Chapter 80

“Mr. Junmin seems to be very rich.”

Maru and Ganghwan were sitting in front of a convenience store. A big one, that saw the faces of many people that passed by.

“He really is. You know land in Gangnam is exploding in value right now, right?”

“Yes.”

“Four years ago… At least, I think it was four years ago. I was walking in Gangnam with him for work, and Senior just casually pointed out a few buildings on the road and told me this: ‘those are mine.’ I couldn’t even laugh back then because of how nonsensical he sounded right there. But what makes him amazing isn’t his land, it’s the types of people he can call using his name.”

“I noticed he doesn’t often like to attend events with famous celebrities. I suppose he isn’t overtly social?”

“You seem very interested in him.”

“He’s contractually above me, after all. In a contract worth 300 million won at that. I thought it’d be good for me to keep that in mind.”

“...Fair enough. He doesn’t like complicated things. Well, except for messes related to dogs. It’s his dream to buy a mansion somewhere and live there with his dogs. Apparently he can do it right now if he wanted, though.”

Likes dogs… Maru thought a leash would make a nice gift in the future. For a relationship forged in business like this, small gifts were important. You never know how long you could maintain this relationship in the future, so it was always good to build trust when you could. As the two of them kept talking casually, Ganghwan suddenly put an index finger on his mouth.

“Look over there.”

Ganghwan was gesturing towards a woman in a gray coat. She looked good in it, especially paired with a hat of the same color.

“How old does she seem?”

“Twenty four?”

“What do you think she does?”

“Probably a college student? One that’s waiting for her friends.”

“What are her friends like?”

“I don’t really...”

Only detectives in novels would be able to accurately ascertain information like that, Maru looked at Ganghwan curiously.

“I’m not looking for an exact answer. Just imagine, turn that woman into a character. Notice her shoes, They’re sneakers, not heels, right? Hm, I wonder why. If she was here to meet her boyfriend, she probably did that to level the height with her shorter boyfriend.”

“Or maybe she hurt her ankle.”

“Very nice opinion. Observe a little more, but don’t try to be too intrusive. What else can you gather?”

Maru carefully observed the woman a little more.

“She’s wearing a ring on her finger.”

“As a simple accessory, or something a little more than that?”

“Looks like an engagement ring.”

“How does she feel?”

“Probably excited waiting for her boyfriend.”

“Maybe. Or perhaps she’s very mad at this person?”

“What?”

Right then, the woman in the gray coat stood right up. Her hands were clenched into very tight fists. Maru followed her gaze across the street to where she was staring. A man was walking towards the woman with a smile on his face. He was a little bigger than the woman. When he walked up to her and said, ‘sorry, I’m late’, the woman threw her phone on the ground.

The phone broke with a pretty loud crack. The man looked at it confusedly, before realizing something. He tried to explain himself, but the woman didn’t seem interested at all. Her foot swung right up and hit the man squarely in the stomach. That kick seemed to have quite a lot of power in it, too. The man fell right back.

“Wow!”

Ganghwan whistled, and clapped. The people around the convenience store all turned to look at what was going on.

“Don’t talk to me ever again, you piece of trash.”

The woman grabbed her bag and walked away. For a split second, Maru saw a taekwondo uniform with a black belt inside it.

“How did you know they were going to fight?”

“I heard her talk when you were buying the coffee.”

“......”

“What?”

“Why did you ask me those questions, then?”

“To invoke your imagination. What else? It was just a simple game.”

Ganghwan grabbed his drink on the table.

“What is an actor?”

Two days had passed since they first met each other, but Maru was already getting quite used to Ganghwan’s way of talking. The man was like a daydreamer, he stared dumbly into the air for a while before asking a question out of nowhere. Trying to get context out of this man was pointless. You just had to focus on the present moment when you were with this man.

“A person who acts.”

The topic of their conversation changed, as if the woman in the coat was never mentioned in the first place. Maru took a sip of coffee as well.

“What do you think acting is, then?”

A follow-up question. This time, Maru thought a bit before answering.

“A person who imitates an imaginary character, I think.”

“Imitates a character. Huh, that’s the right answer.”

“...How many right answers do you have in your head, coach? So far, everything I said was right.”

“I don’t think there are any wrong answers in the world. There might be a chance that my answer could be proven otherwise by you. There are no wrong answers, only possibilities.”

“What’s one plus one?”

“...Maybe in some other universe, the answer is three, you bastard.”

“I’ll take that for now.”

“The sun rose in the east a hundred days ago, it rose in the east ten days ago, and it rose in the east yesterday as well. So the sun must rise in the east tomorrow as well. In the world of logic, that may be true, but who really knows? Maybe the sun would rise in the west tomorrow.”

“Earth is going to end if that happens.”

“You know what I mean, I’m not trying to question scientific logic. Acting is one of those many jobs that require a human to be creative. But, unlike other jobs similar to it, acting shines only when you hide yourself more and more.”

“You shine when you hide yourself?”

“Ever heard of method acting?”

