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A Thousand Faces Chapter 15

Updated: Jan 10

That morning at the W Broadcasting Station, Production Team Leader's office. 


Park Jun-gil was looking at the draft of a large-scale project presentation on the screen above the table. 

  

'Actor Kingdom: The Birth of a Star' 

  

On the surface, it is a large-scale reality acting audition program to discover talented actors from Korea and abroad. 

  

There are no limitations on participants. 

  

Anyone who loves acting, regardless of age, gender, nationality, or experience, is welcome to apply. 

  

Before the program begins in earnest, the selected participants from the preliminary audition held by the broadcasting station will directly compete in the finals on the air. 

  

Of course, the judging criteria are acting skills. 

  

This program, which is conducted in a survival format, will select a single final winner who has made it through the arduous competition. 

  

The winner will be awarded a large sum of prize money and the opportunity to star in a leading role in a film by one of the best directors in Korea. 

  

"As I said before, that's just on the surface. 

  

There are so many actors in this business who can act. If everyone who appears is good, what's the fun in that?" 

  

Park Jun-gil, head of production at W Broadcasting. 

  

He was sprawled back in his office chair, flipping through the materials on the screen with the remote control. Suddenly, 

  

Beep beep beep. 

  

The desk phone rang. He picked it up. 

  

"Yes, Chairman,,,!" 

  

Suddenly, 

  

Park Jun-gil, who had been sprawled out with his feet on the desk, jumped up and bowed reflexively. 

  

"Yes, of course. Don't worry about it. I've done this kind of thing more than a few times... It's just a reality show, but you can just think of it as filming a drama. After all..." 

  

He glanced around 

  

Even though he was the only one in the office. He lowered his voice. 

  

"Of course... your son will win. I'll make sure of it. Yes... yes... that's right. Editing is more than half of what we do. Just trust me completely..." 

  

The winner had already been chosen. 

  

The person on the other end of the phone was Kang Geonim, the chairman of Daemyung Group. 

  

Daemyung was a well-known group with annual sales of tens of trillions of won. 

  

His only son, Kang Hyeok, was the reason for the existence of this program. 

  

Park Jun-gil had good reason to be this eager. 

  

Chairman Kang Geonim had invested more than half of the budget in this project, which exceeded a whopping 200 billion won. 

  

All of this was a pet project to turn his son into a superstar. 

  

Click.  

  

After ending the call, Park Jun-gil looked at the screen again and stroked his chin. 

  

"Well, that's not really difficult. The crucial thing is how much attention you can gather from the beginning..." 

  

In a show like this, the main character typically doesn't appear from the start. 

  

In the early stages, it's crucial not to focus too much on the chairman's son and exert too much influence on the camera. 

  

Given the nature of the real-time reality program, there's a risk of generating unfavorable reactions among viewers if the winner is perceived to be predetermined. 

  

With a career in this field spanning only 10 years and having taken charge of about four or five audition programs, a rough picture formed in Park Jun-gil's mind. 

  

He imagined initially presenting himself like an extra, gradually orchestrating people's reactions through skillful editing. 

  

"Well, for starters... in the introduction, we need a sacrificial lamb who can quickly fade away after grabbing attention." 

  

Park Jun-gil mumbled to himself. 

  

Hmm... It's too obvious to go with the same old "incompetent but passionate" emotional appeal. Can't we come up with something a little more original? 

  

Knock, knock. 

  

"Come in." 

  

Yoo Sang-jun entered, holding a document file in one hand, and bowed his head. 

  

"So, any updates? Is there anything noteworthy?" 

  

"Well, there happens to be one thing that just popped up at a good time." 

  

"Something popped up? What is it? Show me." 

  

Curiosity sparked in Park Jun-gil's face, which had no particular expectations. 

  

Yoo Sang-jun extended the documents. 

  

Swoosh. 

  

Park Jungil handed over the documents. 

  

"Han Junwoo?" 

  

It was a compilation of Junwoo's profile, articles about him, and documents summarizing people's reactions to Junwoo within the theater community. 

  

Park Jungil raised his finger as if something had come to mind. 

  

"Oh, I heard. Is this the guy who gave Gil Jun-ho a run for his money? He's not half bad, huh?" 

  

"He's already gained a lot of popularity in the theater scene. There's also video footage showcasing his acting skills..." 

