Life, Once Again!

After Story 278: (fin)

After Story 278: (fin)

“You’re here?”

It was Han Haneul. She, someone who was several times, no, a hundred times more suited to be called a sister than a mother, was greeting her with a smile.

“Er, er… er…”

What should she say? She barely managed to speak while in a daze,

“I saw you a lot in ads.”

“That’s the most eccentric greeting I have received among the guests who visited our house. I like it.”

“Er, you are actress Han Haneul, right?”

Gaeul, who was next to her, laughed and slapped Dahae on the back.

“Mom, hear that? Actress Han Haneul, she says. Oh my word.”

“Just know that that’s how mom gets treated outside. Also, young miss, is it okay if I talk to you a little more comfortably?”

Dahae immediately replied “yes” in a loud voice.

Han Haneul came over. All she had in her mind was that a doll was walking.

“Once again, welcome.”

Dahae looked at Haneul grabbing her hands. Was this a dream?

“Where’s dad?” Gaeul asked.

The moment she heard that, Dahae widened her mouth. If Gaeul’s mother was Han Haneul, then she knew her dad as well.

“He’ll be a little late. We can eat dinner first. Uhm, what’s your name?”

“It’s Dahae. Choi Dahae.”

“Dahae, do you happen to dislike seafood?”

“No, I like it.”

“That’s a relief.”

Dahae sniffed. A spicy smell was flowing out of the kitchen. Her appetite was roused the moment she smelled that food. She could immediately understand Gaeul’s attitude towards non-home-made food.

“Should we wash our hands and eat?”

Dahae nodded. She still couldn’t discern if this was reality or a dream.

* * *

Maru put on the dinosaur costume that he placed on the passenger seat. It was something that had been briefly trending around ten years ago, and he managed to obtain it when he went to a shoot. He put on the dinosaur outfit made of vinyl and turned on the power for the motor that was attached to the inside. After a while, the costume puffed up and the dinosaur shape was made.

“What is it today?” asked the security officer.

Maru replied with a smile,

“A dinosaur.”

“You really bring some peculiar stuff home, Mr. Maru.”

“Isn’t it fun?”

“It’s fun, but can you tag your ID with that hand?”

“Ah, right.”

“I’ll do it for you so go up quickly. Everyone in the lobby is staring at you.”

“It’s okay since they can’t see my face.”

He waddled his way over to the elevator. A young child and his mother stood next to him. They were neighbors whom he often greeted.

“Mr. Han Maru… right?”


“I think this every time, but there’s a big disparity between seeing you in real life and seeing you in a drama.”

“Aren’t I charming?”

The child’s mother faintly smiled before shaking her head. It turned out his neighbor had a very firm opinion on that.

“But I think my boy will like it. Eunseok, it’s a dinosaur. Your favorite dinosaur.”

A boy around the age of five stared at him before turning his head away as though to indicate that such a crude balloon outfit wasn’t his preference. It turned out that both the mother and the son had similar traits.

He got on the elevator. The security officer who came with him tagged the card and handed the card to the short arm of the costume.

“Thank you.”

The elevator opened again on the 13th floor. He got out of the elevator and stood in front of his house. Perhaps because of the dinosaur outfit, but the sensor on the door didn’t recognize him.

He took off the head of the dinosaur for a moment and stood in front of the sensor. Soon, his face was recognized and the door opened.

Going inside, he quickly rushed over to the kitchen to show his wife and daughter, who should be eating, his new outfit.

Kraar!: he shouted when he moved in front of the kitchen. That was when he discovered… a young girl looking at him with an extremely confused expression.


“Huh, yeah?”

“That’s my dad. He does that from time to time, but it’s okay. You don’t need to be scared.”

“Oh, okay.”

Maru rolled up the spread-out arms and turned off the motor inside the costume. The stiff dinosaur head deflated and soon sank down.

He took off the vinyl head that had rested on his head and spoke,

“So we had a guest.”

“She’s Choi Dahae, a friend of mine.”


“Hello, and welcome.”

Maru smiled bitterly and fully took off the vinyl outfit. His wife, watching him, spoke,

“Sweetie, go and wash your hands. I’ll make you some food.”

“Alright. Er, Miss Dahae, was it?”

His daughter’s friend replied with a ‘yes,’ her voice lacking energy as though she was still taken aback.

