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A Thousand Faces Chapter 22

Updated: Jan 19

"I'd rather see it with my own eyes than hear more about it." 


Before Junwoo's performance began, Sungrae, who had said that, put down the microphone. 


He watched Junwoo, who had taken his place on stage, with a pen in his hand. 


"Since the character is not portrayed in the movie, it may be easier to express." 


It is a risky challenge. 


It was both reckless and clever. 


While the judges have criteria to evaluate other characters with clear-cut personalities, "Kim Mu-myeong" is a character that the boy himself created, so it is fair to say that he is the only one who can truly understand the character. 


The reasons for the selection were reasonable, so if the participant could at least partially digest the character he interpreted, he could receive a high score. 


Gu Daewon and Cheong Myeong were the same. He couldn't help but be curious about how much the young contestant had come up with a complete character in a short amount of time. 


"Crazy? Psychopath? Let's see what points he used to set up the character." 


In front of them, who were full of expectations, 


Junwoo's acting began. 


The moment he became Kim Mu-myeong, 


"Why did you pretend not to know? You were the one who pitied me. I..." 


It started as a monologue in the tone of a middle school student. 


A young, tearful voice rang out. The child hesitated, not wanting to be hated until the end. The child's lines continued, spilling out emotions as if he could no longer bear it. 


Sungrae nodded. 


'He really got the age right. This participant can bring out the maximum potential of his acting,' 


He was thinking about it up to that point when Kim Mu-myeong suddenly knelt down. 


"I'm, I'm sorry. Brother Sanmin. We agreed not to do this. Please, just once..." 


The face on the brink of life and death. In an instant, the youthful face is gone, and Kim Mu-myeong, who has grown up to be 20 years old, begs and pleads at the feet of Taesan Min. 




That was just the beginning. The more he skipped time, the more disgust and anger at humans settled on his face. The characters of Heukryeong Island who passed through his life. 


"I was the only idiot. They were all the same, those traitorous bastards. I made a decision. While I was waiting for that time, I would..." 


The scenes continue quickly, breaking off one by one. While quickly showing the hidden core past of each character, only the moment's emotions and the flow of time changed, but the character of Kim Mu-myeong was perfectly maintained. 


Sungrae, who was completely immersed in it without knowing it, narrowed his eyes at some point. 


"So, what story is he trying to tell with Kim Mu-myeong?" 


For a moment, I wondered what he was talking about with the stories I had never heard before flowing from his monologue. 


But as time went on, strangely enough, 


"The ones who should be punished are you, right?" 


One by one, the puzzle pieces are falling into place. 


This is the long story leading up to the downfall of the characters on 'Heukryeong Island.' 


Baek Du-hyeon's life, 

Taesan Min's life, 

The life of Jang Miryeong, 

Other characters and extras. 


All of them, starting from the seed called Kim Mu-myeong, are connected in one unfolding world. 




The pen rolled out of Sungrae's hand. He had finally realized it. 


From Kim Mu-myeong's first line on stage to all the scenes, the order of time, the rise of emotions, their perfect composition. 


Through Kim Mu-myeong alone, the story of all the characters in "Heukryeong Island" was unfolding. 


He felt a chill run down his spine. Even though the characters in the movie had not acted for a single second, it felt like they were alive. 


It was as if he was watching the prequel to "Heukryeong Island" that existed somewhere. 


It was not a made-up character. The participant was playing Kim Mu-myeong himself, who had always existed. 


The judges froze for a moment. The young participant was convincing them of the reasons he had mentioned before solely through his acting. 


The judgment was that it was a person who was deliberately created without any evaluation criteria. 


They were mistaken. 


"I thought I was using my head strategically...!" 


It was a complete misconception. 


That kid's choice was properly penetrating the mission theme. 


Kim Mu-myeong was indispensable in this movie. 


"...Thank you." 


It was impossible to evaluate. 


They couldn't continue the broadcast on the unbelievable stage any longer. 


"OK, we're going to take a break!" 


After Park Jun-gil's shout, Sungrae picked up the microphone in a hurry. The officials were surprised. 


"Uh, the camera isn't rolling yet..." 