  

"Ah, forget it. I'm swamped. Why do I have to bother with that? Just get to the point." 

  

"Yes, I understand. But, I've done some research on that..." 

  

There were many blank spaces in the profile data. It was not easy to learn about Junwoo. It was the first time for Yoo Sang-jun. He could not find out anything about Jun-woo's past, such as his family relations or educational background. But on the contrary, 

  

"This... could actually work, you think?" 

  

A smile tugged at the corner of Yoo Sang-jun's mouth. 

  

"Why? What's going on?" 

  

"A simple-minded aspiring actor from the countryside. He had no parents or anything, so he couldn't even go to school. He goes to Joo Theater every day with the single-minded determination to act. I hear he has a close relationship with the owner of the Theater, Joo Mansik. It seems like the kid treats him like a father."  

  

Park Jun-gil, who was reviewing the documents, nodded his head slowly as he listened to the story. 

  

"According to witnesses, he went to NK and begged Gil Junho to watch him act just once. I wonder how much ambition and passion that child must have had for Gil Junho to give him a break." 

  

"Oh, really? That's what happened?" 

  

Swoosh. 

  

"Huh. Look at him. He's not bad-looking. I think he'll get some attention." 

  

These days, all the kids who say they want to be actors are just putting on a show. They think they can make it big if they're just a little bit good-looking. But today's audiences are more sophisticated than that. They can see right through them. The pure and reckless passion and ambition of a country boy. But when he realizes the reality and despairs in front of the city-bred kids. Wouldn't that be able to ignite a spark in the hearts of the viewers, even if just for a moment? And if such a kid falls in the early stages, it would be a great promotional effect by playing on emotions.  

  

As Yoo Sang-jun briefed, a grin slowly spread across Park Jun-gil's face. He raised his hand as if to stop him. 

  

"Alright, that's enough! It's sufficient! Get him on board right away." 

  

"But..." 

  

"What now?" 

  

Yoo Sang-jun had already reviewed Junwoo's video footage. 

  

"No. Even if this kid can get some attention in the beginning, it will be a fight that he can't even compare to Kang Hyeok. He'll be forgotten soon enough." 

  

Kang Hyeok. He was the one who had been training from a young age at the Juilliard School of Acting in New York, the International Theater Academy, and even had experience on stage under the masters of Broadway and Hollywood, all thanks to the chairman's investment. They may be the same age, but they come from completely different backgrounds. 

  

Yoo Sang-jun decided to dismiss any irrelevant thoughts. 

  

"Are you kidding me? That's a no-brainer. Other agencies will scramble to sign him with his looks and popularity. Why aren't you moving faster?"  

  

Park Jun-gil angrily shoved the papers into Yu Sang-jun's chest like he was throwing them. 

  

"You want to throw away 200 billion won? Don't even think about coming back if you can't get him on board." 

  

"What? Oh... yes!" 

  

*** 

  

Yoo Sang-jun arrived at the barbecue restaurant in a state, with his hair disheveled, after a long and eventful four hours. It was quite a sight. 

  

"So, what's the deal? Are you saying you want to do the casting?" 

  

Mansik, having heard a brief explanation about the program, could clearly see Yoo Sang-jun's ulterior motives in his sly expression. In other words, it was a hint that he wanted to stir up some attention with Junwoo. 

  

"Just a casting? Huh." 

  

Yoo Sang-jun let out a bemused chuckle as if he couldn't believe it. 

  

"Excuse me, Representative Joo. This is more than just casting. It's going to be seen by the whole nation. His acting, I mean. Weren't you the one who wanted the kid's success more than anyone else? Am I mistaken?" 

  

"..." 

  

"If you don't want to hinder the kid's future, I don't think this is an offer you can refuse. Or are you afraid? Afraid the kid might leave your side, Representative?" 

  

"Hehe." 

  

Mansik didn't flinch. He knew Yoo Sang-jun was deliberately provoking him. 

  

‘I wasn't really worried about Junwoo being taken advantage of. Even manipulative editing has its limits. The moment even one scene of his talent is revealed, their plan will be in vain. Besides, I was confident that Jun-woo, as I know him, would not be swayed by such things.’ 

  

There's just one catch, though... 

  

"Who else is there?" 

  

"What do you mean?" 

