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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“The waiting room! I knew it,” Juho murmured as he read through the article. He had received an urgent call from his editor. Based on the pieces of information in the article, the waiting room was the only possible place where the reporter could have found out about the young author’s friendship with Sung Pil. Juho had let his guard down since things had happened just after a big public event. Juho looked at the phone on his desk, his friend’s voice from a moment ago still lingering in his ears.
“I’m sorry,” Sung Pil had said, sounding sad and adding, “I didn’t mean to take advantage of your name like that.”
“I’m sure you didn’t.”
Frankly, it didn’t matter to Juho whether his friendship with Sung Pil got out to the public or not. Neither had he been lying nor been caught in the act of something morally questionable. Unlike the comments on the internet, Sung Pil had never tried to leverage his friendship with the young author. However, only those who knew Sung Pil as a person knew the truth, and the unfortunate reality of it all was that the world was full of those who didn’t know him, including those appearing on the computer screen. Most of them were criticizing Sung Pil for something he had never done, and the matter was only about to get worse if left unattended. There had to be some sort of countermeasure, and Juho thought long and hard about the possible ways to turn the situation around.
Then, he realized that Sung Pil needed a place to show his true intentions to the public. On top of that, Juho needed to prove to the fans that he had taken no offense to Sung Pil’s seemingly opportunistic endeavor. In order for that to be possible, Sung Pil needed a place where he could freely present his evidence to prove himself with, all the while without damaging himself in any way. At the same time, it had to be a place where people didn’t think would give one side an unfair advantage over the other. Although Zelkova had offered to provide a place, Juho was reluctant to receive their help. At that moment, Juho’s phone suddenly vibrated and broke the silence, startling him.
Turning toward it, Juho checked the name of the caller on the screen: Pyung Jin Lee. With a smile on his face, the young author answered the phone.
“Mr. Woo! How would you like to be part of my show?”
The critic got straight to the point, which Juho welcomed.
“Are we really doing this?” Sung Pil asked, still sounding like he couldn’t believe what he had just heard. When Juho looked toward him, Sung Pil was staring back at his friend with his mouth slightly parted.
“Yep. ‘The Great Book Club,'” Juho replied calmly.
“You make it sound like you’re not part of this.”
The two were in a car taking them to the broadcasting station. A strange look appeared on Sung Pil’s face.
“I’ve only seen it on TV. I would’ve never thought that I’d actually be in it.”
“What? Didn’t you do that interview not too long ago as a special guest?”
The show had been planned as a special episode focused on Yun Woo, and Sung Pil was supposed to make a surprise appearance during the show as a special guest. Both the media and readers had been wanting an explanation about the recent article, which both Juho and Sung Pil meant to offer. Thankfully, finding the right place for it wasn’t too difficult.
“The taping will go as you’ve been informed. We’re gonna have some spectators in the studio, so there’s gonna be a Q&A session at some point. The host will let you know, so you’ll know when the time comes.”
The main writer reviewed the information the two authors had been given on the taping session with them. As they made their way to the waiting room, Sung Pil got busy looking at his surrounding, completely captivated. Then, the main producer said, “We’re so glad to have you both together.”
He seemed genuinely excited to have the two authors. At which, Juho said with a quiet chuckle, “Mr. Lee’s offer was just so riveting. I couldn’t resist.”
“I’m telling you, he’s the one who makes our show what it is!”
Then, the producer looked toward Sung Pil, who was standing there absentmindedly, and asked, “First time on TV?”
“Don’t worry! You don’t have to be so nervous. Our writers are very very experienced, so they’ll take good care of ya.”
“So, if there’s something you’d like to say, don’t hold back. Especially if it’s about Mr. Woo,” the producer said, subtly adding the last part. At which, Sung Pil blinked awkwardly and replied, “Will do.”
‘Will do what?!’ Juho thought to himself. At that moment, Pyung Jin came into the waiting room with a cheerful look about him, similar to the producer’s.
“It is SO good to see you here, Mr. Woo!” he said, walking toward Juho. His recent review of Juho’s most recent book, ‘Alexandria,’ had been quite generous. That day, the critic was wearing a green necktie, which seemed to catch Sung Pil’s attention.
