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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translator: None Editor: Han Baek Im
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
As Sung Pil came out on set in a slight rush, a disturbance arose in the unsuspecting audience. Soon though, according to a staff member’s instructions, they erupted into applause. Meanwhile, Juho rose from his seat and greeted his author friend gladly, noticing the camera aimed toward him.
“You two seem close,” the host said without hesitation, and Juho replied calmly “Of course. We’re friends.”
Then, looking even more curious than he had, the host asked, “So, you two have been friends since high school, correct?”
“That’s right,” Sung Pil replied in a brusque tone. Thankfully, he didn’t seem too nervous.
“As far as I can remember, there weren’t any mention of you being friends with Mr. Woo when he debuted. Then, all of a sudden, an article pops up out of nowhere, saying that you guys have been longtime friends/schoolmates.”
“We’re not exactly schoolmates. We happened to live close to each other. There’s not much to it, really. I don’t really get what the fuss is about,” Juho said, shrugging. At which, Pyung Jin let out a small chuckle and said, “So, initially, you didn’t plan on revealing that you were friends with Sung Pil, right?”
“No. Although, I think my friend here will be able to answer that question a lot better than I can. I did what I did because that’s what my friend wanted.”
At that, Sung Pil also followed the script in his response to Juho, “Having Yun Woo as your friend is actually quite a lot of fun.”
“It seems that way.”
“But when that friend is an aspiring writer, it becomes a different story,” Juho said, and those who knew him all agreed.
“You see, I didn’t realize that this guy was Yun Woo at first.”
“Oh! Then you became friends with him without knowing that he was Yun Woo!”
“That’s right. When I first heard Yun Woo’s voice, I thought it sounded a lot like somebody I knew.”
The audience listened intently and with interest, which was a good sign.
“How did you feel when you found out the truth?”
“I don’t recall feeling particularly upset because none of it felt real. At least until I debuted anyway. Then, it felt like I was in a-whole-nother world.”
“Ah, because you were somewhere where you could feel the impact of who Yun Woo was! That makes sense!” Pyung Jin replied, and Sung Pil nodded. After debuting, Sung Pil had found himself in a world where everybody addressed his friend by the name Yun Woo.
“The reason why the recent exhibition event had drawn so much attention was because of Yun Woo. When I got on that stage, I realized just how little the audience knew about me. Everyone was giving me that blank stare. Of course, it’d be obvious if I said that it wasn’t the case for Yun Woo.”
“That experience alone must’ve made you desire to be famous even more.”
“Right. I wanted to be somebody whose presence alone made the crowd go wild.”
The camera focused on Sung Pil, whose face looked quite serious on the monitor’s screen.
“But I quickly realized that I’d be taking advantage of my friend and his fame just by mentioning his name. So, I told myself that I’d never bring up his name again. At the end of the day, I have respect for myself as well.”
“And that’s when things started going south,” the host said, and Sung Pil sighed heavily.
“I don’t know how that reporter found out, but thanks to him, I recently got my first taste of the angry fans on the web. I believe I don’t have to remind anybody here of Yun Woo and his fame. Let’s just say that the number of comments I got from disgruntled fans was astronomical.”
“How did that make you feel?”
“It was upsetting, and I also felt wronged in some way. But the most upsetting thing by far was that something that I’d promised myself I would never do ended up happening by the actions of others.”
At that, the producer glanced at the producer and asked, “From what I heard, you said in an interview once that you didn’t know Yun Woo in person.”
“Yes. I participated in an interview before the article turned up. I get a lot of questions about Yun Woo since I’m the same age as him. Although it’s not something that I particularly wanna talk about, beggars can’t be choosers. In this case, the beggar was the rookie author.”
“I believe we have a video clip from that interview ready. Let’s take a look, shall we?”
With that, the video started playing on one of the monitors on set, and the entire audience turned to it in unison, watching the video of the rookie author’s interview. The screen was also showing the date and time of the interview. Judging from the looks on the faces within the audience, the video seemed to have successfully convinced them.
