Life, Once Again! - Chapter 657
Yoo Jayeon regretted being born as a woman several times throughout her life. I wish I could take off that thing between a man’s legs and stick it on me – she said this every time she got semi-drunk during drinking occasions. When she was in school, she didn’t have any deep worries about her gender. The problem occurred when she graduated college and entered the TV station. During the period where new recruits were sent around to various departments to gain experience, Jayeon saw the limitations of a female producer. Entertainment, culture, radio – there were female producers in these departments. Some of them were even treated with respect. While there was a disdaining gaze from around, at least there was the opportunity to prove oneself.
However, it was a different story for dramas. The drama department was a taboo zone for women. It was a sanctuary of men. There wasn’t a single female producer. The department simply didn’t pick any in the first place. When Jayeon said that she was going to apply for the drama department when she was new, she heard these words hit her ears – ‘how dare you, even though you’re a woman’.
How dare you. The moment Jayeon heard those words, she decided to bury her bones in the drama department. There were many reasons the drama department avoided women. The biggest reason was health. Unlike entertainment or culture, the producers of the drama department would often have to work outside of the company. On top of that, there was a saying that extra working hours were a necessity and that staying up the night was a must in the drama department. It was also a place where showing signs of fatigue or having a nosebleed was a sign for other people to ridicule them for causing a ruckus. It was no different from a warzone, so the general consensus was that they could not tolerate women in such a place. Who’s going to cover for her when she takes a leave because of her period? – these were the words of a mocking senior, who also said that female producers were never allowed in the drama department.
Jayeon nurtured her stamina. As she had a strong body and had never caught a cold since young, she was quite confident in herself. She reduced her sleep and tried doing more work. She also planned her schedule so that it matched the schedule of a member of the drama department. When her colleagues told her to stop being foolish, she clenched her teeth and endured. She had absolutely no plans to change her objective because of a childish reason such as her having a woman’s body.
An opportunity came. Rumors spread that there is a ‘lunatic woman’ among the new recruits in the drama department. Go on, try – the one to put his hand out to her was producer Park Hoon. He was an acknowledged producer in the drama department, who, while never having done any works that were huge hits, had constantly produced works that had steady viewership. Jayeon was rather confused. She wondered why he gave her this opportunity. That was why she asked Park Hoon before they started working – why did you give me this opportunity?
Park Hoon’s answer was quite simple. He said that people with tenacity are worth believing. Jayeon fully prepared herself. She learned everything she needed to do as the assistant director and pulled herself together so that nobody would be able to say to her that a woman is no good ‘after all’. She always acted with the mindset that she would move 10 minutes earlier than most people and resolved to herself that she would never fall down, even if it meant dying under all the workload.
When she went to her first shoot, Jayeon encountered the second reason why ‘women were no good as producers’. It was authority. In other words, charisma. The overwhelming majority of people ignored her words because she was a woman. They did what she told them to, but they either were very lax about it or did it very unwillingly. Otherwise, they did things by themselves and did not give her any room to interfere. Jayeon realized that she was going to be eliminated in this kind of atmosphere and that she would become a precedent that supported the unwritten rule of ‘female producers are no good’.
A woman appeared in an ecosystem without women. It was natural for the rest to try to exclude her in confusion. Logical persuasion was only possible when they could talk. In an environment where she couldn’t even get a conversation going, her words were shouts in the void. Jayeon had to choose. Either she would have become ‘Miss Yoo’ and struggle to survive by sucking up to others or become an eel that muddied the waters by jumping into the center of the ecosystem. Her hesitation did not last long. Jayeon chose to become a very vigorous eel that would muddy the waters.
The first thing she had to do was to make them forget that she was biologically different from them. For efficiency, she constantly uttered swear words. Her mouth became violent. The men who smiled at her until just yesterday no longer smiled. She did several times the work that other people did so that no one could nitpick her for not doing enough work. She did everything meticulously in order to not give them any room for doubt.
It was only a matter of time before displeasure replaced the absence left behind by the smiles. Complaints continued to arise. Word arose that she was being cocky for being a woman. Producer Park Hoon asked her – do you want mediation? Jayeon slowly shook her head. This is only the start – she told him.
If a resentful woman could make it snow during the summer months, she had to show that a bitchy woman could turn the drama shoot upside down. However, it wouldn’t be good to act crazy without restraint. She had to discern her allies and enemies clearly, and then reach out to the people she had to keep on her side. If she tried to fight against an organization of men by herself, she would most definitely lose. She had to be strategic, and Jayeon moved in order to pull the people related to the production to her side. They were none other than the directors of each area.
It was very difficult to attract the directors of each part since they were the epitome of being conservative and condescending, but fortunately, they were people who could discern passion from bitching. Ever since she got close to the directors, the friction between her and the staff was definitely reduced. Her plan to conquer their chiefs was a success.
Next were the actors. Actors, who could say that they couldn’t trust a woman without holding back, were in one way, even harder enemies to deal with than the people at the TV station. The staff members at least had a common point with her in that they worked for the same company, but the actors had none of that. But raising her voice at the actors was too risky. Jayeon knew her own position, and she knew that she wasn’t important enough to challenge the actors yet.
If a frontal breakthrough wasn’t possible, she had to go at them from the back. There was one person, who, while not showing up to the shoots, had the ultimate key to the production of the drama itself. It was none other than the writer. And that was the first time being a female producer was to her advantage. Other than historical dramas, the overwhelming majority of writers for dramas were women. Jayeon looked for the writer of the drama. Jayeon, who was the sole female in the sea of men that was the drama department, was a topic of interest to the writer as well, so they could get close very easily. The way she called the writer also changed from simply ‘writer’ to ‘unni’. They would also often drink out with other actors at night. Jayeon’s first ally was writer Lee Hanmi, and she was a very strong one.
