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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
The performer in the light and the man in the dark. The enormous performer and the man reduced to a timid member of the audience. The performer moving the hearts of the listener with the beautiful melody and the man leaving the viewers of the movie feeling uneasy with his anxious look on his face. Although the two were rivals, the contrast between them was being conveyed to the viewers visually. After all, it was a movie. The notes played by the performer were quite passionate. Fast and dark, they gave the viewers an implication of the state of the man in the audience.
“Jealousy only appears when there’s someone better. If I were to describe what that man is feeling about the performer, I’d have to use the word timid. Timid jealousy. I’m not talking about the intensity of his jealousy necessarily, but rather, the degree of his expression. The man probably doesn’t have to guts to inflict any harm on the performer. If anything, he’ll probably blame himself in a corner, somewhere.”
That was the image being conveyed by the man’s petite figure. If he had been a person who expressed his emotions more directly, rather than biting his nails, he would have either stormed out of the hall or kicked things angrily. Or, at the very least, clenched his hands tightly into fists. In other words, rather than being anxious, he would have chosen to express an emotion closer to anger.
“I hope he’s a person who has performed all of his life and did nothing but play,” Juho said. Based on the personality of the character, Juho imagined an arbitrary version of the man’s life. The man had lived his entire life in front of a piano. His fingers were long and clean, and he had led a rather peaceful life, filled with music. Then, the performer appeared, and for the first time, he had met another musician who was better than him. The performer’s playing had to be…
“… the biggest trial in the man’s life, I’d say.”
As far as hardships for such a timid, yet delicate character, the degree of it was just right. At this point, at least.
“This is still the beginning of the movie, right?” Juho asked Yun Seo, and she gave him an affirmative answer. In Juho’s mind, sentences began to form quickly, and Juho had a desire to show everyone in the room even those things that moving images wouldn’t be able to show. In writing, it was very much possible to place the camera right next to the heart of a person.
“I read your piece, ‘River,'” Hyun Do said quietly.
At that, Juho listened intently.
“I’m sure you’re tired of compliments by now, so I’ll just get right to the point,” the literary great said in a calm and pleasant tone of voice. “Were you challenged in any way when you were writing?”
“Did you find yourself getting frustrated with anything?”
Unlike normal, Juho was quite taken aback because of how unfamiliar he was with the questions. Nobody had asked questions like that. Everyone had been occupied with how impressive the piece was and recovering from the emotional impact of it. Many people had concerns about Yun Woo’s dark past, which had enabled him to write such a dark piece, as well as about his future, believing that he would face the challenge of having to outdo himself. However, those very concerns were the things that Hyun Do had leisurely addressed by asking about the young author’s current state.
Of course, there were bound to be challenges when writing.
“Although I really wanted to write well, I wanted to write especially well this time.”
“So, I made an investment. I bought myself a laptop because I wanted to work while looking at the river. But I was caught off guard by how fast the battery runs out.”
“And this time, I made a lot more revisions than I normally do, and it was incredibly boring. I found myself getting distracted, mostly wondering what kind of stories other authors would write about.”
It was quite a refreshing feeling.
While conversing with Hyun Do about various topics, Juho suddenly changed the subject, as curiosity rose to the surface of his mind.
“Mr. Lim, have you ever written for a literary magazine?”
“Of course!” Yun Seo said vividly. Taken aback, her pupils asked in turn,
“When?? This is my first time hearing this.”
“What was it called? Where can we find it?”
At the two making a fuss, their teacher answered delightfully, “It was between us three: my husband, myself, and Hyun Do.”
“What are you bringing that up, for?!” Hyun Do said to her, looking displeased, and she got a kick out of it.
“Why wasn’t it known? I’m not the only one who doesn’t know about this, am I?”
It was a collaboration between Wol Kang, Yun Seo Baek, and Hyun Do Lim. Yet, Juho knew nothing about it. Then, Hyun Do said, “That’s why it’s not worth talking about.”