But all they could do was watch the situation unfold. They had never seen Sungrae look so confused and flustered. 




Sungrae was speechless. He wanted to say something, but his mouth wouldn't open. 


He had been so immersed in the performance that he had forgotten his role as a judge. 


'I don't know if I'm even qualified to evaluate this.' 


He was doubting himself. No one in South Korea could see acting more closely and objectively than Sungrae. 


He interpreted all of this in a short period, created the scenes, and even made the dialogue himself. Even while acting as a child to a middle-aged man in an instant, he could not find a single flaw in the character in his eyes. 


In the end, what came out of his mouth was not an evaluation but pure curiosity. Sungrae, who had not yet regained his composure, suddenly forgot where he was sitting and began to bombard him with questions in his usual tone of voice. 


"Honestly, I can't believe it. How on earth could you do this level of character analysis on your own? Did you come to that conclusion after researching all the characters?" 


Junwoo's face was calm, as it had been before he started acting. After thinking for a moment, Junwoo picked up the microphone. 


"It wasn't that," he said. "It was because I understood Kim Mu-myeong that I could also handle the other characters. I focused on the character because the topic was the role, but..." 


Sungrae caught something from his answer. 


"Wait, what does that mean? Because the topic was the role?" 


"The first mission's theme was related to the role, so I prepared for it that way." 


"It sounds like you've already figured out other things as well. Can you give an example? Direction? Camera movement?" 


Example? Junwoo furrowed his brows for a moment. 


"I don't know if there is a separate term for those. I've read most of the theory books, but...and it's a bit ambiguous to explain if I give examples or count them as numbers." 


Junwoo continued to answer calmly, never losing his composure as a participant. Sungrae felt a bit embarrassed for being unable to contain his excitement. But what did that kid just say? 


"Separate term? Is he talking about instincts that he has learned on his own?" 


He was more curious than ever; he tried to regain his composure and return to his original pace. 


"Cough...!" He cleared his throat once and continued in a calm voice. 


"...If you can't do it with words, how can you prove it?" 


"I don't really know. I could show you, but that would be outside the scope of the mission." 


"You can show it, which means it can be proven." 




Glancing around, Junwoo briefly looked at Gu Daewon. The person who made the movie is here. 


"That would be the same as me arbitrarily rewriting it. I don't want to commit such disrespect in front of the director, who owns this movie." 


Cheong Myeong, who had been staring blankly at the stage just before, suddenly came to his senses. He started to feel scared. It was a gut feeling. Even with just one performance, many things had already gone wrong. The show, the reputation of the judges. 


It felt like that kid shouldn't do anything else here. Cheong Myeong quickly picked up the microphone. 


"I guess you didn't have time to prepare for that. Don't push yourself too hard. It's OK to be honest and say you weren't prepared." 


Cheong Myeong's face, which was speaking in a mocking tone, showed a hint of tension that he could not hide. 


The broadcast has already been interrupted. 


Below the stage, Park Jun-gil and Yoo Sang-jun realized the seriousness of the situation and were flustered. 


"Hold on a moment. We will ask the participant questions separately," 


"I'm curious too. I'd like to see it if it's OK." 


Park Jun-gil's words were swallowed up. Director Gu Daewon, who had been silent in shock, picked up the microphone. He couldn't help but wonder what he was saying. 


"He was so moved by the performance he just saw that he didn't have the energy to care about his own career anymore." 


"...Yes. I understand." 


Junwoo was a little embarrassed. The intense gaze of the judges was fixed on him. It seemed like they were determined to see it no matter what and wouldn't be able to continue the broadcast until they had confirmed it. 


"But it will take some time. About 23 minutes." 


In that short period, the participant, who seemed to have made some kind of calculation, could no longer predict or judge anything. The judges, wondering what he would show, just waited quietly and didn't say anything else. 


When Junwoo, who was feeling uneasy, finally started to do something, the studio was once again filled with a shocked silence. 


Even though he was playing the same Kim Mu-myeong as before, the way he did it and the elements he was conveying were different. If he had only shown the life stories of each character through Kim Mu-myeong on stage before, 


What they are seeing right now is...' 


This time, it was the movie itself. 


