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A Thousand Faces Chapter 29

Updated: Jan 30

W Broadcasting Station Production Team Office 

 

Park Jun-gil called a meeting of his team members, including Yoo Sang-jun, on an urgent basis. 

 

"We completed the re-shooting of Han Junwoo's profile as you instructed yesterday." 

 

Swoosh. 

 

Yoo Sang-jun slid a stack of freshly printed photo materials across the table's surface in front of Park Jun-gil. 

 

Park Jun-gil raised his eyebrows when he saw Junwoo's appearance in the photo. 

 

"Hmm." 

 

"I was surprised, too. He said it was his first time shooting a profile, but he didn't look awkward at all." 

The photographs showed Junwoo in myriad poses, each showcasing him adorned in diverse outfits and makeup provided by the styling shop. The studio lighting casts shadows and highlights, accentuating his features and expressions. Park Jun-gil, previously unaware of these preparations, simply nodded, his expression a blend of satisfaction and intrigue.

 

Around the table, the team members exchanged glances, their lips pressed tightly together in silent contemplation.

 

'What the hell is he scheming? Damn it.' 

 

The team members, who were planning a strategy to get rid of Junwoo as soon as possible, were surprised by his sudden change in attitude. 

 

Park Jun-gil began to talk about the second round of the main competition in earnest. 

 

"Everyone, pay attention. This mission will focus on teams 1 and 9." 

 

"What? Just like that?" 

 

That meant that the team members would have to stop all the work they had been doing under Park Jun-gil's direction. 

 

"Didn't you tell us last time that our preparation intends to make group 9 the least noticeable?" 

 

"Ugh, I don't know. Just do what I tell you to do. Stop asking questions." 

 

The team members were disappointed when they heard they would have to work overtime. But then, as they thought about what their boss, Park Jun-gil, had said, their faces started to light up with excitement. 

 

Team 1, with the presumptive winner Kang Hyeok, and Team 9, with the boy who is the center of attention. What would happen if these two teams were intentionally put together? 

 

"Could the tables turn?" 

 

The youngest team member suddenly asked the question. 

 

He was already getting excited about the Actor Kingdom, his body fidgeting in anticipation. 

 

Park Jun-gil grunted and rubbed his chin. 

 

"I hope that doesn't happen." 

 

The team members started to bombard their team leader with questions, starting with the youngest. 

 

"Are the two teams going to be rivals?" 

 

"Is there any chance that Kang Hyeok will be eliminated? We decided not to have a losers' bracket this time." 

 

"Oh, I'm sure you have your reasons. Right, team leader?" 

 

But Park Jun-gil couldn't answer anything. 

 

'I don't know either, damn it.' 

 

So he decided to throw a fit like he always did. 

 

"What are you all so curious about? Are you the viewers? Are you all that free?" 

 

The team member sitting opposite Park Jun-gil calmly wiped off the inadvertent spray of his boss's emphatic articulation from his face. They seemed used to their boss's over-the-top reactions, so they quietly moved on to the next agenda. 

 

"Then what work should we start with?" 

 

"First, tell them to deploy the main filming teams 1 and 9 to the field. Send only a few cameras to the fields of other teams." 

 

Park Jun-gil looked determined, as if he had already drawn something in his head. 

 

"Let's make a really cool trailer. Where are the locations?" 

 

"Team 1 is at the Incheon Zoo, and Team 9 is at Seoul Station Square." 

 

"Is the preparation doing good?" 

 

"Yes. According to the officials, Team 1 is already a shoo-in for first place just by looking at their practice. But..." 

 

"But..." 

 

"Team 9 is a mystery. They keep leaving the practice room under the leadership of Han Junwoo." 

 

"That's enough. By the way, did you replace the guy named Kwang-soo or Kwang-sik?" 

 

Park Jun-gil remembered Cho Kwang-soo, who had tried to trick him. He didn't want any distractions at this point, so he ordered the team member to be replaced. 

 

"Yes, we have replaced him with a team member who is unlikely to cause any problems. We have also made sure to keep him in line." 

 

"Okay. I didn't like how that kid acted too high. He's sticking out like a sore thumb." 

 

Park Jun-gil muttered to himself, then glanced at his watch. 

 

"We're going in two days. Make sure to communicate this to the equipment, production, and sound teams. This time, they'll be performing in front of people directly, so prepare well." 

 

"Yes, sir!" 

 

The team members hurriedly left the meeting room. 

 

*** 

 

A hospital located in a rural town. 

