* * *
Moonjoong, who was reading through the newspaper in depth, closed the newspaper. He stood up as he patted Dalgu’s head, who was rubbing against his legs. It was time for his meal.
“Yes, yes. I guess you need to eat to live too.”
He poured dog feed on the pet plate before lightly eating his own lunch. After washing the dishes, he poured a pack of red ginseng extract that he received as a gift from his daughter in some hot water. The light brown red ginseng tea gave off a sweet fragrance. Perhaps this was what happiness was. Moonjoong held the mug in his hand and left his house for a bit. The rays of the sun in May were hot. He sat on the wooden chair in his garden and drank his tea. After today, he would have to say goodbye to his leisurely days for a while. He would be returning to the industry again. It was obvious that the schedule would be tight, that his acting wouldn’t go as he wished, and that there would be many trivial hiccups here and there, but he strangely felt happy. It felt like visiting his hometown after a long time.
“Maybe I should have gone with cold water instead.”
He thought that hot tea wasn’t suited in this weather. Just as he blew on his tea to cool it down a little, he heard Dalgu barking from the inside. It seemed that his phone had started ringing since the boy was usually calm. When he entered his house, Dalgu was barking towards his phone just as he had thought.
“Yes, yes. Thanks for telling me.”
After tickling Dalgu’s chin once, he answered the call.
-Sir, I’ll pick you up at seven.
“Oh, the get-together is today?”
“Okay, then. The weather is hot, so don’t push yourself.”
After finishing his call, he had a look at the calendar. He could see the word ‘get-together’ written in small letters.
‘Time sure flies.’
His eyes shifted a little sideways. First shoot. The filming would begin once the get-together was over. From that moment onwards, he would be very busy.
“So what’s left is how well I do my worth.”
Junmin had prepared the best of everything. He had set up a flawless environment. What was left now was for him to do his acting more passionately than anyone. He had been given a glamorous stage, so he couldn’t just show something that was a school festival level. Moonjoong sat down on the sofa and closed his eyes. What was about to happen now was just basic repetition. He would first imagine the overall picture in his head, and act the part in his mind. He would then very objectively evaluate his own acting and throw it away if it wasn’t up to standard. Only after repeating that process numerous times would he stand in front of the camera. If the director gave the okay, then that scene was a pass, and if not, then they would reshoot the whole scene. It was quite simple, so there was no room for excuses. Once the filming began, an actor had to prove their worth, as well as satisfy the producers.
Moonjoong’s gaze headed towards a newspaper. An article he read in the morning caught his eyes. He found that these days, they used some interesting expressions. ‘Pure’ singers and ‘pure’ actors. Moonjoong found them funny whenever he encountered those expressions. It was the epitome of irony. A ‘pure’ actor? Why did such an expression come about? An actor is an actor only when he or she is able to digest acting. A ‘pure’ actor? As an actor himself, he was very embarrassed whenever he heard those words. Just how many people entitled themselves as an ‘actor’ and disappointed the audience for such a word to be created? Moonjoong wanted to show his juniors how an actor should be through this piece. He didn’t consider himself worthy of teaching anyone, but he could give them some advice as their senior. He wanted at least the juniors he was working with to know how embarrassing the expression ‘pure’ actor was.
Perhaps noticing the owner’s heavy mind, Dalgu approached and sat down by his feet. Moonjoong felt the warmth from his feet and smiled faintly.
* * *
“Am I allowed to participate?” This was Maru’s first question when he heard about the get-together.
- The staff is participating as well. It’s not a heavy occasion like you think it is.
“If that’s the case, I’ll go. It’ll be better for me to get to know more people after all.”
- Then come to Seoul station by seven. I’ll send you the exact address through text
As soon as they finished the call, the text message arrived. The location was Gangnam, Seoul. When he looked it up online, he found out that it was a ball room of about 500 pyeong (150 sqm) in area. Maru opened his closet and took out a shirt and black jeans. He didn’t know what the dress code was, but since it didn’t seem to be a formal occasion, he thought that those would do.
“Are you going somewhere, oppa?”
Bada, who peeked through the door, asked.
“I am, in the evening.”
“Something like that.”
“You can tell me.”
“It’s not like not knowing will harm you.”
“Ah for god’s sake.”
He avoided his sister and went to the kitchen. It was 3 in the afternoon. There was still some time. His father went to work, and his mother started working again since her wrist became better. She was looking after the counter at a local supermarket and said that it wasn’t that hard. Maru decided not to talk about the 300 million won in his bank account if possible. Money was something that people could do with little, as well as a lot. If his family was in a bad financial situation, he would have immediately told his family to use it, but it didn’t seem that necessary. Also, his 300 million didn’t come for free, so he had to be careful when he used it. It was the price Junmin paid for his three years of high school. This money would become his lifeline in the worst possible case where he wouldn’t be able to make a living out of acting.
“Oppa, do you want to eat tteokbokki?”
“...Fine. Let’s eat it then.”
He nodded his head since he felt like things would go really awry really quickly. Bada immediately approached him and spoke.
“Go buy it. I’ll eat it for you.”
‘What a bold kid.’
Maru threw a cushion towards Bada who had a grin on her face. It was very likely that she was born to make her brother suffer. Considering that the only conversation the two had before Maru’s reincarnation was ‘dinner’s ready’, they had gotten a lot closer, but just because they got closer didn’t mean that they didn’t fight. Though, she was quite cute.
“I’m pretty sure someone’s wallet has a card under my name. Oh, I also think that someone used 200 thousand won last month. A middle school 3rd grade using 200 thousand a month, huh.”
Bada, who was approaching Maru with an angry face, gently gave the cushion to Maru with a smile as though nothing had happened.
