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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Huh! Is that right? That should make your fans happy!” Juho said candidly, and Sang Choi simply nodded.
“But then, I became curious.”
“About?” Juho asked, sensing trouble. Unfortunately, it was a tad too late for him to get out of it. As a scream came from afar, Juho thought about suggesting to the romance writer that they get on of the rides.
“The love story of a genius,” Sang said, looking at the young author. Upon realizing that he was being stared at, Juho looked away from the romance writer’s uncomfortable gaze.
“I have a keen interest in you, as well as your young, fresh love.”
“Young and fresh, huh.”
Juho couldn’t remember the last time he had experienced that. As the young author dragged on, Sang asked, “Have you ever loved someone?”
It was a question Juho wasn’t quite used to hearing. However, his instincts had told him that the romance writer would ask that very question someday.
“Sure, I have.”
“Of course. I’m human, and I have primitive emotions like that too. Since I was born, I came to realize the love my parents have for me, along with friendship and patriotism.”
“I find your answer highly unsatisfying,” Sang said, resting his chin on his hand. Yet, his eyes were still fierce.
“What I’m talking about is an interaction with another person, outside of family. Instinctive and provocative. You know, the kind that gets a bad rep for being immature. Eros. Sexual love,” he said, clarifying himself in order to prevent Juho from backing out. Then, he raised his hand as a gesture of his willingness to explain things in even greater detail if necessary. Love. It was a topic inseparable from literature. Then, seeing the mascot walking by, Juho answered, “Yes, I have experience with that as well.”
Just as he had said, Juho did experience such a love in the past, and he had even lived together with a woman at one point, with whom he was in a deeply physical and emotional relationship. As the young author felt the romance writer’s piercing gaze on his cheek, Juho looked away briefly, regretting the answer he gave Sang. There wasn’t much else to be said, even if Sang were to ask more questions.
“Hm,” Juho dragged on, but it wasn’t because he was bashful or had something to hide about the woman. Besides, there weren’t any interesting stories to tell either. His memory of her was simply hazy, and Juho had lost nearly all of the memories related to the woman he had had a relationship with. From her appearance to her voice, touch, things she liked and disliked, nothing was certain, and it had nothing to do with him coming back from the dead. It had just been natural to forget about her. They had parted ways, after all.
“So, does that mean you’re not in a relationship at the moment?” Sang asked, but there wasn’t much Juho could say, unfortunately, and the fact that he was at the theme park with a forty-odd-year-old romance writer was further proof of that.
“We broke up a very long time ago,” the young author said, and Sang scoffed at the last three words in his sentence. However, Juho brushed it off with a shrug.
“Sounds like you don’t love her all that much anymore, seeing how dry your tone is…”
“We parted ways. What else can I say?”
“Man, this is why people shouldn’t be so quick to underestimate kids. He knows what love is.”
Juho’s past love existed only as an abstract memory. His instincts were telling him that it was an experience that he most likely couldn’t go through again. At the same time, there was an arrogance in his heart that was telling him that what he had experienced really was, in fact, love. Also, there also existed gratefulness toward the woman who had taught him love.
“Was she a high school student?”
Juho didn’t remember seeing her in uniform. They both had to have met as adults. Juho tried to retrace his memory to remember where they had first met. ‘Was it by the Han River? Maybe it was the beach. Or was it at the park? A subway station? Bah, I don’t know anymore.’ It was useless. The young writer couldn’t remember anything about her, including how she had been dressed, or what kind of shoes she had been wearing. After staring at the air, Juho said, “I can’t really remember.”
“C’mon, now. You don’t think I’ll let you off the hook with an answer like that, do you?”
“Well then, that presents a-whole-nother issue in and of itself. Aren’t you a little young to be saying things like that? You’re not even allowed to drink, yet.”
“Tell me about it,” Juho said in order to brush off the romance writer’s relentless questions. “Well, I don’t think it’s fair to say anything about the matter without the consent of the other party, so I’m afraid I can’t speak any further.”
