A notebook, an old pen, and a cup of thick coffee with two sticks of coffee in it. After setting up everything, he turned on the VCR. He heard the tape turning inside the device before he saw a grey screen appear on the TV. He took a sip of the coffee while listening to the noisy tape. The videotape should start playing soon.
-Get into position.
-Jincheol, you’re going to shoot today as well?
-Records are only meaningful if you leave them behind frequently.
Yecheon was as bustling as always. Maru felt a sense of intimacy with the people on the screen as though he had known them for a long time. He saw the members of the theater troupe acting awkward and standing dazedly in front of the camera in the videos that were shot in early 1987, but they seemed to have gotten used to it since they were just doing their own thing regardless of whether Jincheol was shooting or not.
-Miss Ahyoung, can you have a look at this for a sec?
-Sure, but you gotta pay me extra.
-No way, you’re joking, right?
-I never joke around when it comes to money.
-Can I just give you some snacks instead?
A woman’s voice could be heard from outside of the frame. She seemed proficient in handling the camera. The screen shook for a moment as it was lifted off the tripod and then the camera angle was elevated a little.
-Should we do an interview or something?
-Nah. But Ahyoung. What happened to the monthly rent thing you were talking about?
-I managed to get 80 thousand won off after negotiation. I even had to cry to do it.
-What? 80 thousand won? You aren’t kidding, right? Did you really manage to shave off 80 thousand won from our rent?
-Who do you think I am? I’m someone who does not goes back on my words.
-No way. Wow! Everyone, Ahyoung managed to shave off 80 thousand won from the rent!
-What? Are you serious? 80 thousand won?
-Let’s open some soju today. Let’s fry some bulgogi too!
There was a ruckus for a while. The woman, who was dragged in front of the camera, smiled in confidence before the rest lifted her into the sky. The process was all captured in the video.
-What is this? What’s happening?
Another voice came in late into the video. It was Jung Haejoo. After hearing about the circumstances, Haejoo also rejoiced while grabbing Ahyoung’s arm.
-If it’s 80 thousand won, I think I can take a breather.
-It’s the four of us’ turn this month, so we practically earned 20 thousand won each. 20 thousand, huh. Thanks to you, Ahyoung, I managed to earn this month’s rent for my room.
-Everyone, stand in front of the camera! Miss Ahyoung, you stand in the center. If we don’t take a celebratory photo on a day like this, this camera wouldn’t have a point being here.
Jincheol held the camera. Every member of the troupe gathered in front of the camera.
-Wait! What’s that? Let me in too!
There was a girl who jumped into the frame as though she was about to fall over. She was someone Maru hadn’t seen before, and she looked quite young. She was also wearing a school uniform. Maru raised his cup as he focused on the video.
-Fine, you can join the photo as well. It’s a good thing after all.
-But hey, don’t you have any friends you hang out with? You come here all the time.
-I do have friends, you know? Plus, I’m not here to see you oppas, I’m here to see Haejoo-unni!
-There she goes again. Look at her talk. She has a bad temper.
-I have a bad temper? No, I don’t!
-Stop! Both of you, stop. Jincheol-oppa, what do we say?
Haejoo said that as she hung her arms around the girl who seemed to be a student. The girl, who glared at the man standing to the left of her, smiled brightly.
“Are they sisters or something?”
Maru took a sip of the cooled coffee, when.
-Haejoo, you move a little to the right, and Taewook, you too. Ahyoung, you should say something for all of us. And you over there, yes, whichever-schooler you are.
-Ahn Joohyun! How many times do I have to tell you that I’m Ahn Joohyun, ahjussi!
-Ahjussi? I’m not even thirty yet!
-If you look like an ahjussi, then you are an ahjussi! Hmph.
Maru almost spat out what was in his mouth. He coughed dryly and paused the video. He had a closer look at the girl on the screen. Her clear eyes, thick eyebrows, and well-balanced nose. Indeed, it was Ahn Joohyun’s face, albeit a little younger.
He already knew from Jincheol’s wife, Jinjoo, that Joohyun frequented Yecheon. So she was quite frivolous back then. When he thought about how she acted now and compared it to the girl on the screen, he ended up laughing. Would the people there at that time have known that the little girl they were talking to would go on to cause several big issues in the entertainment industry?
“Though, she still had a potty mouth back then, huh.”
He resumed the video. After a few more mentions about the 80 thousand won saving, the scene switched. On one side of the stage were three women wearing long skirts. On the other side were two men wearing drill uniforms, looking at the three women sitting opposite them. Coquettish smiles and behavior - it seemed that the background was the red light district.
Maru focused on looking at Haejoo. She sat down on a chair and crossed her legs. She seemed to be acting like a sexy woman, but it looked awkward as though she was wearing clothes that didn’t suit her. After a series of unstable acts continued, Jincheol’s voice eventually resounded.
-This isn’t good, is it? I don’t think Haejoo fits this kind of role.
-Is it like that after all?
-Let’s have a talk again after we see what we recorded later. We should change the roles or reduce them, I think.
-Well, Jincheol has good eyes. If you think that way, then I guess it’s really not good. I do like the story, so I want to go with it.
Their lines and movements were perfect, but Haejoo couldn’t get herself into the mood of the play. Maru repeatedly played back Haejoo’s acting part and wrote things down in his notebook. Her walking motions, hand gestures, the changes in her facial expressions when she said her lines. As the videotapes were old, he sometimes wasn’t able to observe her expression due to the low resolution, but he could get a close look most of the time.