“Yes.”

“You’re smart, so I trust that you got the gist of what I’m talking about?”

“I do.”

Actors have a role. The role can change depending on the situation, but more often than not, it was completely different from who that actor really was. It could be a fictional character, or a real one. But what was important was that the actor and the character who they were trying to act were not the same person. Method acting, it was a type of acting where the actor immersed themselves with their character.

“Immersion. What do you think that means?”

“I think it means to focus, or to dive into something. Instructor Miso liked to describe it as ‘going insane for something’.”

“Focus, dive, insanity. Do you know what these three things have in common?”

“Um, to focus?”

“Correct. But if you go a little deeper, you’ll come to the same answer I gave you a moment ago. To forget about yourself. Do you like movies?”

“I do.”

“What genre?”

“Thrillers.”

“Alright. Let’s say your favorite actor, director, and etc decided to make a movie together. When you’re watching that movie, you’d only be thinking of that movie, right?”

“Yes.”

“You would stop thinking about petty thoughts. As a matter of fact, you’d focus right on the movie. You probably won’t be able to think of anything else during the climax, either. Do you think about what’s going to happen tomorrow, what you’re doing right now, and what you’re going to eat after the movie during its climax?”

“Of course not. I’d only be thinking of the movie.”

“That’s right. The first thing you forget when you focus is yourself. Your needs will completely disappear from your mind. You don’t even realize that you forgot about yourself, even. There is nothing else to see, you’re only looking at what you’re doing now. You stop being able to live without it.”

“Like a drug.”

“Famous actors didn’t do drugs for nothing. It lets you forget yourself. Completely. Focus is the greatest form of happiness a person can experience. So when a person can find something to focus on, they forget everything else. When they stop being able to focus, they writhe in pain.”

“That almost makes me not want to focus on something.”

Ganghwan laughed.

“Maybe. Ah, anyway. I said an actor shines more the more he hides himself, right?”

“Yes.”

“But at one point, there comes a time when your character and role become one. Art is all like that. At first, everyone imitates someone else. Even when you write a song, a story, or whatever. You imitate someone who’s better than you. Acting’s no different.”

Ganghwan stiffened his expression like a character from a sad play. His voice was still light and jovial, making him look like a character from a dark comedy.

“That’s how everyone improves, before having the ability to create something of their own. It won’t be something that is purely theirs, but you have to admit, it’s work that they’ve put their own twist on. It’s just that in the case of acting, the actor has to imitate others longer than others. You need to prove that to the characters that you’re playing, and not yourself. You’ve heard this line before too, right? I saw so and so in this movie, instead of the main character.”

“Yes. I’ve seen it at movie recommendations on TV before.”

“That line is both an insult and a praise for an actor. Let’s say a no-name actor acted on stage. If the audience tells him they thought of the main character of the play when they see him, he’d feel good, right?”

“Right. Because he was praised.”

“But the story changes when this no-name actor becomes famous. People start asking for two things at once: I want to see the character portrayed by this actor. The next step to erasing yourself is to melt yourself in your character.”

“So that’s why double casting is a thing.”

“Well, that has reasons of its own, but you’re not wrong. Some people don’t just watch a play for the play itself, but others want to see how a play is changed when a different actor assumes the same role. Jang Heebin played by Jeon Doyeon and Jang Heebin played by Kim Hyesoo. No matter how much an actor tries to erase themselves, a part of themselves will be imparted in their own character. Plus, when they get famous, the way they fuse themselves with their character would be how they’ll be judged for their skill.”

“Do you have your own character, coach?”

Ganghwan shook his head quickly.

“I’m a baby chick who can’t even erase myself completely yet, I have to think about that later.”

“So I guess I would be a baby baby chick in that sense?”

“...Don’t ever make jokes when you go out. You just smell like an old man when you joke. How do you even joke like that at that age?”

“W-who knows?”

Maru avoided eye contact for a second, which made Ganghwan narrow his eyes.

“Well, I think we can call it in with theory for today. Back to the practical stuff.”

Ganghwan stood up, which made Maru sigh.

“Do we really have to do this?”

“Actors need to use their body. They also need experience. It’s good to get that experience whenever you can.”

Maru scratched his eyebrow before putting on the sunglasses Ganghwan gave him. He closed his eyes, and grabbed the cane next to him. He stood up with Ganghwan’s help.

“Create an image of the street in your head. You saw it before already.”

“What kind of a freakish genius do you think I am?”

“You’re not a genius, I know, but I also know you have a really good memory. Just do it. Once your vision disappears, the body finds other methods to cope. Listen for noises around you. Feel the wind stroking your skin. Notice how the earth feels under your feet.”

“Does this really help me?”

“Depends on how you do this.”

“Hah...”

Maru stepped forward, relying on his cane for vision.

“Who knows, maybe there will be a blind role for you in the future?”

Maru could hear Ganghwan laugh behind him. Was he making fun of Maru, or was he really intent on teaching? It’s already been two days since Maru started walking blindly on the street.

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