Life, Once Again! - Chapter 312
Not everything could be completely satisfactory. There were some downsides that had to be taken with every choice. For example, there was this chocolate. It would be sweet the moment it entered the mouth. There was even caramel cream on the inside so it would be even sweeter. However, she would regret it by the time she was about to sleep.
This body wasn’t just her own. Chaerim kept reminding herself that and pushed aside the chocolate given to her by a fan of hers as a present. What she picked up instead was a cuc.u.mber that her trainer put inside her bag. When she was young, she detested them due to the yucky smell, but she got used to them after eating them for a long time. Just what was the difference between watermelon peels and cuc.u.mber? At least watermelon peels had some taste to it when there was a red part. Cuc.u.mbers were tasteless no matter how you ate them.
She bit a chunk off the cuc.u.mber to stave off her hunger. Ah, there it was. The only good point about cuc.u.mber was its crunchy sound. She then ate a handful of almonds and a slice of roasted kabocha squash. Although these were given to her to eat little by little across a number of meals, she couldn’t do that since they were no different from emergency rations. She wondered if there was any pill that would make her feel satiated without gaining any weight. She wanted to say goodbye to dieting forever.
-Good evening, Moon’s Reflection on the Window listeners. I’m your host Ahn Joohyun. I was supposed to meet you in the morning, but today is a special occasion and I get to see you during the evening. The DJ, Miss Gong Yeonsoo is absent for the evening for personal reasons, so I am doing this in her stead today. I’m sorry you have to listen to my voice instead of Yeonsoo's relaxing voice. If this was my program, I would’ve said anything I wanted to, but this is a more formal program, so I’ll try to restrain myself. Well then, why don’t we look at the moon’s reflection on the window as we go into our first corner.
Chaerim looked at the radio. She thought that it was a familiar voice, and it turned out to be Joohyun-unni.
“Oppa, raise the volume a little.”
The volume became louder. Joohyun was currently reading a user-submitted story.
“Have you ever spoken to Joohyun-unni, oppa?”
“Me? No, other than when we talked in passing during a get-together. As you know, our company separates the actors and the singers.”
Chaerim nodded her head. Although they both belonged to Yellow Star Entertainment, she had never spoken to Joohyun either. She did greet her though.
– The docile me sounds too foreign? I think so too. Well then, let’s listen to a song before we continue….
A song that was like the spring drizzle then flowed out. Chaerim looked outside the window. There was a big full moon outside. Just like how the thin crescent gradually became a full moon, she became an idol from her tragic trainee days. Whenever she went to school, others recognized her and came up to her, and people waved at her whenever she went to do an event. She felt touched every time she was at the center of attention.
Recently, she thought that being an idol was insufficient to maintain that level of attention. The number of entertainment companies releasing idol bands was increasing from just the three major agencies: Yellow Star, NL Company and Jewel Entertainment. She felt this every time she went to a television music show. At least three teams came to greet her and make themselves known every time she went there. Sometimes, there were more than five.
As the idol world had a strict sense of hierarchy, she also went around greeting people. Whenever she went to greet her senior idols that did not become popular, she felt very nervous. Although they both encouraged each other, the atmosphere was very hostile. Unpopular idols, new idols, and popular idols. The idol industry was full as it is, yet there were more idols every day.
Chaerim was oftentimes surprised when she looked at some of the people that came to greet her as trainees. The kids in elementary school that were preparing to become idols didn’t just have the nationality of Korean. There were several of them who actually had citizensh.i.p.s in other countries. Also, they all looked cute and pretty like dolls.
Since she lived in a world where she herself was a product, she had become very sensitive. She was completely different from the days she just blindly put in effort without knowing anything. She often thought that her popularity would end very soon. After all, she had seen too many people that became rocks from being stars due to a single mistake.
She once read from a magazine article that idols were, put in a bad way, consumables. When she read that article, she thought that that journalist was clueless, but now that time had passed, she deeply sympathized. This was the 2nd year of her debut. The group was still popular right now, however there were signs indicating their downfall. An example was that their third album did not have good sales after it was released. Above all, they couldn’t take first place in all of the three major TV stations' music programs. They were first in two of them, but they were overtaken by a new idol group in the third one. The members that thought that first place would be theirs ever since TTO started individual activities were shocked as well.
Of course, it was still okay. The exclusive concert that was held at the beginning of the summer holidays was sold out as soon as the ticketing went live. It was an indication that they were still popular, but the tinge of discomfort in her heart was still there.
That was the reason she turned her eyes to acting. Chaerim could no longer imagine a world where she didn’t receive attention. She wanted to be the loved and cute girl forever. There was a limit to that while she was still an idol. There were many instances where senior idol groups split up due to disharmony among the members. She had to be prepared for such circ.u.mstances. She had to receive the love of the public even if she became independent.
In that sense, acting was something that went well with her. She nagged the company president and received acting lessons. The trigger for that was when she watched TTO. TTO was an idol band that was originally intended to be a multi-purpose group. The president of her agency said that he was also surprised when he saw the preparations that NL Company made.
Even a top idol band like TTO was preparing for the next stage. She thought that she had to be like that as well and immediately put her plan into action.
A spot for a protagonist in a drama came to her immediately. Although she was nervous and shaking, she was successful. She knew that she didn’t receive good gazes from the people around her, but she thought that she could endure them. After all, they would disappear soon. She took the first step. Once she became popular enough in dramas, movie producers would start calling for her as well. Idols were starting to appear in movies, when it was considered an impenetrable area before, so she wasn’t mistaken about that.
“The actress Chaerim.”