He had watched eleven videotapes until now. Although he hadn’t watched a lot of them, he could come to an understanding of Haejoo’s acting. Her acting gave off a ‘clean’ feeling. It was different from a ‘neat’ image. Her acting skill was lacking, but he kept watching her because of the clean vibes that the person herself gave off. If someone hateful made a mistake, it would increase the urge of wanting to scold that person, but if it was someone likable that made a mistake, it would instead be the opposite - one would want to encourage and care for that person. If it was Haejoo who made a mistake on stage, not to mention the members of the troupe, even the audience might let her go. Of course, that was under the assumption that they knew what Haejoo was usually like.
If someone who knew about the usual Haejoo looked at her acting on the stage, they might just accept it and move on. That was the kind of person she was after all. That was just her character. However, an audience who had never seen her before might find her strange. What the heck is up with that actress who pops out from everyone else?
Haejoo maintained her unique character a little too much causing her to be unable to blend herself with the rest of the characters in the play, making her always a ‘Jung Haejoo’ on the stage. In the ten videotapes Maru had watched during the past few days while reducing his sleep, Haejoo always managed to overlay the characters of a prostitute, a parent of a student, and even a woman in immoral love over herself. While the other actors jumped into that character or brought out some of their own characteristics within them that were similar to the characters they were acting, Haejoo consistently acted a ‘Jung Haejoo’.
That kind of phenomenon didn’t just occur because her efforts were lacking, or because her understanding of the characters she was acting was shallow. Haejoo was the one who practiced the most while they were shooting. While everyone had gone off to rest, Haejoo quietly remained behind and checked her own pronunciation with the camera. She changed her expressions, checked her gestures, and even exaggeratedly put emotions into some of her acts, but the character that stuck with her on stage was Jung Haejoo herself.
The ‘clean’ vibe she gave off seemed to stem from that characteristic of hers. His senses that discerned acting skill wasn’t able to find anything artificial-feeling from Haejoo’s acting, which ended up giving him that ‘clean’ vibe from her.
Maru wondered what it would’ve been like if Haejoo chose to do a form of art that wasn’t acting. Her character was unique and strong. The character that seemed to poke through no matter what you covered her with seemed like it would be a strong point in music. Like a violinist, for example. He subconsciously smiled when he imagined her showing off her might during a recital stage.
Acting was the act of revealing oneself, yet simultaneously hiding oneself and changing oneself. Haejoo, whose character revealed herself no matter whose figure she tried to borrow, didn’t look like she was suited for acting. That was the case at least from the videos he had watched until now.
Many people would remember the actress Jung Haejoo, but the characters she acted wouldn’t remain in anyone’s memories. Currently, Haejoo’s face was zoomed in on just as she heard that they should consider changing up the characters.
“Haaam, oppa, you’re watching those videos again?” Bada came out of her room and said.
“Wanna watch too?”
“Nah, it was boring. Is that really going to help you learn though? I really don’t get it.”
“Maybe I’ll see something if I keep on watching.”
“Okay, good luck with that. I’m going to go to sleep. Have fun.”
Maru stretched his arms out. It was just past midnight. He picked up his notebook again and had a look at the things he wrote down until now. He had summed up some of the things he liked, such as some movements, lines, speech tones, and facial expressions. One thing he realized while learning acting was that people don’t actually use their facial muscles that much. When he imitated other people’s expressions, some of his facial muscles would flinch at times, and he found out that focusing on moving those muscles would make his expressions look a lot smoother. They say the depth of emotions comes from a person’s inner self, but it would probably be impossible to transmit those emotions without minute muscular movements.
“The charm coming from the person herself is incredible.”
The moment this person receives Junmin’s influence, the charm unique to her character would turn into a trait for acting and would charm many people, giving birth to the Jung Haejoo that enchanted many. He could imagine what kind of acting Haejoo would show at that time. She probably acted in a way that didn’t overwhelm others with an explosion of emotions and focused more on calm acting. Calm wasn’t the same as boring. She probably acted in such a way that people would end up falling for the character she acted without even realizing it.
He looked at the empty coffee cup for a while before standing up. It seemed that he was going to need another cup. Just as he turned the kettle on, his phone in the living room started ringing. He slowly walked over and picked up the call.
“What’s up? Calling at this hour.”
-Can you take the call right now?
Maru put his phone between his ear and shoulder before picking up the kettle that finished boiling the water.
“So, how was your visit to the agency? Did it go well?
-For now, I think so.
“You sound quite listless despite what you’re saying.”
Maru said that as he smiled. He would subconsciously smile whenever he talked to her. He listened to her, who seemed like she was about to start complaining to him at any second while picking up his coffee cup.
-I just heard a bunch of things.
“That’s good. I just made some coffee. Tell me some of those bunch of things, so that I can drink while listening to you.”
-I’ll be a bit long, though.
“It’s only midnight. We have plenty of time. But aren’t you tired? You usually tire yourself out to sleep by 11.”
-I just had a lot to think about.
“What a coincidence, I’m also worried because I’m thinking too much.”
“I was researching someone. I almost feel like I can get a grasp, so I end up thinking quite a lot.”
-I’m not sure what it is, but take it easy. Don’t push yourself.
“I am going to. Now tell me. What happened at the place you were recommended to.”
Maru sat down on the sofa and played the video. As he muted it, the video progressed without any sound. The person on the other side of the phone did not speak either for a while.
Feeling that the silence before the conversation was especially long today, Maru took a sip of his coffee.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
“It’s only midnight. We have plenty of time. " - Maru in X years, on bed with his wife. Just kidding. xD
So if Bunbun watched the videos with Maru, she might have found out that Ahyoung wasn't an actress huh.
I wonder if this trait will appear in someone else, perhaps Bunbun? It was described in so much detail that it def will come up again.