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A Thousand Faces Chapter 19

Updated: Jan 16

Yoo Sang-jun had picked up the script a few minutes earlier when he stopped by the studio. 


It was for a live filming of the preliminary audition. 


The purpose was to shoot a making-of video to be used in the broadcast. 


"I'm Kim Yoojin, participant number 234! Thank you for having me!" 


When Yoo Sang-jun entered the studio with a camera, an audition by a schoolgirl in uniform was just starting. 


The judges' expressions were devoid of any interest or expectation, as there were too many participants. Yoo Sang-jun was no different. 


He didn't have to judge, so he planned to just film the audition and leave. 


But then, 


'Huh...? Did they give her a new mission on the spot?' 


Yoo Sang-jun stopped in his tracks, surprised by the unique acting style he had never seen before. 


The schoolgirl checked the keyword and began an impromptu performance without uttering a single word, using only her body language. 


Yoo Sang-jun watched her silently. It was more than simple acting; it was like a work of art. 


The judges, who had no expectations, began to sit up and pay attention. 


The judge who had expected her to be cut almost immediately as soon as she began. 


'What am I looking at?' 


The judge, who was lost in thought, snapped out of it well after a minute had passed. 


Only the sound of Kim Yoojin's clothes brushing, footsteps, and breathing could be heard in the quiet studio. 


Nevertheless, the judges were captivated by each movement as if they could hear lines filled with emotions. 


"I already knew she was famous, but she's from Starmaker, right?" 


One of the judges exclaimed. 


Her acting skills were not at an unbelievable level, but her expressiveness was off the charts. 


It probably wouldn't have made as much of an impression if it had just been a normal performance with dialogue. 


Another judge was even starting to misunderstand. 


"Wait, could it be that the whole thing about her voice not coming out was also part of the performance? To focus on her expressiveness…!" 


They all gasped in admiration. 


"This isn't just simple body language that's well-known. How did she think of such details?" 


Kim Yoojin gasped for breath after her performance. She had exerted herself more than usual and was so out of breath that she couldn't even finish her closing remarks. The judges were the same way. 


'Why aren't they saying anything? I guess it was too much without any dialogue.' 


Kim Yoojin was getting anxious as she waited for their evaluation. 


The judges, looking like they had been hit on the head, were all speechless. 


The shock she had received in the course of just a few minutes was almost too much to comprehend. 


Then, one of the judges, who had finally regained his composure, spoke. 


"How did you come up with something like that? You don't even have much experience. I think the word 'genius' is used for this kind of thing." 


Kim Yoojin was confused when she realized this was more than just an evaluation but an expression of admiration. 


'Genius...? Me..?' 


Kim Yoojin, who had become a prodigy girl out of the blue, looked bewildered. 


"Th-thank you!" 


With that, Kim Yoojin, who had even finished a 90-degree bow, left the studio in a daze. 


"Hi, student." 


Yoo Sang-jun, who had witnessed the whole scene, approached with a smiling face. 


He had heard the contents of the girl's interview. 


It was that an unknown boy of her age had helped her. Kim Yoojin unfolded the script and told him the detailed story of what had happened during the waiting time. 


The more he listened to the girl's description, the more a familiar figure popped into Yoo Sang-jun's head. With a feeling of disbelief, he matched the girl's description of the boy's appearance and behavior. 


"Yes, that's right! It must be him." 


Indeed. It was Han Junwoo, that boy. 


Since he had been instructed by Park Jun-gil to keep an eye on Junwoo, Yoo Sang-jun would sometimes secretly follow him around with a camera. He tried to catch some footage of Junwoo practicing, but for most of the waiting time, the boy would just sit in the corner of the hallway, staring blankly into space. There was nothing to film or say. 


"But then I heard this story, so I came to report it immediately." 


Until a moment ago, Park Jun-gil had been confirming the script through Yoo Sang-jun. 


"Oh, really...?" 


He couldn't expect much from his skills, so he nodded as he listened to the story. 


"Oh, and this." 


Suddenly, Yoo Sang-jun thrust the camera screen in front of Park Jun-gil. 


The footage of Kim Yoojin's audition. 


After watching the video, Park Jun-gil was finally able to understand a little bit of the scribbles that the boy had made on the script. 


When he saw the performance, he began to realize that these were not simple scribbles. 


