Life, Once Again! - Chapter 748
There was a time when the media was a symbol of resistance. In an era where all text written in ink was censored, there were people who wrote articles while putting their hearts on display. The stories of the journalists who wrote the word ‘independence’ with the souls of their people were always passed down like myths. Follow their example. Do not forget their achievements.
The times had changed. The legends were now forgotten. While the media regained its free speech, it soon restrained itself. Once, by rulership, now by money. There were still many who walked towards the truth while staking their livelihood. The problem was that those who departed never returned. If the National Security Agency once snapped their pens with force, the journalists who tried to approach now had their pens snapped by money. An era where spiderwebs would form in their throats.
Either starve to death while trying to speak the truth, or live a plentiful life while trying to write just the visible truth. Dongwook chose the latter and had no regrets.
“Get yourself together, Choi Miyeon.”
He sent Miyeon a text telling her to sleep before looking at his laptop.
After reviewing his own article about Ahn Joohyun and Han Maru, he put the last period before shaking his hands. The rest was up to the netizens. The internet was full of people looking for fun and funny things. Dongwook personally called them ‘freeloading laborers’.
These freeloading laborers sometimes posted stuff that wasn’t related to them. On the day a celebrity’s controversy appeared, their value would shine. Despite the fact that no one told them to do such a thing nor did they earn anything from doing so, these freeloading laborers got themselves excited over issues and carried the news to various community sites. Some of them even used their own free time to spread the word. The things they went crazy for weren’t just controversial issues. It was whatever that interested them. If there was something they could spend their free time on, they would appear whenever and wherever.
Not too long ago, there was an incident where a photo became a big issue on a humor website. The photo was spread out to various other communities thanks to the free labor of these freeloading laborers, and as a result, the person in the photo ended up shooting a commercial for a famous burger franchise. How much money would it cost to hire professionals to add issues to such a photo? Probably an enormous sum.
Moving their interest towards fun. This was what normal journalists minded about the most these days. Dongwook sent his junior a message. He asked him to write a post about the related content in the community he was active in.
-That’s not too difficult. But hyung-nim, I want to do an interview with Miss Kim Suyeon. Can’t you make it work? Let me borrow the power of a JA journalist.
So it turns out treating him to food wasn’t enough. Dongwook replied that he would think about it after seeing the results.
* * *
It seemed as though the word ‘chilly’ shouldn’t be used for a while. Gaeul shrank her shoulders. She could feel cold air seeping into her scarf. The evening in Seoul during a frost wave was nose-tingling cold.
Gaeul put a footprint in the snow piled up on the side of the pedestrian road. The snow that had piled up for two days seemed like it didn’t want to melt anytime soon. She was reminded of the news that winter service vehicles were short in supply.
“Is that the place?”
She saw a barbecue restaurant in the distance. She peeked inside from the front of the store before opening the door. There were people sitting inside.
“Do you have company?” asked a lady who approached her.
“Uhm, I heard there was a get-together here.”
“So you’re a reserved customer. Go on up to the 2nd floor.”
She walked towards the direction the lady pointed at. She climbed the wooden stairs. The second floor had a magnificent view thanks to the large windows.
“Gaeul-seonbae, over here!”
“Gaeul, over here!”
Gaeul walked over while undoing her scarf. This was the last get-together she was attending as a member of the acting club. Although there would be another get-together after the national acting competition is over, there were many people who wouldn’t be able to attend because of personal circumstances, so today was practically the last day the members of the acting club could get together as a whole.
“It’s freezing outside, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it’s really cold.”
Choi Seol, who set down her position as the president as of yesterday, quickly offered Gaeul a seat next to her. Gaeul took off her coat and sat down.
“Well then! Actress Han Gaeul is here, so let’s have a toast!” Choi Seol shouted while lifting her cup.
Gaeul also raised her empty cup above her head. Although they looked like they were drinking, it was all just soda.
“Thanks a lot for following this shitty president. Especially you 2nd years. I know you guys hated me a lot because I swore and got annoyed at you.”
Choi Seol’s face looked serious, but her lips curled into a curve.
“You’re the ones in 3rd year now, aren’t you? You should know what it’s like to be here. Only now would you know why I said all the things I did. Especially you, Youngsoo! Why did you say you’ll be the president? It’s disgustingly difficult, you know?”
