Chapter 583

“Han Maru.”

When he lifted his head after hearing the voice, he saw a piece of chalk flying right towards his face. Maru slapped the chalk with his left hand. The smashed chalk fell to the floor. He wondered why such a thing flew at him.

“Huh, you managed to stop that?”

Only when he heard the voice again did he remember that he was in class. His classmates sitting on either side of him chuckled.

“Where did you leave your soul behind?” asked the teacher who taught electric circuits as he rolled his right sleeve up.

“You’re a smart guy in the drama too. If you’re sleepy, go wash your face.”

He slightly bowed to the teacher before standing up. As this teacher liked to be quite authoritative, he always nitpicked students if they did not follow his words no matter how trivial they were. He walked across the corridor and went to the bathroom. Smelling a rather foul stench, he felt his sensitive mind calming down a little.

He wasn’t sleeping because he was tired. He was thinking about something else to the point that nothing in the class entered his mind. Maru turned the tap. He looked at the mirror as he put his hands under the chilly running water.

“1989. No, if I expect a year of delay, there should be a change in 1988 maybe?”

He was reminded of last night’s matters as he looked in the mirror.

After acting practice, which was rather fussy thanks to Chihwan, Maru went to the classroom on the opposite side of the hall. He sent his juniors home first before taking out the videotape he brought in his bag.

“I was told that you were here. What are you doing?”

When he was about to start playing the videotape, Daemyung entered the classroom. Maru told him that they should watch the video together if he had the time. Watching good actors should be helpful for directors after all. As it was an old videotape, the sound and video were stretched out at the beginning, but it wasn’t unbearable.

The video started off with some chatter between men he had never seen before. The background seemed to be a corridor in a building.

-Are you sure this is filming right now?

-That’s curious.

-Hey, this is really small. Aren’t video cameras things that people put on their shoulders?

-That’s because this is the latest product from Japan. You don’t even know that? But Jincheol, are you sure this is working?

-You bumpkins, it is working.

A long-haired man appeared in the video. It was director Lee Jincheol in his younger days. The immaturity and daringness of a man in his 20s showed from his face and fashion.

“Maru, what’s this? It looks like an old video. 1987?”

Daemyung looked at the corner of the screen while narrowing his eyes.

“It’s a video about one actress.”

“Actress? Who?”

“I don’t know yet. We’re about to find out.”

Maru crossed his arms and leaned back against the door. 3 minutes passed in the video without any content. During that time, the only things that appeared were some men putting their faces right up against the lens to play around and Jincheol, who was moving around here and there. A man with a shaved head showed some different facial actions in front of the camera.

-Are we shooting now?

A girl’s voice sounded from the video. Maru focused on the screen. The man with the shaved head waved outside the frame at someone and asked her to come. A while later, a girl with bangs peeked into the frame.

-Am I on right now?

The girl waved at people outside the frame. Maru faintly smiled.

-Hey, Jung Haejoo. What are you doing, acting like a bumpkin? Is this the first time you’ve seen a camcorder?

-Yeah, it’s my first time.

-What a bumpkin. What about Joohyun? She always follows you around every weekend.

-She’s not here today.

-She should really stop coming. A high school student should be studying. No wait, was she in middle school?

The world inside the screen became noisy. Jung Haejoo - she looked the same as the photo where she was holding the three puppies. She looked like an adult lady, yet still somewhat immature. Her reddish cheeks, rather large cheekbones, as well as the curiosity-filled eyes and hands that endlessly touched her hair when she looked at the lens were indicative of what kind of personality this Jung Haejoo had.

“She’s an interesting person,” Daemyung spoke next to him.

Interesting person - it was a fitting description.

“That’s her. The actress I was talking about.”

“She’s an actress?”

“Everyone on the screen now is an actor, probably.”

Just then, the people on the screen stood in one line.

-Hey, shouldn’t we stand in order of height?

-Are we kids? Just stand wherever you want.

-Let’s go with age. When someone watches later, we can just say that the one at the end is the oldest

-That sounds good.

The people on the screen switched places. Jung Haejoo was in the middle.

-Well then, if you are done standing in a line, introduce yourselves. I will see how cool you can make it.

Jincheol spoke from outside the frame. The people on the screen coughed and looked at each other in the face before shouting the line in unison.

-Youth to the stage! We are the play-loving Yecheon!

The people, who shouted in unison, looked at the lens blankly for a while before twisting up in embarrassment.

-Gosh that was embarrassing.

-I got goosebumps.

-Do we have to do this? Shouldn’t we just go with ‘We are Yecheon’ or something? We aren’t kids.

Jung Haejoo, who was staring at the lens amidst the others, started speaking.

-Why? I like it though. Don’t you? It’ll be fun when we watch it later. It’s definitely better to be funny than to be stiff.

She then tapped on the lens with her finger. When Jincheol told her not to do that, she stepped back with a dejected expression.

-It is embarrassing, but it’s not that bad if you think about it.

-I might die of embarrassment when I watch it at an old age.

-That’s good. Let’s all die together!

The men and women hung their arms around each other and stood in a line.

-Youth to the stage! We are the play-loving Yecheon!

The screen then snapped off. A noisy grey screen filled the TV for a while.

“So they are people who used to do plays, huh. Yecheon. That sounds similar to our Blue Sky[1],” Daemyung said.

Maru faintly smiled. Daemyung would be surprised if he knew the place in the video was currently where Blue Sky stood in Daehak-ro right now, but he decided to tell him that later. He wanted to focus on the video for now.

-I’m starting the shoot.

A voice sounded again. It was Jincheol. The background changed to the stage from the corridor. It seemed that the camcorder was moved. On top of a worn-out stage that definitely couldn’t be considered good stood the people who just did the embarrassing greeting. Their clothing had changed. They were wearing jeans and white t-shirts now.

