Maru entered the home-style food restaurant. He could hear the elder’s voice among the noisy conversations. When he went deeper inside, he found Moonjoong talking with the background actors.
“Please continue eating.”
Moonjoong stood up and went outside. Maru followed him out.
“Now I get some air to breathe.”
“It was very hot during the day. But I thought you were eating?”
“I finished and was talking about worldly matters with the others. So, have you eaten?”
“Yes, I have.”
Moonjoong walked to the vending machine in front of the store. He asked as he inserted some coins he got from his pocket.
“Coffee? Or tea?”
“I’ll take coffee, please.”
The vending machine made some machine noises before making a coffee. Maru received the paper cup that Moonjoong gave him. As the sun had set, it felt rather good to have some warmth in his hands.
He followed Moonjoong to a tree standing next to the restaurant. They sat down on an old wooden bench and started drinking. There were a lot of people at the entrance of the tourist area. It seemed that it was open late into the night. Colorful lights brightened the dull gates and soldiers wearing military uniforms showed a brief performance in front of it.
“How was the shoot?”
“I think I did enough to the point that I won’t have any regrets. Have you done your shoot yet, elder?”
“Just a short one. And I’ll also have another one in a moment. I think you’re in the shoot with me.”
“Yes. You’re probably right about that.”
“Please take care of me then. These days, I’m lacking energy and I find much comfort in just going along with other people.”
“Do I even have the ability to?”
“What are you saying? You can do it.”
Moonjoong laughed heartily. Maru took the empty paper cup from Moonjoong’s hands and threw them away into the trash. Just then, the restaurant opened and the background actors came out. After looking around, they found Moonjoong and headed for the bench.
“Thank you. All of us had a good meal.”
“No need to thank me. We’re all doing this to make a living so it’s bad to starve. Thanks for your work today, and those of you going home, please be safe, and as for the ones that will remain, please take care of me until the end.”
The background actors took photos with Moonjoong before walking away.
“When I was still in my prime, there were a lot of people I called brothers, but now that I came back from a long break, I don’t know anyone here. It looks like all of them quit.”
“It is a hard job after all.”
The job required people to stand under the scorching sun and wait, or perhaps wait in the freezing cold. Although some of the better environments were cool in summer and warm in winter, just waiting for hours without doing anything was hard in itself.
A man who claimed that he had ten years of acting as a background actor once told Maru to not continue this job for long. Apparently, he had served his youth into this job since it allowed him to continue working whenever he wanted without much skill, but he found out that it wasn’t a good choice at all.
The time of his youth that he spent waiting could not be returned, and he lamented that he could only continue this job because that was the only thing he could do.
There were sometimes opportunities for background actors as well. Doing it for a long time, one would come across a role with lines, and they might be able to get a better role in the future if they catch a producer’s eye or something. However, these kinds of opportunities only shine when someone who came across it was prepared. To people that only considered it as labor, the opportunity would just pass by.
There were many people that worked as background actors with the dream of becoming an actor one day, but most of the time, background actors were here to watch other actors working, or to get a fresh experience. Opportunity had no eyes. It came across people purely due to coincidence and did not care whether the person was desperate or not. What would be a golden opportunity for someone disappeared like that, and the people that came here as background actors also left the stage like that as well.
That was why it was not easy to run into people who kept doing this job for long.
“If you have the leisure to treat those people to a meal, I hope you don’t ignore them and treat them kindly.”
After smiling in satisfaction, Moonjoong looked at Maru before asking.
“But did something happen?”
“There wasn’t anything much.”
“In my eyes, you seem a little upset. I’m glad if you say it’s nothing much. If you have anything to say though, you should say it.”
“Was my expression that bad?”
“Your expression is the same as always, and your actions are as polite as always too. But your voice is different from normal. It has an edge to it.”
“I can’t even lie in front of you, elder.”
“Brat, you were trying to lie to me?”
“Of course not. I don’t dare.”
After thinking about it for a while, Maru spoke,
“I came across someone I don’t like.”
“Did that person bully you?”
“No, it’s not like that.”
“Well, I guess you aren’t someone that would stand being bullied.”
“I’m not that aggressive.”
“Scammers don’t introduce themselves as scammers either.”
“Have I done you wrong, elder? You are very spicy today.”
“There was a young man who said he’d drink with me before, but that man didn’t show up at all. Boy is he mean. I wonder why I bought some pork belly and put it in my fridge. I really regret it.”
Moonjoong narrowed his eyes. Maru smiled awkwardly. He definitely made such an appointment with Moonjoong before. It wasn’t that he forgot, but as he kept getting more events and practices in his schedule, he didn’t have any time and ended up delaying that promise to a much later date. He thought that it would be fine to visit him after all these events since it wasn’t like they had set on a date, but it seemed that the elder was looking forward to his visit.
“Elder. I’m in the wrong. I’m sorry.”
“You did nothing wrong. It’s just this old man who misunderstood everything.”
“How about this weekend? I’ll come over and cook for you.”
“This weekend, huh. It might do, it might not.”
“Then I’ll visit you then.”
Moonjoong laughed in a low voice before tapping on Maru’s knees. Maru also smiled as he was influenced by the elder’s relaxing hands.
“Yes, that’s the smile. Retract the blade from your words. It’s very dangerous to harbor a knife in your throat when you’re young. It’s more likely that you’ll end up injuring yourself before harming others. Of course, I think you’ll be fine since you’re a tough one, but affection is still better than a blade, don’t you think?”
