“Maru, it’s starting!”
“Oppa, what are you doing?”
He was in desperate need of some earmuffs right now. Maru tried blocking his ears with his hands, but he could not block out Bada’s voice since she spoke right next to his ears.
“I said it’s starting. Let’s watch it while we have dinner.”
“I’m not watching it.”
“Why? Let’s watch it together.”
Maru looked at Bada through the corner of his eyes. She had an evil smile on her face and was clearly enjoying this situation. Bada, who never watched a TV program without her favorite celebrity, was talking about how today was the first episode since the morning for some reason. It must have been for this moment.
“Do you want to watch my acting that bad?”
“I want to see you curl up like a squid. Come quickly. It’s starting now.”
Maru was dragged by Bada to the living room.
“Mrs. Lee. Wasn’t our family motto to eat at the table?”
The food was on the sitting table in the living room instead of the dining room. It was good that his favorite dubu muchim and jeyuk-bokkeum were on the table, but he felt like he had a bad stomach already when he thought about how he would have to eat dinner while watching the first episode of ‘New Semester’.
“From now on, we are going to eat dinner here on Saturdays at five.”
“Five is way too early. We usually eat past six, don’t we? Bada will screech at night because she’s hungry. Are you okay with that?”
“I can just give her some snacks when she says she’s hungry. Sit down already. The ads are almost over.”
Since both the mother and the daughter were acting against him, he was helpless. Maru gave up and sat down. The phone he brought with him was getting messages and calls since ten minutes ago, and they were all from his classmates. He checked the first text message just in case, but the content was quite a spectacle to look at.
-I shall watch your acting and give you an evaluation. Look forward to it.
The texts after that were about the same. He didn’t know that the rebellious and adolescent high school students would all be thinking about the same thing. It was lamentable. He ignored the texts and the calls and started eating.
“Aren’t you getting calls?”
“I can ignore them. It’s just my friends who decided to tease me. Mom, this is a drama for young people, so it won’t suit your tastes.”
“Forget about tastes. My son is in it, so I have to watch it.”
Maru wanted to go hide in a hole or something.
Maru raised the TV volume. After the phone ad finished, the screen turned black, and following that, Yeseul’s face appeared.
“Who’s that unni?”
“You close to her?”
“What the heck.”
Bada quickly asked a question before focusing on the screen.
“You should focus on the food when you’re eating.”
“Don’t mind me. I can eat with my eyes closed. Right, mom?”
Even his mom, who would scold Bada for it usually, just replied to her with a smile. If it was going to be like this, it would’ve been better if he didn’t mention anything about the first episode at all. It was still too embarrassing for him to watch himself appear on the screen. If he thought of it as work and watched it by himself, he could watch it no problem, but watching it with someone else like this, especially his family members, was something he would not get used to in his entire lifetime.
“That school looks good. Where is it?”
“It’s a middle school in Seoul.”
“Wow, why is it so different from our school?”
He ate a spoonful of rice before looking at the screen. The camera slowly backed away from the scene where Yeseul, Giwoo, and Jichan walked through the school gates together, and the OST started flowing out of the speakers. Then it faded out. On top of the blacked out screen, the title of the first episode appeared. Just What is a Friend? - that was the title of the first episode.
“When do you come out, son?” His mom asked after watching it.
“Mom, it’s only been thirty seconds since it started. Wait a bit.”
“I thought you were a supporting character. Aren’t you going to appear really quickly?”
“I’ll probably appear soon.”
The first episode, which he shot two months ago at the beginning of January, aired in March just like the title ‘New Semester’. He didn’t know why it was delayed from the original January airing date, all the way to March, but the internet seemed to think that the decision was well-made. Since it was a youth drama, the main target audience was naturally young people. The reason it was airing at 5 on a Saturday was also to target that student demographic.
He was chopping up some tofu when Yeseul’s narration started and the three people went into the left entrance of the school.
So it will come soon. Maru put the slice of tofu in his bowl before looking at the screen. He was originally going to watch it by himself later, but now that this happened, it would be okay to ask his mother and his sister for their opinion. He planned to ask them what about him looked awkward, and what he could do better.
The camera shot the corridor from the main character’s perspective. It then switched to an overhead view when the three reached the central door. This was the scene where Yeseul and Okseon confronted each other.