“I don’t do this all the time. Please don’t misunderstand. I might not be as cool as I am in a movie, but still…”

“Honey, go and wash your hands.”

His wife told him to go to the bathroom. He collected the vinyl outfit, tossed it into the bedroom, and washed his hands in the bathroom.

He felt like he could see the face of his daughter’s friend in the mirror. What the heck is this dude doing?: her face seemed to say.

“That didn’t work, huh.”

He scratched his eyebrows and chuckled before leaving.

* * *

“You should’ve told me about it beforehand.”

“Who was it that didn’t answer my calls? I’m sure you didn’t even bother checking your phone because you were excited to come in wearing that dinosaur outfit,” said his wife.

He had nothing to say because she was entirely right.

“But dad, it was pretty cute.”

His daughter seemed to have taken a liking to the dinosaur outfit. She tried it on before Dahae went home, and she hadn’t taken it off even though it was nearly 9 p.m.

“I’m glad that you understand at least.”

“I should wear this to school one day.”

“I don’t think the teachers will be so happy.”

“They’ll forgive me once. And if I wear this, everyone will laugh. That makes a scolding worth it.”

His daughter left the house with the outfit on, saying that she wanted to try taking a walk in it. If the neighbors saw her, they would probably think ‘like father, like daughter.’

“Sheesh, I wonder whose daughter that is,” said his wife.

“Uhm, wasn’t it pretty cute?”

“Wasn’t what cute?”

“When I came in wearing a dinosaur costume.”

His wife gave him a side glance before speaking in a small voice,

“I guess you were cute.”

She smiled and sat down next to him.

“But where did you get it?”

“I saw it during a shoot. That’s why I got two of them.”

“Two of them?”

“There’s another one in the car. We should go around wearing it together.”

“You think I’ll wear something like that?”


His wife crossed her arms. She seemed to think for a while before speaking,




“Of course. I know your preferences.”

“But I feel like there are all sorts of events popping up prior to and after our wedding anniversary. Is it just me?”

“We should try various things while we’re still young. If we get old, we won’t be able to do things like that because of our knees hurting.”

Maru smiled and looked at a photo on the wall of the living room. It was a photo he took alongside Haneul in a large photo frame. It was the photo they took with the dress and tuxedo that Haneul had custom-made during their wedding.

Next to that were photos they took with Gaeul.

One when she was in elementary school, one when she was in middle school, and once she graduated high school, they would put another one there.

“Gaeul’s now in high school,” he said while holding his wife’s hand.

“Right,” Haneul replied, leaning her head against his shoulder.

“She grew up well, didn’t she?”

“That she did.”

Thankfully, their daughter grew up healthy. It was great that she grew up without suffering from a big sickness.

“It’d be great if Gaeul came home a little late,” he said to his wife.

“What are you doing?”

“Well, what do you think I’m doing?”

“I heard it’s not right to do it between family members.”

“Then let’s say we aren’t family for a moment.”

Just as he put his hand behind Haneul’s neck and slowly pulled her towards him, the door opened along with some sounds from the sensor. He twitched his eyes and let go.

“You should finish what you started.”

His wife’s lips came closer. Their lips brushed past each other. Even after all this time, she knew how to fire him up.

“I can’t have you displaying affection in the sacred living room,” said their daughter as she came in.

His wife winked at her before standing up.

“Dad, can you give this to me?”

“It’s mine.”

“Then where do I buy it? I’ll buy it with my allowance.”

“I can look into that for you. But what do you need it for?”

“I want to try shooting a video. It’ll be fun.”

His daughter grinned before going inside the room.

Their daughter was a personification of content creation. She had a talent for expressing what was inside her mind. As long as she was directed down the right path, she would become a good content creator.

“My girl, would you like some help?”

“No! I need to come up with the composition by myself.”

“Tell me if you need any help. Dad will help you out for cheap.”

“Don’t need it.”

He smiled and went into the study.

* * *

“Thank you for coming today.”

Maru smiled and sat down when the principal gestured to him.

“Not at all. In fact, thank you?for inviting me today.”

“Actually, we were really hesitant to ask at first. We were wondering if it was really okay to ask you to do something like this and if you wouldn’t like it.”