“We didn’t publish it. It was like a joke between the three of us.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“The circumstances weren’t in our favor. Our relationship with the publishing company had gone sour, and the editing process went on a lot longer than anticipated. So, in the end, Wol lost interest, and the whole thing fell through. After all, he was the one that suggested it.”
“Ugh! Such a waste!” Geun Woo let out involuntarily, covering his mouth immediately after. However, Juho felt the same way. A literary magazine written by the three literary greats. He found himself desperate to get his hands on one, but unfortunately, it was no longer around.
“It seems like Mr. Kang had a fickle side.”
“He was the living example of what it was to be fickle,” Hyun Do said, and despite him openly making such a cold, heartless remark, Yun Seo didn’t deny it.
“Are the pieces gone for good?”
“It might be collecting dust somewhere. I’m not sure.”
“I’ll look for it, Mrs. Baek.”
“Oh, don’t bother. It’s ancient, now.”
Dissuading her two pupils, Yun Seo skillfully changed the subject.
“Speaking of which, aren’t you forgetting something, Geun Woo?”
“Yeah, you were so excited about Juho coming over.”
At that, Geun Woo clapped loudly and pointed at Juho.
“Yun Pil! The arrogant!”
(TL’s Note: the name “Yun Pil” (not to be confused with the Korean word for pencil, which sounds the same.) would be “Pil Yun” in Korea, which means fate – the opposite of coincidence, “Yun Woo.”)
‘A-ha,’ Juho immediately caught on to who Geun Woo was referring to. Yun Pil was the name of the character based on Yun Woo in Mideum’s novel, which Juho had read in the subway on his way there.
“It was very, very interesting reading about Mideum’s take on Yun Woo.”
At that, Juho smiled awkwardly, “He was very different from me.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
“Does that mean you find me arrogant?”
“What I’m saying is that this is a great opportunity for self-reflection.”
Geun Woo was quite excited, and although Juho looked at Joon Soo for help, he was finding the situation all too entertaining.
“Seems like you’ve read it too, Joon Soo.”
“Of course! It’s Mideum’s book. People were going crazy about it even before it came out because of the character based on Yun Woo. I’m sure Mideum lived up to her readers’ expectations. Besides, that Yun Pil? He’s an interesting one, that one.”
“And arrogant,” Juho added. At which point, Joon Soo burst out laughing.
“Don’t take it so hard now. It’s the ‘charming’ kind of arrogant,” Joon Soo said, subtly admitting that the character was arrogant.
“I saw that Mideum put a lot of work into it.”
“You’ve read it too, Mrs. Baek?”
“Of course! I love her books, especially the Dr. Dong series. By the way, I’m sure Hyun Do read it too.”
At that, Juho looked at Hyun Do, who nodded subtly, but affirmingly. Then, Geun Woo whispered to Joon Soo, “We should tell Mideum, right away. When she finds out that Mrs. Baek and Mr. Lim read her book, she’ll freak.”
It wasn’t hard to imagine Mideum being ecstatic. Then, Joon Soo said, “I, personally, thought Mideum was quite perceptive in the way she captured your personality.”
“In what sense?” Juho asked, genuinely. In his eyes, Yun Pil was the polar opposite of him, just like their names.
“Well, the character constantly crosses the line, and he does it so nonchalantly, to the point of it being appalling.”
“Was I ever rude like that?”
“No. I’ve yet to meet a high school student who’s as polite as you, to this day. BUT, you are kind of like Yun Pil when you write, right? Your writing is sensational for a reason. I mean, just look at Kelley Coin.”
“C’mon, you can’t compare me to Kelley Coin,” Juho said emphatically.
At which, Joon Soo chuckled, and said, “Well, in any case, you’re known to be arrogant from now on.”
“You think so?” Juho said. Then, he added in a somewhat fatigued-sounding voice, “Well, I do think it was inevitable, but this doesn’t just apply to me. Everyone perceives each other in a certain way, and that’s the image that defines a person to those around them. To those who went to a prestigious school, that becomes their image. Cops are cops to everyone. It’s not easy to see the true inner being of a person.”
It was the same way when watching TV, even if only for a few minutes. A person’s character on TV became their defining image as a person. And that was why actors who played villains in soap operas often suffered malicious and/or profane comments made about them on the internet.
