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Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
That was what made humans human. Greedy, prone to fits of rage when things didn’t go their way, wavering at the smallest inconveniences, failing, and despairing.
“I really love Madame Song’s cooking,” Juho said as he cut himself a small piece of chicken, putting it into his mouth. At the same time, finding joy in the smaller things was also one of the defining characteristics of a human. “You know, I’m not finding myself getting all that upset. It must be the food.”
“What?” Sang asked, and San Jung, who had been observing them quietly, interjected.
“Now that I saw with my own eyes, I realize that it’s not just your writing that’s mature.”
“You’re not saying that I look old, are you?”
“No. Not at all.”
“Huh,” Sang let out, perplexed, and Dong Gil told him, “Choi, forget it. That’s how he’s able to write like that.”
“… I just can’t tell if he’s carefree or mature.”
At the sight of Juho, who was enjoying his meal in peace, Sang Choi couldn’t help but chuckle. Then, Dae Soo said to San Jung in an exaggerated tone, “You know what? While we’re at it, why don’t we just come together to bring Yun Woo down? Put an end to his reign.”
“Yeah! Behead the enemy!… So to speak.”
“But my book has already left my hands.”
Despite the provocative words coming out Dae Soo’s and Mideum’s mouths, San Jung remained unaffected. She simply stared quietly at Juho, who was sitting opposite of her.
“Hello? I’m right here. I can hear you guys.”
Dae Soo and Mideum paid no attention to Juho’s playful fuss, and in the end, Joon Soo intervened yet again to calm them down.
“Thanks for all your hard work, Joon Soo,” Juho told him, the mediator of the group. Then, he waved his hand in denial three times, wearing his distinctively innocent smile.
“Well, I think I’ll get me another beer. Dae Soo, how about you?”
“I’ll have a beer too.”
“A glass of wine for me.”
Dae Soo and San Jung each answered Mideum, and the room returned to its boisterous state. Thinking that it was a rather interesting occasion, Juho sipped quietly on his coke.
“So, I heard that Kelley Coin bailed on a special event recently?”
“Well, that’s Kelley Coin for ya.”
“His temper must have come back with his books.”
The authors took turns to talk about Coin’s infamous temper.
“You’ve met him in person, right? How was it?” Geun Woo asked, and after a brief time thinking, Juho answered, “He was just an author who really liked coffee.”
“Well, tell us more. We’re curious.”
“I don’t really know, either. We didn’t spend all that much time together.”
“Oh, c’mon. You were his translator. Surely, you can do better than that?” Seo Joong said, shaking his fluorescent arm.
“We had no clue, even when you were over at my house. How were you able to translate like that? You went beyond the notion that you were fluent in the language. Now, tell us. Something happened between you too, didn’t it? Did he give you any eye-opening hints?”
“I wish, but as you know, one can expect only so much from Kelley Coin. I sent him a number of emails while I was translating, but he didn’t tell me anything helpful. Even recently, he was clicking his tongue at me, saying that he was hoping to see Yun Woo’s career falling apart. That’s no way to treat a translator who worked their butt off,” Juho complained.
“Guess that’s what being a world-renowned author is like,” Seo Joong murmured, adding to Juho, “Man, somebody has to come up with a device that can pick people’s brains, so I can see what’s in this guy’s head.”
It was a rather frightening remark for Yun Woo, whose identity was still a mystery to most people. Sipping his Coke, Juho avoided eye contact with Seo Joong.
“How’s school?” Dae Soo asked. She had been curious about his life as a student and as an author, and the subject shifted to Juho’s school life.
“The usual. I’m still a student, so there’s not much to look forward to in a day. On the other hand, there’s not much to dread about, either.”
“I guess that makes sense. Being part of something is always exhausting.”
“It’s still fun though, thanks to the Literature Club.”
“The Literature Club? Are you part of that?”
Aside from those who already knew, the rest were taken aback by the fact that Juho was part of the Literature Club at his school.
“What do you do there? Do they know that you’re Yun Woo?” Seo Joong asked, and Juho gave him an affirmative answer. Everyone in the club knew and accepted his identity as Yun Woo.
“Although, aside from those in the club, no one else at school knows.”
“So, does that mean you get mentioned during linguistics?” Sang asked.
Obviously, Yun Woo was a go-to name to mention when it came to waking up students who were dozing off during class.
“There were times when we did analysis studies on Yun Woo’s identity or studied his works.”
Then, the image of Mr. Moon talking enthusiastically about Yun Woo on the podium rushed past Juho’s mind. When the teacher would look intentionally in his direction in between remarks, Juho had to fight off the urge to laugh out loud with every bit of strength in his body.