"Did Han Junwoo do all of this himself?" 


"It seems like it. He must have received professional training, right?" 


"Of course. I'm honestly a little surprised. How did he learn this in such a rural area? Well, I guess it's mostly thanks to Gil Junho. He's got to have some amazing talent to pick it up so quickly." 


Kim Yoojin's performance only used about 10% of Junwoo's scribbles. Even Park Jun-gil couldn't easily interpret them. The cramped handwriting made it impossible to understand the intention. Curious, Park Jun-gil thought for a moment before asking Yoo Sang-jun a question. 


"Where are they now?" 


"Well, they…" 


In fact, the judges for the final round were different. It was the part that Park Jun-gil had the most trouble with while producing the Actor Kingdom. 


He recalled the time he had to work hard to secure a contract for their recruitment. 


The preliminary rounds were time-consuming and attracted all sorts of people, so they were staffed with general expert-level judges. 


The three judges for the final round were veteran actors and master directors who were well-known by name. 


After the news came out, their influence played a significant role. The reason so many people came was largely due to them. 




Meanwhile, the three of them were enjoying dinner at a high-end whiskey bar in Cheongdam. It was a bit far from COEX, where the auditions were in full swing. 


Under the dim lighting, several bottles of expensive whiskey decorated with intricate designs were placed on the table. 


Actor Cheong Myeong took a sip of whiskey. He was the most popular figure among the judges of the final round of Actor Kingdom, having risen to fame from his debut work as a teen heartthrob. 


"Today is the pre-screening day, right?" 


"Yeah. We need some decent talents." 


The one receiving Cheong Myeong's words is the veteran director in the Korean film industry, Gu Daewon. 


Thinking about the upcoming project in a few months, his face was marked with concern. 


"The winner is going to be in Director Gu's movie. Even if he's the son of Chairman Kang, he's still a rookie. Is that okay?" 


"I know, right? I hope he doesn't ruin the movie we worked so hard on." 


"Haha. You seem worried. I get it." 


Gu Daewon appeared on this program because of a contract he made with Chairman Kang Geonim some time ago. They agreed to cast his son in a lead role in exchange for substantial financial support for film production. Chairman Kang's son was rumored to be a talented actor, so initially, it seemed okay. However, since Gu Daewon hadn't actually seen what the atmosphere was like and whether his son would fit well into the role of that project, it remained an unknown aspect.  


"Still, the marketing will be solid. If you say you're the winner of this show, you'll definitely get some attention, right?" 


"You're making me feel bad, Cheong Myeong. Has any of my movies not been a hit, even without this show?" 


"Of course not. Haha, that's a given. By the way, the prize is only one billion won?" 


"One billion won? With us even participating, the scale is smaller than I thought. It should be at least ten billion won, right?" 


While they were exchanging jokes, 




The person who opened the door and walked in was Park Jun-gil. 


Seeing him, Gu Daewon, who was friends with him, raised his hand in greeting. 


"Uh, have a seat. Thanks for your hard work, Team Leader Park. Any trouble over there?" 


"Oh my, haha. It was so chaotic, I thought I might die." 


Park Jun-gil sat down, almost rubbing his head. 


"But, what's that?" 


Director Gu nodded. Jun-gil was holding a script. 


After glancing at the cover, Cheong Myeong pouted as if to say, "Why is there a drama school script in this place?" 


Park Jun-gil began to tell the story cautiously. 


"Actually, there's a weirdo who came in this time. I'm keeping him around because he's useful in the beginning," 




Park Jun-gil began to tell them about Junwoo. From how he would use Junwoo to his first impression of him and even the story about this script. 


Cheong Myeong shook his head as the story got serious. 


"Why are we talking about the program here? Let's just talk about it at the next company dinner," 


"Go ahead and continue." 


Suddenly, a new voice interjected softly. 


Cheong Myeong's words came to an abrupt halt. It wasn't a loud voice, but the room instantly fell silent with that single phrase. 


Jo Sungrae, a senior actor with over 50 years of experience. 


Even though he was over 70 years old, he had been a leading actor in the Korean film industry for decades. No one dared to disrespect him. 


He had been sitting in the middle of them, silently sipping his whiskey, but he was still the most imposing figure in the room. 


Cheong Myeong swallowed hard. 


Park Jun-gil quickly spoke up, surprised that even Jo Sungrae was interested. 