There came the day where the actors, writer, and production staff all gathered to have a read-through. In that place, writer Lee Hanmi said: there’s no one here who’s stupid enough to look down on women just because they’re women, right? It was a single arrow that penetrated the enemy general’s heart.
Jayeon managed to successfully finish her job as the assistant director for her first drama. She was even tossed into the air during the afterparty. Her enemies had become her allies. Of course, even after that, she received biased gazes of contempt and even a bit of jealousy, but that disappeared soon. After all, a ‘bitchy woman’ did not let go of what she bit. The moment the vice-president declared that ‘she is a woman, but not a woman’, Jayeon became the first female producer to put her flag in the drama department.
This was her 4th year, and she got to produce her debut work. She got to shoot her first piece in her 4th year when the norm was 5 to 8 years. When Jayeon was told by the president to prepare a one-act play, she almost screamed in joy. She rushed out of the president’s office and walked around between the producers and cheered out loud. She could now make her own work as a producer, instead of as an assistant. This was her true starting point, and it was also a result she gained from fighting for it. The drama department was still a taboo area for women. She had survived as a mutant. Jayeon wanted to change this stiff environment from the ground up. The first step to doing that was to prove her skills. She had removed the bias of ‘women are no good’ to a certain extent. The only thing left was to make other people say ‘women are okay too’, followed by ‘only women can do it’. Since she was doing it, she had a ton of ambition. In order to grow up into a powerhouse in this area, she first needed a good piece to work with. A work that no one could ‘dare’ retort to.
The late-night one-act play theater at YBS was a great stage both for experimentation and to prove her skills. Although the budget was tight, the producer had full control over the direction of the drama. The production budget was completely provided by the TV station, which meant that it was a haven where she didn’t have to worry about advertisers. It was a great opportunity to let her presence be known from the planning phase to the final piece.
Traditionally, the late-night one-act play theater at YBS was used as a stage to excavate new stars. Not just one or two people who went on this stage became splendid actors within the country. This was why, before the start of every season, which there were four of every half a year, one call would come in once from agencies that had a close relationship with the TV station, while two or more calls would come from agencies that didn’t. They were all calls to recommended actors.
Jayeon refused all the recommendations she got and carried out an audition herself. In order to prove herself in both potential and usefulness through this debut work, she needed a set of people who could work with her perfectly like fitting cogwheels.
As a result of that, she managed to get actors to her liking. There were some who had a decent reputation, and there were some who were close to being nameless. It was the two child actors that she delayed her decision for until the very end. No matter how good the adult actors were, if the child actors looked awkward, the whole play would look incomplete, so she picked actors who had not only great acting skills but also fit well with her.
She had the two child actors she found through that method meet each other today. The reason she had the two of them meet before they met the other actors during the get-together, was to form a sense of kinship between the two. Even the actors who had a lot of experience would sometimes change their acting style according to who they were working with. These tendencies would be more pronounced with child actors, who were just stepping into the industry. Rather than meeting each other for the first time on set, she calculated that having the two of them get close beforehand would make the shoot a lot smoother.
Jayeon looked at the two people in front of her alternately. It seemed pretty clear that they knew each other. However, their reactions were quite contrasting. One side greeted in kind while the other looked like she was about to leave at a moment’s notice.
“You two know each other?”
The answer only came from the boy named Han Maru. The girl, Kim Yuna, sat there without saying anything and looked like she was sitting on thorns. Jayeon frowned. While Yuna had a shy side to her, she was someone who knew what Jayeon wanted and did just the things she wanted her to. Yet now, she was unable to meet the eyes of the other person.
“Did you do something wrong? Did you borrow money from him or something?”
Jayeon questioned Yuna. This wasn’t good. There was a girl that she thought was pretty decent among the people that took the audition with Maru, but she gave up on her because she had picked Yuna beforehand. She was naturally thinking about changing her plans if Yuna did not live up to her expectations. If she called the other person right now and told her that she passed, then a change of child actors would occur immediately. It wasn’t like they wrote a contract, so there were no problems either.
“Yuna, you’re at work. I thought you wanted to become a pro,” Maru said.
His words seemed to contain some magical power as Yuna, who had been avoiding his gaze this whole time, shook her head before looking at Maru. The expression that Jayeon liked returned.
“I won’t ask what happened between you two, but tell me clearly if it will influence what I’m doing – that you can’t do it. Han Maru, are you okay with it?”
“Yes. Yuna shouldn’t have a problem either.”
“I should hear that from the person herself. Kim Yuna, what about you?”
“I can do it! Please allow me to do it.”
Yuna spoke firmly. While Jayeon had her doubts, she decided to watch for now.
“When you said you found two decent people last time, I thought the other girl passed as well but looks like I was wrong.”
“When did I ever say that both of you passed? I just said that I found two decent people. I’m going with you and Yuna. I was planning to tell you to get close beforehand, but it looks like that was unnecessary. You two know each other already.”
“You’re going to have to get close to each other in the future. After all, you’re going to be portrayed as a couple. It won’t be funny if you act awkward during the shoot. This is the first piece I’m producing so my life is on the line. That’s why I’ll ask again. There are no problems between you two, right?” Jayeon asked as she looked at the two people alternately.
After exchanging gazes, the two nodded at the same time.
 A saying in Korean.
 Like lighting director, camera director, sound director, etc.