changsung was having a conversation with Jinhyuk while drinking some coffee.

“I don’t know about anything else, but I really like the way he speaks. I hate dragging things out, you know? He knows how to act in front of others, and it looks like he listens to others. I think that he’ll be able to take care of himself on set so I think he’s okay.”

“I was just going to pick anyone I wanted, but it feels good to see someone like him,” Changsung spoke as he crumpled the empty paper cup.

“You finished it already?”

“You should finish yours as well. We need to do the rest.”

Jinhyuk blew on the coffee before drinking.

Changsung returned to the studio and had a look at the rest of the child actors. Although no one caught his eye, they all looked a bit decent. The child actors with a lot of lines had been cast already a long time ago. These days, there were professional child actors as well. From how there were a lot of parents who taught acting to their kids from the moment they started learning the language, raising an actor was somewhat like an investment in this country. It seemed as though the child’s will did not matter at all in the perspective of the parent. It was good for Changsung since he was able to get a lot of kids who were good at acting, but as someone who watched them from the side, he found them pitiful.

“Tell everyone that they did well and bring these people here.”

The six that passed returned to the studio. They ranged from a little girl to high school boys. They somewhat looked like a family when they stood next to each other in a line.

“First, congratulations on joining us on the shoot. The six of you will appear in the drama as a group of beggars. You have a few lines and you’ll be appearing in about 4 episodes so you’ll get paid well too. If you do well, we might use you later when we need child actors so don’t be so disappointed that it’s only four episodes.”

The young actors all nodded. They seemed to know the workings of this industry. It was really satisfying for Changsung since he didn’t have to console them.

“That person over there is going to give you a contract form each so write one. Do any of you have an actor grade?”

All six of them replied that they didn’t have one.

“You’re all below 19 years old, so your payment will be grade one. I’ll tell you the details later when writing the contract so don’t worry about that. Anyway, well done, and see you on set.”

Changsung looked at the one in brown standing on the left. He learned the boy’s name when the youngest member of the production team called out names. His name was Han Maru.

“Uhm, producer.”

Just as he was about to leave the studio, a middle school student standing in the middle raised his hand.

“What is it?”

“Is there a bus that goes to the set? Our family doesn’t have a car.”

“There’s a rental coach so don’t worry about it. We’ll give you a ride both ways. But hey, you’re worried about that as well? What a good boy.”

The middle school boy only smiled in relief then. Before, people started off as actors that were completely broke, but recently, people that became actors were from well-off households. This was especially the case for child actors, so people like him who were worried about transportation were rare.

“Good luck!”

After saying that, he left the studio. Jinhyuk followed him and asked him where he was going.

“I’m going to visit the author of course.”

“We’re going now?”

“Yes, we’re going now. Are we people with a lot of free time? The Wednesday-Thursday drama that’s airing now will be reaching the midpoint soon. We need to shoot the first and second episodes, edit it, and advertise it to get sponsors.”

“It’s not like ads and sponsors will raise our salaries.”

“Instead, we get scolded less. Even if the viewing rates are low, we’ll be better off as long as we get sponsors and ads. Getting your salary while everyone else glares at you doesn’t feel like getting a salary at all.”

“I guess that’s true. But why am I, someone who’s been here for less than a year, working on a historical drama? I heard that new recruits have to stay as assistant directors for more than three years.”

“You still didn’t know the reason?”

“Huh? You know the reason, senior?”

Jinhyuk blinked and asked.

“I asked them to give you to me.”

“What?”

“Your cocky attitude and your tendency to suck up made me think that you’ll be worth using. Let’s go, assistant director.”

“No way, senior!”

Changsung laughed heartily as he walked on the corridor.

* * *

“Fifty thousand per episode. 20% on reruns. Since there aren’t any photos since this is a historical drama, I guess you’ll only receive 10 thousand during flashbacks. No, I guess there won’t be flashbacks at all.”

