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A Thousand Faces Chapter 38

Updated: Feb 13

Creak.  

 

Park Jun-gil swung open the door of the office. 

 

'The practice has been halted. I wonder what kind of interesting situation will unfold this time.' 

 

He had already figured out what kind of person Junwoo was based on past experiences. 

 

He was curious to see how Junwoo dealt with those several years his senior, especially since they were actors of a different level. 

 

But then, he hesitated. 

 

'What's this?' 

 

Park Jun-gil stopped in his tracks. He had been considering sneaking a peek at the situation. 

 

Junwoo was sprawled comfortably on a chair in the corridor outside the office. 

 

"What are you doing here?" 

 

Park Jun-gil approached cautiously and asked. 

 

Junwoo, who had been serenely resting with his eyes closed, cracked open an eyelid. 

 

"Ah. The breeze is nice here. I thought I'd take a break." 

 

What? 

 

"Taking a break?" 

 

"Yes." 

 

A question mark seemed to appear on Park Jun-gil's face. Junwoo had never before left the team to do something on his own like this. 

 

Ah, of course. He must have finished everything already. But so soon? Did putting him with some capable teammates really spur him on this much? Park Jun-gil, a bit anxious now, swallowed hard. 

 

"Did you finish practice? You don't have anything to do anymore?" 

 

"No." 

 

"Huh?" 

 

"I just don't want to do it anymore." 

 

What? Park Jun-gil was taken aback. 

 

"What do you mean?" 

 

"I'm not practicing anymore." 

 

"Why, why? Why are you doing this all of a sudden?" 

 

Junwoo looked up at the ceiling with a face that seemed to have given up on everything. 

 

"Those older guys are looking down on me because I'm young. They're ignoring me. I'm scared. I can't do it anymore." 

 

"Scared? Wait a minute, Junwoo, you're usually..." 

 

"Do I just need to clear out my stuff from the dorm today?" 

 

This is crazy. 

 

"Why are you acting like this all of a sudden? Junwoo, you're not someone to drop out so easily, right?" 

 

Park Jun-gil was sweating profusely. What was all that he had shown until now? Participants, and even major actors among the judges, had never seen him flinch or back down. Why was he acting like this all of a sudden? 

 

Wasn't he the one who never shied away from anything related to acting? But now, Junwoo's face bore an unmistakable look of annoyance. 

 

"I don't know. I just want to take a nap for now." 

 

Junwoo yawned widely. Comfortably adjusting his arms, he wriggled a few times to fit into the chair and then closed his eyes. 

 

"Junwoo, Junwoo...?" 

 

"..." 

 

Wait. He's actually sleeping. Park Jun-gil, unsure whether to wake him up or where to put his hands, paced back and forth in the same spot. 

 

Suddenly, he felt a surge of anger. 

 

Thump-thump-thump-thump. 

 

Muttering to himself, Park Jun-gil stormed down the corridor with heavy footsteps. 

 

As the sound of footsteps faded, the corridor fell silent. It was obvious where Park Jun-gil was headed without even looking. 

 

'So simple-minded.' 

 

Junwoo, with a soft rustle, opened his eyes. 

 

*** 

 

Meanwhile, the NK rookies were in the practice room, planning together. 

 

"Is he still not back because he's sulking?" 

 

"This is why dealing with kids is exhausting." 

 

"It's for the best, really. What he proposed earlier was practically impossible anyway." 

 

They fell into a brief silence, all mentally revisiting the same scene – the plan Junwoo had laid out earlier. 

 

"Let's snap out of it. We've been praising him, and now he's gotten too full of himself." 

 

"Right? Ah, it's been a while since we had to worry about competition. We just wasted our time on nonsense." 

 

"Let's do it our way like we always have." 

 

Choi Han-gyeol said this and then glanced briefly at Shin Dami. 

 

"Anyone have a problem?" 

 

"..." 

 

It was after a round of serious discussion. Worried about her career at the company, Shin Dami hunched her shoulders and stayed quietly among them. 

 

"Alright then. Just so you know, I don't do petty things like ostracizing someone. I told that kid earlier he could do whatever he wants, right?" 

 

Choi Han-gyeol stood up. 

 

"Let's start." 

 

At his words, the other colleagues also began to rise from their seats. 

 

Shin Dami, with a bewildered expression, looked back and forth at them. 

 

"Are we starting now...? But one person hasn't arrived yet?" 

 

"Why are you worried about that? He's a genius, right?" 

 

"...Huh?" 

 

"He'll catch up or do whatever he needs to do on his own. He's such a great guy, after all." 

 

"But still, this is a bit..." 

 

"Who was it that acknowledged his skills more than anyone else here?" 

 

Choi Han-gyeol's sarcastic remark left Shin Dami with no choice but to reluctantly take her place as well. 

 

*** 

 

Some time had passed since then. 

 

Unaware of anything, the group diligently practiced while two figures observed them from afar. Park Jun-gil looked on through the corridor window with a displeased expression. Beside him, 

 

"Hmm. Is that the situation?" 

 

Shin Hanjun had just been briefed by Park Jun-gil about the situation. He was the casting director who had received Junwoo's pre-audition footage. 

 

He had been observing Junwoo since then, up to the third round. 

 

-That's not it. Let's look again. 

 

The voices of the actors faintly echoed from the practice room, with Choi Han-gyeol passionately leading them. 

 

Under normal circumstances, Park Jun-gil, being from NK, should have been enthusiastic just by that fact. 

 

Shin Hanjun is usually focused on casting. However, he was now deeply furrowed in frustration, casting aside his usual concerns. 

 

"Are they really from NK? This is quite disappointing." 