Haejoo, who was looking around from the center of the stage, walked in front of the camcorder.

-We are going to start the play now. The main characters are Yoonsung-oppa, Chasoo-oppa, and Mijin-unni. I hope you have a good time.

She whispered that in a small voice. People gathered around Haejoo, who had gone to the back of the stage with a smile. After shouting to get fired up, the members of the troupe went to their places.

The play that followed was about college students who were activists[2]. It seemed to reflect the environment of that era. The story itself wasn’t that boring. The flow was cut off during some parts due to opting to go with the boring route, but the story did not miss the big events, so it wasn’t that disturbing to the immersion. The members of the troupe didn’t have bad skills either. As a man who seemed to be in his early thirties held the ground, the overall balance did not shift.

-Well done!

The play ended while the remaining members were mourning the death of one such activist student. The actors on stage applauded each other and gathered in front of the camcorder. They looked agitated and excited. They were truly enjoying acting.

But that was it.

“They’re good.”

“They are for sure. But Daemyung, what do you think?”

“About what?”

“That lady.”

Maru pointed at Jung Haejoo, who was smiling brightly in the middle of the screen.

“Do you think there’s anything to learn from her?”

“Hm.”

“Just tell me what you think. Don’t evaluate her, just tell me what you think about her.”

“Honestly speaking, they all seemed to be good actors generally, but I think that’s about it. They aren’t eye-openingly good. That lady is the same. In fact, I feel like she’s worse than the others.”

“In what aspect?”

“She seems a bit… lighter? The topic of the play is quite heavy, isn’t it? However, she seems too bright. Rather than saying that she’s bad at acting, it feels like her personality is way too positive that it’s influencing her acting or something like that.”

Maru nodded. Daemyung was definitely sharp. Maru was thinking about the same thing. It wasn’t that the people on the screen were bad at acting. They definitely fulfilled their role of imbuing truth into an imaginary world very splendidly. If he watched their stage without any prior knowledge, he would have praised them, saying that a group of youths had done a splendid job.

‘But that shouldn’t be all of it.’

She was the one who had stolen the hearts of two geniuses. He refused to believe that Junmin was surprised and charmed by that level of acting. 1987. Although this was before Haejoo and Junmin encountered each other, her first appearance in the video definitely left room for a lot to be desired.

“Who are you watching this video for, though? That lady?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“It doesn’t look like you’re trying to study by doing this….”

“Why do you think that?”

Daemyung couldn’t reply immediately and hesitated for a while before carefully speaking.

“Because honestly speaking, I feel like you’re better at acting than that lady.”

“You’re putting me on a pedestal all of a sudden.”

“I’m serious. Don’t you think so too?”

“I’m not that into self-flattery, you know?”

“But aren’t you thinking the same? You look pretty disappointed.”

“You’re quick to catch on.”

Maru took out the videotape that finished playing.

“There’s around 50 more of these in order of time.”

“There are so many?”

“I really want to see the last one right now, but I feel like I wouldn’t be able to catch the hint like that. I want to know what kind of acting that lady did, and how her changes made people unable to forget about her to this day.”

“Just who is she?”

“Jung Haejoo.”

“Jung Haejoo?”

Splash, Maru bowled some water with his hands and washed his face. Daemyung’s confused expression disappeared along with the cold water that hit his face.

“Two years. No, one year. Just how much did she change after meeting Junmin?”

He thought about the piles of video tapes at home. He brought one today as well. A video from 1987. This one was taken a month after the video he watched yesterday. Maru was curious. He wanted to know how the lady’s acting would change since she was called a genius by two other geniuses. He couldn’t imagine anything right now. Junmin definitely had good eyes for talent, but Maru had never heard that he was a good acting teacher. Just what kind of magic did he cast on Haejoo?

Maru shook his hands before walking back to his classroom. The teacher, who was teaching the class, gave him a glance before continuing on with the class. Maru sat down quietly so that he didn’t make any noise. He touched the videotape he put inside his drawer while looking forward to watching it after school, when he remembered an appointment he had forgotten about.

‘Today’s Tuesday….’

It was 3 p.m. He would have to meet Bitna in just two hours. Although it was a rather sudden appointment, he had to keep the appointment since he promised. It seemed that he wasn’t going to get to watch the video today.

‘Is there really no one around me who has a VCR?’

It seemed that he would have to make a visit to Yongsan after the shoot this weekend.

“Han Maru, have you gotten yourself together?”

“Yes. I feel much better after washing my face.”

Maru replied as he took his hands out of the drawers.


[1] The Korean for Blue Sky is Cheongcheon and they share the same character ‘cheon’

[2] In this specific case, ‘college activists’ refer to left-wing supporters who went against the right-wing government rule in South Korea during the 1980s (hence the following line).

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

I'm not that knowledgeable in Korean history, not to mention political history, and I'm not about to explain the state of politics in the 80s. It's not that important either (hopefully). I do know more than what I wrote in the footnote, but I won't go into detail since politics is a sensitive topic and I might influence the neutrality of the explanation with my political views, which I don't want to do here.

Haha, I feel like in this chapter, author wanted to describe some cinematography tricks in the description. (The way Maru looks at the mirror and the scene changes to the night before, and splashing his face with water to come back to reality.) It sounds like it's a scene right out of a drama lol. I want to hear your thoughts on this. I believe this happened a few times in the previous chapters as well, but I don't remember for sure. Do you like it? For me personally... I'm okay with him using it, but it doesn't really add anything to the story for me. I do take it negatively when I think about how it's way to increase word count (is the chalk scene at the beginning really necessary?), and how author can insert cliffhangers as much as he wants with this kind of trick.

Editor's Note:
I prefer less. but I'm biased cuz I just want to edit less heh.