“Huh, isn’t that Yoo Sooil?”
“You don’t know? He was in a couple of movies and some dramas too.”
“Is he famous?”
“I guess you can call him that.”
“Not because you work in that area?”
Sooil smiled when he heard those voices around him. Since this was the JA building, a lot of people working in the industry could be seen frequently in this place. The woman that was glaring at him while holding his arm started looking around her.
“Uhm, it’ll be inconvenient for both of us if this gets out of hand, don’t you think so?”
Hearing Sooil’s words, the woman let go of his arm.
“Who are you, some celebrity?”
“I’m just a new actor that appeared here and there.”
“Then why did you lie to me like that?”
“Back then, I did it because you looked very angry. Also, the part timer is pitiful. It’s just a simple mistake.”
“That’s her problem.”
Her voice was raised a little, but she didn’t shout due to the gazes around them.
“Sorry. I was wrong. As an apology, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee. Please let me go this time, please?”
Sooil grabbed the woman’s hand and smiled. It seemed to be true that people couldn’t spit on a smiling face as the woman clicked her tongue and nodded.
“How generous of you. What would you like to drink?”
“I don’t care.”
Sooil nodded before walking to the counter. There was one more part timer this time. She wasn’t here before.
“Uhm, you’re Yoo Sooil, aren’t you?”
“Eh? Ah, yes. I am.”
“Wow, that’s amazing. I enjoyed the movie you were in last time.”
Just as he turned around after receiving the coffee. He could hear someone questioning if he was really an actor. Sooil turned around with a bright smile.
“Yes, I am an actor. I thought I was quite popular, but I guess I don’t have as much recognition as I thought. I’ll put in more effort in the future.”
When he made a victory pose, the two part timers cheered for him with awkward smiles. Sooil went back to the table where the female employee was sitting.
“Here. Sorry about last time.”
The woman snatched the coffee away from him.
“Be careful in the future. The world isn’t as easy as you think it is. I’m only letting you go this time because you look like a kind boy, alright?”
“Of course, of course.”
“Also, if you’re going to be an actor, you should really manage your image.”
“Yes, I’ll bear that in mind.”
“I’m really holding a lot back this time.”
The employee glared at the counter once before standing up, but soon she lowered herself again. Sooil wondered what was going on and turned around to see where she was looking. There were a lot of men in their fifties entering the building.
“Dammit, it’s the president.”
There was nothing more uncomfortable than meeting a superior during a break. Moreover, the president? He could understand how she felt.
However, the female employee’s refuge couldn’t last long. The president and his company turned around to walk towards the coffee shop. The female employee walked to the entrance of the coffee shop. He had a glance at her, and she didn’t look like she was annoyed at all as there was a smile on her face. That instantaneous change in expression was something that company employees all had.
The door opened and the president came in.
The female employee greeted him first.
“Ah, yes. But who are you?”
“I am Park Miseon who just joined the human resources team.”
“Oh, right. I see. Sorry for not recognizing you. I wasn’t able to attend the welcome party. Anyway, nice to meet you. You just joined the family, so let’s get along.”
The president smiled and walked past her. Sooil thought that she should’ve done the same thing to the part timer as he got ready to leave.
At that moment, the president approached Sooil. Sooil quickly started thinking. Had he met this man somewhere before? He thought about it for a while, but he couldn’t think of anything. The fact that someone from a business company had recognized him meant that this wasn’t entirely welcome in his perspective.
“Aren’t you Lee Jaeho?”
The moment he heard those words, Sooil sighed inwardly.
“Yes, I am.”
“Haha, I was right. You might not know me, but I know you.”
Sooil smiled and stared at the president’s mouth. After the president looked around him, he asked in a small voice.
“Yes, is the chairman doing well?”
* * *
“It was insane when we went to a girl’s high for a concert.”
“A concert at a girl's high?”
“Yeah. It was last year. Just around the time we started talking about doing individual activities. Oh, thank you.”
The boiling Sundubu-jjigae was placed in front of them. Maru clicked his tongue when the grandma put a rice bowl, with rice towering high over the edge of the bowl, in front of him and said that she’ll bring more if they found it lacking. Grandma, it’s too much.
“Enjoy your food, my pups.”
“Yes. Thank you for the meal,” Sungjae replied while raising his spoon.
He had taken off his hat and was sitting down comfortably without having to look around in case someone recognized him. This restaurant, which was in an alley a bit far away from Gangnam station, looked like a refuge for Sungjae.
“But they really don’t recognize you here,” Maru said as he mixed the boiling soup.
Although the 8 or so tables were all occupied, no one recognized Sungjae.
“Is it because their general ages are quite high?”
Including a middle-aged man who was eating scorched rice water as a dessert, the minimum age of the customers here seemed to be at least 50.
“Even people barely older than thirty usually don’t recognize us. They might know that we might be on TV, but they wouldn’t know our names. Our main target audience is teenagers and people in their twenties after all. So there’s no better place than this one where I can eat in peace. I guess you could call it a shelter of mine.”
As they walked to this place, Sungjae was unable to lift his head even once. He pressed down his baseball cap until the tip reached his nose. Even then, people seemed to have recognized him and approached him so he had to get away quickly.
“It’s hard being popular, huh.”
“I should cherish it while I still have it, but when you actually live like this, you find it annoying that you can’t move around freely.”
“If you suit up and walk in front of a girl’s high school, you might cause chaos. Oh, what happened at the concert in a girl’s high you were talking about just now?”
“It was more chaotic than any other concert. The stress of third year exam students was unleashed at its fullest. I mean, we were taken aback by them.”
“Haha, I can imagine. But don’t you usually go to colleges for concerts like that? No wait, at your level, I don’t think school events are economic at all,” he asked while munching on some kkakdugi.
