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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
In a crowded place, a student staring intently into his laptop was more than enough to arouse the curiosity of the pedestrians. However, just as how modern people tended to be, their curiosities were fickle. They were occupied with protecting their babies, walking their dogs, fishing, riding their bicycles, and passing out flyers. And for those reasons, Juho decided to pay no attention to his surroundings.
The reason why Juho had bought his laptop had been to write while looking at the serene river. With the blank page on the screen, Juho concentrated all the more. He was about to write a short story about death, which he had experienced firsthand, and which everyone was bound to experience eventually. In other words, it was a subject everybody would find relatable.
There was a reason why love and death were such popular subjects among artists. While people were terrified of death, they were swayed by love. The river flowed serenely, but despite its calming appearance, one couldn’t breath in it, leaving them helpless. Then, a thought rose to the surface of Juho’s mind: ‘I want to write a piece like that.’
With that, he began to type away slowly on his laptop. The reflection of a man looking at the screen of Juho’s laptop rushed past the screen. Fortunately, the young author didn’t have to worry about his story leaking out to the public because it was going to be written in a different language. In fact, Juho intended on writing the short story in a language only he could understand.
Having experienced death once, Juho wondered about what kind of composition he would be able to come up with, and he had no clue as to what kind of ideas would come out of his fingertips. Much like death, there was no way to know what was on the other side.
However, Juho didn’t try to fight what he was feeling, and the fact that there was no pen or paper next to him was proof of that. There was no trajectory or objective. Instead, he simply filled his head with thoughts about death while writing. Although it wasn’t clear as to how things would turn out, Juho assumed it would be something closest to his experience with death.
That situation, emotions, and memories. Explicitly. Because Juho wasn’t planning on sugarcoating his story, it had to be short and pack a punch. And he wrote while being conscious not to get ahead of himself, keeping a rational mindset.
While the wet, emotional hands in his mind urged him on, the dry, rational hands clutched at his legs. Writing in that awkward and uncomfortable place was, simply put, a death-like experience. The river flowed peacefully, uninterrupted, without a clue of where it would end up. The wavelets broke fearlessly, serene and beautiful. There was nothing murderous about its appearance despite it being responsible for killing an author.
With that, Juho kept typing away, asking himself, ‘Why did I have to die?’ Unfortunately, he couldn’t reach an answer. The river flowed, and the young author kept on writing.
“I’m getting hungry.”
The sun had already set by the time Juho finished writing. As the battery in his laptop ran low, he had been going repeatedly to a nearby cafe in order to charge it, and the only thing that had gone into his stomach the entire day was coffee. Feeling insecure about becoming more like Kelley Coin, Juho picked up a flyer he had received as he arrived at the park near the Han River and ordered himself a bowl of black bean noodles. Korea was a fascinating country where there was always somebody working.
The noodles Juho had ordered arrived in no time, and he began to slurp away at it as quickly as it had arrived. Then, as he ate hastily, he couldn’t help but chuckle.
‘Man, what am I doing?’
Writing had the power to reduce its creator to a beggar, and despite the seemingly harsh truth, the noodles were all the more delicious.
Although sunset had been the only new development, the park near the river looked entirely different. He was alone, and there were no babies or dogs to be found anywhere. Except, bicycles were rushing past him even faster than before, and people paid no attention to the young author. Despite having the choice to make the night become day-like with all the lights in the city by simply relocating, Juho chose not to.
The black river came into view. Black. Juho remembered San Jung and the clothes she had been wearing. And now, death. Only then, did he realize that the culprit responsible for taking his life had not been the serene river from earlier that day, but the black water before his eyes. It was in that gaping darkness that he had drowned.
Then, he looked at the letters that filled the laptop’s screen. He had to delete them. They weren’t what he had had in mind. Upon pressing a button on his laptop, the letters disappear one by one, and with that, Juho ended up deleting more than half of what he had written. At the sight of it, Juho couldn’t help but feel like his efforts had been in vain. What he had written while enduring an empty stomach had evaporated into thin air. However, he had had no choice. It simply hadn’t been what he had been looking for, and he knew that he could do much better.
