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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
While watching the ants crawling by on the ground, Juho looked up at Joon Soo’s voice.
“It does?” Juho asked.
“Back then, people had predicted that you’d fall away from the literary world in no time.”
“But you’ve been proving them wrong, haven’t you? You’re showing them up.” Rolling the mug around in his hands, Joon Soo added, “Besides, there’s this contest going on. From what I heard, there’s a promising nominee for the Rookie of the Year Award.”
“And who would this be?” Juho asked, playing coy.
“A nomination by unanimous decision. The first since you.”
“Do you know whose story it was?”
“No,” Joon Soo said confidently. Not only did he seem genuine, but he didn’t seem like he was all that interested in knowing, either.
“You seem interested though.”
“Maybe a little.”
“Well, in any case, Mrs. Baek should know.”
At that moment, the same bark Juho had heard when he had arrived rang from the distance, which made him look toward the door by reflex. It was Yun Seo.
“Look who’s here!” she said
“Hello,” Juho said, rising from his seat at once. As he bowed, a warm chuckle sounded from above.
“Did you try the Schisandra tea? It’s good, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it was very refreshing.”
Instead of going into the house, Yun Seo sat on the flat bench. At the same time, Juho was busy suppressing his urge to bombard her with questions such as: ‘How did the evaluations go? Who’s the winner? Mango? Sung Pil? Gray hat? None of the three?’
“What were you guys talking about?”
“We were talking about the Rookie of the Year Award.”
“Ah, right. Unanimous decision,” Yun Seo said, catching on to Juho’s explanation immediately.
“How good of a piece was it for it to get nominated by unanimous decision?” Joon Soo asked.
“I’m not gonna lie. The evaluation was a lot easier this time around,” she said as if the results were already out, which was indicative of how big of a difference there was between the nominated piece and the other competing pieces.
“It was similar to when you first debuted,” Joon Soo told the young author, and a smile appeared on Yun Seo’s face.
“Did you like the piece that was nominated the best too, Mrs. Baek?” Juho asked.
“Of course! That’s what makes it a unanimous decision, right?”
“True, but what about everything else?”
After some contemplation, Yun Seo said, “There were submissions that were more memorable here and there.”
“Sounds like there were some hidden talents,” Joon Soo said quietly. To which, Yun Seo nodded and added, “The contestants were all conveying their messages very clearly. Of course, some could’ve been better in terms of plot development, while others lacked substance, but overall, I could tell that they had done their best.”
At that, a childish thought occurred in Juho’s mind, ‘If everyone worked equally hard, then what’s the point in choosing only one person as the winner?’
“People need to stop giving out those so-called literary awards.”
“Aren’t you one of the judges, Mrs. Baek?” Joon Soo said, chuckling. However, she kept on, “The more I evaluate, the less I see the point of it. A literary award is definitely a charming trophy to those who prefer a more tangible proof of their achievement, but the standards are much too stingy. It couldn’t hurt to be a little more generous, rather than picking only one person, don’t you think?”
Then, looking at Juho, she added, “Maybe I’m being too harsh with my words in front of a winner of literary awards recognized worldwide.”
“Not at all,” Juho said, wondering if she had read his thoughts. Then, coming down from the flat bench, Yun Seo said nonchalantly, “There was one particular piece that really seemed like the writer had invested a lot of time into. It was quite polished.”
Then, as a smile grew on her face, and she said, “That was one of the better ones.”
At that, the first person who came to Juho’s mind was his friend. Although he thought of two more after that, both of their faces faded away in no time. Juho was fully aware that he was being rash, but brushing off a thought that had already entered his mind was not very easy. Yun Seo had to be referring to Sung Pil’s story. He had to have been the one nominated by the judges’ unanimous decision.
“While you’re here, sit back and relax.”
The moment Juho was made certain of that in his mind, the young author realized that he had been rooting for only one person all along. Not knowing the results had had little to do with it. Rather, it was their friendship, which enabled the young author to watch his friend’s growth from close proximity. When he looked up, the sunset was dyeing the sky red.
“Joon Soo’s not working today, so I’ll let you two have fun. I’ll make us some dinner later. I got some really high-quality beef as a gift while I was visiting Hoengseong.”
“That sounds amazing. I’ll make sure to stick around,” Juho said nonchalantly. Then, as Yun Seo was walking toward the door, she stopped in her tracks all of a sudden, looked back, and asked, “Did you come here to ask about the award?”
“I was just getting the impression that you’re interested in who won the Rookie of the Year Award. What did you want to know? Or did you already find out?”
Juho found the red in the sky to be quite bothersome as it dyed everything red, including Yun Seo. He was probably no different. Whenever he felt her gaze, Juho felt a burning sensation on his face.
“The only piece of information that excited me was that you brought beef.”
“Well, good thing you found that exciting,” she said, smiling. That evening, Juho returned home early. Since Yun Seo had already figured out the purpose of his visit, Juho felt that there was no point in staying longer than necessary. On his way home, Juho immersed himself in thought, wondering about the stories written by Mango and the man in the gray hat.
A few days later, the day of the announcement came along with the results of the judges’ evaluations. That day, Juho made sure not to look at any articles on the internet or visit the publisher’s website. On top of that, neither did he call his editor nor visit Yun Seo at her house. He had already made up his mind to hear the results from one particular source. While he was reading ‘The Full Moon,’ his phone started ringing.
“I did it,” the voice said briefly through the receiver of Juho’s phone. However, Juho remained unsurprised.
“I kept our promise,” the voice said proudly and added, “Yun Woo,” recognizing Juho as an author for the first time.
