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A Thousand Faces Chapter 25

Updated: Jan 24

Chapter 25

 

- What are you doing? You said you'd handle it, so what's going on now? This won't do. I'll go myself. 

 

The owner of the angry voice on the other end of the phone was Lee Jaewon. 

 

He was furious after hearing that the contract had been canceled. 

 

With his phone pressed to his ear, Park Jun-gil apologized profusely with a troubled look on his face. 

 

"Please wait a little longer, President." 

 

-How long do you expect me to wait? I told you it'll be too late once the first episode airs. What's wrong with you these days, Team Leader Park? You're not usually this bad at your job, are you? 

 

"... I'm sorry. But..." 

 

Suddenly, Park Jun-gil's steps stopped as he paced around the office. 

 

"It's not that there's no way. In fact, it might be a good thing." 

 

-A good thing? Are you kidding me? 

 

"The second round of the program will start soon. As soon as this filming is over, his presence will fade. Didn't the articles about Gil Jun-ho's performance also die down? At that time, we might be able to renegotiate with President Joo by lowering the conditions." 

 

Hearing that, Lee Jaewon's agitated voice calmed down a little. 

 

-... You'll lower the terms? 

 

"Yes. In fact, this will probably make them come to their senses and act more aggressively. I plan to teach them a harsh lesson this time. To show that no matter how much they rely on their skills and act recklessly, there are things that just won't work." 

 

*** 

 

The second filming of Actor Kingdom was held at the broadcasting station studio. 

 

The number of people on stage was noticeably smaller than before. 

 

About 50 participants remained, excluding those eliminated in the first round. 

 

After the first filming, Junwoo was quite busy. 

 

This was because the first broadcast would feature interviews with the participants and judges, practice sessions, conflicts, behind-the-scenes footage, daily life in the dorms, and fan support. 

 

Beyond the competitive arena, the camera captured the growth of the aspiring participants and their human aspects. 

 

In fact, 70% of that was scripted by the production team. 

 

This second round was a game they had planned all along. 

 

The MCs and panelists had to work hard to adapt to the hastily revised script. 

 

Word had it that it was all because of one participant. 

 

With her microphone in hand, Seo Yeon-mi scanned the stage for the culprit. 

 

'Where are you?' 

 

She was also in the audience, watching the previous stage. She was looking for a boy, without even realizing it. But, 

 

'...I can't see him.' 

 

Pushed back by the enthusiastic hustle of the participants, Junwoo found himself at the very end of the group. 

 

The camera turned around, and Seo Yeon-mi's expression changed. She began talking about the second mission. 

 

"As you all know, the second round of the preliminary round is a team mission. Aren't you excited to see where your stage will be?" 

 

The participants started to get restless. 

 

"The stage? It's not in the studio?" 

 

"Is it a play? A theater?" 

 

The crowd buzzed with excitement. 

 

Then, Seo Yeon-mi gestured towards the door behind the studio. 

 

"It's right there!" 

 

?? 

 

Puzzled expressions appeared on the participants' faces one by one. What is that? The murmuring grew louder. 

 

"The real world is your stage. You will go out and form a team to perform in places where people live their everyday lives! It seems that how realistic your performance is will be important." 

 

Seo Yeon-mi continued to speak. 

 

"The judges will not be the only ones judging this time. The public will also be involved. The key is how much attention people pay to the scene where you perform. The public's votes, the number of videos uploaded, and the reactions to them will all affect the results. Won't it be fun?"  

 

The participants who had heard up to that point had a variety of expressions on their faces. 

 

"Realistic acting" 

 

That's what they said, but in reality, this was a popularity contest. 

 

Actor Kingdom included not only ordinary people but also participants who already had recognition. 

 

Only those who could easily attract attention or have a large fan base were calmly interested, but most of the participants were already fidgeting and glancing at them, hoping to be on the same team. 

 

At that moment, someone raised his hand and asked a question. 

 

"We haven't even aired the first episode yet, have we?" 

 

Seo Yeon-mi answered. 

 

"That's right. The results of the second team mission will be revealed on the day of the first broadcast when the first mission is completed. It will be more exciting because you will be standing in front of the public before you are revealed on the air, right?" 

 

The participants nodded. The faces of those who had shown disappointing stages in the first round lit up with expectation and hope. 

 

Seo Yeon-mi then began to reveal the team member lists on the screen, which she said were randomly drawn. 

 

As soon as the first team was revealed, the participants' faces were all filled with surprise. 

 

<Team 1> 

 

Kang Hyeok, Lee Ro-woon, Yoo Tae-yang, Nana 

 

They had a reason to be like that. 