“Well, that sounds fun! I don’t think there’s going to be another person who will have a school life as interesting as yours.”
“Everyone experiences school differently.”
“And you, sir, are the conspicuous one in the school. Are you a spy?”
“I didn’t sneak out any information.”
“Well, considering the aspect of his anonymity, wouldn’t he be closer to a superhero?”
“I don’t recall saving the world, either.”
Then, San Jung asked calmly, “Did anyone in the club catch on that you were Yun Woo by the way you write? Your style is very unique, so I have a feeling that there would be at least one person who’d have figured it out.”
For once, that was a question Juho was able to give a definite answer to.
“Not one,” he said confidently, and she tilted her head in confusion.
“How are you so certain?”
“Because I write differently from Yun Woo.”
“What does that mean?”
“Just as it sounds. I’m not Yun Woo at school.”
“Was that name supposed to be separable?”
“Let’s say that it’s closer to distancing myself from him.”
At that, only Joon Soo and Geun Woo understood what Juho meant. Another style. As long as Juho had that, there was no way he would get caught at school. While San Jung was still puzzled, Juho didn’t go into detail since the occasion fittingly called for more light-hearted subjects.
“In the club, we do these fun activities or training of sorts, like listing as many random words in our surroundings, writing a story about something absurd, or using our clubmates as characters in a story. We make compilations, too.”
“Compilations! I like that idea!” Dae Soo said, and Juho briefly explained the process to her. With eyes filled with interest, she asked, “So, what kind of story did you end up including in the compilation?”
“A short story called ‘Grains of Sand.'”
Fitting of their occupation, as the subject shifted to writing, the room came alive all the more.
“It’s kind of like a sister version of ‘Language of God.’ I thought of the plot at the same place, looking at the same scenery. Although, they’re very different in nature.”
“Ah, I know what you mean.”
“There are times when two different ideas hit you all at once. Most writers either choose one over the other, or mix the two accordingly.”
Having similar experiences, the other authors chimed in and agreed with Juho.
“I’m a student, so I wrote one at school while I wrote the other at home.”
“Man, you really do write a lot,” Mideum murmured. Then, taking a big swig off her beer, she said loudly, “So, as you all know, I’ve been to Yun Woo’s writing space in person, and I gotta tell you, it was amazing! This tiny room is filled to the brim with manuscript paper. Of course, you might think that most authors have similar looking studies at their homes, but… how should I put it? It was as if there was writing floating around the room. There were boxes and boxes stacked on top of each other, filled with even more manuscript paper, and Yun Woo writes and sleeps surrounded by those very things. I was kind of envious, but I gotta say, it was pretty overwhelming at the same time.”
Although she might have seemed drunk at a glance, she wasn’t slurring her words, nor were her eyes shaking. It was her natural tone, even without the effect of alcohol.
“So, that’s what Yun Woo’s writing space is like, huh? How curious.”
“It’s just an ordinary room,” Juho said, but nobody believed him. However, his room really was nothing to write home about. In the small, boring room, there was a desktop, a bed, a bookshelf, and stacks and stacks of manuscript paper, and there was not a single poster in the room.
“C’mon, Juho. You’re a teenager! Live it up a little. When I was a student, I spent all my money collecting all sorts of music records from overseas.”
“Don’t be silly, now,” Dong Gil warned Seo Joong, and with that, each of the authors began to share their memories of their school years.
“I went to an all-girls high school.”
“I’m telling you, high school friends will last you a lifetime! We still keep in touch.”
Mideum and Dae Soo said in turn.
“Well, we went to the same schools, from elementary to college, so even reminiscing to those times is a hassle.”
“You guys seriously have one of the most bizarre relationships.”
“It’s a curse, if you ask me.”
“I kept my social life limited, even as a student,” Sang added to Seo Joong and Dong Gil’s well-known relationship.
“When I think back on it, I did a lot of dumb and embarrassing things.”
“We were all immature at one point.”
“But you were always a good student, Joon Soo.”
“That’s… not entirely true.”
With that, Geun Woo and Joon Soo discussed their embarrassing past. Everyone in the room was reminiscing to their respective past, indicating the years that had gone by.
“You know, hearing Juho mention it, I kind of miss it all of a sudden. I used to be part of the Literature Club at my school, too.”
“Pff. You were barely there.”
“Well, it doesn’t change the fact that I still miss it. I really enjoyed it back then, writing about the same topic while surrounded by friends.”