“I’ll be appearing soon, but only for a brief moment.”
Okseon talked to Yeseul with a proud expression, and Yeseul replied with a nonchalant face.
He remembered that it took about ten tries to do this scene. Yeseul and Okseon looked cute in the frame. Okseon was a little tanned, while Yeseul, as expected of a child actress, looked very bright. It was the makeup that differed according to the character, and it was emphasized under the lights and the camera.
“Oh! There you are!” Bada said.
The rice grains in her mouth flew outwards. He pitied Dowook when he looked at his sister who didn’t have the slightest bit of feminine charms. He was even worried if Dowook was being bullied by her or something.
“Maru, Maru. You are right there. Oh, my word. Oh my word.”
Maru clasped his arms with his hands. His mother slapped his arms with a giggle, and her hands were quite harsh. Bada’s harsh use of her hands was probably inherited from their mother.
That’s one goofy-looking person - Maru rubbed his nose as he looked at himself on the screen. He looked quite good in glasses. Her aesthetic senses had shone. There she goes again - his first line as a supporting character flowed out through the speakers. Of course, he didn’t say that line while the camera had its attention on him. It was more like background noise.
“Your voice is too small.”
“I’m talking from the side after all.”
“When are you going to appear again?”
“Mom, watch for the plot. Do you watch dramas just to look at your son?”
“Well, I sure do. So, when are you going to appear again?”
“In the classroom scene, probably.”
His mother was watching TV while on her phone, and she was sending texts at a speed that did not lose out to a high school girl.
“Who are you texting?”
“What are you telling them?”
“Don’t mind. It’s just a mom-chat-thing.”
He peeked at her phone screen, and it was all about telling her friends to watch New Semester. He wanted to tell her to stop, but she wasn’t someone who would listen just because he told her, so he decided not to.
“OMG! Han Maru is on TV! He has glasses on! This is insane, insane. He’s actually there.”
After hopping around with a spoon, Bada approached him before putting her spoon before him.
“Mr. Han Maru. What do you feel now that you’ve become an actor?”
“Hey, put it away before I start hitting you.”
“Pop star Han Maru! Are you saying that you are going to use violence? If you do….”
He smacked Bada on the head. For some reason, she didn’t snap out with ‘Maru hit me’ like usual and just grinned from ear to ear. Maru once again realized that smiles could be really unpleasant at times. At the same time, he pitied Dowook even more. He even thought that he should give Dowook a warm hug the next time he complained to him about Bada.
The scene was now where Jichan and Yeseul were talking in the corridor. The background song was sung by a popular idol group. Their name was….
“It’s the Change-oppas!”
That was right, Change. Maru clicked his tongue as he looked at Bada. She practically read his mind this time.
A lot of NGs happened in this scene as well. Yeseul froze up from time to time, and Jichan stuttered a lot here.
The camera shot the classroom and it showed the students taking a break in class. This scene was also taken about seven times. The audio for this scene was taken separately with everyone gathered around the microphone. In this scene, Producer Park Hoon said that the classroom should look natural and at the same time, like a model classroom. In the end, he just said ‘do whatever you want’ and chatted with them.
The morning HR started when a senior actor, who played the HR teacher, appeared, and then Suyeon appeared.
“It’s Kim Suyeon.”
“You know her too, mom?”
“I do. She appeared in a weekend drama before. Mom really liked it. She was really nice to her parents. In moms talk, the model good kid refers to her.”
“But how’s she really? Is she really kind?”
“I’ll leave that to your imagination.”
“I’m sure she is. People can’t hide their true thoughts. The bad ones will look spiteful even if they act a good character, and a good person will look somewhat pitiful if they act an evil character.”
“You know that?”
“My boy, mom has had 20 years of experience watching dramas. Morning dramas, daily dramas, weekend dramas. If you watch for a long time, you can see all of it. In that sense, I’m sure Kim Suyeon is normally a polite and cautious girl.”
“Ooh, mom’s good.”
Since actors and actresses lived off the fantasies of the audience, he didn’t see the need to correct her. At that moment, Bada spoke.
“Right, mom. Suyeon-unni is really kind. I saw her in the hospital. She replied to me when I thanked her.”