The members of the acting club all laughed. Youngsoo, who succeeded the position of the president, laughed awkwardly. Gaeul laughed from the bottom of her heart; she hadn’t done that in a long time.
“I was just joking. Now, we only have one stage left. Do that well. I am going to enjoy a fancy college life! I’m going to get a boyfriend during the orientation, so just you wait.”
As soon as she said those words, people started denying her everywhere.
“I don’t think you’ll ever get a boyfriend though, Choi-seonbae.”
“I bet my hand that Choi-seonbae will never get a boyfriend.”
“I think the apocalypse is more likely.”
The juniors would never be able to go against the usual Choi Seol, but they were able to do so now thanks to the fact that this was their last get-together. Choi Seol also laughed and returned their words.
“Anyway, you worked hard, two years for the 2nd years, and one year for the 1st years. We got a card from school today, so let’s eat and drink to our heart’s content!”
Choi Seol took out a white credit card. It was the omnipotent card that only appeared during get-together occasions. Bells started ringing at various tables as though they had been waiting for it. The waiter, who came up with the order cards, busily accepted orders from them.
“Gaeul, when are you going to start shooting the film?”
“February 24th is what is on the schedule, but I can’t be sure. I’m only a minor character, so I have to go when they call for me.”
“I know you entered an agency, but you are shooting a film after all, huh. I’ve known you since my first year. I knew you were going to succeed.”
“We weren’t that close during our first year, were we?” Gaeul said while pouting.
Choi Seol made a sad face. Her other friend, who sat opposite them, spoke,
“I’ve seen the info on the internet, but I heard that Lee Hyuk and Ahn Joohyun are in it, right?”
Choi Seol’s eyes widened. Their gazes were focused on Gaeul.
“Yes, those two are in this film.”
“I guess you will meet them during the shoot, right?”
“I don’t think I’ll meet them. I didn’t look at the full script, so I can’t be sure of this, but it’s likely that I only have one scene. If the actors don’t come during that scene, I guess I won’t see them.”
“If you do, please get me their autographs. Especially Ahn Joohyun. Lee Hyuk is actually meh.”
“Me too, me too!”
Gaeul replied ‘if I can’. Just then, the food came up from the first floor. The moment the side dishes and the pork ribs came up, the second floor became quiet. The meat was distributed across the tables before red-hot charcoal was placed on each table.
“Eat to your hearts’ content. I’ve given you a lot.”
Hearing the lady’s words, Choi Seol placed some meat on the grill. Along with a sizzling sound, the second floor became bustling with noise in an instant. I’ll grill it, that’s not how you do it, hey it’s getting burnt; all sorts of cheerful noises could be heard.
“Oh yeah, everyone got their scores, right? Did you check?” Gaeul asked as she placed a piece of meat on her plate.
Today was the 10th of December, the day the results were announced. Choi Seol, who was eating a big piece of wrap, as well as her colleagues who took the exams all fell silent. Gaeul made a puzzled expression. When they went through their tests together on the night they took the CSATs, they all said that they got the scores they wanted.
“Gaeul, how did you do?”
“Me? I got the same scores as my grading.”
“Then you’re in the clear?”
“Really? That’s good.”
Their serious expressions did not disappear. Gaeul started becoming worried. Did one of them mark the answers wrong or something?
“Hey, did something not go right?” she asked cautiously.
Was it a mistake on her part to think that they did decently after hearing that they said they got the scores they wanted when they graded themselves?
Choi Seol, who had a sad expression on her face, shook some lettuce to get rid of the water and put a piece of meat on it. She put some stir-fried beansprouts, pickled radish, and sliced garlic before putting the big wrap in her mouth. The others also ate expressionlessly.
Gaeul quietly watched them for a while before sighing.
“What the, are you toying with me?”
After maintaining an expressionless face for a while, they all laughed out loud.
“Hey, did you see Gaeul panic?”
“We all got the scores we were expecting. Seol got 10 points above what she expected, so she’s in the safe.”
“Although we didn’t all get to go to Seoul University, I think we should be able to get into the places we were aiming for,” Choi Seol said as she wiped her lips.
