Life, Once Again! - Chapter 740
From some moment onwards, everyone’s eyes were fixed on the TV. The hands that kept moving the forks and glasses now stayed on top of tables and knees neatly. Maru understood why Jayeon chose this place. It was a bar, yet it was not noisy. He could hear the sounds of the TV clearly. Although the sounds of conversations interfered, it wasn’t bad to the point that it bothered him. It was like a jazz bar, but the TV replaced the jazz.
“It’s starting,” Jayeon said.
Starting – this was a magical word. Maru felt that the sounds around him were blocked off completely in one moment. His ears became a precise machine and just accepted the sounds from the TV speaker. After the last ad ended, the program logo in the top right corner of the screen disappeared. Then, the YBS program song came out alongside a notice that this was rated R15 before it disappeared.
Maru turned around to the TV. He crossed his legs and picked up the glass full of soda.
A dark night; a plane flew past the crescent moon sky. The camera chased the plane which was blinking its crash-prevention lights before slowly moving down to the bottom. It portrayed the back of a man who was walking up a hill. In the man’s left hand was a black plastic bag.
“It’s on, it’s on,” Jayeon said as she tapped on Ganghwan.
Ganghwan told her to calm down a little and quietly looked at the screen.
Ganghwan, who was singing ‘Sanoramyeon’ by Deul-gukhwa as he climbed the hill, suddenly braced himself against the wall on his right and started retching. Usually, dramas would only play the sound or shoot from afar, but Ganghwan’s cringing face was zoomed in on. From how he looked like he was going to vomit at any moment and how his saliva dropped out from the corner of his mouth, he looked so vivid that people might misunderstand him and think that he had heavily drunk some booze before the shoot.
“Ah, what the hell.”
“Urgh, it’s getting me too.”
The people at their neighboring tables started grumbling.
“Director Yoo, see that? I told you it was way too graphic.”
“It’s not me, it’s every other drama that’s been too clean these days. Hyung, I told you that it’s about time for the paradigm to shift. How long do you think they can keep up the pretty act? We should wrap things up and start to follow America and England. Look at their dramas. They portray life as it is. Sex, murder, surgery – they don’t even blur it out like we do….”
“Fine. What am I supposed to say to you….”
Maru put out his hand holding the glass. Ganghwan sighed before toasting with him.
Ganghwan entered a worn-out room and leaned against the wall before falling down. The camera showed the mumbling Ganghwan for a while before showing the prizes hung up on the wall. Various literature prizes with the name ‘Lee Jaewoo’ could be seen on screen.
The camera slowly fell back and eventually shot Ganghwan, who sat still in the room. The scene started to turn dark, and subtitles floated up on the screen with the effect of a submerged object emerging from the water; Pojang-macha.
“That’s a good start.”
“Of course it is. The start is the drama’s face. I felt like my head was cracking because I couldn’t think of a suitable song, but then I thought of Deul-gukhwa’s songs. Their lyrics suit the drama as well. I thought there was nothing better.”
“You’re right, it suits the drama perfectly.”
The quiet background music as well as the faint sigh showed clearly the nature of this drama. The people sitting on the other side of the screens started watching the TV one by one. What is it? What’s going on? – it wasn’t that they were interested; it was more that they were just watching it since it was on.
The title disappeared and the screen switched. This was the scene where Ganghwan was eating by himself late in the morning. He took out some eggs from the refrigerator and cooked some bean sprout soup.
“Look at his movements. You can see the finesse from having lived alone for a long time. I’m sure the old ladies watching this must be thinking that he must have been single for a long time,” Jayeon said.
Hearing that, Yuna chuckled.
“I hope I can use that skills for a fair lady as soon as possible,” Ganghwan complained.
“Hyung, you’re destined to be single for life. Or you can marry acting.”
“It feels terrible hearing that from you.”
The four of them laughed before looking at the screen again.
After finishing his meal, Gangwhan sat at his desk. Tick, tock, tick, tock – the sound of the second hand of the clock started becoming louder, and the number of Ganghwan’s sighs increased in correspondence. He placed his hand on the keyboard erasing everything, then he typed something before he deleted everything again – this happened for quite a while until Ganghwan’s wide-open eyes entered the scene.
-I’m gonna die at this rate for sure.