“So, what do you think, Mr. Woo?” the host said, moving on to Juho, who had decided to put an end to the matter once and for all.
“A lot of readers were delighted by Sung Pil’s writing during his presentation segment in the exhibition event, including myself. That’s something even the name Yun Woo had no control over.”
It was widely known that the rookie author’s presentation had been well received by the public, with which Pyung Jin also agreed. The atmosphere was quite pleasant. All that was left was to turn Sung Pil’s reputation around. As if having the same thought, the host moved on to Sung Pil, approaching the questions from a different angle.
“How’s Yun Woo like as a friend? My guess is that you guys know each other fairly well since you two have been friends since high school. Is there anything juicy that you’d like to share with us?”
“You know, like his secrets.”
At that, the audience erupted into cheers. They were clearly interested in the subject. As Sung Pil sat and stared at the audience in a daze, Juho nudged him on the leg. After which, Sung Pil immersed himself in thought for some time and replied, “Juho’s a good runner.”
The response was lukewarm at best. Nevertheless, Sung Pil didn’t let up and added, “Whenever we race, he wins six out of ten times.”
“You mean eight?” Juho said quietly.
“No, you’re not that fast.”
“I see. But I was hoping for something a little more… secretive and riveting,” the host said, clarifying the kind of answer he was looking for. After thinking a little longer, Sung Pil replied, “There are times when he stares into my eyebrows. I don’t think he knows, but I do.”
At that, Juho chuckled inadvertently. Sung Pil’s eyebrows were exceptionally dark, and his heart was hidden deep within him. However, there were those who wanted more from him. That time, the critic stepped in to urge the rookie author.
“Is there anything writing-related?”
“Writing-related…” Sung Pil murmured, his head dropping lower the longer he got lost in his thoughts. Suddenly, his head sprang back up. “There is something!”
“There is?!” Juho let out, waiting for Sung Pil’s answer curiously and patiently, not knowing what to expect.
“I had a drink with Yun Woo once. I don’t know if people are aware of this, but he’s particularly exceptional when it comes to describing drunk people or anything that has to do with the subject of alcohol.”
“Of course. He’s been exceptional in that area since he was a minor, which I always found odd,” Pyung Jin said, his eyes sparkling with curiosity. Then, Sung Pil moved his eyebrows and replied in his low voice, “But Juho doesn’t like to drink.”
It was a widely known fact that the young author didn’t enjoy drinking. Paying no attention to the response of those around him, Sung Pil had answered in a serious tone. He wasn’t afraid to be himself, even on camera.
“Whenever we drink together, he’s always sipping on the same drink the entire time. Yet, he knows all about the hardships associated with alcohol. It really comforted my stomach, especially when I was hung over. It was very intriguing.”
“… Is that it?”
“Is there anything else…? Like a building or some land he’s bought somewhere?”
At that, Sung Pil shook his head and said, “I didn’t even know that he was going to present an incomplete manuscript.”
“I don’t think anybody did,” the critic said. Then, looking toward Juho, he added, “Except Mr. Woo, maybe.”
Then, the host gave Pyung Jin the opportunity to talk, giving him an opportunity to remember the young author on the stage of the exhibition hall and speak about it.
“What stuck out to me right off the bat was the speed with which he came up with those sentences. Yes, speed isn’t everything when it comes to writing. One may be a really slow writer, but if they can produce something better that way, than that’s the better way to go about writing.”
Then, catching his breath, the critic on, “The thing to keep in mind here is this: being able to write as fast as Mr. Woo could mean that he requires less thinking. Writing without thinking is much harder than it sounds. One has to be able to ignore everything around and within them, from how the audience is looking at them, the criticisms, the current situations, the ambitions for better sentences, everything.”
“So, what you’re saying is that Mr. Woo writes unhinderedly whether he’s onstage, before his readers or not?” the host asked. Then, looking toward Juho and asked, “Are you ever afraid of negative criticism?”
Juho shook his head. He was human, which meant that he had to be afraid of it at least to some extent.