 

After confirming their names, the members of Team 1 gathered in one corner at a leisurely pace. 

 

Murmurs. 

 

"What? With this, the winner is already decided." 

 

"You're sure it was drawn randomly? How did that happen?" 

 

"How on earth are we going to win against them..." 

 

Murmurs could be heard from all around, filled with resignation, anger, and envy. 

 

The members of the first team were: Lee Ro-woon, a popular idol member; Yoo Tae-yang, a rookie actor who was already gathering fans; Nana, an SNS influencer with celebrity-level popularity; and Kang Hyeok, the third son of the Daemyoung Group, who had a visual that was just as good as theirs. 

 

With popularity being the judging criteria, this was an unbelievable combination. 

 

"But their visuals are insane. They could debut as a group just like that." 

 

Someone said, "The aura that emanates from them just by being in one place." At one point, the other participants were staring at Group 1 in awe. 

 

After that, the teams were formed one by one, and Jun-woo was in Team 9. 

 

<Team 9> 

 

Kim Yoojin, Cho Kwang-soo, Heo Soon-tae, Han Junwoo. 

 

A gathering of people with no particular experience or background. 

 

Jun-woo checked his name and walked to the end of the stage. 

 

Among the participants, who were looking at each other with anxious expressions, Junwoo had been feeling a little excited since earlier. 

 

He liked the theme. It wasn't a performance on a separate stage but rather a performance mixed in with people's daily lives. It reminded him of the past, and he felt a strange feeling. 

 

Kim Yoojin was walking towards them slowly and heavily, with a sullen expression on her face. 

 

She was looking over her unremarkable teammates when she spotted Junwoo and was surprised. 

 

"Oh my God! You're…" 

 

Kim Yoojin pointed at Junwoo without realizing it. Junwoo turned to look at her. 

 

Blink.  

 

It's that student with a hoarse voice from before. She made it here. 

 

Junwoo remembered Kim Yoojin's face, which had been swollen and resigned. 

 

"Your name is Han Junwoo, right? We're on the same team?! Right. Some old man was looking for you the other day. So I…" 

 

Her voice was clear and strong, unlike before. Kim Yoojin couldn't hide her excitement. She was fidgeting and rambling about the preliminary audition. 

 

Her face, which had been lifeless just moments ago, was now alive with energy. 

 

"Hey, I passed the preliminary audition, thanks to you. I heard that a participant interrupted the broadcast in the first round. That was you, right?" 

 

"Yeah, well… it wasn't really me, though…" 

 

Junwoo scratched his head. Did the rumors really spread that far? 

 

Junwoo's teammates were sizing each other up, glancing at each other nervously. Then, they looked at the other teams and made envious faces. 

 

In Actor Kingdom, there were many people who were already well-known. 

 

Even apart from Team 1, other teams had a few people with some degree of recognition. 

 

Kim Yoojin followed their gaze and scanned the participants before fixing her gaze on Team 1. 

 

"Wow, but that team is like the Avengers." 

 

"The Avengers?" 

 

Junwoo asked with a confused expression. 

 

"You really don't know? They're all already talented people. There's probably no one here who doesn't know them." 

 

"Why? Because they're good actors?" 

 

"It's not about their acting. People will flock to them if they show up anywhere, even if they just stand there. I guess we'll just have to give up on first place." 

 

Kim Yoojin said that, but then she suddenly thought, 

 

'No…?' 

 

She couldn't help but stare at Junwoo. 

 

Junwoo, who had just yawned and was looking at the other side of Team 1, was nodding his head absentmindedly, muttering, "I see." 

 

'Ugh…what am I thinking right now?' 

 

Kim Yoojin had already finished looking up the information about the other participants according to the information she had received from the academy. 

 

"This time, the judging criteria is all about recognition." 

 

Kim Yoojin started to size up her teammates one by one, her mind racing. 

 

"First, I'm just a student. That tall guy over there is Cho Kwang-soo, 28 years old, a five-year veteran of the industry with no fans. And then there's Heo Soon-tae, that old man…" 

 

Heo Soon-tae, who was standing with his hands behind his back, smiled kindly at Kim Yoojin when their eyes met. 

 

'There's no information about him…he just seems like an aspiring actor. Han Junwoo. He had a few articles written about him after performing with Gil Junho, but that's it. The public probably doesn't know him very well. It's just a bunch of people with no presence.' 

Kim Yoojin glanced at Junwoo. 

 

'But I didn't realize that was him. I just read the articles quickly. 

 

Meanwhile, another person had been staring at Junwoo from the beginning. 

