“Shouldn’t they let us turn the air conditioning on at least?”
“Wash your face with cold water or something.”
“Why do you say the same thing as my mom?”
Dojin, who was weak to heat, ran towards the window while taking his top off. The ones that were cooling their bodies off by the window pushed Dojin away with fright. For today, staying together was death, and scattering was the way to live.
“It’s been long past the beginning of Autumn, but it’s still damn hot. Maru, should I fan you as well?”
“I’m fine. It’s bearable if I stay still.”
Daemyung fought the heat by fanning himself with a notebook. The fan installed above their heads had stopped working two days ago. Well, it was working non-stop under this heat so it wasn’t that surprising. Their homeroom teacher told them that it was going to be fixed soon, but ‘soon’ was too abstract of a word.
“My brother-in-law Kang.”
Maru poked the waist of Dowook who sat in front of him. Dowook got annoyed and pushed him away.
“My brother-in-law Kang, why don’t you buy us some ice cream to stave off the heat?”
“You wanna die?”
“My, how disappointing.”
Daemyung chuckled from the side. Maru grabbed his t-shirt and shook it around. This goddamn heat didn’t have a break.
“I heard that you’re starting the movie shoot this week,” Daemyung asked.
“Yeah, apparently, the set is near Pangyo.”
“You’re not coming to school then?”
“I won’t be able to if I don’t have the time.”
“Bangjoo’s going with you, right?”
“Yeah. He’s the problem, not me. The teachers won’t see him in a good light if he starts missing classes in the first year.”
“That’s true. But Bangjoo’s quite serious about it, isn’t he? He’s putting a lot of effort into becoming an action actor too. Wouldn’t the teachers recognize his efforts?”
“A good teacher would, but from what I heard last time, apparently, he got hit on the head with the class register book. Apparently, he was told to focus on studying rather than doing meaningless stuff.”
“That teacher clearly went too far there.”
“Studying is one of the easiest ways to succeed, so you can’t exactly blame the teacher for it.”
“I guess you’ll have to manage your attendance well from now on. You won’t be able to advance into third year if you miss too much.”
“I’ll be fine as long as I attend two-thirds of the school year, so I can advance even if I miss about 60 days or so.”
“Then I guess there’s no problem then.”
“Like this, I don’t have a lot to worry about. If it comes down to it, I’ll have to reject all the incoming work and go to school.”
“But what if you suddenly get many offers because you do well? You know, that’s a possibility.”
“If it’s like that, I’ll gladly drop out of school and take the qualification exams. But would such a thing happen to me of all people? There are many actors in the country, you know?”
“You don’t know what will happen. You’re good at acting after all.”
“Hey, at this age, the face matters a lot more than acting skills. Did I tell you this? I met a lead actor around my age while shooting the historical drama, and damn, he’s good-looking.”
“You’re good-looking too.”
Maru coughed and turned around. Sometimes, Daemyung said embarrassing things without batting an eyelid, and made him feel awkward. Maru didn’t know if he was pure or was just teasing him.
“You guys are bullshitting,” Dowook said, from his desk.
“Dowook is really good-looking, too,” Daemyung spoke as if he was waiting.
Dowook raised his head a bit and glanced at Daemyung before saying ‘you have good eyes’ before going back to sleep again. Maru raised his feet and kicked Dowook’s chair. Even though he’d usually get up and get angry at him, he was only laughing right now.
“Hey, Han Maru.”
Just then, a guy from the 2nd column shouted at him.
“What is it?”
“You’re shooting a drama right? Did you appear in ‘The Witness’ too?”
“What’s it about?”
“Huh? It’s not you? I was watching the drama yesterday and someone that really looked like you appeared in it.”
“Someone that looked like me?”
The guy seemed tired of shouting and approached Maru. Now, Maru had the attention of everyone in the class. Maru leaned back in his chair and looked at that classmate.
“Yeah. I was watching the drama yesterday and someone that looked exactly like you appeared in it.”
“Is it really not you? They looked so like you though.”
“I don’t remember shooting a drama titled ‘The Witness’.”
“Then was it someone that just looked like you? Damn, if it was you, I was going to ask you to get an autograph. Ahn Joohyun is in it, you know? She’s really pretty.”
At that moment, he was reminded of the drama he was suddenly called for last time.
“Hey, does the guy that looks like me play something like an assassin’s role?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Then that’s me.”
“What? I thought you didn’t know what ‘The Witness’ is.”
“How do you appear in a drama that you don’t even know about?”
“Many things can happen.”
At that moment, all the people in the classroom that laid on their desks like dead people all stood up at once.
“Hey, Han Maru, you know Ahn Joohyun?”
“You know our honey Joohyun-ssi? Did you shoot with her?”
“Hey, hey. Out of my way!”
The back seat of the 4th column where Maru sat, suddenly became a warzone. They all pushed the desks away and shouted ‘Ahn Joohyun’. Dowook, who was sleeping, stood up while swearing, but the people that came to Maru like starved dogs didn’t even seem to notice him.
“Have you seen Ahn Joohyun up close?”
“Uh, yeah. That I guess I did….”
Maru replied as carefully as possible. He felt that something big would happen if he told them that he knew her. Peace for the rest of the day depended on this moment.
“Is she really pretty? It isn’t like a camera effect?”
“Well, she’s so-so.”
“How about her chest? Are they really big? Like you see on TV?”
“Hey, fucker. Is that the important part?”
“Of course it is!”
“You’re fucking crazy. Take your chests to porn. What good is celebrity chests?”
The one that shouted chests was dragged to the back. Any conversation that happened after that was about getting autographs from her.
“Was Ahn Joohyun always so popular?”
He knew that she was popular with girls, but he didn’t know that she was also extremely popular amongst high school boys. He thought that she’d only have girl fans since she had a down-to-Earth and boyish image to her.