 

The hospital staff were all surprised to see the unexpected visitor, and they whispered to each other with shocked expressions on their faces. 

 

Standing tall in front of a hospital room with his hands clasped behind his back was Jo Sungrae. 

 

'It's been almost twenty years. I never thought I'd come back here.' 

 

He checked the name written on the patient chart next to the hospital room door. 

 

[Jung Hyun] 

 

Jo Sungrae's face was filled with complex emotions after seeing that name for the first time in years. 

 

After seeing Junwoo's stage, he felt the urge to see him for some reason. 

 

The door creaked open. 

 

Jung Hyun was sitting in the hospital bed, wearing a patient gown. His hair was graying, and he had tubes in his nose. He raised his head with difficulty. When he saw the person standing at the door, Jung Hyun's face showed a hint of surprise. 

 

"...Sungrae, is that you?" 

 

Jo Sungrae felt like something was stuck in his chest. Jung Hyun looked even more haggard than the last time he had seen him. He hated himself for having found him only now. 

 

"How have you been, Director? You look like you've been through a lot." 

 

Jung Hyun. 

 

He was a genius that everyone in the film industry was chasing after. 

 

Jo Sungrae remembered the days when Jung Hyun's arrival had caused a storm in the film industry. 

 

Jung Hyun was the reason Jo Sungrae started acting, and he was the Director of his first film. 

 

The old-timers in the industry called him a legend, but newcomers and young people in the current era didn't even know he existed. No matter the genre or field, the quality of a film would skyrocket if Jung Hyun had even a small part in it. 

 

At some point, Jung Hyun stopped making his own films. He was always tormented by thirst. Even Jo Sungrae couldn't understand where he felt the void at that time. No one could fulfill what he wanted. 

 

In the end, he announced his retirement with the words that he could no longer find a double that could represent his film world. There were no others who could understand his mental world, so there were none who could understand his decision. 

 

Jo Sungrae thought of Jung Hyun the moment he saw Junwoo's stage. 

 

Why did he come now, after all this time? 

 

Jo Sungrae crossed the hospital room and sat down next to Jung Hyun. They finally had the conversation they had been holding back for 20 years. 

 

"I know. I know how much you loved movies, Director. That's why you left." 

 

Jung Hyun looked at Jo Sungrae with calm eyes. 

 

"Did you hate me a lot?" 

 

"..." 

 

"I was always sorry. I wanted to tell you." 

 

"...Yes. I hated you, to be honest." 

 

For a moment, Jo Sungrae's face flashed with resentment. He also felt a sense of guilt. He didn't really want to be recognized by the public. He wanted to be recognized by Jung Hyun, the only person he truly respected and loved. 

 

Jo Sungrae blamed himself for not living up to his expectations. For a long time, he had to avoid Jung Hyun's existence in order to continue acting. The reason he found him after 20 years was also for that reason. 

 

"Perhaps I should have sought you out earlier."

 

However, the severity of Jung Hyun's condition was something Jo Sungrae hadn't anticipated. Paralysis was claiming Jung Hyun's body, a gradual descent into immobility.

 

"No. Thank you for coming. Now I can rest in peace." 

 

Jung Hyun seemed to have already made his peace. The memories of loving movies and the days of giving up and suffering. Jung Hyun had been shaking off his regrets little by little here for a long time. Jo Sungrae could not delay any longer. 

 

"...I found a child I really want to introduce to you, Director." 

 

"A child?" 

 

Jo Sungrae's expression changed a little. 

 

With tender deliberation, he recounted tales of Junwoo to Jung Hyun. He chronicled every nuance—from the initial impression to the profound influence the boy had exerted on the program. Jo Sungrae wove his narrative with heartfelt sincerity, detailing each observation and sentiment.

 

"I know you're not feeling well, but I really want you to see that kid, Director." 

 

Jung Hyun absorbed the story in contemplative silence, then murmured after a thoughtful pause,

 

"Let it be. It's too late for that now."

 

"But..." 

 

Jo Sungrae could tell. Jung Hyun was clearly upset. Seeing him try to hide it, he felt a pang of sadness himself. 

 

"There's not much time left, Sungrae." 

 

Jung Hyun deliberately turned his head away from Jo Sungrae. 

Was this a gift or a curse? Jung Hyun was afraid. 

 

His time is running out. His body is slowly becoming paralyzed, even now. He can't even stand up straight anymore. With death looming, he has already made peace with his own mortality. 

 

Jung Hyun didn't have the courage to face the child in person. He was afraid. 