At the young author’s emphatic answer, Sang sighed and said, “All right. Fine. I won’t ask about your past love. Then, how about this? Do you like anybody at the moment? You know, a potential new love.”
“You sound like a dad talking to his teenage son that hit puberty.”
“Tell me,” Sang said, although looking nothing like a father looking at his son.
“The people obsessed with fire. Before that, One, Two, Three, and Four. And before that, I was in love with a neighborhood dog,” Juho said, remembering the dog barking in the distance whenever he visited Yun Seo at her house. It was rather adorable. However, Sang was looking quite displeased.
“Right. I get it. You’re an author too. What, you trying to show off what you learned from Mrs. Baek? Are you in love with the world, all of a sudden?”
Juho chuckled quietly at Sang’s sarcastic remark and changed the subject subtly.
“Well, how about yourself, Mr. Choi? I’d love to get a professional opinion on the matter of love.”
“Go look for it in bookstores.”
“Oh… C’mon, now. It’s not the same.”
“You’re just too young for this. When you’re old enough to have a drink with me, ask me again.”
“So, when did you start treating yourself with so much respect?”
“From the moment I was born.”
When Sang answered in a heartbeat, a subtle smile appeared on Juho’s face. He, too, had to have his share of embellishment. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense to Juho that Sang would be capable of writing such elaborate love stories.
After that, the young author thought of his other fellow authors and their portrayals of love. Seo Joong had written a version of it that suited his personality just right, and Dong Gil had done the same. When Juho brought up the two authors, the self-loving romance writer snickered, saying, “They both have a ways to go until they catch up to me.”
However, Seo Joong and Dong Gil’s portrayal of love focused on life itself, which made it inherently different from Sang’s.
“Seo Joong’s portrayal of love is… how should I put it? It’s mostly familial love. It’s immensely safe, and in terms of color, I’d say it’s closer to yellow than pink.”
“I think I get what you’re saying. He focuses more on the aspects of trust and interdependence than the heart-throbbing side of things.”
As someone who had read Seo Joong’s story, Juho was able to catch on to Sang immediately. Seo Joong was more likely to portray love as the lasting commitment of being by each other’s side until the end rather than something more blatant, like jealousy.
“As for Dong Gil, his love life is… Well, it’s hard to watch.”
“He usually doesn’t get past having a crush on someone, doe he? I’ve seen him drive a depressed character to the edge of the cliff after being rejected by a woman.”
“And his style just makes him look all the more pitiful, you know?”
“Love with a rigid ending tends to arouse pity,” Juho said, seeing the vivid look of displeasure on Sang’s face as he glanced over in his direction. “Your version of love, on the other hand, is very entertaining. No other author may be as elaborate as you when it comes to portraying one’s process of falling in love, what happens to somebody in love, how love ruins lives and how people can save themselves from it.”
“Of course, there’s no one! Only I’m capable of writing my novels,” Sang said, going further rather than accepting Juho’s compliment modestly. Then, after his emphatic answer, Sang pointed at the young author and asked, “What about you?”
“Yes, you. I’ve never read Yun Woo’s portrayal of romance. Why haven’t you written about it yet when you have the experience?”
“I have. I’ve written about familial love too… in ‘Sound of Wailing.'”
“No, no. That’s way too twisted for it to feel like love,” Sang said emphatically and questioned the young author again.
“No reason in particular. I just stay true to my instincts and write what I feel like writing.”
Sang narrowed his eyes at Juho’s answer. “Well, you do have a darker personality than you let on. Maybe death suits you better than love,” Sang said, making a valid point.
Then, after some brief contemplation, Juho asked, “Should I try writing about love?”
“What? You mean at home?”
“No, I mean for real.”
“Wait, are you telling me that you’re thinking about publishing another piece!?” Sang asked, and as Juho nodded, the romance writer scanned the young author, up and down.
“… Remind me how long it’s been since you published a novel.”
“You see, I have way too much time in my hands.”