Hearing his question, the ones around him answered in unison.
“Her figure is killer.”
It seemed that these guys didn’t even care about acting skills or whatnot, and just cared about the face and the body. He knew that they were at the age where they would be absorbed in sexual things, but at this point, they were practically horny dogs. This was why engineering high school classes with 100% boys were dangerous. The concentration of their urges was completely different to classes like design where girls made up more than half the class.
“I can’t get autographs.”
Maru spoke firmly. He wasn’t scouted officially, and he just happened to be there by chance. At this point, he wondered what would happen if they found out that Ahn Joohyun’s little brother went to this school. Perhaps Bangjoo would be stalked by these boys here. What a horrible thing that would be.
“I just went there once. And that was the last time.”
What an interesting change of expressions. Maru wanted to capture this moment in a photo. ‘At the tip of Despair’ sounded like a good title for the photo.
“Maru, didn’t you appear in Youth Generation as well?”
A crisp, high-pitched voice sounded out amidst the low-pitched noises. Maru turned his head around. Iseul, wearing a pink t-shirt, was standing at the back of the class.
The boys in class became quiet in an instant before taking steps back. Even those that looked like they would grow up to be part of the mafia in the future made shy smiles. Maru saw that clearly. Rather than a smile, he pitied them instead. What a pitiful group of people.
“I guess I did.”
Youth Generation was the first piece of work where he got a proper character. He started off as a background actor, and ended up as a minor role. Since he had to wear glasses and talk in a really awkward way, he had some fun while doing it.
“Han Maru, you were in Youth Generation as well?”
The boys in class asked in surprise.
“Who were you? An extra?”
“You know, the one that gets bullied all the time. The class prez.”
“The four-eyed loser?”
The 37 people gathered around him stared at him in disbelief. Maru clicked his tongue and borrowed a pair of glasses from someone. He put on the glasses, pushed his chin forward, and made his lips look like he was getting bullied.
“Whoa! It’s really him.”
“Wow, Han Maru. You’re quite good.”
“I never missed an episode of Youth Generation, and I never knew that that guy was you.”
His classmates praised his acting for a while before smiling again in embarrassment due to Iseul’s presence. If Iseul told them that she’d date them if they jumped out the window, about 10 of them would jump out immediately without second thoughts.
Even in this mess, Maru kicked the sleeping Dojin to wake him up. Dojin shook and raised his head.
“Your girlfriend is here.”
Iseul pressed on Dojin’s head. Dojin called for help, but Iseul lightly ignored him.
“Aren’t you here to see him?” Maru asked Iseul as he pointed at Dojin.
“Yeah. We promised to see each other after lunch, but I didn’t get any news from him. But well, he’s sleeping like this.”
“I was too tired from working at the restaurant all day yesterday…,” Dojin spoke in a tired manner.
Iseul took her hand off. Dojin sat up with a foolish smile.
“I told you to go home early, didn’t I? I heard you stuck around until the end of cleaning the big pot.”
“How am I supposed to go home when your mom’s working by herself?” Dojin spoke as he scratched his head.
Iseul looked at him for a while before pulling him up by the hand.
Iseul gave him a bottle of bacchus. Dojin smiled like a fool as he received the drink. The two smiled at each other like baby birds and eventually left through the back door.
Maru thought that the two suited each other as he saw them walk through the corridor. It seemed that Iseul’s parents also saw Dojin in a good way since he was studying to get cooking certificates. Though, who wouldn’t like their daughter’s boyfriend if he helped them out in their business?
He thought that they were in the peak of youth and turned his head around. But when he did, he had to cough awkwardly. The boys that looked like they couldn’t harm an ant were now sitting on the ground uttering whatever swear word that was in their mouths.
“Dojin, that bastard. We should solder his mouth shut.”
“No, we should solder his precious part, so he can’t use it.”
“We’re shooting a military movie here, and he’s all by himself shooting a youth sitcom. The world needs to be fair, so we should castrate Dojin first.”
They were filled with killing intent. Hell was unfurling in front of him.
Maru saw Daemyung amongst them, laughing in an uncomfortable manner. He was putting on a good act. His effort to survive by disguising himself as single was quite good.
However, the moment Maru saw Lee Jiyoon and Jeon Aram who were walking down the central stairs, he realized that Daemyung’s act was about to be over. Aram was coming towards their class while leading Jiyoon, who was shaking her head, by the hand. It was obvious what she was up to. It had been quiet since the start of the semester. What should come had come.
Maru stood up from his seat. He had to escape this place before these boys started rampaging. He was very serious. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what they would do when these boys, who were in desperate need(?) of feminine pheromones, found out that Daemyung had a girlfriend as well.
Just in time, he got a phone call as well. The moment he saw the name on the phone, though, he quickly looked away and at the boys around him. Some of the quick-witted in class flashed their eyes and looked at him. Maru immediately pressed the reject button. The three characters ‘Ahn Joohyun’ disappeared from the screen.
“Man, the weather is hot.”
Maru stretched his arms out and sneakily left the classroom. Jiyoon and Aram waved at him from afar. Maru replied to them in a vague fashion before walking quickly. Moments later, he could hear some strange screams from behind him, but he pretended not to have heard them and kept walking.
He went down to the first floor and stood in the entrance from where he could see the school field. He took out his phone again to call Ahn Joohyun back. After some rings, he could hear Joohyun’s voice.
 Basically, it’s an exam to prove that you’ve taken the required high school courses if you did not graduate high school the normal way. It is also required for CSATs (college exams) if you didn’t graduate high school normally.
 An energy drink in Korea.
I can see the classmates crying blood. "Daemyung has a girlfriend, yet we don't?"
The calm before the storm.....