Considering that the minimum wage was less than 3,000 won per hour right now, it definitely wasn’t a bad amount. If it was a scene where he just had to show his face, say a couple of lines, and disappear, three hours was enough on the assumption that he didn’t have to wait. 50 thousand won for saying a couple of lines after loitering around for three hours. Of course, if things didn’t go well, he might have to wait two to four more hours without being able to do anything, so it wasn’t that good of a deal.

“Please take care of my child.”

Her name was Kim Bitna. Maru grabbed Bitna’s hand and nodded towards the lady that bowed towards him. Bitna also waved at him. She was a cute kid.

He didn’t talk much to the other people that passed. They all left the TV station after bidding each other goodbye. Maru exited to the lobby and returned his entrance card and entered the coffee shop.

He ordered a latte and waited for a while when someone ran inside from outside the TV station. Behind him were numerous people holding small cameras. The man that ran into the lobby panted for a while before cheering out loudly. When he had a closer look, he realized that the man was a comedian.

‘Is there a shoot for an entertainment show right now?’

Following that, broadcasting cameras and microphones as well as a flood of people rushed into the lobby. A woman holding a sketchbook at the front wrote some things down before showing it to the man who was still panting. The man improvised some lines on the spot.

Maru watched them for a while as he drank his coffee before leaving. He was walking towards the bus stop while watching the statues placed in front of the TV station when a white sedan passed by on the road. The emblem wasn’t a Korean brand.

He saw Bitna who politely greeted him through the window. Her mom, who sat next to her, was driving with sunglasses on.

“Whew.”

He sucked the last bit of coffee through the straw as he watched the sedan enter the streets. Although they were all minor actors, someone was looking for a bus that could take him to the set, while someone disappeared on a high-end sedan. They say the desperate succeed, but in Maru’s opinion, the sedan had a higher chance of succeeding than the bus. There was this famous saying: money isn't the answer to everything. However, when it couldn’t be solved with money, people resort to God.

After throwing away the empty plastic cup into a trash can next to the bus stop, he waited for the bus. Since he was going to and from Suwon to Seoul all the time, he was starting to think about grabbing a residence in Seoul. Though, his parents wouldn’t allow him.

Just as Maru squinted to check the number on the bus that was coming from afar, a small car stopped in front of the bus stop and opened the window.

“Han Maru.”

Maru lowered his head and looked inside. Journalist Dongwook was waving at him.

“What are you doing?”

“I was here for an audition. Rather than that, sir.”

“Yeah?’

“You’ll get a parking ticket if you stop in front of a bus stop. It’s 30,000 won.”

Maru smiled and pointed at the front. Dongwook shrugged before driving forward a little.

“Are you on your way to the company?”

He approached the car and asked.

“No, rather than that, get on.”

Dongwook gestured for him to get in the car. He opened the door to the passenger seat and got in. The stench of cigarettes momentarily made him stop breathing.

“Aren’t you smoking too much?”

“I have a reason for that. Rather than that, have you had lunch?”

“Not yet.”

“Then eat with me. I’ll be lonely by myself.”

The place Dongwook drove to was a rather old gukbap restaurant. As they entered the street with the gukbap restaurant, they saw old single-story buildings on the right, and tall buildings that were at least 20 stories tall lined up on the left.

“Looks like this place will be redeveloped soon.”

Hearing those words, Dongwook pointed at the banner hung on the building. ‘We object to the development’ - it said.

He followed Dongwook to the gukbap restaurant. A fly greeted him. As soon as he sat down, a pork gukbap was served to him. It seemed that he didn’t need to order here.

“It’s not like you can’t eat that or something, right?”

“I can’t have enough of it. Thank you for the meal.”

He first scooped the white broth. The restaurants that had good food could be discerned from just the broth.

“It’s good.”

“Right? I’m a regular here.”

He put some chili paste in the soup and then the radish kimchi sauce before putting the bowl of rice in. The two continued their meal without a single word. Only after they saw the bottom of the gukbap bowl, did they say ‘thanks for the meal’.