“You were aiming for the department of theater at Choong-a university, right?”
“It’s 100% official enroll, so you should be able to get in, right?”
“I’ll have to see what the actual requirements are like, but I don’t think I have to worry according to the grade table that my cram school put out.”
“That’s good. Then you’ll be a campus couple for sure, right?” Choi Seol said while poking her on the side.
For a moment, Gaeul was unable to maintain her expression.
“What is it? Did something happen with your boyfriend? I heard you two were going to go to Choong-a university together.”
Perhaps because they had been friends for three years, Choi Seol and the others noticed what was on her mind immediately and asked.
“He didn’t take the CSATs.”
“Did he pass the pre-enroll?”
“No, he decided not to go to college. He’s probably busy with work right now. He can always go to college later, but the things he’s doing right now are things he will never be able to do if he doesn’t do them now.”
“But isn’t life as an actor pretty hard if you don’t major in theater?”
“He should be fine. He has the skills after all. He’s already playing a main character in a drama. He’s completely different from me. There’s a huge chasm between us.”
“Really? I thought that you two would go to the same college for sure and have a sweet life together.”
“I should practice a little more. I should practice more and chase him. If I do, then we should be able to meet in the field, not at college. I’m planning to focus on work until then. I think that’ll be better for both of us.”
“Looks like you thought quite seriously about this. Well, if you’ve made up your mind, I guess it should be fine. It’s not like you’re going to be far away.”
“We don’t have any time to play around right now. There are classes I need to take, and I have to do the shoots too.”
“Han Gaeul, you’re an adult now, huh? Is that what it means to earn money?”
Choi Seol put down her chopsticks. She looked at the grill in a daze for a while before speaking,
“Since we’re on the topic of dating, I heard you broke up, Youngmi.”
Gaeul looked at Youngmi. She remembered how Youngmi said that they would hit 1,000 days soon.
“You broke up?” Gaeul asked again.
Youngmi put some meat on her plate with an indifferent expression.
“Yeah, we broke up.”
“Why? You were good together.”
“We met for too long.”
“Did something bad happen?”
“It’s not like that. We just became good friends. I’ve spent three years with him, so we just saw that we weren’t fit for each other in some parts. It was fun to play together, but it became somewhat boring to keep being lovers. We just met up on a weekend, watched a movie together, and talked about breaking up. We’re going to different colleges as well.”
“Are you okay?”
Gaeul pulled out some napkins, worried that Youngmi might cry, since she cried quite often.
“I thought I would cry a lot, you know? But in fact, I feel refreshed. It might have been frustrating if we broke up in a bad way, but we talked to each other about it. Honestly, if you graduate high school, you graduate from your relationships as well. Heecheol, Jooyoung, Jinho, and Haemi all broke up.”
“All of them?”
“We’re going to college, aren’t we? We’re going to be apart anyway. There are some who are saying that they didn’t break up, but I’ve seen them with other people,” Youngmi said as she put some meat in her mouth.
“I’m saying this because it’s just us girls here; Gaeul, did you sleep with him?”
“Then I guess you guys will get fed up soon too. We slept and we’re still breaking up.”
“You guys slept?”
“Yeah, at the beginning of this year. Things just happened.”
Gaeul looked at Choi Seol. Choi Seol looked like her soul had left her. Youngmi, who was known for being naïve, turned out to be the quickest among them.
“Gaeul, honestly speaking, I think you should break up right now. Your boyfriend is a celebrity, isn’t he? I’m not sure about now, but if he becomes popular, you’ll have less and less time to meet with him. Do you meet him these days?”
“No, I haven’t been contacting him.”
“Did he ever call you? Ever since you cut contact with him?”
“Well, I guess his feelings left you too. I’m not saying this to hurt you; that’s just how love goes between people our age, right?”
Youngmi looked around, seemingly asking for agreement. However, everyone was shocked by the fact that Youngmi had slept with her boyfriend.
“You really slept?” Choi Seol asked again.
“Why are you asking that again? It’s embarrassing. Just eat.”
“Talk about it in detail. I want to hear about it.”
The table heated up with a hot story. Gaeul fidgeted with her phone as she looked at her friends who lowered their voices.