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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“That noodle soup was really something, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah. It was pretty good.”
After finishing their lunch, Juho and Sung Pil were on their way back to Garam Hall when they saw a crowd of staff setting up the stage for the award ceremony.
“That must be where the award ceremony is taking place,” Sung Pil said as the staff were busy setting up the microphones.
Unhindered, the two walked past the stage and went into the lecture hall, where a good number of contestants had already arrived, and the professor and the T.A.’s were moving busily around the podium in preparation for announcing the winner. Then, Juho sat on the same spot where he had sat previously, while Sung Pil sat diagonally behind him. The hall was noisy from all the chattering. Soon, the doors closed, and the professor spoke up.
“Is everyone here?”
Like previously, a handful of students answered by reflex, and Juho listened intently to Professor Hwang, who seemed to be observing the students more intently than before.
“Great job everyone. I realized the students nowadays had come a long way as I read through your essays. You all did well,” she said as if trying to encourage the contestants.
“As you know, there will be an award ceremony after announcing the winner. Attendance is not mandatory, but if you’re one of the winners and you are absent when we call out your name during the ceremony, please keep in mind that your award will be nullified.”
At that, a series of answers sounded yet again, and Juho hid behind them, murmuring, “Yes, ma’am. I’ll gladly accept the loss.”
Then, the professor opened up a sheet of paper that seemed like it would contain the list of winners. The contestants waited anxiously for the announcement, each in anticipation for their names to be called, hoping that the judges were moved by their heartfelt writing.
“We will now announce the winners.”
Then, as Professor Hwang paused briefly to drink out of her water bottle, the air sank into silence immediately as all eyes were focused on her.
“Starting with third place.”
With that, the professor called out a name, and a sound came from the back of the lecture hall. While a handful of them looked in the contestant’s direction quietly, others applauded for them. Before the dull celebration came to its end, Professor Hwang moved onto the next person.
Juho heard the person sitting next to him tensing up. It was the very breath of a person who had worked hard toward their dreams, and the fact that they anticipated an award meant that there was a level of confidence toward their efforts and skill.
At that moment, Juho glanced over his shoulders at Sung Pil, who was sitting diagonally behind him, locking eyes with him.
A unexplainable tension traveled from his fingertips to his arms, urging him and making him think that he wanted to beat Sung Pil.
“Pil Sung Choi.”
For a brief moment, Juho found himself wondering who that was. Pil Sung Choi. It was the name of the future author who would be called by his alias, Sung Pil. Sitting diagonally behind him, Sung Pil remained silent and looked straight ahead while the contestants around him looked around, confused and clapping. Then, Juho looked up slowly and also looked forward.
The professor paused briefly, and announced…
“… Juho Woo.”
… his name.
The professor congratulated the winner as she continued to observe the contestants. Then, reminding them where the award ceremony was taking place, she left the podium in a hurry, and the contestants also rose from their seats. As the lecture hall grew emptier, Juho stayed completely still in his seat.
“Congratulations,” Sung Pil said, and Juho smiled.
“Is it a one-to-one situation, now?”
“You can say that.”
With that, the essay contest came to an end. Being the last ones to leave the lecture hall, Juho and Sung Pil stood quietly as they watched the contestants exiting the campus to go home. The path was split in two: one toward home, and the other toward the award ceremony. The first path seemed to be significantly more popular, but before he joined in with other contestants himself, Juho asked Sung Pil, “What are you gonna do?”
Sung Pil pondered for a little while, looking to the left and to the right.
“You won first place. Are you really not gonna go?”
‘I’m gonna go home. I already got to experience what it’s like to win an award,’ Juho said to his friend internally, and Sung Pil nodded quietly.
“If you don’t think the bet was fair because my award was nullified, feel free to call it off.”
“No, that doesn’t change the fact that you won. I’ll buy the drinks tomorrow morning.”
Juho smiled at the appropriate recognition, and after a brief time thinking, Sung Pil said, “I’m gonna go to the award ceremony.”
To which, Juho thought to himself, ‘I knew it.’ He knew that Sung Pil would have gone to the award ceremony even if he hadn’t won.
“Well, take care now,” Juho said as he raised his hand, and they said goodbye to each other. As Juho walked toward a crowd of students unhurriedly, Sung Pil looked at him for a little while. He stood out among the others around him.
Then, Sung Pil remembered Juho’s appearance while he had been busy writing. Sung Pil was completely incapable of multitasking, and in the end, he had chosen to focus on writing. By the time his essay was nearly finished, he had looked up at Juho, and he found himself regretting having made that decision in hindsight.
“He was desperate.”
Juho had written desperately, and he was quite unique even among Sung Pil’s friends. By nature, he remained unfazed at all times and knew how to laugh off any taunts directed toward him. He also had a tendency to to stare intently at certain things, and Sung Pil realized that his thick eyebrows were one of his friend’s subjects of observation. Looking like he didn’t have a care in the world, he wasn’t afraid to talk to strangers when he hardly ever talked about himself. It wasn’t clear whether or not he was fond of Yun Woo.
For those reasons, it had been Sung Pil’s first time seeing such serious and desperate look on Juho’s face. It had been clear that he had been concentrating. Something had welled up from within, and Sung Pil grew all the more curious about Juho. He wanted to approach his mysterious friend, but unfortunately, Juho didn’t wait for Sung Pil. As Juho looked up after finishing his essay, the world around him seemed to grow silent as his usual, lazily peaceful look appeared on his face. Although Sung Pil was left feeling unsatisfied, he had come to realize where his priorities needed to lie and how much room for improvement there was for him still.