TTO wasn’t some new boy band. They were one of the top idol groups in the country, so he found it curious that they attended an event at a high school.
“It was the request of an acquaintance of the president.”
“Apparently, the daughter of someone important attended that school. Our president doesn’t usually schedule small events like that, but the fact that she accepted it probably means that the request was from someone she couldn’t decline so easily.”
“Do such things happen often?”
“Does it happen often? More than often, really. We didn’t have it as bad once we started making a name for ourselves, but we were called to all sorts of places when we were still new. Doesn’t JA have stuff like that? Or is it different because they’re more towards the acting side?”
“They haven’t started managing me yet. I’m below their required level, so I just look for auditions and work myself.”
“You? But the actors back then really talked good about you. Including sir Yoon Moonjoong. I don’t think you’re below the required level.”
“Well, while I’m thankful that you say such words….”
Maru scooped a big spoonful of rice before continuing to speak,
“Being good at something and being popular are two separate things. I guess the president hasn’t found me profitable yet. I did hear him say that official management will start after graduation, but he’s the kind of person who’d approach me first even before graduation if he sees fit. Sooil should be like that as well.”
“Ah, you don’t know him? Yoo Sooil. He’s a high school student actor.”
“Well, I’m not sure I know him.”
“He seemed quite popular among girls my age.”
“People like that are poured out in batches in this industry. Who knows, we might be forgotten in just a few years if we don’t do any activities.”
“I don’t think TTO would be like that.”
“I thought the same when I looked at senior idol groups before we made our debut. But you know? It only takes a brief moment to be forgotten. People with skills keep showing up after all, so it’s only a matter of time. We might appear on the same TV, but the consumption rate of idols is too different from that of an actor. That’s why idols try out various things.”
“You said that you were originally an aspiring actor, didn’t you?”
“Like I said last time, I kinda started this thinking that being an idol must be easier, but nothing was easy in this world after all.”
“Right, nothing is easy.”
“But it’s not like I regret not pushing forward with my dream to become an actor. I just find it a little pitiful. I’m curious what I would look like if I continued to pursue acting back then.”
“You would’ve done well even if you pursued acting.”
“Your flattery is a bit too obvious now, you know?”
“I’m lobbying so that I can get something from you. But hey, the soup here is great.”
“If the atmosphere was the only thing I cared about, I wouldn’t come here so frequently. The food is good as well,” Sungjae said with a smile.
This was a time when Maru could talk one-to-one with someone that had reached the peak of their field. Maru found it pitiful that the rice was decreasing. After all, it wasn’t easy to get an opportunity to talk with someone who reached their area's summit. They were able to talk about what they weren’t able to in the lecture room. If it was up to him, he wished that he could bring a bottle of soju and listen to some more honest stories.
“Maru, how do you practice your acting?”
“There’s nothing special, really. When I receive a script, I analyze the character, try projecting myself into the character, and after that, it’s just trial and error.”
“Hm, I guess it’s similar for all people?”
“Probably. If you want to become good at soccer, you have to be always near a soccer ball, and if you want to ride a bicycle well, you always have to be near a bicycle. It’s the same when it comes to things you do with your body. If you want to become good at acting, you’ll have to be next to your character at all times.”
“It’s not like anyone tells you that you’re bad, right? I haven’t seen instructor Miso saying things about you either during class.”
“Well, for me it’s like, hm, textbook acting? It doesn’t look awkward, but it lacks that final stroke. That’s how I see it.”
“Geez, are you boasting to me now?”
“Is that how it is?”
Sungjae smiled awkwardly.
“Have you gotten any works your way recently?”
Sungjae shook his head when he heard that question.
“There are a few offers, but I don’t plan to accept any for the time being.”
“Because I want to do an act when I am satisfied with my own acting. Also, I should learn while I still can. The president will only let us roam free until mid next year.”
“After that, you’ll be recording your albums again?”
“Probably. If I don’t encounter a big turn in my acting career, that is.”
After saying that, Sungjae stared at his cup of water. In Maru’s eyes, he looked hesitant. It looked like he had something to say, but he couldn’t say it.
“If you have anything you want to say to me, you should say it.”
“Was it obvious?”
After hesitating, Sungjae spoke,
“The event that changed my perspective of actors is my encounter with Sir Yoon Moonjoong. Thanks to him, I was able to concentrate during the movie shoot as well. I wanted to contact him myself after the shoot, but it wasn’t that easy. With that being the case, aren’t you close to him, Maru?”
There was a reason he was hesitating. Maru put down his spoon.
“If it’s just greeting him, there’s a way for you to do that, isn’t there?”
“Greeting, yes. But I want to talk to him. A great lesson… would be great to hear, but I don’t even expect that much. I just wanted to listen to the rest of the story he told me in the mountain back then.”
It was an honest request. That was rather unexpected. For now, Maru liked him for the fact that he wasn’t being roundabout with his requests. However, he couldn’t decide this here since this was about the elder.
Of course, he didn’t plan to outright refuse either.
This was a great opportunity to have a top idol indebted to him.
“I can’t exactly ask the elder to meet you. It would be rude of me to do that as well.”
“I thought so. Forget I said anything. Don’t feel pressured.”
“But participating as a friend over some soju and pork belly is another matter.”
Maru smiled and asked back at Sungjae, who was clearly confused.
“Hyung, how many bottles of soju can you drink?”
“Alright. I’ll ask him for now. If the elder remembers you, and if he sees you in a good light, then he’ll probably accept.”
“Please wait a moment.”
Maru took out his phone.
It was time to hold that pork belly party in Yeonhui-dong.
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Did someone mistake Sooil for someone else again? Or is it different this time? O.o
My editing app keeps telling me the Karen's name is an error. How fitting since ppl like her are indeed a mistake. :)