 

Under the stage was Yoo Sang-jun. 

 

He couldn't figure out what to make of Junwoo, who was standing on stage, calm and collected. He had deliberately put all the well-known participants in Team 1, and all the no-name participants in Team 9. He had expected Jun-woo to be flustered, but… instead, he didn't even glance in the direction of Team 1. 

 

Yoo Sang-jun was genuinely curious. 

 

"What is he thinking that he can be so nonchalant?" 

 

Even his teammates didn't seem to interest him. He felt a sense of unease. 

 

After that, the participants were able to hear a detailed explanation of the mission. 

 

Each team was assigned a location and place to perform. 

 

They were given crowded places such as department stores, train stations, supermarkets, and amusement parks. 

 

The theme was free. The participants were free to write their own scripts and perform a scene that fit the location. 

 

This meant that they needed to be good at not only acting, but also writing scripts. 

 

Seo Yeon-mi gave one warning. 

 

"If you get greedy and make a nuisance of yourself in a public place, you will be stopped immediately by the officials around you. Please refrain from any actions that will disqualify you from the competition. Do you understand?" 

 

<Seoul Station Square> 

 

This was the location given to Junwoo's team. 

 

"So, we're going to do a prank on the citizens ourselves? That sounds fun." 

 

"I guess so. But we're not supposed to cause any harm." 

 

After hearing the explanation, the team members started introducing themselves. 

 

The unknown actor, Cho Kwang-soo, was surprised when he heard Junwoo's name. 

 

"I think I saw you in an article. You're the one who performed with Gil Junho, right?!" 

 

When he heard that, Heo Soon-tae also looked at Junwoo. They thought that if they did well, they might be able to avoid last place. They thought this because they focused on the fact that he was a person whose face was at least known rather than expecting him to have the skills to perform with Gil Junho. 

 

Kim Yoojin took the initiative right away. 

 

"We're going to write the script ourselves, right? Is there anyone here who's studied playwriting?" 

 

They looked at each other without anyone stepping forward. Just as Kim Yoojin was about to say something, a staff member with a microphone approached them. 

 

"Don't worry. Our production team has already come up with scenes for each team." 

 

The staff member began to explain the pre-written story in great detail. Kim Yoojin's face gradually turned sour. The other team members were just as confused. 

 

The story did not consider the team members' individual characteristics or personalities. 

 

The detailed explanation given by Seo Yeon-mi earlier seemed to be for the sake of the broadcast. 

 

Kim Yoojin interjected as if she knew this wouldn't work. 

 

"Wait a minute. Didn't you say the theme was free…?" 

 

"That's just to create anticipation for the viewers. It doesn't make sense to entrust everything to aspiring actors with no experience. Obviously, it'll be a mess, but we can't wait until the program fails. This is how it's always done." 

 

"We have a diverse range of ages and genders, so it would be difficult to do it that way…" 

 

Cho Kwang-soo, who was standing next to her, also joined in. 

 

"You're right. And no matter how good the acting is, how are we supposed to get votes with these unlikable roles?" 

 

"That's your job to overcome. You just need to focus on the theme. Why are you all so full of complaints?" 

 

Heo Soon-tae furrowed his brows and groaned as if he couldn't hear the voices well. 

 

Junwoo didn't join the conversation. 

 

He simply accepted the script that the staff member handed over after they had a heated argument. 

 

*** 

 

The team members sat in a corner of the practice room. 

 

"Hey, this is really too much, isn't it?" 

 

Kim Yoojin snapped in anger. She threw the script down in front of Junwoo. 

 

The cover of the script read, "Team 9-Seoul Station Square." 

 

"Why? I think it's good." 

 

Junwoo replied as if he didn't understand the problem. 

 

"What is it, then!" 

 

"It was more fun doing it together than by myself." 

 

Junwoo thought back to when he practiced the play with Gil Junho. 

 

"What's this nonsense he's spouting now? Does that even matter?" 

 

Cho Kwang-soo stroked his chin. 

 

"I've been a professional actor for a while now. Based on my experience, I'm sure they're up to something. The composition of Group 1 is just plain ridiculous, you know?" 

 

"Could you please speak a little slower? I'd like to understand as well." 

 

While everyone was expressing dissatisfaction with the program, not even paying attention to the script, Junwoo picked up the script with a puzzled look. 

 

The team members continued to complain, regardless of what was said. 

 

"Shouldn't we object to this?" 

 

"What if they maliciously edit us?" 

 

Junwoo was alone looking over the script when he suddenly discovered something and tilted his head. 

 

 




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