  

"Leaving Junwoo aside, there must already be confirmed cast members. I'm curious to hear. I'd also like to know roughly how far the contracts have been settled." 

  

"Ahaha. Well, that... nothing is confirmed yet, so there's nothing I can casually talk about at this point." 

  

Yoo Sang-jun was taken aback. He had only known him as the theater director, so he had underestimated him. He had no idea what this pro was up to. He couldn't read his face, so it was difficult to predict how far ahead this man named Joo Mansik was thinking. 

  

"Auditions..." 

  

What made Mansik uneasy was the nature of audition programs that thrive on fame even before they begin. 

  

When it comes to audition programs, it was practically the same as a popularity vote. The focus would undoubtedly be on idols, rookie actors from major entertainment agencies, and social media stars who already had numerous fans. 

  

In that regard, Junwoo, who had just stepped into the public eye, was bound to be at a disadvantage. 

  

'If only he was just entering a regular production, it wouldn't be a problem.' 

  

Even if that guy pulled off just one scene convincingly, the impact would be beyond imagination. 

  

But the one holding the key to editing is on the other side. 

  

They could have easily concealed Junwoo's skills if they had a different agenda. In that case, the broadcast and everything else would be meaningless. 

  

Nevertheless, it wasn't an offer that could be easily dismissed. One thing from Yoo Sang-jun's earlier words had stuck in his mind. 

  

"The whole nation will see Junwoo's acting..." 

  

Mansik was already feeling aggrieved. The performance was a success, and its impact was far beyond expectations. However, the fact that only a few hundred people had seen Junwoo's acting in person due to the size of the theater is so disappointing. 

  

"But wait. I wonder if that guy is even interested in doing this. Why bother…? 

  

Mansik was the more interested one. No matter how much he thought about it, he didn't think someone with Junwoo's talent would be interested in competing. The guy just thinks about acting in a completely different way. Just imagining Junwoo mixed in with the typical aspiring actors or the young kids who are only in it for the fame, 

  

"Hmm. It does feel awkward." 

  

On the other hand, Junwoo, while chewing on the cooled-down meat and resting his chin on the table, observed this scene. 

  

"It seems like you've been restless lately because of me." 

  

Junwoo glanced at Yoo Sang-jun, who was enthusiastically talking with food flying from his mouth. 

  

He recognized the face. It was someone he had seen on TV in a past life. 

  

"'Actor Kingdom.' I think that's about right. The winner was some chaebol's son or something." 

  

If my memory is correct, the program caused a stir nationwide as soon as it aired. In fact, its incredible scale drew attention from overseas as well. 

  

'Actor Kingdom' was a program Junwoo had seen in his previous life. Unlike movies or dramas, which typically focus on a single character for a long period with a given script, he had been interested and excited to watch aspiring actors tackle all sorts of innovative missions and roles every episode. And as he reflected on his childhood, when it was originally impossible for him to be in such an environment, he felt a strange sense of envy towards them. It was a strange time for him. 

  

Junwoo fell into a brief moment of contemplation. 

  

Why does that moment come to mind? 

  

The day in his past life when his face was prominently displayed on a billboard in the heart of Seoul. 

  

A clamor of condemnation and curses directed at the criminal echoed in the crowd. The moment when Junwoo realized the irreversible nature of his actions and resigned himself to the remaining life. The forgotten past rushed back. 

  

After the after-party, Mansik and Junwoo returned to the theater. 

  

"Did you send him off well?" 

  

"Were you watching everything?" 

  

"Yes. I'm sorry for being the cause of such commotion." 

  

"No, it's nothing..." 

  

Mansik suddenly feigned exhaustion. 

  

"That's true. How did I end up becoming your manager?" 

  

"You agreed to it." 

  

"But why? When have I ever done things my way? I always asked you. Why bother asking when you're going to say it's all fine anyway?" 

  

"..." 

  

"No?" 

  

Was he curious about something? He had been indifferent to the attention pouring in on Junwoo after the performance. He showed no interest in the casting calls that came in for him, and he just brushed off the questions that were checked every time, just in case. This was the first time he had brought up the topic on his own. 

  

That's when Mansik, who was still wondering, was waiting for an answer. 

  

Junwoo, who had been thinking about something, raised his head. 

  

"Shall we do it?" 

 


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