Life, Once Again! - Chapter 359
He hadn’t had a nightmare in a long time. The doctor was shaking, his family fainted, and he was powerless to do anything. Such a scene kept repeating. The smell of cresol, as well as the white lights from the ceiling, the noises from the hospital going in and out of his ears, and a scream, topped it all off.
Junmin stroked his hair upwards. His hands were full of sweat. He did not remember how he came back home yesterday. He remembered up to the point when he called Ganghwan, but anything after that was pitch black.
“You worried about me?”
He picked up the pomeranian that walked up to his feet. When he looked at the black eyes between the bushy fur, he started to feel a little better. Perhaps this was why people raised dogs. No words were necessary for consolation.
He put down the dog before standing up. It had been fifteen years since he had become drunk like this. Fifteen years ago, when he returned Haejoo to ashes, he drowned himself in alcohol.
Just as he opened the refrigerator to quench his thirst a little, he saw a plastic bottle on the table. The lid was still open. As he always cleaned up after himself, he couldn’t have been the one to leave the bottle out like this. He wondered if he did that because he was drunk. He drank the lukewarm water in the bottle before walking to the living room. He just opened the door when he heard a loud noise. It was someone snoring.
Ganghwan was lying on the bed in just his underwear. He was even smiling as though he was having a nice dream. It seemed that he was the one that carried him all the way home and ended up falling asleep on the bed. Junmin felt that it was just like 10 years ago. He was reminded of when Ganghwan lived here.
He went back to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. He took out some bean sprouts and green onions he put inside a container. He washed the bean sprouts and sliced up the green onions before putting them in a pot.
“Oh, you’re up.”
Ganghwan came out of the room scratching his butt.
“You haven’t changed since ten years ago, snoring like that.”
“I can say the same thing about you. Who in the world puts nameplates on containers like this these days? Bean sprouts, green onions, oh, and what’s this, garlic? You should really get married quickly and learn the joys of living a messy life. Fifty-one is a lot, but it’s not impossible to get married at your age. Oh wait, were you fifty-three?”
“If you have the time to say nonsense, then clean up the house.”
“Aren’t you going too far? I’m the one that carried you all the way here last night when you blacked out. My shoulders are still sore.”
Junmin just watched as Ganghwan stretched his shoulders. Ganghwan pouted and said ‘alright’. The dogs reacted to the sound of the vacuum cleaner and started barking in the living room. It was a very noisy morning. He put the bean sprout soup, some side dishes, and two bowls of rice on the table before calling Ganghwan. By then, Ganghwan was playing around with the dogs in the garden and returned while laughing.
“Where’s that black one?”
“She was 10 years old, 10 years ago. She died at seventeen so she lived a long life.”
“How about its child? I think it had a pup.”
“There it is, right at your feet.”
“But this one’s yellow though.”
“Just because a dog is black doesn’t mean it will give birth to another black one.”
Ganghwan nodded and put the puppy that was running around below the table onto his lap. He tickled the puppy’s head before looking at Junmin. Junmin did not miss that.
“Looks like you have something to ask.”
“I’m wondering if it’s okay to ask like this. I am curious, but I don’t think I should ask.”
“So? Did you ever not ask after thinking that?”
Ganghwan put the puppy down before speaking.
“What made you drink so much even though you’re someone who thinks getting drunk is a sin?”
“I think there’s more to it than just that.”
“…Is it because of the person named Jung Haejoo?”
“Look like I said that name yesterday.”
“Yeah, in your sleep.”
“I see, huh.”
Junmin put down his spoon. He started fidgeting. He got rid of his habit of fidgeting since he started his business since it looked messy, but it came back again now that he felt chaotic.
“Yesterday, I met Park Joongjin.”
“Park Joongjin? Who’s that?”
“I guess you’re not that interested in the movie side of things. He’s a director that was active ten years ago. Perhaps Spring Calendar should ring a bell.”
