Big Life

Chapter 21: Is This the Rumored Canned Food? (5)

Chapter 21: Is This the Rumored Canned Food? (5)

“...Canned food?” Jung So-Mi frowned with narrowed eyes. She couldn’t understand what Ha Jae-Gun was talking about.

“Don’t you know that term? About turning writers into canned food…” Ha Jae-Gun trailed off and shot a knowing look at Jung So-Mi, hoping that she would get what he was talking about.

“Are you… talking about that canned food?” Despite being a new employee at Star Books, Jung So-Mi knew what Ha Jae-Gun was talking about.

Turning one into canned food referred to the action of tying down writers with creative blocks to a certain location and forcing them to write or even squeeze more words out of them to meet their deadlines. It was similar to canning.

There were many reasons why writers often couldn’t meet their deadlines. Some were naturally lazy or fond of games, some would have many thoughts about their own work, and there were also those who couldn't accept criticisms and would eventually fall into despair from all the negativity.

However, there were still many other indescribable reasons.

Ha Jae-Gun snorted when he first heard that phrase before making his debut. He didn't believe that the concept itself existed.

Unfortunately, the phrase and the concept truly existed.


Hae Jae-Gun could still remember his first time being turned into canned food. It was when he had just published his second novel’s third volume. Ha Jae-Gun's sales performance was so bad that he had no motivation and was struggling to complete the third volume, which took him two months to complete.

Ha Jae-Gun could remember receiving a call from Kwon Tae-Won back then.

"Writer Ha, you're having difficulty writing, right? Today’s weather is great, so how about you take a breather and let's have lunch together? What do you think? Just wear something comfortable."

As always, Kwon Tae-Won sounded friendly.

Ha Jae-Gun did find it suspicious that Kwon Tae-Won requested him to wear comfortable clothes. But he didn't think much of it and appeared at the agreed location on time.

However, when he got into Kwon Tae-Won's car, Kwon Tae-Won drove to Star Books’ office, where they had jjamppong rice[1] for lunch.

"Please have a stick on the rooftop and come back here."

Instead of sending him back home, Kwon Tae-Won suggested that Ha Jae-Gun should smoke a cigarette. Kwon Tae-Won also instructed Ha Jae-Gun to return to the office after Ha Jae-Gun was done with his cigarette.

It was when the sight of an office corner came into his view that Ha Jae-Gun started finding the entire situation fishy. The particular corner in the office was partitioned off, turning it into a long and narrow room.

The empty room was only furnished with a computer, desk, and a single foldable bed. Half the walls surrounding the room were actually glass, so people from outside could clearly see everything that was going on inside.

It was the so-called canned prison. Ha Jae-Gun was speechless when he saw that small room, and he had stayed in that room for seven days.

His three meals were provided daily, and the meals arrived along with the editors’ meals. Ha Jae-Gun would then lock the bathroom door and connect a hose to a water outlet to shower after all the employees had clocked out for the day.

Aside from eating and sleeping, Ha Jae-Gun was only writing in an effort to finish his manuscript. After all, it was the only way out of the jail cell. If he wanted out, then he had to finish the manuscript on time.

It was a harrowing experience, but it taught Ha Jae-Gun a lesson as well. The lesson was that he could do it as long as he forced himself to do it.

He had to write something back then. Otherwise, there would have been no way he could have withstood the glances and glares coming from the editors behind him.

Whenever he had serious writer’s block, he would even resort to tapping to the rhythm of the first four verses of the national anthem. The pressure worked, and he was able to complete his manuscript in a week and return home.

The entire experience made him feel like he had turned into a cripple, but he couldn’t deny that it was effective.


“I have an extremely important project to work on, so I’m asking you for this favor. There aren’t many writers who would choose to take this option, so I’m sure it’s a strange request for you…”

”To be honest, it’s because of your presence that I can write properly today.” Ha Jae-Gun said in an effort to stop Jung So-Mi from leaving. It was the only excuse he could come up with.

Jung So-Mi’s emotions were being conveyed to him through Rika. If Jung So-Mi decided to leave, then he wouldn’t be able to continue working on Oh Soo-Min’s dialogue. Moreover, it would become an extremely difficult mission to complete.

“You… understand what I’m trying to get at, right?”

Huh? Yes, Writer Ha… I understand.” Jung So-Mi bit her lips with a puzzled look.

Ha Jae-Gun got more anxious at the sight of Jung So-Mi’s reaction and continued. “I won’t make you stay here for too long, but please stay for as long as you possibly can…”

”I think I’m the type of writer who must have an editor monitoring me. The pressure of someone keeping tabs on me enables me to work even faster for some reason.”

“But you seem to have been very productive on your own with the Records series—”

“I wrote those beforehand.” Ha Jae-Gun interrupted.

