Life, Once Again! - Chapter 370
“Yes, yes. Then let’s delay our meeting by an hour. Alright, understood.”
Dongwook hung up and sighed. One of the most frequent occurrences when doing interviews was delaying the interview just before the appointed time. In cases like this, it was always money that was the problem. The interviewee was probably undergoing an interview with another journalist at a different coffee shop right now.
“I guess it’s no good.”
Since it was clear that it was a scam, the social journalists would rush to get a piece of the pie as well, not just entertainment journalists.
“Hello? It’s been a long time. You haven’t changed your number, huh. I was just going to ask something. Did you guys put some people on Number 8? So you are moving after all. How about the other TV stations? They look like they’re busy as well? Alright, that’s how it is huh. Hey, do you have any useful news? Don’t be so cold. Hey, Hey.”
He had called a junior of his who still worked at a TV station but he got nothing. The guy that always followed him, calling him ‘senior’ had disappeared.
“Did you really have to cut off the lifeline of a freelancer like me?”
He scratched his head and got in his car. He messaged the person he was going to interview to cancel their interview. When he did, he immediately got a reply back saying that the person was available right now, but he simply ignored that text.
“You shouldn’t try to double-time me.”
He drove his car to Daechi-dong in Gangnam-gu. The president of Number 8 and his family lived there. When he turned into the street with villas lined up on the side, he realized that he was too late. There were many people that seemed to be journalists. Dongwook got out of his car and joined them.
“Is there any news?”
“News? Do you think we’d be here if we got any?”
He handed over a vitamin drink that he always carried with him in secret. The journalist thanked him. The fact that he received it meant that he had some intentions of telling him what happened here.
“Are there any people inside?”
“I don’t think so. There are teams that have been staying here since yesterday, but they never even saw a shadow.”
The journalist opened the drink and drank it in one gulp.
“They’re quite daring, thinking about hoggin more than 10 billion won to themselves.”
“You tell me. Thanks to this incident, I think there will be some chaos in Chungmuro. The entertainer’s labor union will probably rise as well. Geez, the actors have it better at least. At least some of them received some money beforehand. There are probably those that received absolutely nothing among the staff. It’s always the people that clean up after others that die out.”
The journalist gave Dongwook the empty bottle and disappeared after thanking him. Dongwook placed the bottle on the fence of the villa and got in his car. It seemed that any further investigation was going to be difficult. He probably had to look into something else until he got another source of news.
He took out his phone and pressed the number he didn’t want to press.
“Let’s meet today.”
“Let’s meet today. It’s today or nothing. Do you have the time?”
-What’s up with you all of a sudden?
“Nah, it’s fine. Let’s not meet. I’m sure I’ll get into something troublesome if I get involved with you.”
-No. I’m going to meet you. Where are you now?
“Aren’t you busy? Don’t you have work to do?”
-You’re the one who called me, senior, why are you taking back your words now? Oh wait, you have a car, don’t you? Then come to my company, I’ll be waiting for you outside.
He hung up and threw his phone on the passenger seat.
“Alright, let’s act like a journalist once in a while.”
He smiled bitterly as he started the car.
He thought that he’d probably regret his decision.
* * *
After separating from Daemyung, he got a call from Suyeon. He asked what it was about so late at night, and she told him to free up some time tomorrow.
-Yeah. You remember the drama you shot with me last time, right?
-I think you need to appear once more.
-Yeah. The madam appointed you.
The three characters Lee Miyoon appeared in his head.
“Why would she want me?”
-Looks like she’s taken a fancy for you. She wants you as the youngest member of the restaurant. Apparently, she would like ‘the affable kid from last time’. She told me directly as well. It’s not like you have something to do, right? You guys didn’t advance into the nationals.
“Your words are quite direct despite being our instructor.”
-It’s not like packaging it well right now would do anything. Anyway, you’re coming, right?
“I am. It’s not like I have something better to do.
-Okay, then come to Yeoksam station tomorrow. We’ll be shooting at the Korean restaurant there. As for clothes, we’ll be giving you a uniform, so don’t mind that. Then see you tomorrow.
