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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Juho woke up with the sound of his phone vibrating. The light rushing into his eyes reminded him that he had slept in, which made sense considering how late he had gone to bed the night before. Picking up the phone that was still vibrating, he tapped on the call button. It was Nam Kyung.
It was rather rowdy on the other end of the line, and Juho brushed down his face with his hand, still half asleep.
“Congratulations!” Nam Kyung said excitedly.
‘What is he talking about?’ Juho wondered.
“You won the Dong Kyung Literary Award, Mr. Woo!”
The Dong Kyung Literary Award was one of the three major literary awards in South Korea, and Juho had already been informed that his book had been chosen as one of the final candidates. But what did Nam Kyung just say?
It was a rather hectic morning.
“The winner of the Dong Kyung Literary Award, Yun Woo.”
“The youngest winner in the history of Korean literature. What are the three major literary awards?”
“A closer look at Yun Woo’s ‘The Sound of Wailing.”
“Yun Woo, the author who showers in awards, takes home yet another trophy.”
“The new wave of the publishing industry, Yun Woo.”
“I don’t know what the Dong Kyung Literary Award is, but he sure is impressive.”
“All of the bookstores are filled with his books.”
“Is Korea finally getting its own, world-renowned author?”
“I heard ‘Trace of a Bird’ is really taking off overseas.”
“I’m starting to get used to his title of being ‘the youngest author to do this and that.'”
“He doesn’t have a ghostwriter, does he? How old is he again?”
“I’d love to meet the guy. I hope he’s ugly as heck. It’ll remind me that this world is fair.”
“He’s probably much better looking than you though.”
“Wouldn’t he have to show up for his award? Is he finally going to reveal himself?”
“I heard the editor is accepting the award on the author’s behalf.”
“I don’t even look at his books, but I’m super stoked that he’s getting the award! This is more nerve-racking than the Entertainment Award on TV. You’re the best, Yun Woo.”
“I second that. I never thought I’d geek out over a writer.”
“Honestly though, it would’ve been controversial if he didn’t win the award. Established authors are notorious for ostracizing newer authors on the rise.”
“Take me, Yun Woo.”
“His fandom will grow even larger. He’s not going to start a boyband, is he?”
“He already is a boyband-like figure in the literary world. Any book that bears the name “Yun Woo” will sell like there’s no tomorrow.”
“What was I doing when I was his age? So jealous.”
“Congratulations, Mr. Woo.”
“Yes, thank you,” Yun Woo answered Yun Seo on the phone. It wasn’t until later that he found out that she was one of the judges. Juho received many more congratulatory calls from others, including the club members, Mr. Moon, and his fellow authors.
He sat before his desk to work on his award speech that needed be sent to Nam Kyung by the end of the day. The Dong Kyung Literary Award was given to the author’s work, not its author. Therefore, it would’ve been ideal to have the speech delivered by the author’s work itself. Sadly, it was impossible in various aspects, and Juho was forced to pick up his pen.
Reaching toward the stack of books on his desk, Juho pulled out a book from the middle. Because its edge had been torn out, he didn’t even have to look to know that it was ‘The Sound of Wailing.’
‘What should I say?’ he asked, but the book gave him no answer. As Juho opened the book, the image of the mother lingered before his eyes. After reading about a page, he ended up closing it again.
He imagined an award ceremony without the awardee. There were countless people in the audience, sitting before a small stage. Standing on that stage would result in becoming the center of attention. The round spotlight shone onto the stage, creating a boundary for the allotted space.
As they clapped like machines, Just was able to see some of the audiences. By the time the applause died down, Juho started off with his regret of not being able to be present in the ceremony.
“For those who know my face, I’m sure you can imagine what I’m feeling at the moment. The only thing that enabled me to be able to publish my second book in such a short time was their silence. Because of them, I was able to write peacefully in a quiet place. Thank you.”
The audience remained silent, and everyone listened intently at the young genius’ speech.
“Now, my books will be decorated with the title “The winner of the Dong Kyung Literary Award.” I’m mildly concerned by whether that phrase will actually work as a disadvantage toward the novel, but who knows? Maybe the book will be willing to accept it gladly. Of all books in this entire world, I find my own books to be the most mysterious.”
Juho looked down at the plaque in his hand as it sparkled beautifully.
“I believe that this award is the proof that shows how many people were moved by and have identified with my book, ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ What was once unseen and uncaught, somehow found its way into my hands, wrapped up quite beautifully,” he said as he raised the plaque up slightly.
“It’s an honor to be part of this.”
An explosive cheer sounded from the audience. Everyone celebrated the birth of the youngest winner. The applause went on for quite some time, and it almost sounded like it would last forever. As the plaque in his hand grew gradually heavier, Juho tossed it into the dark, smiling. The audience sank back into silence.
“Now, I think I’ll go write some more. I can’t hold my pen when I have something else in my hand,” he said as he raised his hand as a final gesture of his appreciation.
“At any rate, thank you all.”
As he walked off the stage, Juho opened his eyes. After organizing his thoughts for a brief time, he began to write his speech one word at a time, adjusting the length and making it appropriate for the audience. Not too long after sending it to Nam Kyung, Juho received a call from him.
“This won’t do,” he said, despite Juho making careful adjustments to the speech.
Nam Kyung explained the social standings of the audience in detail to him. At Juho’s indifferent attitude response, Nam Kyung begged more desperately than he’d ever done.