“Yun Woo’s no different.”
Yun Pil’s image was starting to overlap that of Yun Woo. Wealthy, lives in a mansion, speaks recklessly, lacks consideration toward others, shameless, has no friends, and insists on being considered an author.
At that, Hyun Do stared intently at Juho, raising one of his eyebrows. Then, after studying his expression for a little while, Joon Soo tactfully rose from his seat.
After getting made fun of by Geun Woo, Juho walked out to the kitchen to get some snacks since Yun Seo had finally agreed to show the rest of the movie. Then, on his way back to the classroom, while carrying as many bags as he could, he saw Joon Soo through the living room window. He was staring intently at Juho’s painting, which Juho had previously left out on the flat bench in order to let it dry out.
“What are you doing here?” Juho asked as he came out the door. Then, taking his eyes off of the painting, Joon Soo looked toward him.
“What are you doing?”
“Carrying these back to the room,” Juho said, showing him all the snacks in his arms. “I pestered her for a little while, and she gave in.”
“Ah, I’ve already seen it, though.”
“Oh. Seems like it’s a movie that you wouldn’t wanna watch again.”
At that, Joon Soo remembered the movie. The protagonist didn’t die, unlike what Juho had posited about him. He simply kept on playing the piano.
“Not at all. It’s a great movie.”
Then, Joon Soo reminisced to his youth, when he had been drawn to the performer more than the man in the audience because of his obvious talent. Showcasing his talent on a brightly-lit stage and leaving his audience in shock, the performer was quite charming, and seeing his life on the screen brought about a great sense of satisfaction. Joon Soo also remembered how intensely biased he had been toward the character, to the point of fast-forwarding the movie whenever the man in the audience would appear on the screen.
However, years later, and after meeting all sorts of people, he had finally been able to embrace those around the brightly-lit stage. Those who failed, those who were trying again, those growing and yet to reach the top. And lately, he began to resonate with the less fortunate, who had nothing to show for. It wasn’t clear as to why. Perhaps he was getting older or turning a new leaf. Or maybe, he saw himself becoming more like those people.
Being a genius was a much more realistic goal as a child. However, as one grew older, the chance of achieving that goal dwindled increasingly because the title “genius” tended to perish quickly. It was for that reason that it often left those naive enough to try to obtain it in pain. This was especially true in the literary world. The nickname “genius” lost its charm quickly, and nobody was foolish enough to covet it.
Joon Soo took a deep breath.
‘It’s been a while since I felt this way.’
Perhaps it was Joon Soo’s first time meeting someone who wasn’t inherently talented, yet Joon Soo found himself calling him a “genius.” Whenever he read this genius’ works, he couldn’t help but be impressed.
When Joon Soo looked at Juho, he saw the young author munching on some of the snacks he had in his arms, looking as calm and unfazed as ever. There was no trace of fear or lingering attachment in his expression, and he had always moved on from those emotions, one step ahead of those around him.
“This painting is incredible,” Joon Soo said, looking at the painting that was drying on the flat bench. It had shrunk from the excessive moisture. “It looks like it’s about to rip at any given minute.”
“Yes, it does.”
That was what made the painting all the more incredible. Joon Soo remembered his very first painting, when he was being trained for the first time. A landscape painted at the center of the paper, it was still being kept in his studio. In order to portray the spirit of the subject, he had stretched and shrunk the object, and according to the words of his teacher, he had imitated an eastern painting. That was his first painting.
‘I can’t believe he soaked the paper in such a dirty water.’
Juho hadn’t even tried to draw anything. In fact, he hadn’t even tried, or even intended on creating something beautiful or attractive. Simply, Yun Woo took a pail of dirty, grey-colored water and threw it on the paper. At that moment, Joon Soo had been reduced to a coward.
“You were like that when you were writing ‘River,’ weren’t you?”
As a creator, Yun Woo wasn’t afraid of being broken. Which meant…
“I get a feeling that you would finish writing only to delete it all. At once and without hesitation.”
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