“If authors wrote because they had too much time, then they wouldn’t have to suffer so much. If I were to write at the pace you usually write, I’d be vomiting blood. Don’t you ever get tired? How many pages do you write in a day?”
“I don’t write a set amount, but on average… I’d say anywhere from fifteen to twenty pages.”
At Juho’s answer, Sang groaned painfully, looking like he immediately regretted hearing what came out of Juho’s mouth.
“So, that would add up to about six hundred pages a month, more or less, which means you’re essentially writing a full-length novel every three months. But you don’t stop there, do you? You go out looking for things to write about immediately after you are done, don’t you? If I were to hear what you just told me from another person, I wouldn’t have believed them, but then you’ve actually done it… Man, that’s just gross.”
“Why are you looking at me like that? There are plenty of authors who write a number of pages every day. I’m not even that diligent, which means there’s nothing special about me in comparison to authors like that.”
Despite Juho’s argument, the way Sang was looking at the young author didn’t change.
“Where do you find all those things to write about, and where do you get the stamina? Please, enlighten me.”
“You see, I’m a small eater. It doesn’t take a lot of food for me to fill satisfied. Even this short conversation we’re having at this moment could give me enough material with which to write a book.”
The truth was that Juho was merely catching up on the writing he had been putting off. There had been times when an assignment he had procrastinated on had proved to be of help in an unexpected way, and love had been the same way. Juho felt like he had been trying to write about her, all along. He had to have been. However, he had been putting it off because he had felt like the genuine desire had never come to him. Then, after putting off writing about her repeatedly, the memories of her eventually faded away. He must have wanted to write about forgotten love. Or perhaps, forgetting her was what it took for him to be able to write about her. In any case, what was important was that he was finally able to face the matter after wandering aimlessly for years on end. With that, after plugging her into an array of stories in his head, Juho came to the conclusion that he needed more material to work with.
“Give it here,” Sang said, putting his hand out and staring intently at it.
Juho asked, “Give you what?”
“The trash. I’ll go take it out.”
“It’s fine. I can go.”
“No, I can do it. I need to go to the restroom, anyway,” Sang said, bunching the trash together. Then, with one hand in his pocket, the romance writer walked leisurely through the space filled with joy and happiness. If he had come to the theme park on his own, that was probably how he would’ve looked. If anything, Sang was playing the role of accentuating the space. Perhaps, that was why the love born out of his hands was loved by so many. After all, he loved himself more than anybody. Perhaps, that was how he was able to write about people who gave their hearts to others in a more original and accurate manner. At that moment…
“Pardon me,” a voice said in another language. When Juho turned toward it, he saw a couple. The language he had just heard had been Japanese. Then, politely handing the young author their camera with both of their hands, one of them asked, “Please take a picture of us.”
The man had done so in inarticulate Korean, making a gesture as if to take a picture with a camera with both of his hands. Then, Juho rose from his seat.
“Sure, which button do I press?”
“Oh, my! You speak Japanese! Are you Japanese?”
“Oh, no. I know enough to get by.”
The man’s hair was dyed in bright brown but the roots were still black. Around the wrist of the woman handing Juho the camera, was a colorful assortment of bracelets.
“Are you two visiting?”
“Yes, we are,” the Japanese couple answered, adding that they were frequent travelers.
“Whenever we visit a country, we always go to a theme park.”
Then, they would always take a picture afterward. It was clear that the couple had been dating for a long time from the way they interacted with each other.
Upon seeing a mascot walking by, they brought it toward them and stood on either side of the mascot, who waved gladly and posed appropriately. Then, as explained by the woman, Juho pressed the big button on the camera.
“One more,” Juho said, and the shutter sound followed after the couple’s response. With that, after taking the pictures, the mascot waved once again and went on its way. As the couple approached him, Juho handed the camera over to them, and they, too, waved goodbye.
That’s when a voice said to him, “Your Japanese is impressive.”
When the young author turned around, there was Sang Choi, looking unsurprised.
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