“Not at all. I’m grateful that you’ve given me an opportunity to meet the children like this.”

He talked about a lot of things with the principal over some tea.

“It’s about time.”

“Oh, already?”

“The hall is right nearby, so let us go together. And before we go…”

The principal held out some autograph paper. They were pretty good quality.

“May I ask for a few autographs?”

“Of course.”

“My wife is an avid fan of yours. My children like you as well.”

“I’m happy to hear that. May I know the names of the recipients…”

After signing autographs, they left the principal’s office. He said hello to the teachers who were waiting for him and then moved to the hall next to the sports ground.

When they went inside, he saw hundreds of students. They seemed to have noticed him as they murmured for a while before cheering.

“Quiet, quieten down!” The teachers next to them shouted.

However, the fuss in the hall did not calm down.

“It’d be better if I go up now. Is that okay?”

“Of course, please do.”

Maru went up on the platform. Behind him was a banner that said “Guest Lecture at Eunsung High School.”

He stood in front of the mic and had a look around. He spotted his daughter in the distance, looking at him like she discovered something interesting.

“Hello. I’m Han Maru, an actor.”

As soon as he said his greetings, he heard a loud cheer erupt. He waited for the cheers to die down before continuing,

“I’m very happy to meet all of you like this today. Some of you might be wondering ‘why is that person here?’ and you’d be right to be confused. I’m no one special. I’m just an actor who does acting for a profession. That’s why doing a ‘lecture’ is a little awkward for me. Please relax and listen to me. It’s just some old man speaking in front of you.”

Maru eyed the person on the side. Some snacks that the students could eat were handed out.

“You can listen while you eat, and you can doze off if you’re tired. I asked the faculty beforehand to turn a blind eye to whatever you do for the next two hours.”

“Is it really okay to sleep?” shouted a boy sitting at the front.

He looked like he was a mischievous one. He spoke into the mic,

“Of course. I know how tiring it must be for all of you around this time. Everyone here goes to cram schools, right?”

Yeeees — a loud response came back.

“It’s illegal to open a cram school after midnight because of the law, but I know that people are circumventing that in various ways to study; I know that it’s hard to stay awake during a lecture like this. So you can sleep if you’re tired. That might instead be more beneficial for you.”

He paused for a moment before continuing,

“From what I hear, the school has supposedly invited a lot of famous people to give lectures. I think it’s a great policy on the school’s part.”

He gestured toward the students who quietly looked at him.

“You can listen while eating. If you aren’t feeling hungry, you’re welcome to put it away and eat it later.”

As soon as he spoke, everyone opened the plastic bags and started eating. Maru watched them for around two minutes.

“Alright, then. Now you’re free to listen to me or not listen to me while you eat. If you’re tired, you can sleep too. I’ve also heard a lot of lectures like this, but to be honest with you, you don’t get much out of it by the end. It’s quite obvious why if you think about it. It’s a really difficult thing to obtain something from someone else’s success story. After all, it’s a success story that’s specific to them.”

Hearing that, the students who were eating, stopped. He seemed to have piqued their interest.

“But, I’m not saying that all those lectures are worthless. I have heard that there are around 700 of you here. 700, that’s quite a lot. It’s impossible to give inspiration to every single one of you. That’s why I always say this on an occasion like this: If there’s one, two, or three people who encounter a change after listening to me, I’ll be very happy and satisfied.”

He pulled out the mic from the stand and walked around the platform. His steps were relaxed as though he was on a stage.

“I’ll lower the volume of my voice a little for the people who are going to sleep.”

The lower his voice became, the brighter the eyes of the students became.

Maru looked at where his daughter was sitting and then the people sitting around her. Among them, three of them had visited their house before.

He thought that it would be sufficient as long as his voice reached his daughter and those three.

“That’s some very good concentration. Then allow me to start.”

Maru stood at the edge of the platform and spoke,

“Before I talk about my experiences as an actor, I would like to ask you a question. If you had lived countless lives, so many that you got sick and tired of living, and then were finally faced with your last life, what kind of life would you live?”

Han Maru skimmed through the students before looking straight at his daughter. His daughter’s eyes were sparkling as though she had an answer already.

He spoke and continued,

“And so, if you were to live your life, once again, what would you be focusing on? Let us try to think about the answer to this question first.”


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