Chapter 558

“Have you come every year?”

“I have.”

“Unni must have liked it.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“No, unni should have liked it. She liked it every time you came to the theater after all.”

“I see.”

Junmin quietly looked at the grave. Joohyun poured a glass of rice wine and gave it to him.

“Do you still not contact director Park Joongjin?”

“I don’t think I will ever do that. I did see him because of business before, but he’s still hard to deal with.”

“Still in a cold war?”

“Rather than a cold war, it’s me who’s being one-sidedly hated.”

“Of course. Unni liked you, after all. Director Park can only hate you. Even I would.”

“It’s all in the past.”

Joohyun checked that Junmin empty his glass before drinking a sip herself. She usually did not drink any rice wine. She only drank this bittersweet drink when she came to visit her unni.

“Did you know that director Park’s movie was released?”

“I watched it already.”

“If you did, give me your impression.”

“It’s well-made. I’m sure that that fellow’s talent has reached the skies. I can’t think of him as a director who hasn’t been working in film for years. Being trendy is one thing, but his techniques really show why he’s called a genius.”

“You couldn’t think about anything else, right?”

“That’s the most suitable expression, I guess.”

Joohyun thought back to the movie ‘Those Guys’ which she watched a few days ago. It seemed to be the textbook version of a refreshing revenge story. Actually, the movie itself was very boring when looked at in parts. There were many clichés that were outdated to the point that they weren’t even used in children’s comics. When compared to a man, this movie was wearing a stereotypical suit and shoes, and a fedora to top it off. It was fated to be butchered by critics. There would be no one who would be willing to call it a masterpiece of the ages. It was a repetition of clichés and stereotypes and contained nothing new. The conclusion was very ordinary as well. Critics would use their words to dismantle the movie into pieces before throwing them in the trash.

However, what if it was viewed from the commercial and popularity perspective? Being typical was instead a sign that it was proven to work. No gourmet could deny basic condiments. Even the most intricate of sauces were likely to be just a different ratio of existing additives. Taste was a matter of a suitable combination, and this movie created a splendid taste using a fantastic combination. Another word for that taste was ‘fun’.

“Shooting a movie with director Park wasn’t something so fun. The result was good, but I didn’t feel like I was the one who produced that result.

“At least you can complain about it. I know what happened during the shoot for ‘Spring Calendar’.”

“Back then, director Park was quite desperate. He was laughing like he always did, but he didn’t look like he had any leisure. Well, it wasn’t surprising since that movie was probably created in memory of Haejoo-unni.”

Joohyun looked at the flowers blooming at the foot of the mound.

A flower that held up its wide petals proudly among the tenacious grass. Yes, unni had such an atmosphere as well.

‘Spring Calendar’. To Joohyun, that movie was a precious one that changed her life. The event where she proved her skills as an actor was a short play, but she was loved by the public thanks to Spring Calendar.

She had known director Park Joongjin since she was pretty young. When she was in high school, she always visited the theater Haejoo was in. Joohyun liked plays, but she liked Haejoo more than that. She liked the Haejoo since she always welcomed her whenever she went there and respected her since she shone more brightly than anyone else on stage.

Haejoo loved that small theater troupe that borrowed a small underground room in the corner of Daehak-ro to operate. Of course, Joohyun cherished them as well. The people working there were like family to her.

One of the people that supported the theater troupe was director Park Joongjin. He did not show up a lot. The director showed up very rarely to the point that even Joohyun, who went there every day, barely had any recollection. The time she realized that the reason such a small-scale theater troupe without a lot of customers could last so long was because of Joongjin was not long after she found out his name. What she also realized at that time was that Joongjin, who worked in the financial district and drove an expensive-looking car, liked Haejoo. She realized that with one look when she found Joongjin quietly looking at Haejoo from the dark spot in the audience seats. However, Joohyun knew very well that his feelings could not reach Haejoo. The straightforward Haejoo-unni was straightforward when it came to love as well. Her love was directed not at the financial man with a solid background, but at the man wearing a yellow suit who visited their troupe quite a lot.

Joohyun looked at Junmin as she ate a shrimp cracker. The yellow suit. It was the same suit she saw 17 years ago. The person that always came to Haejoo-unni and told her that she had to become a bigger actress.

“So you still have that suit, huh?”

“It’s rather embarrassing that you know about it.”

“Whether then or now, I really don’t like that color. Unni really didn’t have a good eye.”

“For what?”

“Nothing, talking to myself.”

When Joohyun found out that the sweet girl, aged twenty-two, was in love with a man over thirty years old, she turned pale in fright and bombarded Haejoo with questions. It was probably back then that she started disliking president Lee Junmin. Back then, the Junmin in Joohyun’s eyes was a total scammer. Someone who had lived as a nameless actor until his thirties had given up on becoming successful as an actor and switched to management, suddenly went up to Haejoo saying that she could become a star, so there was no way she could look at him in a good way.

The man wasn’t even funny. However, Joohyun’s thoughts changed a few months later. As Haejoo spent more time with Junmin, her acting skills rose drastically. She knew that Haejoo was good before, but even Joohyun back then, who was a beginner in acting, could tell that she was improving to the point that it couldn’t be called an improvement anymore; it was more like she was leapfrogging.