While bearing many lifeforms within it, Juho couldn’t adapt to the black water that shone brightly. He couldn’t become like the numerous creatures that lived within it. He was a foreigner, a loser, and a failure who couldn’t adapt to his new environment.
He typed away, asking himself, ‘Why did I have to die?’ Unlike previously, Juho reached an answer as if told by the dark water. The river flowed, and the young author kept on writing.
Things were different from the past, when he had been on the verge of death. His hands had shaken from the alcohol abuse, and he had been entirely incapable of writing out the sentences in his mind. With that, Juho thought of the new faces he had met, and among them, a young girl who mourned the death of her even younger brother. Then, the moment he mixed those thoughts into his ever-so-peaceful plot, he noticed the pleasant changes that occurred from it.
Juho took a notepad out of his inner pocket. However, no matter how many times he examined it, he couldn’t find anything about the girl in it. The notepad had to be back in his room, amid the stacks of papers that had scattered all about it when he forgot to close the window before leaving his house.
“Ugh, come on.”
With that, Juho rose from his place in a hurry. Along with his laptop, he also carried a notepad, and although his life had stabilized significantly since the past, Juho found himself running yet again. His vision shook, and the laptop felt quite heavy in his arms, but when he realized that he wasn’t fighting for breath, it dawned on him how different things were from the past.
‘I’ll probably end up writing some more when I get home. I’ll go through those papers until I find what I’m looking for. Then, I’m gonna turn what I’m feeling into writing.’
Juho was motivated to win, and he wanted to turn up above everyone else. He wanted to move them and leave them shaken.
Unfortunately, those were the very things that he would have to forget as soon as he picked up his pen. And for that reason, Juho decided to indulge in his greed until he arrived home.
“Authors of Various Bestsellers Come Together to Publish a Literary Magazine! Yun Woo Reported to be Participating. Friendship among Yun Woo and Authors Draws Attention.”
“Is Yun Woo Really a Part of the Literary Club? News on Their New Literary Magazine.’
“Who Else Is in the Club with Yun Woo? Mideum Choo, the Author Who Created a Character Based on Yun Woo, Reported to Be in the Club.”
“Sang Choi, the Leading Figure in Korean Romance Novels, Part of a Social Club with Yun Woo.”
“A Closer Look at Korean Literary Magazines and Their Humble Beginnings Dating Back to 1919.”
“San Jung Youn, the Backbone of Korean Literature, Reported to Be in the Club with Yun Woo. The Club of the Giants and the Reason Why We Should Look Forward to Their Magazine.”
“A Number of Yun Seo Baek’s Pupils Reported to be Participating in the Creation of the New Literary Magazine. Is Her Effort to Train Authors for the New Generation Finally Paying Off?”
“A Number of Bestselling Authors, Including Dae Soo Na, Seo Joong Ahn, Dong Gil Uhm, Reported to Have Met Yun Woo in Person. How Long Have They Known About Yun Woo’s Identity? An Interview on Their Current State.”
“Fans Already on Their Toes for the New Literary Magazine. The Best of the Generation Come Together. Inquiries Flooding in.”
“‘Koreans Don’t Read.’ No Longer True? Yun Woo at the Center of the Golden Age of Korean Literature that Came After Crisis.”
“Will Yun Woo’s Piece Be Included in the New Literary Magazine? Publishers Focus on Yun Woo yet Again. Would the Young Author Survive among the Veteran Authors?”
“Will Yun Woo Take Back His Place at the Top from San Jung Youn? Yun Woo’s Reaction?”
“So, who was it?” Juho asked Dae Soo on the phone. Who could’ve leaked information about the club and caused such a ruckus? Who was responsible for keeping the writers from writing due to the countless phone calls flooding in? There were a handful of suspects, and although Juho could very well be one of them, he himself knew that he wasn’t the culprit.