Right now, though, she was more popular as the idol Chaerim rather than the actress Chaerim. She wanted to change her title as soon as possible. She wouldn’t have to care about popularity once she became someone at Joohyun’s level. Of course, she had no plan on becoming like Joohyun. That woman was too reckless. She was not afraid of the masses. Chaerim thought that she would disappear sooner or later.
‘But wouldn’t it become an issue if I was in the same frame as her?’
Joohyun was quite well-known for looking after her juniors. Wouldn’t she help if she went up to her and asked for help? Then, she would ask the company president to let her be in the same work as Joohyun next time. Journalists would flock to write articles, and she would be able to make herself known.
If that happened, she would receive more love.
Chaerim reached into her bag. Her phone was ringing.
“Oppa, sorry, but turn down the volume a little.”
She answered the call after looking at the caller’s name.
It was Sungjae of TTO. The two became acquainted after coming across each other frequently in music programs, and became close after they did a TV show together. Recently though, she had heard that he was busy shooting movies and dramas.
-I had a look at the drama.
“Really? Now that makes me embarrassed.”
-You were good, though. Oh, the reason I called is because of the party you told me about last time.
“Oh, okay, what about it?”
-I’m sorry but I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. I have an appointment.
“What is it about?”
-I plan to get some acting lessons. Sorry about that.
“That can’t be helped then. Instead, you should hang out with me later.”
After ending the call, Chaerim pouted. She boasted to the other members of her group that she had invited Sungjae, but things didn’t go as she had expected. Just until a year ago, she didn’t have any free time at all, but now, she had enough free time to book party rooms and play around with people close to her. She was capable of paying an enormous sum that was unthinkable for a student. The best decision she made in her life was that she told her parents that she would manage her own bank account. She regularly sent them living expenses, so they didn’t have any complaints either.
“Rather than that, to think that someone like him would take acting lessons….”
Sungjae always talked about how effort was useless compared to popularity, and always prioritized playing around.
‘Well, I guess he must have his reasons.’
When she dozed off for a little, she had arrived at the residence. She took the elevator to the 7th floor and opened the door. There were two pairs of shoes at the entrance.
She was greeted by the unnis that had face packs on.
“Where’s Dayoon-unni and Minji-unni?”
“They’re apparently guests at a radio program. They left all of a sudden.”
Chaerim first took a shower. She washed off the sweat and she returned to her immaculate skin. She cleaned up her skin with the cosmetics in the bathroom before coming out to the living room. The two unnis were doing yoga while watching TV. She took out a face pack from the fridge. She had sensitive skin so she would have skin trouble no matter how much she looked after it.
She put the mask on and laid down on the sofa. During trainee days, they all slept together in a small room, but now that two years had passed after their debut, they were living in an apartment with four rooms. The restrictions placed on their actions were eased a lot and they were able to go out as they wished. Of course, they had to get permission if they wanted to sleep over. After all, their idol life might be over if a bad photo of them was taken.
“Chaerim, you were quite awkward.”
The big unni suddenly spoke. Chaerim pretended not to have heard it and did not react to her. However, she kept going with her sarcasm. Chaerim inwardly wondered if she was sane to speak like that as the oldest member.
She had to be jealous. That big unni liked the Woomin guy that she was doing a drama with. Chaerim sighed. During their trainee days, none of this was a problem. Everyone became the support of everyone else. They relied on each other. However, as they started doing individual activities, the crack within the team started growing. This was one of the reasons why Chaerim was doing her best in acting. She thought that this team might disappear into thin air.
‘Does she want to act so immature after spending 21 years in life?’
Of course, she didn’t say it out loud. She smiled back and said that it was difficult and that she was still bad. Although her innards were boiling, she couldn’t help it. There were rumors about disharmony already, so it would be hard to control her emotions in front of the camera if they actually started fighting here.
The eldest member seemed to know that and focused on her exercise again.
That’s right, they met each other out of necessity. It wasn’t like they were going to be idols forever.
“Thanks unnis. It’s like a dream now as well. I was able to become like this thanks to you all.”
It always ended like this. In fact, it was good that everyone was being hypocritical. Chaerim thought that she had to become successful as an actress as soon as possible. She couldn’t stay for a long time on a ship that was starting to be flooded with water.
The next day, Chaerim came across a boy one year younger than her before she went to the drama shooting location. He said that he would be appearing as an extra. It was one of the guys in the actor section of her agency, and his name was Yoo Jiseok. This was the first time she had seen him even though they both belonged to Yellow Star.
“Please take good care of me, noona.”
He acted very familiar even though it was their first meeting. Taken aback by his personality, she replied ‘okay’. Jiseok was a talkative boy. It was hard being his conversation partner.
“Why did you start acting?”
“Me? Uh, well, because I like acting.”
“I see. For me, I just liked coming up with imaginations. Then, I wanted them to become real. I don’t have any talent in writing, so I thought acting might be the thing for me. That’s why….”
He talked relentlessly without getting tired. Chaerim listened to him with a smile, but she was already fed up on the inside. She was sad at the fact that she couldn’t say anything to him because she didn’t want to leave behind a bad impression.
“Oh, yeah. I have a friend whose name is Han Maru, and I’ve never seen someone as good as him at acting until now. But he has this cold side to him.”
Now he started talking about his friends. Chaerim felt her lips aching. There was a limit to how long she could smile.
“I think you should’ve seen him too. I mean, you two appeared in the drama together.”
She didn’t think much about it but replied anyway. Perhaps that guy was just a random ‘student 1’ or something. Just at that moment, they arrived at the set. It was Sangam High School, which no longer seemed big to her.