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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Hello, Mr. Popular,” Nam Kyung said playfully.
“You’re gonna eat, right? Juho asked, ignoring his joke.
“No. I think it’ll sit in my stomach like a boulder.”
“All right, then. Don’t mind if I do.”
Leaving Nam Kyung be, who seemed to be growing increasingly nervous, Juho took the wooden chopsticks and split them apart. Meanwhile, the editor looked at Juho eating without a care in the world with admiring eyes.
“You haven’t been appearing on TV without me knowing, have you? How are you so calm?”
“I wasn’t aware that eating was such a nerve-racking activity?”
“It is in a broadcasting station.” Then, looking at the mirror on the wall, Nam Kyung said, “I’m sure the host is guzzling water down on an empty stomach too. It is Yun Woo’s first official TV appearance.”
Juho smiled at the editor’s slightly exaggerated remark. About thirty minutes had passed by the time the young author finished his bento and started getting ready. Judging from how the voices coming from the distance sounded, it seemed like taping would start soon. Sure enough, the producer and the writer, who were earnestly trying to comfort the young author, came to the room to get Juho.
“Things will follow the questionnaire for the most part, so you don’t have to be too nervous.”
“You don’t have to worry about the cameras at all. Just make yourself at home and think of it as having a nice conversation with the host.”
“I’m sure there will be questions that are trickier to answer. In that case, take all the time you need to think about the question before you answer.”
“We prepared a bottle of water for you next to your seat, so please feel free should you find yourself getting thirsty.”
As the young author stepped onto the set, a series of cameras and monitors surrounding the studio and a crowd surrounding the set came into view. Then, following the producer’s guidance, Juho sat on the chair on the set. The chair was quite rigid. There was also a massive rectangular table, which kept the lower half of his body out of view. As Juho quietly waited on his seat, the people around him grew even busier. Seeing as though Nam Kyung was talking to the writer, it didn’t seem like the taping would start that soon.
“Here’s your microphone.”
Somebody walked onto set with a microphone. Juho rose from his seat to let the person do their job. Then, he noticed that people were starting to come closer to the set one by one. Maybe it was because they had seen somebody walk up to Juho.
“Would you take a picture with me?”
Wearing a lanyard around his neck, the man seemed to be an employee of the station. Just as he had done previously, the young author nodded willingly, and the two took a picture with the set in the background. There were also people who wanted to shake his hands and/or ask him to sign their copy of the young author’s book.
“Break a leg.”
Each and every one of those people left Juho with encouraging remarks. Nobody stuck around for longer than necessary. They approached when the timing was right and walked out of the set once they had gotten what they’d wanted. They seemed to be planning on sticking around for the entire shoot. Then, as Juho looked around, he saw somebody with whom he was very well acquainted. The harsh, bitter criticism of the man immediately came to the young author’s mind.
“We finally meet.”
The man struck up a conversation as he approached Juho without hesitation. It was Pyung Jin Lee, the book critic. He had a cheerful smile on his face. The pieces of cubic zirconia sparkled brightly on the tie dangling from his neck. It had to be the most decorative tie in the entire studio. Juho bowed and greeted him, and the critic introduced himself to the young author with a delayed response.
“I’ve been watching ‘The Great Book Club.’ It’s a good show.”
“Really?” Pyung Jin said, astounded by what Juho had said.
“A lot of writers watch it, surprisingly. Oh, wait! I better let the producer know about this,” the critic said, making small talk with the young author while taking his phone out. Meanwhile, Juho stood in his place and observed him quietly.
“I didn’t get any sleep last night,” Pyung Jin said, and Juho asked why. “Because I finally get to hear your answers. I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
While Juho was smiling awkwardly, feeling slightly uncomfortable, a voice called to him just in the nick of time. It was the host, who was dressed tidily in a suit.
“Hello, Mr. Woo,” he said, reaching out for a handshake. At that, Juho shook his hand and greeted him back. He looked somewhat familiar since Juho recalled having been interviewed by him in the past life. While his questions hadn’t been necessarily aggressive, he had closed in on the main points quite relentlessly. He excelled in identifying the things viewers would find interesting, and because the young author had watched his interviews frequently, he was also one of the only few TV hosts who stood out to Juho. Meanwhile, the host exchanged brief pleasantries with Pyung Jin, as if they had already known each other.
“How was your trip getting here?” the host asked. Juho recalled making small talk with him in the past, before an interview. And remembering Nam Kyung’s driving, which was slightly less stable than usual, Juho said, “It was good. There was no traffic, so that was a plus.”
He noticed the host studying his expression. Then, after locking eyes with him briefly, the host walked over to his side of the table and took his seat, and Juho, too, went back to his seat, feeling like they had talked for a little longer in the past.
As Pyung Jin sat next to the host, Juho was reminded that he was the protagonist of the interview when he saw the seat placements. There were a number of cameras that remained steady, taping him.
As the host took his seat, the crew began to make haste. The employees who were stopping by to watch were standing in the distance, and the cameramen brought their faces closer to their cameras. Meanwhile, Juho watched the busyness of the studio in a daze.
According to what he had been told by the writer, they were planning for the camera to focus on Juho as soon as the host finished talking. That also meant that the only way for him to be part of the background was to wait for the host to start talking to him. Then, with the host and the producer exchanging a quick look, the taping started. There was no obvious indication that it had started. Rather, it was quite subtle and natural. When Juho looked out into the distance at the studio, he saw Nam Kyung shaking his legs anxiously, and he had to hold back his laughter with every bit of strength within him.