Behind Ganghwan, who stood up from his chair in a slow fashion, the dark sky could be seen. He, who had been sitting down in front of a computer for an entire day without even getting washed, finally washed his hair and face before changing his clothes. He left his house with a coolbox in each hand and headed to an old market in his car.
“That looks much more gloomy than I thought it would.”
There was a scene where the outside scenery was shot from inside the car, and the buildings in the marketplace were so spooky that they might as well be straight out of a horror movie.
“We intentionally turned all the lights off and made it look as dark as possible so that only the contours could be seen. Finding that place was the core of this drama. Without that, this whole thing wouldn’t feel right,” Jayeon said.
The car, which was driving past a narrow alleyway relying on its headlights, eventually came to a stop. The lights that shone on the gloomy streets were turned off, and Ganghwan started walking in the darkness with the coolboxes in hand. Slosh, slosh – just as the sounds of stepping on wet asphalt were quietly spread out, a dot of light appeared on the screen.
The moment he saw that single street lamp that shone in the darkness, Maru subconsciously smiled. Ganghwan started building the pojang-macha under the street lamp which was the alpha and the omega of this drama. He unfolded the various parts and put up the vinyl roofing. He finished building the exterior of the pojang-macha in a short time before starting to prepare his food. Sounds that felt like it should be coming from the kitchen could be heard in the middle of the dark street. Yuna stood up slightly and looked around. Her eyes were filled with joy.
“Everyone’s looking at the TV.”
Hearing her words, Jayeon also stood up slightly. She made an embarrassed yet proud expression and poured some beer into her glass until it was full.
“Usually, there’s bound to be a reaction as long as there’s sympathy.”
As Jayeon said those words with a sip of her beer, a middle-aged man appeared on the TV. He was a middle-aged veteran actor who agreed to do a cameo appearance, and he was well-known in morning dramas. Usually, he appeared as the chairman or an executive of a super company, but today, he had become a tired salaryman, whining in this pojang-macha.
-Gosh, I should quit that company while I still can.
-Don’t say that and drink some of this. Today’s broth turned out really good.
-You should know that I’m not handing in my letter of resignation only because I can come here. You know that, right? So you have to keep working for a long time. If this place disappears, it means the end for me as well.
The middle-aged actor got a bowl of udon and ate some of it with his chopsticks. The slurping of noodles – the sound that provoked appetite – blatantly spread out through the speakers.
“Do you know what kind of pain I went through to get this sound effect from the sound director?” Jayeon said with pride.
The middle-aged actor’s refreshing act of eating combined with the stomach-provoking sound gave the drama a charm that enchanted the viewers to watch it in a daze.
“Let’s order some noodles,” Maru said.
He had more appetite now. The nerves inside his brain that were handling primitive desires were screaming at him to put some noodles in his mouth. He called a waiter and ordered some budae-jjigae and some additional ramyun noodles.
Someone from the next table over called out to the waiter just as he turned around. Maru poked his head out slightly.
“Are there any noodles among the drinking snacks?”
“There are some jjigaes on the menu, and you can add ramyun noodles. You can also order some udon noodles in oden soup.”
“Then please give us some oden soup and udon noodles.”
Yuna was also watching that scene, and she nodded with a satisfactory smile. She looked like she had succeeded at winning a big contract.
The orders didn’t stop there. The customers that were watching the TV started ordering noodles in many different forms. Just like how yawns were contagious, it seemed people’s desire for noodles was also very infectious. It could be called a miracle caused by the middle-aged actor finishing a bowl of udon with crude movements.
The waiter disappeared with the order papers. A moment later, all the TVs installed in the restaurant had their channels switched to YBS. The one holding the remotes was the owner of this place, standing behind the counter. It seemed like he had intuitively realized that this was his opportunity to get some sales.
People called out for waiters from everywhere. Sounds of noodles slurping could be heard from three directions.
“There’s a comic called ‘Gourmet’, by the artist Heo Youngman, you know? Don’t you think that would do really well if it got a drama adaptation?” Ganghwan said faintly.
“Hyung, that’s not how it works. The technique I used in that part is food porn. It’s the effect of using sharp colors and stimulating sounds. I know that my drama can look dry at times. That’s why I chose food to make people’s eyes stay. I mean, who in the world hates eating? Eating scenes with different foods will appear in every episode. Eating, life, and love. I was worried at first, but I think people will talk about it if I look at their reactions. The start might be food, but at the end, it’ll be remembered for the story. Just you watch.”
