After Story 246
-I used to resent you when I was still in school. I knew it wasn’t your fault, but just the fact that such things were happening to me was too much for me. But I don’t think like that at all now.
-I think both of us were too late to bring this up. We should have had this talk ages ago. Though I’m glad that we’re doing this now.
“It was me who was avoiding it all the time, not you.”
-It’s neither my fault nor yours. It’s just… what it is.
“Had I come to terms with it earlier, I would’ve talked to you about a lot of things.”
-Forget it. Even if you don’t look out for me, I can live my own life.
“Yeah, being you, I’m sure you’ll do well.”
Joohyun let out a long sigh. The clumped-up emotions dissolved away too easily. She felt refreshed as though she was walking in the forest after a rainfall. She hoped Bangjoo felt the same.
-Is senior Maru next to you?
“Yeah. He’s watching with indecent eyes next to me.”
“He’s like a wily snake even though he’s around your age. I’m not saying I hate it.”
-I guess he does have that side to him.
“Anyway, do well at the shoot. See you at home later. Let’s eat with the three of us, you, me and mom.”
-Since you’re here, you should come see me. You can see how my acting is. Tell me if I’m lacking in anything. I mean, you’re an actress. An actress with really good acting.
“Can I do that? People will find out.”
-I don’t care. I’m not at the age where I’d be swayed by things like that anymore. Also… I want to boast that Ahn Joohyun is my sister. You’re an actor I admire after all.
Joohyun clutched the phone with both of her hands.
Her voice was getting excited.
“What did you say just now?”
-What do you mean?
“Boast, admire… you said things like that. I couldn’t hear it properly. Tell me that again.”
-It was nothing, so forget it. Just leave if you’re going to be naggy about it.
“No, no, no. I’ll go there right now and tell everyone in a loud voice that I’m Ahn Joohyun who my brother Bangjoo admires and likes the most.”
-You’re being excessive again. Just don’t come.
“No, I am going!”
Haha: Joohyun laughed loudly as she crouched down slightly. Her brother on the other side muttered something before hanging up.
She remembered when she was still in her early twenties. She was taking a break at home after a shoot and her mother came over and showed her a piece of paper, telling her to have a look at it.
On that paper, it was written: My dream is to become a great actor like my sister: in crooked letters.
“He’ll probably freak out if I show him that.”
Joohyun wiped her eyes, which had become teary after laughing so much, before returning the phone back to Maru.
“Show him what?”
“A gift my cute brother gave me.”
“Something that will freak Bangjoo out if he sees it, huh?”
“He’ll probably jump in joy, you know? With his face all red and everything.”
Maru put his phone in his pocket.
“Sounds like things went well with your brother.”
“Yeah. It was ridiculously easy. It was hard to bring it up, but once I brought it up, I kept talking without stopping. Just what was I so afraid of, do you think?”
Maru smiled and responded,
“It’s not surprising that you’re scared. I also told you to try it without thinking much, saying that nothing bad would happen, but I would actually be really hesitant if it was my own matter. There are things you can’t tell your family precisely because you’re close to them.”
“That’s true, but what were you planning to do if the relationship between me and Bangjoo got worse?”
“The responsibility lies with the one who makes the decision. I only told you the method, so I would’ve quietly run away.”
“You’re such a bad guy.”
“Don’t you think it’s excessive to ask me to take responsibility?”
Joohyun stared at Maru before smiling softly.
“You’re right. The responsibility should lie with the person in question. Anyway, I cleared up all the pent-up emotions thanks to you. I think I’ll be able to see Bangjoo like before again.”
“Treat him comfortably. Don’t try to give him so much though. You know that a sense of distance is important too, right?”
“I do. No, perhaps I didn’t know about it. I became more knowledgeable about theory as I got older, but I didn’t have any practical experience. In the first place, I tried my best to not create such problems.”
“That’s how adults are. Clashing and learning through failures is a privilege for the young. If a fully grown adult lives like that, they’ll run out; whether it is their money, health, or reputation.”
Joohyun nodded. When she was young, she always had this thought when she looked at the adults around her: I will not live like that when I’m an adult. Isn’t it embarrassing to live with such a conservative mindset?
However, as she got older, became more experienced, and saw for herself what she had achieved, she had also become someone who made conservative decisions.
She realized when she became an adult that older people didn’t make such decisions just because they were foolish and selfish.
“Then shall I get going?” Joohyun said as she turned around.
“Where else, the shoot, of course. I have permission from my brother now, so I should go say hello. If possible, I’ll promote him too, saying that I’m his sister.”
“Bangjoo might be so happy that he might run away from the shoot.”
“Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?”
She didn’t stop laughing. She walked towards the shoot with bold steps.
* * *
“What did the landlord say?”
“Either I pull out or pay more rent. I was even advised to change the line of business.”
“Well, I guess it is?pretty hard to earn money through a bookstore. I saw on my way here that two more cafés are coming in. I saw that the interior construction was underway.”
“There are four cafés in this cramped space, and there’s even more coming? This isn’t a democratic country. It’s a coffeecratic one,” Maru said his line as he sat down.