Maru nodded as he looked at Moonjoong’s calm eyes. He felt that the rage that burned silently in a corner of his heart was subsiding a little. He came here upon Moonjoong’s text message thinking that he wanted a conversation partner, but he was consoled instead.
“May I ask you an obvious question?”
“What do you do when you come across someone you don’t like?”
“What do you do normally?”
“If that person harms me, I act immediately. It’s the same when that person tries to harm those around me. Other than that, I honestly just look away if nothing bad happens even if I ignore them.”
“I can’t say that you’re in the right, but it definitely is a wise way of dealing with it. So the reason you’re angry is because someone near you was harmed, right? Since you said you were fine.”
“No, that’s not it either. Normally, I would do nothing and just walk by, but for some reason, I got emotional. While I think that it’s a waste of effort, I also want to up one on him. I know, it’s childish. What do you do at a time like this, elder? I know that it’s likely that he will one day embarrass himself precisely because of his actions, but I also think that he might get lucky and become successful.”
The words that pushed someone else onto the edge of a cliff were not direct words, but sweet words. The reason that Maru did not scold Uljin and went along with his words was because he found preaching to him to be a waste. If Uljin did that because he was immature and didn’t know how scary the world was, he might have said a word or two to him, but from the way he excitedly talked about himself, he seemed to be well aware of what he was doing. His eyes were colored in bliss when he admitted that he stepped on the man’s fingers of his own will.
“There’s a Chinese proverb that says: If someone tries to harm you, do not try to get revenge and just wait by the river. Not long later, you will see his corpse float by,” Moonjoong said those words as he looked at Maru.
So did he mean that it was better to just keep watching? Just as Maru was about to nod, though,
“However, it doesn’t really fit the current times. In this era, the ones that secretly do evil deeds are more well-off. That’s why I want to tell you this. If the corpse does not float by even after you wait long enough, it might be a good idea to give him a little push on the back.”
Seeing Moonjoong’s mischievous expression, Maru couldn’t help but laugh.
“Then what if he actually falls in the river? I don’t want to be a murderer.”
“Well, that’s his fate then.”
“You’re too scary, elder.”
“Now you found out?”
Maru rubbed his smile off and stood up. It was about time.
“Then I’ll take my leave first. My dinner time is over.”
“Okay then. I hope you do well.”
“Yes. Then I’ll get myself prepared to push his back just a little.”
“You must find a suitable time to do it, okay?”
“Also, I will pretend not to know you as much as possible during the shoot. No, well, I guess I can do it if you want me to.”
“I don’t want to receive so much attention. I’ll call out to you first when I am able to stand alongside you, elder.”
“I thought you’d say that so I didn’t tell the producer about it.”
“...I think it’s okay to leak the secret out just a little.”
“What do you want me to do?”
Moonjoong quickly waved him to go. Maru bowed before turning around. If just watching the guy didn’t satisfy him, he had no choice but to give him that final push. Uljin was a lead actor-level child actor. There was no way he could steal that role from him. However, as the producer said, it was possible to shift the importance of the characters. After all, dramas weren’t created with a finished script.
“Hyung, where were you?”
“I just went to get some fresh air.”
As soon as he got back to the other minor actors, the staff told them to get ready. It seemed that one scene just finished. He followed the staff while wearing beggar attire.
They went back to the opening in which they shot during the day. The equipment had already been set up. It was ready to shoot once the actors were here.
“What the, we aren’t starting immediately?”
One of the minor actors younger than Maru grumbled. The staff, who acted like they would begin as soon as they were ready, received a transmission on a walkie-talkie before sitting down on the spot. Like that they had to wait 20 minutes until Park Moosung, the actor they saw during the day, appeared wearing a black gat. Next to him were the two child actors, Giwoo, Uljin, as well as the two producers.
The lights installed around the area started emitting light. Moosung stroked his beard before standing in front of the camera. He spoke as he looked a little far away.
“My friend, I welcome you.”
Moonjoong walked to him wearing a white dopo from where Moosung was looking. Maru greeted him with his eyes. Moonjoong smiled and walked in front of Moosung.
“Did you wait long?”
“I did. I told you we should eat together.”
“You know my habits and you still say such words?”
“I do know. How dare I not know the great elder Yoon Moonjoong who has a righteous character?”
“Haha, this fella.”
The two adults joked around in historical speech and the atmosphere soon became soft. Even the staff members that were annoyed by mosquitoes smiled pleasantly.
“Producer. We might as well proceed with the shoot. This many people are staring at your mouth.”
When Moonjoong said that, producer Changsung walked forward.
“Well then, let’s finish things off before the seniors run out of stamina. We’re starting the rehearsal,” producer Changsung spoke as he gestured at the minor actors.
 The Korean people know it as a ‘Chinese proverb’, but apparently it’s not…? See the translator’s thoughts section for details.
So the saying.
The Korean version has two parts [If If someone tries to harm you, do not try to get revenge and just wait by the river.] and [Not long later, you will see his corpse float by]. Any searches I did with this in Korean said that 'it is a Chinese proverb', but any searches I did in English mentioned NOTHING about the first part and attributed the second part to a number of different people.... Sun Tzu, Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Umberto Eco. No one's sure where the saying originated from.
If you're interested, you can search [If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.]
Also, historical speech is really hard to translate. I tried my best... Moonjooong-Moosung banter is supposed to be archaic speech
Still waiting for CuteSheHer's meeting with Moonjoong.