“You know Kim Suyeon?”
“I do. Oh, didn’t I tell you back then? When oppa was in the hospital, Suyeon-unni made a visit.”
“Oh my word.”
Maru turned his head around. His mother’s gaze was quite uncomfortable.
“You know Kim Suyeon?”
“We belong to the same agency.”
“So my boy Maru was doing really well, huh.”
“Mom. Miss Kim Suyeon over there is a super popular actress while I’m at most a sidekick so don’t look at us like we’re the same.”
Maru ate a spoonful of doenjang-guk and looked at the screen. The woman that liked wearing tight clothes, liked wearing red lipsticks, and talked about how legs were meant to be revealed had now become an immature teacher-in-training. The kind that looked air-headed and awkward, but funny for some reason.
His mother turned around and asked. Maru told her not to mind. Since he was aware of her real personality, he felt that she was wearing clothes that did not suit her, but an ordinary viewer would never notice the difference.
“Suyeon-unni looks so pretty. Oppa, get me an autograph of her later.”
“Mom, she only calls me oppa when she wants something from me. What do you think?”
He looked at his mother with pleading eyes to side with him, but unfortunately, it seemed that he wasn’t able to break the mother-daughter alliance today. He sighed and looked at the TV. The scene that he shot after he grabbed Dongho by the collars aired.
“Ooh, Han Maru. you look pretty decent.”
“My son looks handsome.”
Maru twitched his toes when he was flattered so openly. Why was it so embarrassing to hear good words from his family? Even after all the years he lived, that did not change.
-Cut the nonsense and get back to studying.
“Cut the nonsense and get back to studying, gee.”
Bada turned her head around and imitated the line. Maru looked for a cushion around him. He wanted to throw one at her so bad. However, the quick-witted Bada had already taken all of the cushions.
-I will be able to go to Seoul U if I maintain my grades.
“I will be able to go to Seoul U if I maintain my grades… pfft. Mom, Maru thinks he can go to Seoul university! That’s funny. What a cocky character. Fine, you can be good at studying in dramas.”
Bada lied down on the floor and started laughing her ass out.
“Ah, why that again!”
“Don’t laugh. I’ll take it back from you if I see your teeth.”
“How petty of you. But today, I’m going to do it!”
Maru had to listen to Bada saying his lines after that as well. At first, it was utterly horrible to the point that his hairs stood on their ends, but he got used to it after a while. Bada also lost interest after a while and stopped.
“You’re quite good though. I was going to tease you about it if you looked strange.”
“I’m getting paid for it, so naturally I have to do well. Oh, mom. I won’t appear anymore after this.”
As soon as he said those words, his mother stood up.
“Then I guess I should do the dishes.”
“Now that makes me sad. Aren’t you going to watch until the end?”
“No. It’s not fun anymore.”
“How cruel of you, Mrs Lee. So? What do you think? Do I look awkward?”
“I’m not sure, since you didn’t even appear that much.”
His mother went to the kitchen with the plates and said that he did well in a small voice. Maru smiled when he heard that.
“Mr. Han Maru. I hope you do well in the future too.”
Bada patted his shoulder before going back to her room.
Maru watched the episode until the end in the quiet living room. He thought back to the memories of that day and thought about the framing of the scenes, and checked his own acting to see if he found anything he was lacking.
‘I guess I look decent. There was nothing until the 7th episode.’
The 7th episode of the drama had been shot already. Although he had an easy time attending the shoots since he was on holiday, the morning scenes would now be shot on the weekends and the afternoon scenes would be shot after school on a weekday starting the day after tomorrow since he, as well as many people, had to go to school. Byungchan also told him that he might have to skip classes to attend shoots. Someone would have to make sacrifices when they adjusted the overall schedule, and since the schedule priority was based on experience, the new actors would suffer most of the time.
“Looks like I’ll get busy.”
Maru turned off the TV after seeing his name in the ending credits.
 Tofu with vegetables
 Stir-fried pork
 An academic year starts in March in South Korea.
That escalated quickly. I thought we'd see nothing about the drama (since that's what happened with the movie), but I guess we get a timeskip since nothing much happens in the holidays...
I know I've been saying this for a long time now, but I really hope Maru gets actually popular. It'd open up so many more doors that this novel could go through.