The way he looked outside the window with an indifferent expression while resting his chin on his hand was precisely what Yoonseok wanted.
‘As expected of Maru, he’s good.’
Bangjoo, who was rummaging through some books, sat opposite Maru. Even Bangjoo, who looked rather awkward during the first shoot, was completely assimilated with the atmosphere now. The more he acted with Maru, the greater the charm of his acting became. Having a good synergy should be used for situations like this.
“Are you going to keep running the bookstore?”
“I definitely can’t with the rent that the landlord wants from me. It feels like yesterday that I was so overjoyed that more people were coming, but now, I guess I’m going to get pushed out by those same people.”
“Why don’t you change the line of business like the landlord says? I saw that the café owners were all young. If you buy roasted beans and make coffee with them, you’ll be doing the basics at least. The location is good here, so don’t you think there will be some profit if more and more people keep coming?”
“I thought about that too. I did, but this is a bookstore.”
“Like I said, if you change it…”
Bangjoo stopped talking midway and looked at Maru before sighing. The way he distributed his breaths and silences was good.
“It’s not something I should be advising you about. Anyway, do your best. Give me a call if you need help. That’s what is so good about friends, right?”
“Alright, I’ll call you if I need some help. Thanks for coming today.”
“Don’t mention it. Then see you next time.”
Bangjoo opened the door and left, and Maru kept staring at the door which swayed back and forth until it eventually stopped.
Futility, unease, precariousness — these emotions were displayed in the middle of the screen.
Yoonseok did not shout cut and kept stalling for time. The act they had rehearsed was finished. It wouldn’t be bad if they cut the master shot here and moved over to the detail cuts to be used as inserts.
However, he had a sense of anticipation when he saw Maru dragging it for so long. Yoonseok tossed the actor into a space without lines or instructions, just the background and the nature of the character.
Maru started wiping the covers of books with a cloth. One, two, three… When he picked up a thick novel, Maru lowered his head. His lips, which were clenched shut, trembled. The emotions he swallowed up in despair spread around his face. His emotions were quite blatant to see.
Yoonseok thought about himself as he watched Maru’s acting.
The vanity of having to go to the military without being able to achieve anything after the Short Film Festival.
The despair of not seeing any improvements in his scenario when he was in the military.
And lastly… the regret of not being able to let go and continuing to hang on to it.
Right now, he knew that those emotions had become good nutrients that contributed to the final outcome, but back then, he had such a hard time that he had nightmares.
No training exercises and no bullying from his military seniors could compare to the fright of facing pure white paper.
“This is it? Just like that?” Maru said in a slightly sunken voice.
Those were words that expressed Yoo Daejoo’s feelings, and also words that summarized his past. Maru really dug deeply into the character. Yoonseok shouted cut in admiration of the occupation known as actors.
Only after he shouted did he realize that his own voice was sunken like Maru’s.
He quickly drank some water, blowing away the rattling sadness inside him. If he suddenly started crying, he wouldn’t be able to continue the shoot because of embarrassment.
He quickly calmed down, but just as he was about to compliment Maru’s acting, the voice he had forgotten about during the shoot could be heard,
“The director is very emotional, huh? I really like this style.”
Yoonseok turned around.
The first on his list of male actors that he wanted to work with if he were to become a famous director was Hong Geunsoo. For actresses, it was Ahn Joohyun.
When he recalled that the actress of his dreams was watching his own work right behind him, his face became flushed.
“It’s a lot easier to act with a director who can express himself. It’s easier to understand what the characters are supposed to be like.”
Yoonseok looked at Joohyun before turning around.
When Joohyun first appeared at the set, the atmosphere became silent for a moment before erupting into an uproar. It was surprising that she appeared at all, but when she revealed that Bangjoo was her brother, it became almost impossible to shoot for a while.
When he barely calmed everyone down and was about to continue the shoot, Joohyun started watching from behind him. He had no choice but to look at the monitor with several times more nervousness than when he did the audition.
Thankfully, he was able to forget Joohyun’s presence and focus on producing the film when the shoot began, but he would come to a realization every single break time.
…That one of the top actresses in the country was watching from behind.
Moreover, he was personally a fan of hers, so he couldn’t make eye contact with her. It was driving him crazy.
“Director, what do you think about using me as a cameo?” Joohyun said.
Yoonseok was surprised out of his wits, but then eventually replied,
“As a personal fan, I’d love to do so, but I don’t think I can do it this time.”
“Because… you’re too eye-catching.”
“Not because I’m fat right now?”
Yoonseok shook his head.
“Not at all! You’re really charming even now!”
When he said it, he realized how embarrassing those words were.
Maru came over with some coffee.
“Looks like our director’s not in the right mind right now. Senior, please go easy on him.”
“I will. But he’s so innocent that it’s worth teasing him.”
“That’s true. Director Lee is definitely worth teasing.”
The two actors smirked.
Yoonseok stood up after pulling himself together. It was time to give feedback on the cut he shot just now and prepare for the next one.