Slowly, Sung Pil tried to revisit the things he had felt back then. From the rustling sound of the leaves and the surface of his paper, to the rigidity of the bench, the memories were still vivid. They were burned into his mind, unwilling to be removed. Then, suddenly, he had a feeling that things would never be the same as before, thanks to his strange friend.
‘Had Juho worn that same look while he was interviewed?’ Sung Pil asked himself as he saw and walked toward a number of tents in the distance, set up along a stage for the award ceremony.
‘After the ceremony, I’ll go home, eat, and write. I need to start writing about this person that I have in my mind.’
“The ceremony is this way!” a voice shouted as the judges had already taken their seats.
Then, while Sung Pil had to endure a displeased glare from the judges as he received his award, Juho was learning of some unexpected news.
“A character based on Yun Woo.”
Juho read the title on his phone’s screen out loud. Although it was unlikely, Juho wondered if Sung Pil had already made his professional debut as an author after publishing his book.
Then, he read through the article and saw the name Mideum. Upon reading the article that read ‘The most recent volume of the Dr. Dong series has been drawing the attention of the masses with a character based on the author Yun Woo,’ Juho couldn’t help but find himself confused, as it was news that he wasn’t expecting.
The names Yun Woo and Mideum were already on the rise in the most-searched list, and articles poured out about them through all media. As he stared at his phone in a daze, his phone started to vibrate, showing the moniker Mideum.
“I’m so sorry!”
A lively voice came from the receiver as soon as Juho answered the phone.
“About what?” Juho asked even though he was slowly coming to grasp things.
“Did you read the articles by any chance?”
“Yes, I was just reading them.”
Then, Juho heard Mideum writhing in shame over the receiver.
“Things are starting to sound like I was taking advantage of your name…”
“Oh, is that what this is about?”
“Then there’s nothing to worry about. I didn’t take it personally.”
While the news was sudden, Juho wasn’t all that offended, but despite Juho reassuring her, Mideum apologized profusely and tried to explain how things came to be. She was quite desperate.
“So, I had an interview that was about an hour long recently, and I talked about all sorts of things, from my book to authors I’m close to, my values, writing environments and the industry. I did try to answer the questions as sincerely as possible, but I only mentioned you for like five seconds! I can barely remember what I said because it was so short! I just said that ‘I got a hint from Yun Woo’ in passing. That’s all I said, I swear!”
While Mideum was starting to get worked up, Juho caught on to the situation and how it had had an unintentional consequence.
“I did complain to the reporter, but it was too late by then. I swear, I’m never getting interviewed by that prick again!”
“That’s a shame.”
“It’s OK, really.”
Then, as if comforted by Juho, she went on to express her frustration to him in a playful tone, “And guess what! Those five seconds in the interview ended up being the headline. Your name was marginally more popular than my convictions as an author.”
“This is Yun Woo we’re speaking of.”
“Ugh. I don’t know what to say to that. I’m experiencing the power of your name.”
Then, Juho asked as he remembered the articles that had exaggerated the truth, as if the character in Mideum’s book was the equivalent of Yun Woo in real life, “I can’t remember what kind of hint I gave you, but it seems like it’s inaccurate to say that there’s a character based on me. Am I right?”
“Um… Yeah, you can say that. M-hm.”
She sounded ambiguous for some reason.
‘Is it really true, then?’ Juho asked himself internally, but there was no way to know because he had yet to read her new book.
“What’s the character like?”
“You haven’t read it yet, have you?”
At Juho’s brief answer, Mideum groaned, making a slightly bizarre sound. She wasn’t angry. Rather, she sounded tantalized.
“It’s still new. Could you let it slide?”
“No, no. I should be the one asking you to read it. Hm… How should I say this? There’s something ambiguous about the new character.”
“Ambiguous? Are we talking about the culprit?”
At that, Mideum denied emphatically and said, “Dr. Dong’s friend.”
Dr. Dong was the detective in Mideum’s novel, and it wasn’t clear what could be so ambiguous about his friend.
“The one that’s mentioned only in the letters.”
At that, Juho finally realized why Mideum had been beating around the bush so much. There was yet to be a definite description of that character.
“Frankly, it’s more accurate to say that the character hasn’t appeared yet. I didn’t even reveal what was on the letter, so that character hasn’t said a single word. I’ve been saving the character for the next volume, but now that we found ourselves in this ordeal, I feel like it’s hindering my plans.”
“What kind of character was it supposed to be?”
“Well, it wasn’t one of the important ones… like a piece of cloud floating by.”
A character that was yet to even make an appearance had managed to draw the attention of her readers somehow, and it was all thanks to the name Yun Woo. As an author, Mideum, too, was in a rather sticky situation, and there were usually two ways to go about it. The first was to go with the plan, and the second was to change the plan. It all depended on the author’s choice, and she had expressed that she was tempted to change her plan.
“So, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna change it?”
Thankfully, the book was yet to be published, so the author still had the creative flexibility to change things around in her book.
“Well, I wouldn’t change the flow of my novels or anything just solely on the readers’ responses, but lately, I’ve started playing around with the idea of creating a character that’s actually based on you. So, in light of that…”
She dragged on, and, by reflex, Juho knew that she was about to ask for a favor.
“Can I interview you?”
As expected. She was working on turning what had been exaggerated into truth.
“I feel like I’m way too popular for my own good.”
Juho sighed quietly thinking of all the authors desperate to write about him.
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