“I know that one. It was even on the news back then. Didn’t it break the record for the fastest to a million views? If I remember it, then it must have been amazing.”
“It was amazing. It was the work of someone who was absolutely clueless about it, holding the megaphone for the first time. It was praised immensely for expressing restrained sorrow rather than the soap opera-style unique to Korean films.”
“Someone absolutely clueless?”
“Someone that ran a BBQ restaurant created it.”
“Wow, that’s amazing. He must be a genius.”
“Genius. Yes. Many people called him that.”
A genius director. The media packaged him as a heaven-sent talent. It wasn’t that surprising to see why. An owner of a barbecue restaurant threw away his apron and shot a hugely successful movie in a flash.
“But what does he have to do with Miss Jung Haejoo?” Ganghwan asked as he put a spoonful of rice in his mouth.
Junmin fell silent for a second. Although it was an event that happened far in the past, it was still clear as day to him. He remembered it like it happened yesterday. The ones that were with him at that moment would all feel like that.
“Fifteen years ago, no, a little longer before than that, there was a small theater troupe in Daehak-ro. There weren’t that many members. It wasn’t like they were popular either, so it wouldn’t be strange even if they broke up. Haejoo, Jung Haejoo, was one of them. Director Park Joongjin was there as well.”
“Did that director used to act in plays then?”
“No, according to what I know, he was a stock trader.”
“First a stock trader, and then a barbeque restaurant huh. What a peculiar career he has. Why was there such a person in a theater troupe?”
“He was the one that supported that troupe financially so that they didn’t go out of business. And….”
Junmin put on a faint smile.
“Like me, he was someone enraptured by her.”
* * *
“I think this is fine.”
Maru nodded when Daemyung looked towards him. They had come back to the acting club’s practice room after four days for practice, and the practice went well without any mistakes.
“I was worried that we’ll make mistakes since we haven’t practiced for a few days, but I feel like it’s become easier.”
“It means that you’re just that used to it. Also, it’s not like you didn’t practice at all, right? Everyone should have read through the script several times at home.”
Hearing Daemyung’s words, the members nodded. They were all fired up when they heard that they would go to Seoul to hold their play if they managed to win the grand prize or the gold prize. Just because they didn’t have practice, didn’t mean that they would have just forgotten about it entirely.
“Should we finish things up after getting something to eat?”
Maru threw his credit card to the first years. The first years immediately left.
“I’m going to lie down for a little while then.”
Dowook laid out a blanket before lying down. He said he was tired since morning since the part timer at the petrol station was absent without a word last night. It seemed that he had gotten closer to his father.
Maru pointed at Dowook, who fell asleep instantly, with his chin before leaving the classroom with Daemyung.
“How’s practice going with Bangjoo?” Daemyung asked as he rested his chin on the window sill in the corridor.
A cold wind blew through the open window. It was quite cool despite it being summer.
“He’s good. I can tell he’s done sports. He’s clearly good at using his body. The instructors even use him as an assistant.”
“That’s good. That means he might get a good role if he does well.”
“I’m not sure because I’m not entirely sure about what the director is intending for us to do, but I think that he’s putting weight on action scenes, so Bangjoo will have an important role. He did say that the main character’s youth days will occur quite frequently.”
“Have you seen the lead actors?”
“Yeah, two for now. Park Gwangsoo and Cha Taehoon, I think their names were. They are the same age as us.”
“Park Gwangsoo? Cha Taehoon? Hm, I don’t seem to know them.”
“You’ll recognize them if you look at their faces. They appeared quite often in dramas as child roles.”
“How about you? You’ve been to Seoul for the past few days.”
“Well… for now, I am kinda learning things.”
“The problem is I don’t know what those things are.”
Daemyung scratched his head while laughing. Maru wondered what it was about and asked him to elaborate.
“You do know that Gwak Joon-hyung called me back then, right?”
“He called me first after all.”
“After that, I followed him to an apartment in Seoul. At first, I thought it was his house, but it wasn’t.”
“Then whose was it?”