“We have Mr. Lee here, who will be joining us today. How are ya?”
“I’m doing great, thank you.”
The host and the critic exchanged a quick bow, and as if to prove that they had been in separate places before taping had started, they greeted each other again.
“I, personally, have been very much looking forward to this day,” Pyung Jin said to the host, and with a smile, the host answered, “I believe you! Today is a special day, indeed. I’ve met so many different people up to this point, but I’ve never been so curious about what a person looked like.”
“I agree wholeheartedly.”
“I’m sure our viewers can sympathize with us. In which case, let’s get right to it, shall we?” the host recited the introduction that was on the script. Realizing that he was about to be invited into their space, Juho sat up and loosened up his shoulders.
“This author took us by surprise every time he released a book. The first Asian author to have achieved the Double Crown. Please welcome, Yun Woo.”
Then, the camera pointed toward the young author, and Juho felt the red lights beaming at him.
“Hello,” the host took the initiative to greet him first, and Juho, too, bowed in return
“Thanks for joining us today. I’m sure there have been a number of other outlets wanting to interview you, am I right?”
The young author nodded. Just as the host had said, Juho had quite a bit of trouble deciding on which interview to participate in.
“Yes, quite a few.”
“I have to ask, what brought you to us over everyone else?”
Since he couldn’t say that he had had experience with them, Juho stated a different reason instead, “I asked around, and a lot of people seemed to like you guys.”
Then, the host moved on to the next question written on the script, almost like a promise or an agreement.
“So, we don’t get visitors here often, but today, I’ve seen quite a few of the employees here in the station coming down to the studio for pictures. It was pretty crazy.”
“Yes. I was glad to see that I’m welcomed.”
“Your popularity’s just unbelievable, Mr. Woo.”
As the young author smiled without saying anything, the host turned his direction to his script.
“As you know, we’ve tried to reach you a number of times in the past for an interview. If I recall correctly, we were desperate enough to settle for a phone interview.”
Juho did recall that, and he had turned down every single interview or TV appearance request.
“And you turned it down every single time.”
“I gotta tell you, our staff was pretty disappointed back then. But now, here we are, talking face to face. It’s all thanks to you, Mr. Woo, for revealing yourself.”
“And thank you for having me.”
Then, a subtle smile appeared on the host’s face.
“Was there a particular reason that brought you to reveal your identity?”
The host had asked a question Juho had been expecting, and after a brief pause, the young author said, “Let’s say I had a reason for not revealing myself more so than revealing myself.”
“And what was that?”
“I hoped people wouldn’t know that I was Yun Woo.”
It was obvious, and the interviewer wasn’t looking for anything in particular. Then, the host asked again, “Why was that? You were on the rise as the genius author back then.”
“I mean, I’m a writer because I write, not because I get compliments from people, right? It was a decision that I came to hoping that things would look up.”
Pyung Jin nodded by reflex at the young author’s answer, and after taking a brief moment to grasp his answer, the host changed the subject.
“Now, as a result, consequently, you had a peaceful school life until recently, just as you intended, correct?”
“The show that aired recently covered your school, and it seems to be quite popular to this day.”
It was just like the host said. The attention was almost overwhelming.
“Though it was received in a positive light for the most part, there were some controversies regarding what was being shown, that being the Literature Club and the question of why couldn’t Yun Woo win an award.”
The phrasing was quite provocative.
“As I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to imagine Yun Woo not winning an award at an essay contest. Yet, the amateur writer by the name of Juho Woo has yet to win an award in that span of three years. Of course, it’s not entirely up to the individual whether or not they’re getting the award, but what are your thoughts?”
“First of all, I’d like to address that the media and the press contributed in a major way for the controversy grow to this point. I realize just how determined everyone is in those fields, and it dawned on me then that there was wisdom in my decision to remain anonymous as a student after all.”
The crowd around the studio chuckled quietly.
“Some posed the question that Yun Woo was hiding his skill on purpose.”
“I never hid my skill on purpose. I’ve always written earnestly and honestly,” Juho answered, and the host asked again, “In that case, does that mean that the judges of the contests you competed in were intentional about concluding that your writing wasn’t worth receiving an award?”
“I’m sure they thought that they couldn’t give me an award.”
That made sense considering how much his writing tended to deviate from the rules, and a confused look appeared on the host’s face.
“According to what we’ve found out, you competed in three essay contests during your time in high school.”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“And you had already debuted as a professional writer by that point, right?”
“I was planning my second book when I first competed in a contest.”
“As a professional, was there any hesitation on your mind because you were competing in an amateur contest?”
“I was told that anybody’s eligible to compete in those contests as long as they’re high school students.”
The air sank into silence briefly as the young author answered in a calm tone of voice, but it wasn’t long before the interview resumed.
“But I’d be lying if I were to say that it wasn’t on my mind. I purposely competed in contests where I wouldn’t have a problem giving up the award. You know, the ones where I’d be the one accountable for not showing up to the award ceremony.”
Then, the host asked away without hesitation, “Have you ever given up on an award?”
And the young author answered honestly, “Yes, I have.”
With that, the flow of the interview changed completely, and the critic interjected, “Could you start from the beginning? I just gotta know.”
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