“Congratulations,” Juho said genuinely. Then, a loud noise blasted from the receiver. It was a cheer. Juho was hearing Sung Pil scream for the first time. Then, looking down, Juho saw the manuscripts of stories about Mango, the gray hat, and Sung Pil.
Sung Pil’s scream lingered in the young author’s ears.
Sung Pil looked up at the voice calling to him. A schoolmate, of whom he didn’t even know the name, was striking up a conversation with him.
“Must be nice getting that award!”
Despite the large campus, the word seemed to have gotten around quickly. Most of the students in the same major knew about Sung Pil’s recent victory of the Rookie of the Year Award. Having one of his core classes that day, the rookie author felt like he was the center of attention, even more than usual.
“How’d it feel?”
“Did you meet any other authors?”
“What was it like? Did you have to go to meetings or anything like that?”
“The professor was lookin’ for ya. Man, if only I could be in your position.”
“Hey, there are some upperclassmen that I hang out with, and they’ve been wanting to meet you.”
“Debuting as a freshman… That’s impressive.”
“Yo, can I have your number?”
“Hey, we’re going out later. Wanna come?”
Being the center of attention was all too foreign for Sung Pil, and it left him helpless. People were eager to hear about his journey leading up to his debut. There had to be something that they wanted from him. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have taken interest in the rookie author all of a sudden.
“It feels like I’m in a different world,” Sung Pil murmured, resting his chin on his hand. Then, the professor came into the classroom. While checking attendance, he paused abruptly as he reached Sung Pil’s name.
“Pil Sung Choi?”
“Present,” Sung Pil responded as usual. However, the professor’s seemed to act a little different from usual.
“Would you stand up for a minute?” the professor said to him. At which, Sung Pil did as he had been told, becoming the center of attention yet again. Just like his classmates, who seemed to know why the professor had made him stand up, Sung Pil was also aware of the professor’s intention.
“You’re the student who debuted as an author recently, right?”
Then, the professor proceeded to explain the structure within the Korean literary world, the significance of a literary award, and that Sung Pil had been the sole contestant nominated out of fifteen hundred people. Then, adding that his friend was the president of a publishing company, the professor said, “Sung Pil, here, has achieved something impressive.”
Although Sung Pil was anxious to sit back down, he didn’t necessarily feel ashamed that his professor was talking about him in front of the entire class. If anything, it felt more like an award for the time and effort he had put into his work. Not knowing if it was OK to feel that way, Sung Pil struggled to stay focused through the entire class.
“Hey,” a voice called to him as he was coming out of the building after class. When he looked toward where the voice had come from, Sung Pil quick realized that it had come from another student in the same major.
“So, my name is Bom Yoon, and we’re in the same major.”
“I know,” Sung Pil said, remembering having met her before.
“We met with Juho once, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we did.”
From time to time, Juho would make it seem like they were running into his friends by coincidence, and Sung Pil was fully aware that that was Juho’s way of being considerate of him.
“I was supposed to meet with Juho later today, and I was thinking it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring you along. What do you think?”
“… That was quick.”
Having just debuted as an author, Sung Pil had all the time in the world.
“When is this gonna be?” he asked, checking the time. Then, smiling, Bom said, “How about now?”
With that, Sung Pil followed her quietly, not having anything to talk about in particular. Instead, he thought back to her writing, which he recalled having come across once. It had been quite sensual, and her skillful use of figure of speech had stood out to him quite a bit. As they were walking quietly toward the front gate, Sung Pil asked, “Are we going to his house?”
“Then, where are we meeting him?”
The view opened up as they turned the corner, and coming down the hill, the two went through the gate.
“Right. Here,” Bom said. When Sung Pil followed her gaze, he saw somebody wearing a hat, covering his face with it.
“And that’s how you get caught,” Bom murmured, and Sung Pil agreed. At the same time, he liked Juho’s free-spirited nature of walking about freely despite the looks he got from pedestrians. As they started approaching Juho, the young author looked toward them, waving.
“I wasn’t expecting you two to come together,” Juho said unhurriedly. “So, this is what your school looks like.”
As the two showed Juho around campus, he came to learn just how distant his two friends were from each other despite being in the same major. Considering both of their personalities, neither of them inclined to initiate a conversation with a stranger, and it wasn’t too big of a surprise.
“We’ve read each other’s writings though,” Bom said, looking at Sung Pil. He agreed with a blank expression on his face.
“You’re a good writer.”
“You too. I was impressed by how you handle sentences that are really long.”
With that, the air sank into an awkward silence, which showed Juho just how distant they were.
“Is there a place to go around here? I think I’ve seen enough,” Juho said to Sung Pil. Then, after some contemplation, Sung Pil said, “I wouldn’t know. I don’t usually hang out in this area.”
“There are few restaurants and karaokes, but aside from that, there isn’t a whole lot to do around here. I probably go to the bookstore the most…’ Bom added. Then, looking at Juho and Sung Pil in turn, she asked cheerfully, “You guys wanna go to the bookstore?”
Unlike Juho, who was lukewarm, Sung Pil agreed without delay, almost welcoming it too much. He seemed to be genuinely welcoming the idea. Considering that his book had come out after his recent debut, it was understandable. With that, the three took the bus away from campus and to a large bookstore. Although Juho was familiar with the company, it was his first time visiting that specific location. Nevertheless, the overall atmosphere was more or less the same as that of other locations.
“There it is. Right there,” Bom said, pointing at the golden book, which appeared as soon as they stepped into the store. Sung Pil stared intently in the direction she was pointing toward.
“A comedy with a kick by Yun Woo of ‘River’ and ‘Language of God.’ Discover the author’s surprising sense of humor,” Bom read the promotional banner out loud, as if to Juho and Sung Pil.
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