As he listened to the story, Jo Sungrae, who was flipping through the script page by page with a serious expression, suddenly asked. 


"...Where did this kid come from, and what was he doing before?" 


"Oh, he's a country bumpkin, so I don't know much, but I think he was taught about acting by actor Gil Junho." 


"Gil Junho…?" 


Jo Sungrae frowned. He knew Gil Junho better than anyone, as he had been a mentor to him for many years. 


'He's a good actor, but did he really teach him this?' 


Jo Sungrae didn't say anything else and just kept flipping through the script slowly. It didn't seem like this was a problem that could be solved here. 


Cheong Myeong thought his interest had waned, so he spoke up again. 


"He's an interesting kid. But I heard he'll just appear briefly at the beginning and then disappear. He just wants to get some quick fame, I guess." 


"Yes, even KOS CEO Lee Jae-won is already looking to sign him." 


"Oh, really? That picky guy? This program is going to be pretty interesting, huh." 


"The winner will probably be the son of Chairman Kang, and he'll debut as an idol. This is a total star factory. You're good at this, Team Leader Park." 


"Oh, come on. It's not like I did anything." 


They were both imagining the same picture in their heads. The beginning to the end of Actor Kingdom. 




Meanwhile, at the end of the evening, the last contestant finally appeared in front of the judges. 


Junwoo was exhausted and looked like a zombie after a long wait and hunger. 


He flipped through his resume. There was nothing particularly noticeable except for a few lines of performance experience. 


The judge, who had confirmed that there was no experience or anything else, yawned in exhaustion from the long review. 




Junwoo's stomach was growling. 


'I'm hungry. I wonder if the judges have eaten first.' 


In front of the judges reviewing his resume, Junwoo thought about the dinner menu. 


At that moment, one of the judges leaned over and whispered. 


"That's him. By Park Team Leader's orders. The main character of the first episode." 




No wonder his name sounded familiar. The judge, who had been yawning, nodded his head.  


'What? So I don't have to see or say anything. I'll just have to give him a half-hearted reaction and send him on his way.' 


"They said to give him the most difficult keywords. They want to see him flustered." 


"Oh, really? What a crazy dude." 


The judge smiled. Did this kid do something to him? But I have to do what they say. Hiding his regretful face, he chose two of the most difficult keywords to act out on the spot. 


Then, the judge felt something strange and rechecked the resume. 


'But why is it almost empty?' 


He had seen an article about Junwoo before. 


The judge shook his head. An average person would have filled out his resume with the name Gil Junho. 


Aside from having one experience performing in a play, there was nothing special. 


'Maybe he's just trying to show that he doesn't want to be overshadowed by Gil Junho. If that's the case, I actually kind of like him.' 


The judge, wondering if there was another motive, asked a question as if to test him. 


"Do you have any experience or accomplishments that are not listed on your resume?" 


"No. I don't have anything else." 


"None? Is that it? No further statements?" The curious judge continued questioning. 


"Hmm. It seems like you're deliberately avoiding mentioning something. Honestly, I'm curious. You were on the same stage as actor Gil Junho, right?" 


Junwoo looked puzzled. 


"Does standing on the same stage count as experience?" 


The judge was taken aback. It wasn't a wrong statement. However... this wasn't the real issue. 


Treating his experience on par with a giant actor like Gil Junho. Is it arrogance? 




Upon hearing the judge's question, the contestant looked genuinely confused about how his acting experience and co-star were related. The judge was equally confused. 


'He's not even nervous...' 


The judge scanned Junwoo's appearance. He looked flawless, so it seemed that Team Leader Park hadn't just picked anyone. 


He was curious. He had seen many talented contestants, but this was the first one who had ever made him feel so confused. Well, he must be at least somewhat talented, right? 


"Alright, let's see it now." 




Two keywords appeared on the screen. 




The following day, Park Jun-gil sat in the production team's office. As soon as Yoo Sang-jun came in, he asked with a happy face. 


"How was Han Junwoo?" 


"Well, I haven't received the live recording from the filming team yet, so I haven't seen it yet." 


"Did I go too far? He must have done something, right?" 


"But one of the judges said something." 


"What did he say?" 


Yoo Sang-jun recalled the words of the judge, who had spoken with a dazed expression. 


"He said he'd never seen anything like it before... I don't really know what he meant, though. 

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