Maru ate the scorched rice-flavored candy that the lady threw at him before leaving. Although this place was very unfriendly towards the customers, he definitely wanted to come here again.

“Wanna smoke?”

“I decided that I want to live a long life.”

“Alright. Don’t smoke then.”

After puffing, Dongwook sighed out a deep breath.

“Did something happen?”

“I’m investigating a few things, but it’s really going strangely.”

“Looks like it’s something serious.”

“It’s not that serious yet, but… Geez, a junior of mine has a strong journalist mindset so I think it’s going to turn serious.”

“If it’s something that’s giving you a headache. It’s better to get your hands off it early. You won’t be able to leave if you’re too late.”

“Kid, you’re right, but I think it’s too late for me already.”

Dongwook grinned. After getting in the car, Maru told Dongwook that he would get off at the nearest train station.

“Sorry about that. I want to give you a ride to Suwon, but I’m too busy for that.”

“You don’t have to. Please be careful.”

“Thanks.”

Dongwook waved his hand and closed the window. He had thinned out a lot compared to the last time Maru saw him. Perhaps he received a lot of stress.

“Watch out for your health. You’ll regret it later,” Maru spoke in a small voice as he watched the car drive off into the distance.

* * *

“Mr. Bae, are you in?”

Changsung pressed the bell before waiting quietly a while. For some reason, the writer that picked up his phone before he arrived wasn’t picking up right now.

“Perhaps he collapsed?”

“Hey, don’t talk about such unfortunate things. Perhaps he just left for a while due to an appointment.”

“Why isn’t he picking up then?”

“How would I know? Try pressing the bell again.”

Just as Jinhyuk pressed the bell and called out to writer Bae, the elevator started moving from the 1st floor. Changsung stared at the elevator indicator. Eventually, the elevator stopped on the 7th floor, the floor they were on.

“Mr. Bae.”

“Oh, producer Han.”

“Where have you been all this time? You weren’t picking up my calls either.”

“Oh, sorry about that. I was just meeting this fellow.”

It was only then that Changsung found a man standing next to writer Bae Chulho. That man had a thin stature and sharp eyes. He thought that the new person would have a picky personality, but the man instead smiled and greeted him.

“So you were a producer. My name is Ahn Pilhyun. I’m also a writer, though, I’m not as well-off as him.”

“Ah, yes. Hello there. My name is Han Changsung. I’m a producer at RBS.”

“And I’m Kim Jinhyuk.”

While they exchanged greetings, writer Bae Chulho opened the door.

“Come inside for now. It won’t be polite of me to keep guests waiting outside. You should come in as well.”

“I was going to even if you didn’t tell me.”

Pilhyun waved the bags he was holding. The smell of fried chicken wafted out from it. Changsung gulped subconsciously.

“Well, then. Please excuse me,” Changsung said as he took off his shoes.

Although he had visited this place before, he felt that writer Bae really liked plants. There were all sorts of orchids in the veranda, and in front of them were colorful cactuses. There were flowers next to the TV as well. It must be very tiring to look after them all.

“Have you had lunch?” Writer Bae asked.

“No, not yet.”

Changsung thought that he might be being rude, but he couldn’t say that he did after smelling the fried chicken. Jinhyuk was all smiles.

“Tsk, what a pity. We only bought enough for the two of us,” writer Ahn Pilhyun, who was next to writer Bae, said as he ripped open the paper bags.

He really looked like he had no intentions of sharing.

“Hey, stop teasing people you haven’t seen before.”

“Why? It looks like he likes it.”

“Geez, sorry about that, producer. This fella is really ill-mannered.”

Writer Bae brought the fried chicken and some beer on a tray.

“Let’s talk after we eat. I have something to talk to you about as well.”

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Dammit.... It's 2am here, and author made me hungry.


Editor's Note:
I almost fell asleep editing but the food made me wake up due to hunger.