“Oppa. I’ll go buy it.”
“I’m not going to eat a lot, so don’t buy too much.”
“Oh, and throw the food waste out while you’re at it.”
“But that stinks and I don’t….”
“I see you don’t need the card any…”
“And buy some milk on the way home.”
“...I’ll get you back for this.”
Maru pointed at the door with his chin and smiled.
* * *
Gangnam station. The place was packed with buses, cars and people.
“Why are you dressed in a suit?”
Jiseok turned around after hearing a voice from behind. He saw Maru standing there wearing a gray shirt and black jeans.
“It’s a party. So of course, a suit is a must.”
“Which country is that rule from?”
Jiseok followed Maru since he looked like he was going up by himself. The location was on the 3rd floor of a building not far away from Gangnam station.
“It must be huge, right?”
“Aren’t you excited?”
“I’m here for the food. Why would I be?”
Maru’s replies were very dry. Someone meeting him for the first time might think he was a cold guy, but Jiseok knew that Maru wasn’t just cold. Of course, that didn’t mean that he was a warm guy either.
“Aren’t there any stairs?”
“Why are you looking for one? There’s an elevator.”
“Because stairs are better for health.”
Jiseok asked the security officer on the first floor, but got the reply that the stairs were only for emergencies. He had no choice but to get the elevator.
“I don’t think going up three floors by the stairs will be any exercise to a kid of your age.”
Hearing Maru’s words, Jiseok replied with a ‘it does for me’. Maru quietly stared at him. Jiseok made a thick smile when he saw Maru’s gaze. He didn’t want to talk about something depressing on a good day like this. However, Maru was really quick witted.
“Now that I think about it, you were sweating really hard when you helped out that lady last time. Are you sick?”
“I just lack a little stamina.”
“...Take care of yourself. You’ll find yourself suffering when you’re older.”
While they were laughing, the elevator opened again. In front of them were two female staff wearing suits. Behind them was the entrance, made of glass, and beyond that was the ballroom.
“Do you have a reservation?”
Jiseok and Maru stated their names when the lady asked. The lady soon found the two names and ticked the names off.
“You may enter.”
Jiseok whistled as he opened the door. Inside, they could hear faint music. The lights on the ceiling differed from place to place, and near the entrance, it was bright and beautiful. Right after the entrance, there was a signboard. The main and sub roles as well as important staff members were supposed to go left, and the rest were supposed to go right.
“We should go to the right, right?”
Jiseok glanced towards the left. He saw a few people being guided by the staff to the room.
“What do you think they’ll talk about in there?”
“There shouldn’t be anything much, is there? They’re just separating people into levels. If there are extras like us here, then that means that there are all sorts of people in this place, and it would be difficult if they got into trouble with someone high up. That’s why they separated the zones.”
“Should I sneak in there?”
“You really shouldn’t. It’s not just actors but people related to the film production and the investors should be there too. If you ruin their mood, you’ll lose all hope of participating in the movie.”
Maru walked towards the right, saying that they shouldn’t get involved. Jiseok also licked his lips and walked towards the right. This role was something he got through a lot of effort so it would be frustrating if he lost it. On the right, they saw a buffet. Cheerful music flowed out from the speakers on the ceiling. The lights were generally dim. There were a lot of people. Everyone was eating something.
“It’s just a buffet?”
“What did you expect?”
It was a little bland, but it was still exciting since there were a lot of people here. Jiseok danced his shoulders according to the music and made rounds on the buffet. He grabbed all the things he wanted to eat and sat on an empty table. Maru also came to that table and sat.
“Everyone’s just eating.”
“That’s what they’re here for.”
“Then there was no point for me to wear a suit. What about the dance? What about the ball you can see in movies?”
Jiseok asked several questions, but Maru didn’t answer any of them and continued eating. He didn’t show any signs of answering. Jiseok sighed and forked a piece of chilli shrimp. He wondered if eating was all he was going to do today. He was looking around at the others while eating his food. A girl who just entered widened her eyes after looking his way. Jiseok cheerfully waved his hand. When he did, the girl started approaching him.
Let there be a fated encounter in this crowded place! A movie-like meeting, and love! However, Jiseok soon realized that the girl wasn’t coming towards him. The girl arrived at the table and her shadow was cast over Maru’s plate. Only then did Maru raise his head and look his way.
“Han Maru. It has been some time.”
Maru looked both glad and bitter.
“Why are you here?”
“What do you mean why? Of course it’s because I was invited.”
The girl then placed her clutch bag on the table.
“Look after this for me while I get some food.”
She made a proud expression and walked towards the buffet. Jiseok asked Maru immediately.
“Why do you want to know?”
“We’d be eating together. So of course we need to know each other.”
“...She’s Lee Yoojin, and we used to do acting together.”
“Really? She’s cute.”
“What cute? She has a high self-esteem and she likes peeking.”
At that moment, Yoojin brought her food and sat down. Jiseok looked at her and spoke.
“Are you Lee Yoojin?”
“Wh, what the? How do you know my name?”
“Maru told me. And I heard you liked peeking! What does that mean?”
Jiseok asked with a smile. He saw Maru put down his fork and palm his face with a sigh, but he couldn’t help his curiosity. At that moment, Yoojin glared at Maru.
“Oh, I like peeking? Then you like confessing with a cheesy line, don’t you? What about the rabbit ring?”
“I get it. So let’s just eat.”
“What do you get!”
Yoojin glared at Maru with a scary expression. Maru scratched his eyebrows and avoided Yoojin’s gaze.
“Hm, that’s fun. Now that’s what I call a party.”
Jiseok crossed his arms and looked at the two. This boring place became just a little better.