* * *
Just as he was thinking about what Suyeon said last night, the buzzer rang. The door opened and some people got off. Maru had a look at the outside scenery. Since she told him that it was exactly 10 stops away from the train station by bus, he had to get off at the next bus stop.
The bus drove for a while before stopping at the next bus stop. Maru put on his backpack and went out the back door. There were tall buildings as far as his eyes could see. There wasn’t a single low-story building in the vicinity. Even the one that was being built seemed to be at least 20 stories tall.
He started walking. Suyeon had told him that he should go to the left from the bus stop and turn around at the convenience store, and he’d see it immediately.
“I guess I did see it immediately.”
It was a mansion with a tiled roof. It was only 4 stories tall. It was a traditional Korean restaurant that overwhelmed the glass buildings around it. He’d probably be able to fool a foreigner if he told him that it was a historic monument.
In front of the restaurant were some cars from TV stations. He walked towards the sign that said ‘Soo-ryeo-jae’ in hanja. The automatic doors opened and as soon as he walked inside, a lady approached him. She was wearing a neat hanbok that was not too colorful.
“Did you make a reservation?”
“No, I came here because I heard there was a shoot here today.”
“Oh, if that’s the case, the drama is being shot on the 2nd floor. The third and fourth floors still have normal customers eating, so please be considerate.”
It seemed that the management had prepared the staff to say that line beforehand. Maru walked up the stairs to the 2nd floor. People were walking around installing cameras and lights. It seemed that the shoot hadn’t begun yet.
“What brings you here?”
He turned around when someone tapped him and he saw the camera director Kim Jangsoo. Maru smiled and greeted him.
“I’m here as a minor actor again today.”
“Is that so? That’s good. You should make a good impression since you’re here.”
“Then see you later.”
Jangsoo walked towards the rest of the staff. Maru greeted everyone he came across. There were some that greeted him with a bit of confusion, and there were some that just nodded back at him.
“You’ve become a yes-man.”
Suyeon waved her hand while smiling like a devious fox. Next to her was a lady that seemed to be her stylist.
“Unni, we need you to wear this since we got it as a sponsored product.”
“Alright. But I wonder if it looks good on me. Isn’t it a little too dark for summer?”
“Then why don’t we fold it and put it around your waist instead? After all, we’re just doing it out of courtesy.”
“That sounds better. It’s not like they’re a big company either. We can just bring out the style.”
“I’ll get that ready then.”
A lady wearing a baggy t-shirt swiftly walked down the stairs. So she was an actor who had sponsors as well.
“This place is massive, isn’t it?”
“It is definitely large. I thought it’d take up one floor of a building at most since I heard it was a traditional Korean restaurant, but I never knew it’d be like this.”
“Apparently, the Secretary-General of the Blue House frequents this place. The President has come here several times as well. On the first and second floors, you can eat without making a reservation, but I heard that you can’t even go to the third and fourth floors if you don’t make a booking.”
“You’re quite knowledgeable.”
“It’s our dining place. After the shoot, we’ll eat here as well.”
At that moment, a woman in her 60s wearing a pearl ring entered the 2nd floor. Behind her were 6 of the employees here including the lady in a hanbok that Maru met when he first got here.
Producer Kim, the producer of the drama, quickly ran towards her. The assistant director that picked on the minor actor before was there as well.
“Hoho, producer. Is everything going well today?”
“Yes, it’s all thanks to you.”
“I wonder if our actor Nam is here yet.”
“He’s going to come here late today. I’ll tell him to go say hello if he comes, so don’t worry about that.”
“Oh no, I should come here instead. I watch this drama because of our actor Nam. Oh, you’re eating dinner here tonight, right?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Then I’ll be paying for all of it tonight, so don’t worry about the cost and have a good time.”
“Oh my, thanks every time.”
The woman scanned the set once with a satisfied smile before going down. It seemed that she was the owner of this huge place. Rather than that, to think that the producer was acting so subservient… Maru thought that this producer Kim thought nothing of everyone except the old lioness Lee Miyoon, but it seemed that it wasn’t true.
“He’s probably getting something from her behind the curtains,” Suyeon spoke in a small voice.
When he looked at her, she smiled with a wink. Getting something huh. It was quite a common occurrence, so he didn’t think much about it.