The scenes that emphasized the judges' seats as if they were set up with a camera angle, and the unbelievable sight of the monologue of Kim Mu-myeong, which incorporated all the additional elements that make up the movie, from the plot to the theme, action, and foreshadowing. 


And the crazy immersion of the acting that encompasses all of them. 


Junwoo was filming a one-act short film there alone. 


He couldn't believe he could show all that with just Kim Mu-myeong. 


As everyone on the scene was stunned, Kim Mu-myeong, who was thought to have disappeared, stood still somewhere on the stage. 


The scene ended with him standing on the Heukryeong Island, where no one was left at the end of all the stories. It was exactly 23 minutes. 


Only after seeing all of that could Jo Sungrae understand what Junwoo had said before. 


'Without Kim Mu-myeong, none of the elements of the movie could exist.' 


Even Gu Daewon would not have thought that way. Jo Sungrae, who had worked on many projects with him, knew that. 


'How can I be so overwhelmed by one person's acting?' 


For Jo Sungrae, this was a new feeling. And it was hard to believe that it was a young participant who had just stepped into the acting world. 


His face was no longer filled with awe or shock. With a face full of mixed emotions, he felt helpless about his life that had been dedicated to acting for his entire life. 


Next to him, Gu Daewon's heart was racing with the urge to make a director's cut and a spin-off of "Heukryeong Island" now that it had been three years. And at the same time, he felt a sense of unease. Could he do it without that kid? 


Only Gu Daewon, the film's creator, and Jo Sungrae, who had devoted his entire life to acting, could understand what Junwoo was trying to convey. The others didn't even know what Junwoo was trying to show them. All they knew was, 


Can this simply be called acting?' 


A gut instinct that they were seeing something that defied logic, even if they didn't know what it was. 


The scene was silent, as no words in existence could even begin to describe what they were witnessing. 


Their faces were a testament to the countless hours they had spent studying the film for this day. 


But what they didn't know was, 


To Junwoo, "Heukryeong Island" was just one of many films. 




After Junwoo left the stage, 


In the judges' seats, 


Jo Sungrae, who had been thoughtfully holding his head, suddenly burst out laughing. It was ridiculous to think about it. 


'Did they say they used Gil Junho for PR? With this kid?' 


"Pfft, pfft. Aren't people overestimating Gil Junho's level?" 


In Jo Sungrae's head, all the pieces were falling into place. Why Gil Junho had performed at such an out-of-the-ordinary small theater, and why the articles were focused on this kid instead of Gil Junho. 


Giggle, giggle. 


Finally, he burst out laughing. 


He was imagining how Gil Junho would have been chasing after that kid, given his personality and ambition, 


Jo Sungrae, who had been serious all this time, started laughing. 


With his gesture, a puzzled question mark appeared on Cheong Myeong's face. 


"Why... are you acting like that?" 


But there was no answer for Gu Daewon, who was still in shock. 


Jo Sungrae's serious face was back in an instant. 


In his judgment, based on his experience, what this kid showed today was not even half of what he could do. 


"If I had been young, I might have given up acting because of that kid.' 


Jo Sungrae felt a sense of relief at the thought that it was time for him to retire. 


Even if it had been him, he wouldn't have been a match for that kid if he had gone back in time. 


He had been acting in all sorts of movies for over 50 years, and he had already shown the public his range of acting. He had been getting limited roles even when he was cast, as he had gotten older. His manager advised him to focus on nurturing new talents based on his experience and knowledge. 


While he was considering this, he was also offered a favorable contract and high salary by Park Jun-gil, who wanted to use his fame and expertise to improve the quality of the program. This made him decide to appear in the show. Actor Kingdom was to be the final point in his long career. 


But now, his worries were growing. 


What if this airs...?' 


The public or ratings were not the problem. Actor Kingdom would be overshadowed. It was hard to predict how much attention would be poured on that kid. 


But for Jo Sungrae, those things were not important right now. 


The lingering feeling of what had just happened had not yet faded. His body was still shaking with excitement. It was painful to think that he had only just discovered such a child. 


Jo Sungrae, already feeling impatient, asked Gu Daewon, who was next to him. 


"When is the second round?" 



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