 

If that child was the person he had been looking for all his life, and if it appeared before him only in the last moments of his life, Jung Hyun would be too devastated to accept it. 

 

He wishes Jo Sungrae, who showed up after 20 years, would still be clueless about why he left the film industry and be making a scene. 

 

He didn't want to hold a grudge against Jo Sungrae, whom he loved so much and felt so guilty about. 

 

*** 

 

Behind the broadcasting station, beneath a relentless sun that cast not a single shadow, Junwoo's team was diligently rehearsing for their upcoming mission.

 

"But do we really have to practice like this? We are sweating like pigs." 

 

Kim Yoojin fanned herself and said. 

 

"Honestly, I can't concentrate at all. Ugh. Can't we just practice inside?" 

 

Junwoo answered nonchalantly. 

 

"That's right. In this scene, we need to be very distracted by external factors." 

 

Kim Yoojin couldn't say anything back. 

 

The team members now knew, even without being told. Junwoo had a reason for everything he did. 

 

Soon, Junwoo was directing all of his team members. 

 

'He's not tired, is he? Even with all that sweat.' 

 

That was because Junwoo was the one moving the most. Junwoo, whose hair was soaked with sweat, never once showed any signs of being disturbed by the heat. 

 

"Bro! Can you take a look at this?" 

 

With Cho Kwang-soo gone, the new young team member who had been recently added was also following Junwoo around. 

 

Junwoo's name could be heard from all over. 

 

"Junwoo, can you help me with this..." 

 

"Hey, Han Junwoo!" 

 

"Brother Junwoo." 

 

While he was busy, 

 

Swish.  

 

Junwoo turned his head back. Someone had been looking at him from the other side. 

 

An old man in a wheelchair was quietly watching Junwoo's practice from a distance. 

 

"Hey, what's wrong? Is there something there?" 

 

Kim Yoojin followed Junwoo's gaze and turned her head back. 

 

"No, it's nothing." 

 

At first, Junwoo thought it was just a passerby watching them practice. But the man's face in the distance seemed a little different from simple curiosity. It made Junwoo feel uneasy. 

 

Meanwhile, Park Jun-gil was pacing back and forth at the broadcasting station's front gate. 

 

In the morning, Jo Sungrae had told him that someone would be visiting that day. He was nervous and waiting, as Sungrae had told him that the person was sensitive and should be treated with care. But time passed, and the visitor still hadn't shown up. 

 

'I wonder if he collapsed somewhere since he said he was in poor health.' 

 

Park Jun-gil bit his nails anxiously and eventually decided to walk around the broadcasting station. Fortunately, he found the visitor soon enough. A wheelchair was stopped in the middle of the road. The visitor, Jung Hyun, was near where Team 9 was practicing. 

Park Jun-gil ran up to him and bowed quickly. 

 

"... Let's go now." 

 

Only then did Jung Hyun turn his head away from Junwoo as if avoiding him. 

 

Park Jun-gil looked over at the direction he was looking at with a puzzled expression. 

 

"Were you giving them advice?" 

 

No. What kind of advice would an old man like me give? I was just watching. 

 

"Oh. I was curious about that myself. What was that team doing?" 

 

"..." 

 

Jung Hyun simply narrowed his eyes. 

 

The boy, drenched in sweat, was exuding a unique presence at the center of the team members. His face was focused intently on one thing as if nothing else mattered. 

 

When he heard the team members call his name, he knew. 

It was probably the boy he had heard about. 

 

When there was no answer, Park Jun-gil felt a pang of regret. 

 

'I've heard he's a great guy. I hope I wasn't too pushy with all my questions.' 

 

Park Jun-gil was sweating profusely. 

 

Jung Hyun didn't say a word the whole time they were going up to the office. 

 

*** 

 

"Mr. Seo, what are you doing here?" 

 

As soon as he saw Jung Hyun enter the meeting room, Gu Daewon, who was sitting in his seat, stood up abruptly. He had only heard about Jung Hyun, but this was the first time he had seen him in person. 

 

Cheong Myeong, who didn't know who he was, stood up awkwardly next to him. 

 

"You're here." 

 

Jo Sungrae also bowed his head. 

 

"I don't know if a retired old man like me should be here." 

 

"Of course! Please come this way," 

 

"But," 

 

Jung Hyun seemed to have something to say. 

 

Jo Sungrae was confused. He seemed to be in a different mood than he was in the hospital yesterday. Jung Hyun looked at Sungrae. 

 

"I heard you have a video of that kid's acting. Can I see it?" 




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