“Please, go easy on your audience.”
Left with no choice, Juho revised his speech and sugar-coated a few words. Relieved, Nam Kyung accepted it willingly.
A few days later, Nam Kyung accepted the award on Juho’s behalf, and the speech written by Juho became a sensation for a while. While people grew all the more curious about Yun Woo, Juho walked leisurely about the park. He was standing in the eye of the storm.
James waved happily at his friend. As the semester came to an end, he left for the US to reunite with his friends. It had been yearly occurrence for him from the time he started his teaching career in Korea.
“How’ve you been?”
“And the others?”
“They’re on their way.”
Having arrived early, Ethan’s glass was already half empty. James also decided to enjoy himself with a glass while waiting for his friends.
“Mm… I missed this.”
“You mean the drink?”
“Yeah. There’s something special about it.”
“We’ve been regulars for quite some time now.”
It wouldn’t have been an overstatement to say that James had spent half of his college career there. The cozy shop was always filled with pleasant music.
“Hey, they’re starting.”
With the drums marking the introduction, the band in the corner of the shop started their performance. The occasional cymbal hits refreshed the hearts of the audiences. James gently moved his body to the rhythm of the music, which was as lively as a street performance. Music accompanied by a glass of alcohol tended to fill the area with happiness.
The friends sat at the table gladly. With music in the background, the four caught up with each other. As James was sharing things about his life in Korea, he suddenly remembered a particular face.
“So, there’s this really interesting student at my school.”
“Really? That’s great! You were thinking about quitting!” Charlotte said gladly. Just as she had said, James had been seriously contemplating leaving his teaching position up until the year before. Teaching was not fun by any means, and living in a foreign country came with a series of challenges on its own. Though he chose that path intentionally at first, he found himself growing more and more tired of his career. However, there was one student who flipped his school life upside down.
“We speak a similar language, and his English is impressive!”
“Is he Korean?”
“Yeah. Given that he excels in grammar and vocabulary, it feels really natural to talk with him, almost like talking with you guys.”
“Did he study abroad?”
“Maybe he watched a lot of American TV shows?’
James shook his head.
“He’s a person who prefers books over moving images.”
“His sense of language is impressive,” James said.
With that, he told his friends about the time he shared his study on Old English with Juho. Juho had learned the structure and its vast vocabulary through it, and James was rather impressed. Though he had made an offer to introduce him to a professor he knew, Juho had respectfully declined while smiling.
“Is that for real?”
“Yep. Down the line, he went even further and started asking about Latin or Gothic. Since I didn’t know either of those languages, all I could do was get him the relevant resources.”
“Wow…” Ethan whistled quietly.
At that moment, Sophia changed the subject abruptly, “Speaking of which, isn’t there a genius author in the country you work in? Yun Woo?”
James nodded. There was not a single person who wasn’t familiar with that name in Korea, and James himself was also a fan. He had bought a translated copy from a website overseas. The astonishment he felt from the book had a lot in common with that of his conversations with Juho.
“He’s really, really famous.”
Having been published back to back, both of Yun Woo’s books had been sensational, and a film adaptation was in progress. James was especially fond of the author’s personality reflected in his recent speech at the award ceremony.
“It just so happens that he’s the same age as the student I was just talking about.”
“I read his books too, so I looked him up immediately. I was disappointed that there was such little information about him.”
“It’s not too different in Korea.”
“Well, it’s probably not good for him to be exposed to the media at such a young age.”
“Oh, I’m sure.”
At that moment, Charlotte interjected in the middle of James and Sophia’s conversation, “You guys are talking about ‘Trace of a Bird,’ right? The freshman?”
“He should be a sophomore now. I mean a junior,” James said as he thought of Yun Woo, who would be going into his second year of high school.
(Editor’s Note: High school goes on for three years in Korea.)
“How can anyone write a book like that at that age? I almost doubted whether he even really existed. He’s seriously an amazing writer,” Charlotte said excitedly.
“I agree. The translation wasn’t half bad either. It was published by Fernand, after all.”
“Is it really that good? Everyone I meet has been talking about that book lately!” Ethan asked as he took a sip of the glass he had ordered.
“It’s a remarkable product by a young author. I’m sure he’s going to be loved for years on end,” Sophia answered.
“Is he like a reincarnated Shakespeare?”
“He’s not English though,” Charlotte answered as she brought a beer bottle up to her mouth.
“It’s the first time in years that I’ve read a foreign book.”
“Same here. Seo Joong Ahn, was it? I did read his book, but I’m still relatively unfamiliar with Korean novels,” Sophia agreed with her friend, and then chimed in as if she remembered something. “So, according to my friend, Yun Woo’s particularly popular in France. His book is a bestseller in Europe already.”
“That makes sense,” James said as he looked at his friends intently. “Do you guys know about his new book? It’s really taking off in Korea. It won an award recently and, apparently, it holds quite a weight there.”
With that, a bright smile appeared on Sophia and Charlotte’s faces.
“Yes, the new book!”
“We’re also aware that Fernand got the rights to publish it.”
“We get to read Yun Woo’s new book!”
“I should get one myself,” James said calmly.
Despite the overwhelmingly positive remarks about Yun Woo, Ethan was the only one who looked displeased.
“I think it’s all because of his age,” he said as he rubbed his nose.
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