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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“The Book Concert Ends in a Massive Success! Eight Authors on the Subject of Death. Their Portrayal in ‘The Beginning and the End?'”
“Yun Woo, Nowhere to be Found at the Concert, Left Fans Disappointed.”
“An Author Recognized by San Jung Youn, Yun Woo Writes the Most Superior Piece Out of the Nine Pieces. Authors Respond.”
“Authors’ Responses to Questions Regarding Yun Woo. Exposing Yun Woo’s identity!”
“The Secret of Yun Woo. How Did He Write ‘River?’ A Closer Look.”
“All the Hottest Authors in One Place? A Subtle Mind Game between San Jung Youn and Joon Soo Bong. Authors Fight for Yun Woo’s Position.”
“Yun Woo and the Intensity of His Work According to the Authors. The Finest of this Generation.”
“Mideum Testified about Yun Woo’s Studio? How Much Does He Write?”
“Yun Woo Hid in the Audience the Entire Time? The Controversial Review from Fans – ‘He Might Have Been in the Audience.’ Did Any of the Eight Give a Subtle Hint? Was Yun Woo Really There?”
“Yun Woo Likely Attended as an Audience Member. Authors Leave Answers Open. ‘Was He Sitting Next to Me?'”
“There was a student sitting next to me at the concert! It would’ve been so cool if he was Yun Woo.”
“I sat next to some grandpa. No hope there.”
“You never know. Who knows if that’s Yun Woo?”
“There was a grandma sitting next to me. Could it be……?!?”
“Normally, I would find things like this absurd, but this time, I actually find myself doubting it. That piece was NOT the work of an eighteen-year-old.”
“Everyone who read it will agree. Yun Woo’s writing is way beyond his age, already.”
“Oh, right. I forgot he was eighteen. I’m reading ‘River’ for the twentieth time, and it still sends chills down my spine. It’s not even a thriller or anything.”
“I heard Joon Soo Bong’s interpretation of ‘River’ at the concert, and apparently, it might be talking about the society we live in. In other words, the death in the book is the death that we will all experience in the future.”
“I have no clue what that means. Well, in any case, you’re saying that his piece was the best out of the nine, right?”
“”Eh, that sounds kind of rash. I mean, wasn’t San Jung Youn’s pretty good? I’m so thankful that she came out with a new piece so soon.””
“It does feel kind of floaty though. There’s something about it that makes it not as relatable as Yun Woo’s.”
“Seriously? Do you know anything about literature?”
“Hey man, take a chill pill. It’s just an opinion. No need to get all worked up.”
“I agree. In that case, every single author who wrote in that magazine has at least a decade of experience, so they had to be above average, at the very least.”
“Yet, Yun Woo managed to secure his place among those veteran authors.”
“Even San Jung Youn recognized him.”
“If writing was something that was judged solely on experience, Yun Woo would be way at the bottom. Writing has nothing to do with age or experience.”
“What the heck? Did you just say that? This is what happens when you judge Korean literature in its entirety based solely on Yun Woo. We don’t find prodigies in the literary world anymore for a reason, and Yun Woo was just lucky, just like his name, ‘Coincidence.’ People aren’t doubting his age for no reason.”
“All that matters is how immersive a book is. On that note, I vote Yun Woo.”
“No matter what Yun Woo writes from now on, he won’t be able to outdo ‘River.'”
Sitting under a tree, Juho stared out at the schoolyard in the distance. As the recess bell rang, the kids went their own ways while in their P.E clothes, playing soccer, dodgeball, or basketball.
“Don’t they ever get tired?” Seo Kwang murmured. Although he was rather distant from physical activities, he couldn’t bring books to read in P.E, so with his legs crossed while resting his chin on his hand, he watched the students who were more active than him from afar.
“I mean, recess isn’t even that long, but they still run out of their classes with a ball in their hands. They eat lunch faster so that they can play soccer, right? I feel like they come to school to run around in the schoolyard,” Seo Kwang said, staring at them as if looking at someone from another world.
At that, Juho said mockingly, “They’d probably say something similar to what you said: ‘Doesn’t he ever get tired of reading?'”
“When you read.”
To be more precise…
“I’m just going off of what I’ve seen so far. Recess isn’t even that long, but the first thing you do is to take out a book and read. You read while eating and during class, behind the textbook. They might feel like you come to school to read.”
“Those pricks,” Seo Kwang let out, unaware that he was making a fool out of himself. To which…
… Juho simply agreed, quietly.
“They’re freshmen, right?” Seo Kwang asked as he turned his head, and just like he had said, those who had gathered around in the schoolyard were freshmen. Although they had a P.E teacher, he simply allowed them to have free time after leading a brief stretching session. Because the sophomores had taken over the schoolyard, the freshmen were mostly hanging out in the corner of the yard, talking.
“Wait, isn’t that Bo Suk?”
At that moment, Juho recognized the protruding gem among the group. At which point, that gem began to walk straight through the swarm of sophomores playing sports. Her hair moved about busily.
“Yep. That’s her.”
“She’s coming our way, right?”
Because she had already arrived, there was no need for confirmation. Having ran in their direction, she stopped in front of Juho and bowed.
“Hello!” she greeted the two with confidence. As Juho pointed out to her that there was sand on her knees, she brushed them off impatiently. Then, sitting next to Seo Kwang, she asked Juho out of nowhere, “You’re a genius, right, Juho?”
At that, having been staring absentmindedly at the pull-up bars in the distance, Juho turned his head toward her, but what came into view was the back of Seo Kwang’s head.
“Do you have any idea of how stupid this guy is? You’ll be shocked when you see his linguistics grades,” Seo Kwang said as if trying to obliterate the innocent delusion of the freshman. Then, as Juho, too, remembered his linguistics grades, he couldn’t say otherwise.