Then, a heavy sigh sounded from Juho’s receiver.
“It was none other than our very own detective writer.”
At that, Juho chuckled. Mideum seemed like she had a talent for blowing things out of proportion.
“She does have a history.”
There was the time when she created a character based on Yun Woo and mentioned his name explicitly in an interview. Thanks to that incident, Mideum had earned herself an interview with the young author. However, Juho couldn’t quite wrap his head around what had happened this time around.
“It’s our sad fate to repeat the same mistakes over and over again,” Dae Soo said as if she had let everything go. She had to have punished Mideum already. Then, hearing some commotion in the background, Juho asked, “Seems like you were in the middle of something.”
“You might be leading a quiet life, but we’ve been getting phone calls left and right, from both readers and publishers.”
At that, Juho sipped his tea unhurriedly and asked, “So, what’s your plan, our fearless leader?”
“Well, seems like we don’t have much of a choice other than to go big,” Dae Soo said confidently. “Thanks to you, Mr. Woo, the demand for the magazine is exploding, and this is a literary magazine we’re talking about! We haven’t even started putting the pieces together!”
“Please, how are you so certain that it’s because of me?”
“Are you really asking? Did you see how much you’re mentioned throughout the media?”
“I’m sorry,” Juho admitted, since it was true that the name Yun Woo was being mentioned significantly more in all media.
“Well, since we already decided to go big, we should be the ones thanking you.”
The name Yun Woo was an excellent means of advertisement, and Dae Soo confessed that it was foolish to have thought that they wouldn’t enjoy the benefit of bearing that name.
“It’s gonna sell like there’s no tomorrow, and we’re gonna donate every cent we make out of it.”
At Dae Soo giving him the opportunity to object, Juho said, “How can I? I’m on board.”
“OK, then. Now, from here on out, forget about having a light-hearted attitude. We’re each writing pieces to be published to the world. Of course, you didn’t need me to remind you of that, right?”
Juho hadn’t intended on approaching the project light-heartedly from the get-go, and it had to be the same way for the rest of the authors in the club.
“Of course. Seems like things got even more interesting!”
“That’s what I like to hear! Geun Woo was groaning miserably.”
“He tends to make a fuss.”
It was easy to imagine the author’s depressed expression.
“I’m guessing Mr. Choi is ecstatic?”
“Of course! It’s an opportunity to get more attention.”
“What about San Jung?”
“As usual. Nonchalant. Nothing fazes her, really.”
“That sounds about right.”
Then, Dae Soo changed the subject to Mideum.
“Oh! If you’d like to punish Mideum in person, come over now.”
“Punish? I have intention to do such a thing.”
“Really? Well, Uhm and Ahn are on their way.”
It was rather unfortunate for Mideum. Although it wasn’t clear how much she would suffer from Dong Gil and Seo Joong, Juho sent some small encouragement her way. Then, before hanging up, he added, “You won’t be able to get a hold of me until I finish writing. I’m planning on keeping my phone off.”
After the news about the literary magazine got out, his phone started ringing relentlessly, and there was no denying that it was a distraction. Now that he had had the opportunity to explain himself to Dae Soo, Juho fully intended on keeping his phone turned off for a while.
“O-ho-ho! Sounds like you’re going all in on this, Mr. Woo.”
“Yes, I fully intend on staying focused.”
From then on, Juho decided not to let anybody disturb him.
“By the time we talk again, I will have finished writing.”
Then, a quiet chuckle sounded from his receiver, saying, “OK, break a leg.”
With that, Dae Soo hung up. There was a subtle hint of competitiveness in her voice. After Juho turned off his phone and put it in a drawer, he placed his hands on the keyboard. The act bridged the gap between the present and the moment in which he had been writing while looking at the river. The emotions that he had brought home after meeting the girl and her brother, preserved in manuscript paper, were scattered all about his desk. From then on and for a very long time, only the keyboard resounded in the room.
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