“Oh, I don’t mean my real uncle. Do you know a writer called Ahn Pilhyun?”
“Well, the name doesn’t ring any bells.”
“He writes movies, scenarios, books, and plays and that sort of thing, and I’m learning various things at his house. Uhm, but I can’t exactly pinpoint what I’m learning. Usually, we’re talking all the time, yeah? About the world, politics, society, and things like that. Sometimes we’d be talking about movies and then somehow stray off and start talking about drinking. What’s fixed is reading, reading regardless of genre. Right now, I’m reading a science book.”
“Really? Gwak Joon-hyung is there as well?”
“Yeah. He actually lives in uncle’s house. He’s writing his next work.”
“Two writers huh. Isn’t that quite, no, an incredibly good environment? The foundation of direction is writing, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. Uncle said that as well. He said that people who want to produce something need to be able to write.”
“Learn well. I think he’s trying to teach you starting with the basics. If you don’t understand something, don’t hesitate to ask. You know how Gwak Joon-hyung never says anything first.”
Maru rested his hand on the window sill as well. The cherry trees outside were swaying along with the strong wind.
“So I guess you’re pausing on working on the play you’re writing?”
“He did tell me to halt for now. He told me that I can only tell whether a writing is good or not after it matures inside the drawer. He said that truly good writing looks good even when read later.”
“Sounds about right. But don’t trust those people too much. In the end, a method that suits you might exist elsewhere.”
“I know,” replied Daemyung with a chuckle.
“Ah, right. I got a text from Miso-seonbae-nim. She told us to come to Daehakro once the regionals are done.”
“Daehak-ro? To Blue Sky?”
“Yeah. The first years haven’t been there yet.”
“That’s true. We should make a visit.”
“Last year, the seniors were with us, but it looks like there’s no one above us this year. I wonder if everyone’s busy.”
“They’re all exam students. We should be thankful that they brought us snacks from time to time and helped us out with creating the set.”
“I guess that’s true. There’s not that much time until the CSATs.”
“We’ll be taking one next year as well.”
“Now that you put it that way, it sounds really close.”
Daemyung crossed his arms and made a disturbed face.
“Maru, what are you going to do about college?”
“Me? I don’t know. Looking at things now, I don’t think there’s a need for me to go. I did promise to major in theater, but the conditions of the contract have been changed after all. If I can keep on working as an actor, then I guess I wouldn’t need a degree.”
“From what I saw, celebrities just get special entry to college.”
“That only applies to people who are famous. How about you? Did the president say anything?”
“Nothing changed from the fact that all of my tuition will be paid for if I decide to major in theater. But I want to go into directing rather than the acting side. Do you think I should still major in theater?”
“Do you have a department in mind?”
“Me? I guess I do.”
“What is it?”
Maru scratched his eyebrows. Philosophy, huh. If he didn’t know anything, he would have cheered Daemyung on, but the social bias towards that department made him unable to cheer Daemyung on.
“If you have a concrete objective, then I guess you should go.”
“I’m planning to talk to him later.”
“Alright. He’s the type of person who would invest without hesitation if he sees potential, so try to persuade him well. Hm, but have you told your parents about this?”
“Well, bring up the topic very carefully when your parents look like they’re in a good mood.”
“What’s up with you all of a sudden?”
“Just trust me on this one. If things don’t look good, then don’t even mention it. Also, if it’s possible, tell them after you talk about tuition with the president. If you tell them that the tuition is free if you go to the philosophy department… you’ll probably be fine. Probably.”
Maru patted the confused Daemyung’s shoulder.
Just then, they heard some noise from the central staircase. It seemed that the first years had returned from buying food.
“Let’s eat for now.”
Mentioning the word made Daemyungs’ expression brighten up. May this innocent fellow not hit any blocks.
“Dowook! Get up! Let’s eat!”
Maru tapped Dowook, who was sleeping, with his foot and shouted.
 College Scholastic Ability Test. Usually held in the 2nd week of November.