Although Dong Gil usually would have scolded Seo Joong, he agreed quietly with the latter half of Seo Joong’s statement.
“I wasn’t part of the Literature Club because our school didn’t have one.”
“Yeah, same here. I wasn’t part of the Literature Club at my school, either. I didn’t actually start writing until college.”
“Literature Club, huh? I’m jealous that you get to experience that. Sounds fun.”
San Jung was also among the authors who had never been part of a Literature Club, and when she finished speaking, the room sank back into silence. Everyone was having a similar thought and wanting the same thing.
Then, Dae Soo spoke up on everyone else’s behalf, “It’s never too late.”
It was never too late.
“Nine authors. How hard can it be?”
Then, Sang asked in order to clarify, “So, what are we suggesting, here? Are you saying that we should make a club of our own? It’s been years since we graduated!”
“No, not like that.”
The idea wasn’t to go back to the past. Instead, there was something that could be done in the present, and like a leader, Dae Soo said loudly, “Let’s say… a club?”
“That’s right. All we gotta do is change the name ever so slightly, and we’ll find what we’re looking for.”
Literature Club, compilation, club, and the word Juho guessed in his mind all came out of Dae Soo’s mouth.
“Our club’s very own literature magazine.”
A literature magazine was a rarity, and not at all popular. However, in the early stages of Korean literature, a number of authors would come together and publish a literature magazine.
“The very first literature magazine came out in… 1919? During the Independence Day Movement?”
“I mean, to think that writers back then would come together to write is really breathtaking.”
As the authors thought about the authors through history, whether of novelists or of the poets of Chungrokpa, interest began to stir in each of their hearts.
(TL’s Note: Chungrokpa was a group of three poets in Korea in the 1940s who contributed to the preservation of Korean poems before and after the nation’s liberation from the Japanese occupation.)
“Well, the literature magazines from back then were, needless to say, legendary.”
With that, the eyes of all the other authors sparkled with interest as well, captivated by the idea.
“You’re right, Dae Soo!” Mideum let out, excited, and Dong Gil, who was always level headed in every situation, agreed.
“I don’t see why not. There are nine authors here, and I’m sure we each know at least one printing factory. Besides, more and more people have been publishing their books on their own, and a lot of amateur clubs publish their own magazines. If we keep things small and manageable, there’s nothing to lose.”
Then, Juho looked around at the authors who had come together, each distinct from one another. If each author were to contribute with one piece of writing, they would be able to put together a literature magazine that was both artistic and appealing to the masses.
“That sounds fun,” Sang murmured. The idea was starting to develop more and more, reaching the point of actually being carried out.
At that moment, Geun Woo added in a hurry, “Hold on! I’ve been working on something!”
“Is there a deadline?”
“No… It’s not like that.”
“Then, what’s there to worry about? Think of it as a breather.”
Determined to carry out the idea, Dae Soo shot down Geun Woo’s concern, and as Juho admired her proactivity, they locked eyes with each other. A mischievous smile appeared on Dae Soo’s face.
“Mr. Woo. How much longer will you let San Jung chase you around?”
After that, she turned her head without even giving him time to respond.
“While we’re at it, let’s all compete on whose writing stands out the most. I know I shouldn’t be the one to talk here, but we are all decent writers here, right?”
“Compete? There is no such a thing in art,” Dong Gil said, alone and proudly, but he was soon buried by Mideum’s exclamation.
“You’re on! I won’t go easy on anybody. I’d be SO happy if my writing turns up at the top, above everyone else’s here. After all, we’re greedy by nature.”
“You can discuss being at the top when I’m not present,” Sang said.
To which, Seo Joong argued, “No, that’s not true. Even Dong Gil struggled to beat me at one point in the past.”
“I think I just heard something that I can’t ignore.”
“C’mon, buddy. I know what happened.”
“I proved, a long time ago, that you still have a ways to go until you reach my level,” Dong Gil said, contradicting his proud statement from earlier. Competition was bound to exist in any field of expertise, and Geun Woo grew pale, begging Joon Soo to stop them.
“Joon Soo, you gotta do something!”
“I don’t know. I’m actually kind of interested, myself. Maybe you should take the opportunity to prove yourself, Geun Woo.”
“What would I do among all of these authors? From San Jung to Yun Woo? And there’s you, who would never fall short in artistic value.”
“C’mon, now. You have a style that’s unique to yourself.”
“… Joon Soo!”
Just like that, the opposing party was silenced, and amid the commotion, Juho thought, ‘How did we get here from talking about the Literature Club?’
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