“I, too, get really hurt and discouraged whenever I get criticized. I always wanna do well. But, I wasn’t thinking the way Mr. Lee was describing.”
“Is it easy to have a mindset like that?”
“By no means,” Sung Pil replied emphatically on Juho’s behalf.
“What about you Sung Pil? What kind of mindset did you have while writing that day?”
“I just wanted to do a better job than Yun Woo. I was watching his presentation from the second floor along with a few other authors. If I were to describe the atmosphere, it almost felt like I was in Siberia. Everyone felt his lack of concern toward them.”
Then, just as Juho was about to deny it, Pyung Jin beat him to it and said, “Everyone there felt that way. It got really quiet in the audience too.”
“His story has also gone viral, which we brought up just a minute ago.”
At that, a disturbance arose from the audience. Everyone was aware of the kind of story the young author had written during his presentation. As the host read the words on his script, Juho sat still and listened quietly, “And all of a sudden, the story takes a turn. The protagonist’s life keeps spiraling downward, beyond the point of recovery.”
Then, the host brought up the question that had been burning in the minds of the readers, “Why, of all stories, did you decide to present the one where the protagonist named Yun Woo, of all names, goes through a seemingly endless string of failures? I’ve been very, very curious about that.”
“Originally, I was supposed to present a different manuscript. But when I saw Sung Pil’s presentation, I felt as though I couldn’t hold the pent up emotions within me in any longer.”
“And what kind of emotions are we talking about here?”
“If I were to put it into words, they would be a series of emotions that often causes people to misunderstand others, such as jealousy, spite, sense of crisis, empathy, discontentment, consideration, defeat. Things of that nature. Hoping for another person’s misfortune, and the kind of bitterness that comes when your attempt to comfort someone turns into hypocrisy depending on where you’re standing. I didn’t want to hurt anybody, but I didn’t wanna get hurt, either.”
There had been authors who had wanted to outperform Yun Woo. Similarly, there had also been those who had desperately wanted Yun Woo to slip. While there had been those who had longed for an answer from Yun Woo, the young author hadn’t given them the answer they had been looking for. It had felt as though everything had tangled together in a knot, and Juho had felt an urgent need to untangle it somehow.
“And that’s when I thought of a piece of writing that could encapsulate all those emotions within me. So, in the end, it appears that I wrote that manuscript just because I felt like it,” Juho said, summing everything up in simple terms.
“Most people can’t write stories like that even if they want to,” Sung Pil murmured quietly. At that moment, Pyung Jin sprung up from his seat, slamming the table in front of him, which shook from the impact.
“It wasn’t a piece that could be described in such simple terms!”
Caught off guard by the critic’s unexpected behavior, Juho asked, “I’m sorry?”
“The Yun Woo within the novel is anything but admirable. If anything, he’s the one being punished. He’s the moron who makes foolish decisions from start to finish. His success is as brief as the life of a Petrushka doll, which becomes lifeless as soon as it stops dancing. No matter how great a love it receives, a doll is a doll at the end of the day. It’s disappointing AND bleak. The way his life falls apart has a lot in common with the ranting of a straw doll. Nobody listens to it, nor can it affect anything in any way. In the end, which you wrote onstage, he only accepts questions and gives answers about his books, the very subjects of his jealousy.”
Unlike the critic who had made a long exposition about his spontaneous manuscript, Juho blinked awkwardly, without saying much.
“How else could one react to a story like that if not with silence?”
Not only was Yun Woo young and healthy, but he was also known for his pure and colorful style of writing. Yet, he had written something that completely contradicted his reputation. The Yun Woo within the novel was a character that nobody could’ve even thought of. Even those who hated the young author and wished the worst upon him wouldn’t dare to describe their hate toward him in the way he had during his presentation. How was Yun Woo capable of writing such a realistic depiction of a failed life?
“That story left your readers an emotional mess, yet you are summing up a story like that in a few simple words and in such a nonchalant manner, which leaves me feeling extremely dissatisfied.”
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