“And of course, we can’t forget Sung Pil. Pleasure to meet you, sir.”
The two exchanged a brief handshake.
“I really liked ‘Gingko Tree,’ as well as your recent presentation.”
“Didn’t you say that it felt rigid in places?”
“Oh! Seems like you read my review.”
Those words had been part of Pyung Jin’s review of Sung Pil’s story. Although Sung Pil was definitely talented and had potential as an author, there was also room for improvement in his writing.
“That’s OK. I fully intend on improving myself.”
“I like your style,” the critic said, his smile growing bigger.
“OK, then. Shall we?”
As the three chatted about, they made their way to the set at the producer’s beckoning. On their way into it, Juho heard Sung Pil exclaim, impressed by what was around him. Soon, monitors, a series of large cameras hanging high above the ground and the seats for the audience appeared before his view. At which point, Juho said to Pyung Jin, “It feels different from usual.”
“Fancy, isn’t it?”
As a frequent viewer of the show, Juho was able to tell almost immediately that the atmosphere of the set was slightly different from usual, which was simple and quiet. Now, the set was filled with antique-looking props.
“We couldn’t invite you and do nothing,” the critic whispered to the young author. The host, who was originally a comedian, was already sitting on the round table. As Pyung Jin headed toward the center of the set, Juho followed the guidance of a staff member and stood behind it, instructed to come out and introduce himself after the opening sequence. Sung Pil on the other hand, took a step back since he wasn’t making an appearance anytime soon.
“Quiet on set!” the producer shouted, and as the staff member standing in front of the audience waved in response, the audience grew quiet. As the host started off with the usual opening sequence, they shouted ‘The Great Book Club!’ Bringing up the noticeable change in the set, the host struck up a conversation with the critic, also adding an explanation for having only two cast members, unlike usual.
“So, we’re having a very, very special guest today, which is why our set looks so dazzling. Whatever we’re about to get on camera, the cast members and I will get together to watch it all over again.”
“That’s right. Today’s episode is ultra-special! But you know what really makes all this special? It’s our audience joining us on the set!”
As soon as the critic finished his line, the audience erupted into cheers. Because the show had an element of entertainment infused into it, it was somewhat different from a formal interview.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve all been waiting SO long for this guest. I’m a huge fan,” the host said with an exaggerated expression. At that moment, a camera approached Juho, who had been waiting behind the set for his turn to come out. Juho waved at it, imagining the shot would get cut out.
“I lost count of how many times we mentioned his name on this show. We even brought all of his books together for a special episode at one point.”
“Mr. Lee has a lot of good things to say about today’s guest in particular.”
“Without further ado, let’s invite our guest in, shall we?”
The audience answered in loud unison, audible from behind the stage where Juho was.
“Go,” the producer signaled the young author. As the gate opened to both sides, the crowd started applauding even louder. The red carpet on the floor seemed slightly over-the-top.
The host and the critic rose from their seats in order to greet the young author on to the stage.
“Everyone you see in the audience has come here to see you today,” the host said, pointing toward the audience, where people of all ages were sitting, reminiscent of the recent exhibition event. The most noticeable difference was the difference in eye level between the audience and the people onstage, or in this case, the entire stage. Surrounding the set, the seats were arranged in tiers in a stair-like manner. After taking his seat, Juho took a sip of water. During which, the applause continued.
“Wow! We’ve never had our audience applaud for this long. That’s Mr. Woo for ya!” the host said, calming the audience down. Meanwhile, Pyung Jin looked at Juho like he had expected the explosive response from the crowd.
“How do you like our new set, Mr. Woo?”
“It’s very nice. The carpet was really, really soft. This table looks different from the one that’s usually around too. I don’t recognize this pattern here, either.”
“You’re very sharp. Are you a frequent viewer of our show?”
“Yes, I am,” Juho replied, listing a number of episodes he had enjoyed in particular. At that, the host acted as if he couldn’t believe that he was seeing Yun Woo before his eyes.