At which point, Bo Suk shook her head, adding, “Oh, no. Not that. What else can I mean when I say that he’s a genius?”
It was brutal honesty, but she didn’t stop there.
“So, you’re a genius, right?”
At the simple question, Juho answered with a question, “If I say that I am, does that mean I really am a genius?”
“Uh… I guess so? Now that you mention it, what would that mean for actual geniuses, then?” Bo Suk said, blinking in confusion, and at that, an impatient look appeared on Seo Kwang’s face.
“You just know. ‘Oh, yeah. This person’s a genius,’ or ‘Oh. This guy’s an idiot.'”
Because there was no certificate of any sort that would prove that one was a genius, those around them had to rely on their instincts as their primary indicator, and because of that, the results were subjective.
Then, after a brief thought, Bo Suk went on to explain why she brought up the subject, “So, while I was talking to my friends, things like colleges and careers came up, and that’s where we branched off to things like talents and effort.”
“Then, I thought of you because I, personally, consider authors to be a genius.”
At that moment, Juho locked eyes with her.
“I thought that you were the first genius I had seen in person.”
“But the standards don’t seem to be all that impressive. Maybe there are more geniuses in this world than I thought.”
At that, Seo Kwang shook his head, pitying the naive freshman.
“There’s nothing stricter or more cumbersome than meeting subjective standards. It takes sacrifice of your pride and being exceptionally outstanding on something.”
“What does that mean?”
“Why do you think that this guy is the only genius you’ve ever met in your entire life when there might be more geniuses in this world than you thought? It’s because you’ve already made up your mind not to consider just anybody a genius.”
Bo Suk blinked while thinking back on the time when she read Yun Woo’s story for the first time. What had come out of her ahead between pride or mindset had been an exclamation.
“That’s my case, anyway. I have high standards,” Seo Kwang said as a way to wrap up the conversation. Considering the number of books he had read up to that point, it only made sense that he would have high standards.
“I concur,” Bo Suk said. She was honest, and being honest with oneself was a powerful tool that served them well in life.
From her answer, Juho thought, ‘She’ll be a good writer.’
At which point, Bo Suk asked again, “Well, do you consider yourself to be a genius, Juho?”
The question was better-phrased that time, and Juho looked at the other students, who were wiping their sweat with their clothes after running around the schoolyard.
“I still have a ways to go.”
“Well, that was disappointing.”
Seo Kwang and Bo Suk said, simultaneously. Then, she directed her question to another person. Looking at Seo Kwang, she asked, “Do YOU think that Juho is a genius?”
At that, Juho looked at his friend, or more precisely, the back of his friend’s head, which answered, “I think he still is.”
“Still is?” Bo Suk asked, and the head nodded affirmingly.
“I think he is a genius still. I can’t think of another word that would describe him. At least, in that field, anyway.”
“Does that mean that there could be a time when you think otherwise? Can you lose the title genius, kind of like a fallen genius?”
It was more than possible, and Juho’s flinching hand was proving that. Then, the head said quietly, “We’ll see when the time comes.”
At that, Bo Suk briefly lowered her head as if she understood, but soon, a puzzled look appeared on her face.
“Then, what’s above a genius? What would be the opposite of plummeting?”
At the seemingly naive question, Seo Kwang sneered while Juho listened to their conversation quietly.
“What’s the point of knowing either of those? Words don’t come with numbers, you know.”
Instead, every word carried its own, distinct feel. They had shape, smell, flavor, and texture, allowing them to dig deeper into people’s hearts. Something slightly greater than the word genius. Something slightly more dated. Something that seemed wiser and more admirable.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, my friend, you have a lot more writing to do,” Seo Kwang said, bragging.
One could think that he was Yun Woo. Seo Kwang was aware of the readers’ evaluations of Yun Woo’s new short story, ‘River,’ which was: The best work by Yun Woo, yet. At the same time, there were those who went even further, saying that Yun Woo’s skill had finally reached its limit and that he had written the masterpiece of his life, as if he wouldn’t be able to outdo himself in the future. Although it was subtle, there was covet and jealousy behind those words, which hoped for Yun Woo’s downfall.
Then, he remembered his meeting with Nam Kyung not too long ago, who had also expressed concerns, saying that Juho could take his time writing his next piece in order to comfort him about something. Jang Mi and Nabi had behaved in the exact same manner, and although they weren’t explicit about it, other fellow authors had to be feeling the same way. They had to be wondering if he was OK after writing such an intense piece with little regard for emotional consequences, if he was struggling with the weight of it. They had to be wondering if he would be able to surpass his own achievement.
Whether it was for better or for worse, Juho was OK because he had no idea if what he had written was good or not. After sending his manuscript of ‘River’ to Dae Soo, Juho wasn’t able to sleep for an entire week, and he knew that it was nowhere near enough to earn him the title which he yearned for, The Great Storyteller. He knew he could do better… Probably.
“Me too,” Juho said, and Seo Kwang and Bo Suk looked at him.
“I think I need to write more, too.”
At that moment, a stark contrast appeared in their expressions, but Juho paid no attention to them. There were two people hanging on the pull-up bar, and the teacher was dozing off while sitting on a chair of mysterious origin. It was a battle without a referee.
“Yeah, sure, don’t mind us, or anybody around you for that matter. Ugh. It’s like we have to worry FOR you.”
“That’s incredible, Juho. You’re just that word I was looking for: the one above genius. Hm… like… a cloud!”
“Didn’t you say they looked like stools, last time?”
“I sure did.”
Then, the bell rang, and the three rose from their seats under the tree.
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