Jayeon sat upright. Maru looked at the waiters and waitresses busily walking around handing food. Was this the power of the media as well? It was rather interesting that a drama could make people cook some ramyun late at night.
The udon-eating scene ended quite a while ago, but the noodle-slurping sounds could still be heard inside the restaurant. People focused on the TVs while drinking and eating the food they just ordered, Maru being one of them. There were similarities between the spicy jjigae and the drama protagonist, who hit a wall in life. Spiciness was something that was hard to get used to at first, but there would be a new world waiting after that hurdle was passed. As Maru knew what kind of happy ending was waiting for the protagonist, he could enjoy the drama while eating the food.
“Hey, it’s you two now.”
The pojang-macha scene ended, and the scene switched to a school.
Yuna watched the screen nervously with her hands clasped.
“Are you nervous?” Jayeon asked.
“Yes. What if I look strange?”
“If you look strange, that’s my fault for not editing properly, so don’t worry about it.”
After scanning the corridor, the camera showed the entirety of the classroom. Amidst the students going home after school ended was Yuna, who had a stiff expression on her face. The sunlight hit her cheeks and cast a long shadow on the desk. Her face, submerged in the shadow, contained anguish that didn’t look like it belonged to a high school student.
“Man, you made a lot of NGs when you did this.”
“I’m really sorry for what happened back then,” Yuna apologized to Jayeon.
That scene took them about 3 hours to shoot. The shoot unexpectedly dragged out because the acting was hard: she had to dissolve her stifled mind into her dim eyes and expression.
“I wasn’t there back then, but I heard that director Yoo was really harsh.”
Ganghwan pointed at the TV with his chin.
“Yuna even cried once,” Maru said as he recalled Yuna sniffing by herself by the window in the corridor.
Jayeon’s will was that there was no compromising since this was her first appearance, and Yuna became nervous due to the repeated shoots until she eventually ended up crying.
“Yuna, you can swear at me. This unni was really greedy back then.”
“Not at all. In fact, I’m glad that it looks good as a result.”
The cold image that covered the cute face of Kim Yuna showed that she was definitely not a half-assed actress. This had to be the result of Jayeon’s determination.
“Oh, it’s seonbae,” Yuna said.
Unlike the deep impression that Yuna left behind, the ‘Park Haejoon’ that Maru played had so little presence that he might be thought of as an extra if he wasn’t in the center of the scene.
“Look at him dazing out. He’s so good at acting,” Jayeon said with a smile.
That day, the director only wanted one thing out of each actor. She wanted Yuna to be as strong as possible, while Maru, had to be as faint as possible. Maru listened to her requests fully. He opened his eyes faintly in order to hide his eyes that might give off the impression of sharpness, and he even changed his lips somewhat to make him look like a clumsy person.
“It’s very different from when you played that murderer. Your acting is really amazing, seonbae.”
Hearing Yuna’s words, Maru scratched his eyebrows. Being told that in the face really was rather embarrassing.
 This is a protest song, written in the 1960s, and became popular in the 1980s. ‘Sanoramyeon’ is a modified way/dialect of saying ‘salda-bomyeon’, meaning ‘In life’. Meanwhile ‘Deul-gukhwa’, the band that sang a version in the 80s, means ‘wild chrysanthemum flower’.
 Here’s a translation of the song. There are various versions of this song, and this one is the version mentioned in the novel. (/ indicates phrase break)
V1. In life, you will eventually see a bright day / Even on gloomy days, does the sun not rise when the night passes? / Being a blue youth is an advantage, so / (chorus translated below)
V2. Even if you sleep in a leaking, cramped room / Is it not joyous with a fair lover? / As long as there are nights you can whisper / (chorus translated below)
V3. (same as V1)
Chorus. Don’t act petty and open your chest wide / For the sun will rise tomorrow, the sun will rise tomorrow.
 This was when, in Korea, having one job usually meant that you’d work for that business until you retire (or the company goes out of business.). Nowadays, that kind of awareness has mostly fallen apart, especially among the newer generations. This was why ‘quitting a company’ usually meant bad news back then.