Jung So-Mi looked down at her feet with hesitation. She glanced at the time shown on her phone and finally looked up. “I can stay for maybe another two or three hours…”

“Really?” Ha Jae-Gun’s eyes widened. That was more time than he had expected.

Jung So-Mi smiled shyly and nodded in response.

“My work today ended earlier, so I have some free time until my next appointment. I don’t have to return to the office either, so I was planning to work on editing some documents in a cafe.”

“You can work here and use the wifi as well.”

“Can I really?”

“Of course. You can use this desk here, and there’s also coke and juice in the fridge, as well as some snacks. Please feel free to help yourself to them.” Ha Jae-Gun quickly set up Jung So-Mi’s work desk.

Jung So-Mi took her seat shyly at the desk shown to her and opened her bag. She always carried a laptop with her so that she could work everywhere and anywhere.

‘He’s a weird guy,’ Jung So-Mi thought while retrieving her laptop. She was just here to convey a gift, so Ha Jae-Gun asking a favor to keep tabs on his work progress was out of the blue.

Jung So-Mi had just entered the industry, but it was her first time meeting someone like Ha Jae-Gun. Honestly, she wasn’t even sure if she would meet someone else like Ha Jae-Gun.

Thinking about it in retrospect, she found it weirdly amusing how she didn’t feel burdened nor troubled by Ha Jae-Gun’s request. She also felt comfortable staying in his house, even though it was her first visit.

Tak! Tadak! Tadadadak!

While she was setting up her workplace, Ha Jae-Gun was already busy working on the manuscript and was typing away on his keyboard.

Jung So-Mi seemed to have been influenced by the way Ha Jae-Gun was energetically typing on his keyboard because she started editing as well.

‘Good, this is great! The first meeting is completed. Now, it’s time for their date at the convenience store!’

Ha Jae-Gun was riding on Jung So-Mi’s emotions and furiously typed away, forming dialogues for Oh Soo-Min.

His special ability to type ten thousand characters per hour seemed to have been deactivated, but his speed was still decent.

He was working properly as well without any issues as lines kept on coming to him smoothly and slowly as he filled the screen up with words.

Bzzt! Bzzt!

Ha Jae-Gun’s phone on the bed suddenly vibrated. However, Ha Jae-Gun didn’t notice his vibrating phone because his complete attention was on the monitor of his laptop.

Umm, Writer Ha.” Jung So-Mi finally called out to him. It had already been two hours since Ha Jae-Gun started writing.


“Editor-in-chief Kwon Kwon Tae-Won sent a message. We’re holding an authors’ meet at Star Books next week, and he said that you must attend it.”

“An authors’ meet? All right, I’ll be there.”

Ha Jae-Gun agreed without much hesitation and immediately focused on his laptop screen again.

Ha Jae-Gun had received multiple invitations like that from Kwon Tae-Won before, but he had never agreed to attend. His inferiority complex as an unpopular writer made him reject all of them.

The thought of feeling like a coward amongst the popular writers and getting occupied with drinking soju on his own while the popular authors were having fun was a major turn-off for him.

“Please tell him that I will definitely attend,” Ha Jae-Gun repeated.

His situation had changed. He had become a rising writer and a dark horse in the industry, so there was no reason for him to turn down any invitation from Kwon Tae-Won.

Phew, I’m hungry. Ms. Jung So-Mi, do you want to have some food?” Ha Jae-Gun spun his office chair around. He was extremely hungry. He hadn’t really eaten any food since he woke up.

“Yes, I’m a bit hungry as well. Shall we order something from a Chinese restaurant?”

“That sounds quite convenient, but I’ve never done that before…”

“I’ll do a quick search. Hmm, there’s quite a variety in this area. What would you like to eat, Writer Ha?”

“I’ll have stir-fried black bean noodles[2]. Please order something expensive, Ms. Jung So-Mi. It’ll be my treat.”

“Okay, I’ll get something expensive, then,” Jung So-Mi chuckled as she called a nearby Chinese restaurant. However, she ended up ordering the same menu item as Ha Jae-Gun. After informing the restaurant of their address, the call was finally over.

“It’ll come in ten minutes.”

“Wow, Chinese restaurants are quick,” Ha Jae-Gun replied. He then got himself a cup of coffee.

Not even a minute had passed since he plugged the electric kettle into the power outlet, but his water was already boiling. Ha Jae-Gun was pouring boiling water into his cup when the doorbell of his apartment rang.

Oh, they’re fast. Maybe they cooked the food beforehand?” Ha Jae-Gun tilted his head and opened the door. However, the person standing at the door wasn’t a delivery man carrying a steel box[3].

1. The rice version of the famous Spicy Seafood Noodles ☜

2. It’s a variation of the famous black bean noodles, but a drier version with a deeper flavor ☜

3. It looks like this rather than an insulated bag. ☜

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