Just as he was asking Suyeon about some of the company events, he felt a gaze and turned his head around. The assistant director, who bullied a minor actor last time, was staring at him. Since they met eyes, Maru faintly smiled at him. Suyeon also waved at him from the side.
The assistant director was startled and turned around before starting to pretend to work.
“I did well, didn’t I?”
“With that, I guess I won’t get involved with annoying things. Thanks.”
“If you feel thankful, then date me one time, with Mr. Geunsoo included.”
“You really are devoted.”
“Didn’t you know that already?”
Suyeon poked his cheek before walking to the middle of the set. Maru brushed off his cheek that Suyeon poked and had a look at the script that the staff handed him. It was a scene where he poured a lot of salt on the dish that the protagonist made and brought it to the customer. Maru wondered why all of the roles he got were like this. He thought that he got a decent role since last time, he was chopping up some ingredients like normal, but it seemed that he was wrong. Beneath his part, he could see ‘colleague 1’ and ‘colleague 2’. It seemed that the protagonist made a team or something.
From the scene where Suyeon gave him salt, to the scene where he served the dish to the customer and the scene where it was found out that he was the culprit – this was the longest role he had in his short history as a minor actor. It was something to be happy about.
“Huh? Han Maru.”
Just then, he heard a familiar voice. When he turned around, Gwangseok, aka number four, was waving his hand at him with a smile. Next to him was Gyunglim with a sour face.
‘Well, they were a set last time as well.’
The audience at home was really sensitive. If a minor character’s face was changed mid-way, they would start making reports. Thinking that the production staff was quite mindful about the details, he walked towards the two and greeted them.
“We meet again. How have you been?”
“I’ve been doing well.”
Gyunglim stood in front of him. She was staring at him with the question ‘why did you act like that back then’. Maru just shrugged once. This girl looked like a very tiresome person. Both Gwangseok and Gyunglim were people who he did not want to get close to.
‘Let’s just stay in a business relationship.’
Maru made a business smile.
* * *
(Warning: Following content might be disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.)
Hong Janghae looked at the three men sitting in front of him. It was 1 p.m. It was too early to drink, but they needed some drinks right now.
“There, there. Raise your glasses,” Janghae spoke.
The three men hurriedly raised their glasses. He shook the brown-colored vodka above his head before emptying it into his mouth. The three men followed suit. Not long after, the sound of coughing could be heard.
“Was that a bit too strong?”
“N-not at all.”
“You’re too stiff. Relax. It’s been quite a while since we became one family right? It’s about time you make yourselves comfortable.”
He said that as a joke. He would immediately throw the vodka bottle the moment one of them became even slightly lax. He had to put down those that wanted to climb up to the same rank as him as early as possible. To do that, words were no good. Animals used strength to communicate their intentions to others before language was a thing. The fear engraved into the genes was stimulated not by words, but strength. Janghae knew that too well.
“How is it with going to the psychologist these days?”
Hearing that, the man on the left flinched. But he soon spoke,
“It’s much better now.”
The man stood up. Janghae pointed at him to come. The man slowly approached him. Janghae looked at the man who was looking down at the floor. At the same time, he clutched the man’s testicles with his left hand. The man flinched and groaned.
“Are you embarrassed?”
“It’s the same wherever you go. Without power, you become a plaything. You three were that woman’s plaything. And you chose to be her plaything. You got enough benefits from that, right? Then you shouldn’t consider yourselves victims.”
Janghae let go.
“Don’t feel humiliated with this. There are only two occasions when a man should feel humiliated. One is when there’s nothing in his hands, and two is when his woman is robbed from him. Don’t feel down just because some old hag played around with you. You climbed to that place precisely with that. Smile. Smile and endure. Later, you’ll be able to smile and slap your d.i.c.ks on that bitch’s face. Oh, I guess you won’t have any reason to do that. Why the heck would you boys who are in good shape like an old hag like her? Right?”
“Here, here. Have some more. You can get drunk today. Your activities start next week. You won’t be able to use the name ‘The Five’, but the public will call you such anyway. That’s what we need.”
Janghae raised his glass with a smile.
 I couldn’t get the hanja characters no matter what I searched…. So I don’t know what it means.