Energy returned to the theater troupe. Everyone waited expectantly for Haejoo’s debut. What put an end to the days that felt like everything was going to go well, was an unexpected accident. 23rd of April. It was today. After talking with Haejoo over the phone about how her debut was decided, Joohyun returned to studying but was called back not long later. She got a call from a woman she didn’t know, and she was told that she was called from the hospital. Joohyun’s memories were a little blank after that. When she came to herself, she was sitting in front of the surgery room. Haejoo did not have any family members. The members of the theater troupe, who had hurried to the hospital, signed as her guardian, and Joongjin came after that. Junmin was the last one to arrive. He was holding a bouquet.

Joohyun knew that the cause of the traffic accident wasn’t that man. However, her thoughts and emotions played separately. On that day, she glared at Junmin as though she would kill.

When her unni died without lasting a single day, Joohyun resolved - though she didn’t know why - that she would do acting. In retrospect, perhaps she wanted to continue Haejoo’s incomplete dream.

After that, she heard the news that the theater troupe was going to close down. It was around that time that Joongjin quit his work and started a restaurant. Joohyun visited Joongjin’s restaurant once. Since he was someone who cheered for and loved Haejoo from afar, she felt worried. Joongjin, who she hadn’t met in a long time, was watching the counter with a bored expression. The sparkly eyes he showed when he visited the theater were all but gone. She had talked to him as well, but Joongjin only said that life was boring. He had changed into someone who had lost all interest in life.

On the other hand, Junmin became incredibly famous. All the actors he came into contact with had become superstars and could be seen on TV every day. He even earned the title ‘maestro’ of digging up new talent. Joohyun was reminded of Haejoo-unni whenever she saw the name Lee Junmin on TV. Perhaps because of that, she felt angry. When she became an adult, she understood that Haejoo-unni’s death was not Junmin’s fault, but she felt so sad when she looked at the man who led a brilliant life even without her.

It was around that time that she started becoming obsessed with becoming successful as an actress. Simultaneously, she was cast in a short play. Then after that, Joongjin, who suddenly showed up saying that he would become a director, asked her to appear in his film as a supporting character. Joohyun accepted. She liked the scenario, and she did not want to reject the request of an old acquaintance.

From a financial man to a restaurant owner. Joongjin had no affiliation with directing films and treated actors like machine parts in the shoot. You just have to follow my instructions - he wanted living and moving props. The lead actress was dissatisfied at first but became more obedient as the shoot progressed. Joohyun also listened to him obediently during the beginning, however, the moment she realized that the acting method he wanted to see looked very similar to a certain person, she opposed him. Joongjin aimed for the ideal; by recreating the dead unni’s image through another actress.

A movie in remembrance of Haejoo - Joongjin mentioned those words at a private occasion. Hearing those words made Joohyun even more unable to act like a machine. It wasn't that she didn’t like Joongjin’s ways. It was just that she wanted to honor her with the greatest acting possible. The unni that Joongjin saw was definitely different from the one she remembered, and Joohyun acted the unni that she saw.

As a result of that, she got the nickname ‘the supporting actress that gobbled up the main actress’, which wasn’t even funny. Something terrible happened right after that, but she managed to overcome it.

“Spring Calendar should’ve been a commemorative piece,” Junmin said.

“Did director Park tell you that?”

“No, we aren’t close enough to talk about such things. I just realized while I was watching. When I looked at the actors in the movie, I could only think of one person. If you think about it, the title was a dead giveaway. Spring Calendar. In the last scene, the calendar wasn’t flipped over from April. The film should have been created solely to show that one cut.”

“If she watched that movie in heaven, would she have liked it?”

“Probably. Haejoo was someone who liked everything after all.”

“That’s true.”

The conversation stopped there. Junmin spoke after a long period of silence.

“Sorry. For making you lose someone you loved.”

“That’s a really late apology. Plus, you know that it wasn’t necessary. Also, everyone was sad that we lost her.”

Joohyun looked at Junmin. Junmin slowly nodded.

“Can I ask you one thing?”

“Go ahead.”

“Is it because of her that you aren’t getting married?”

“Probably.”

Joohyun laughed. She felt that the last bits of bitter feelings she had towards Junmin had dissolved away. At that moment, Junmin’s phone rang. Seeing him trying to reject the call, Joohyun quickly spoke,

“Take it. It might be something important. You are the president of a company after all.”

Junmin took the call. After a few minutes of talking over the phone, he hung up.

“I wish I could talk to you more, but I need to get going.”

“It’s fine. It was me who held you back in the first place.”

Junmin turned around and walked away.

Just as Joohyun faintly smiled while looking at the drinking glass placed in front of Haejoo’s tombstone, she was suddenly reminded of the name of the boy related to Haejoo-unni’s acting.

“Uhm, president.”

“What is it?”

“Do you remember what Haejoo-unni said about her acting?”

“About her acting?”

“That there are two separate egos inside her - one focuses on instinctive acting, and one focuses on watching over the other.”

Hearing that, Junmin made a longing face.

“I do. It was a rather curious story.”

“I know someone who said the same thing as well. He works for you too. Han Maru, you should keep watching him. If he wasn’t lying, he might shine like her one day.”

After finishing those words, Joohyun looked at the white flower at the foot of the mound.

She longed for her unni’s laughter even more than usual today.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Haejoo sounds like she has the polar opposite personality to Maru... yet their 'way' of acting is strangely similar... Hmm...

Editor's Note:
For once, I have nothing to say.