“I never thought the day would come when I would see you before my eyes, Mr. Woo.”
At which, Juho couldn’t do anything but smile.
“This is your second TV appearance, right? How’ve you been? I bet it’s been hard for you to go outside. I also heard a rumor that you’ve hired a manager,” the host said, bringing up one of the rumors about the young author floating around fan circles.
“I don’t have a manager, actually. I’ve been able to go out without too much problem.”
“You don’t say! That can’t be true.”
The host seemed like he wanted Juho to talk more about his popularity.
“OK, how about this? You get in a cab, and the driver recognizes you.”
At that, Juho brought up a brief anecdote that he had brought up before. To which, the host and the critic listened intently.
“So, what brought you to our show?”
“Mr. Lee here gave me a call,” Juho said, adding another anecdote of the things that had taken place between him and the critic. For the sake of the show, the young author gave his best to maintain a good attitude, smiling at even the most uninteresting subject, doing his best to answer all the questions directed toward him.
“Now, I know this is very rude to ask, but I just have to know. You are the most successful author in this country.”
“You’re buttering me up for something, aren’t you?”
“How much do you make?”
At that, Juho noticed the audience trying to listen even more intently. However, he decided not to give a specific number.
“I make enough.”
“Can’t you just tell me?”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“I figure you make enough to afford dozens of imported cars. Am I right?”
The conversation carried on smoothly, the host asking a series of playful and serious questions. Just like how it focused on the young author, the camera focused on the host, the critic, and then on the crowd. After communicating with the producer with their eyes, the host said, changing the subject, “You know, with Mr. Woo in the house, we can’t not talk about his books.”
At that moment, the light changed all of a sudden, and the set grew slightly darker, leaving only the table and its vicinity lit. Listing the books he had published thus far, the host said, “On top of that, there’s your translation and your short stories. Bestsellers. Every single one of them. Not only have you won a number of literary awards in Korea, but you also won two of the most prestigious literary awards for science fiction in the world as the youngest and the first Asian author. Even Kelley Coin lets you off easy.”
Although he had been listening quietly, Juho couldn’t help but interject at the last part of the sentence.
“That, I’ve never heard.”
“The star of this age who’s paving a new path in the literary world. Today, we’ve brought together every single one of Mr. Woo’s books.”
Initially, the conversation started off with the young author’s personal favorite of his books, which he had shared previously.
“I remember us saying that we’d save this discussion for later, when Mr. Woo finally came out. And that day is finally here! Did you see the subtitles written by our producer asking you to contact us?”
“Yes, which is precisely why I’m here.”
“Did you hear that?”
Juho saw a bright smile on the producer’s face. From then on, they briefly touched on the books, discussing characters or interpretations by quoting paragraphs. When they got to ‘Language of God,’ the discussion went for significantly longer and deeper.
“Your fame spans the globe!”
“There are quite a few viral videos related to Mr. Woo in some way, like the one where people bet whether or not he’d give a speech at an award ceremony,” Pyung Jin said.
“How does it feel knowing that your writing is doing so well, reaching such a wide audience? You’re still quite young,” the host said, emphasizing the young author’s age.
After looking toward the audience for a brief moment, Juho replied, “I’m definitely thankful. It really makes me wanna push myself.”
“Do you ever find yourself getting afraid that all this fame will vanish overnight?”
“Sometimes,” Juho said, following the script. Next, was Pyung Jin’s turn.
“It sounds to me like that has some correlation to the manuscript you presented recently.”
At that, the host checked his cue cards and nodded.
“There’s been a hot topic regarding Mr. Woo recently. You were onstage with other authors, Mr. Woo!!”
“I sure was.”
“And we found out that you have a very special relationship with one of them, is that correct?” the host asked, looking directly at the young author. As he gave an affirmative answer, a loud hiss came out of nowhere. When he looked toward where it had come from, which was in the direction opposite from the one he had come out, he saw an apparatus set up, which was spewing out pillars of white smoke. Then, a part of the set lifted up and Sung Pil came out of it. At which point, the host exclaimed, “Ladies and gentlemen! Please welcome our special guest, Sung Pil!”
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