 

Able to discern the level of acting just by the form, he had already concluded their capabilities. 

 

They might have been chosen as the program's aces, but, 

 

"Or maybe my expectations have gotten too high." 

 

That was about the extent of their level. Shin Hanjun let out a faint smile. 

 

If he hadn't discovered that kid, he might have stormed into the practice room by now, demanding each one of them to perform to get a proper look. 

 

Now, seeing ordinary prodigies didn't excite him much anymore. 

 

Park Jun-gil, who had been nodding along, chimed in. 

 

"Exactly, even to my untrained eye, they seem quite unremarkable. Seems I'm not completely blind when it comes to judging talent." 

 

"This team is doomed if it continues like this." 

 

Shin Hanjun stated bluntly. 

 

"Their failure isn't really an issue. But..." 

 

His eyes suddenly sparkled with intensity. 

 

"It changes if that kid gets involved." 

 

His concern wasn't just about the relationship with NK, which had partnered with their broadcasting network. 

 

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Han Junwoo has been carrying this program on his own so far. 

 

Do those rookies even understand the amount of money and interest that's moving just because of that one kid? 

 

"Where is Han Junwoo right now?" 

 

"... He's sleeping." 

 

Exasperated, Park Jun-gil turned his head away with a frustrated look. 

 

"Have you reviewed the projection data?" 

 

Park Jun-gil looked up, confused by the question. 

 

"The impact that kid will have on the program. You're aware of the frenzy it's causing everywhere, right? Did you properly analyze the data on that? Does NK seem important in comparison now?" 

 

Shin Hanjun spoke, his voice tinged with frustration. 

 

Although Kang Hyeok was rumored to be the predetermined winner, the broadcast was increasingly revolving around Junwoo. This shift wasn't hard to comprehend. 

 

If things continued this way, the tower built up until now seemed destined to crumble. 

 

Thinking this far, Shin Hanjun's emotions intensified. 

 

"Haven't I told you not to worry about issues arising from discord? I was certain he wasn't the type to easily give in," 

 

"Man, I didn't expect him to be throwing in the towel this soon either. You don't understand what kind of person that kid is. I'm just as clueless." 

 

Watching Shin Hanjun's distorted expression, Park Jun-gil was beginning to grasp the gravity of the situation. 

 

He had never seen Shin Hanjun lose his temper or become emotional before. 

 

His usual perspective on acting aspirants was one of interest and amusement, regardless of their talent. 

 

"With such a genius at hand, I can't believe what everyone is doing. It's unbelievable. They can't handle this minor conflict, and now..." 

 

Shin Hanjun pondered the potential losses if this incident led to the kid's withdrawal from the show. 

 

Upon hearing the figures, Park Jun-gil exclaimed, 

 

"What, what happens then?!" 

 

His reaction was far more intense than anything before. 

 

Despite his long-standing relationship with NK, he had brought Shin Hanjun along, reluctant to intervene directly. Knowing Shin Hanjun's reputation and the influence he had over those freshly graduated trainees, Park Jun-gil had hoped he would exert just enough pressure and awareness. 

 

But Shin Hanjun was right. 

 

'Did I really intend to just watch from the sidelines because of NK?' 

 

Park Jun-gil couldn't just stand by. He grasped the doorknob. 

 

Then, at the end of the corridor, his steps reversed direction just as he was about to turn the corner. 

 

'A new person has joined the fray.' 

 

He watched the two figures striding away, one of whom he didn't recognize. 'Well, it's probably faster if they take turns knocking some sense into them,' he thought. He had expected the situation to be somewhat resolved by now. 

 

Junwoo regretted not sleeping a bit longer. 

 

'Why did I waste time?' 

 

A tinge of melancholy crept into Junwoo's thoughts. 

 

No one would step out of that practice room until tomorrow morning, at least. 

 

*** 

 

For a while, the NK rookies were fully immersed in practice and had roughly formed a framework for their performance. 

 

Choi Han-gyeol was confident. He believed that once this short drama was released, they would finally receive the attention they deserved, as the company had hoped. 

 

Then suddenly, 

 

Two figures burst into the practice room without warning. 

 

The rookies couldn't be unaware of who they were. One was the head of the production team for the program, and the other was the widely talked about casting director. 

 

"Ah, hello, si..." 

 

"Let's have a talk, shall we?" 

 

The rookies, who had quickly stood up, soon had faces colored with confusion. 

 

The expressions on the faces of those two were too fierce to suggest they were just dropping by. 

 

Before the rookies could fully comprehend the situation, Park Jun-gil and Shin Hanjun closed the practice room door firmly behind them, barely giving a glance at the rookies. 

 

"Hey, rookies. Ever wonder why we're here?" 

 

Park Jun-gil started bluntly. 

 

The startled rookies stuttered, struggling to grasp the situation. What could this be about? 

 

"I thought you guys had at least some sense, relying on the company's name. But what's this? Why did your company pick such fools?" 

 

Park Jun-gil continued his tirade. 

 

"Yeah, I get what you think you are. But if you had any vision, you'd know. Why do you think we put him with you? You should be grateful to even be around him, and now, without the main character, what do you think you're doing?" 

 

Choi Han-gyeol was the only one who could possibly retort in this situation. 

 

"The main character? Are you talking about Han Junwoo?" 

 

"Who else would be here? Stop wasting time with your nonsense, and just do as he says. Unless you want to return to your agency today." 

 

Choi Han-gyeol furrowed his brow in disbelief. 

 

"But isn't the direction of the mission decided by consulting all team members? We're already making good progress. I don't understand why we have to do what he says..." 

 

Hearing this, Shin Hanjun abruptly interjected. 

 

"Good progress? Where exactly?" 

 

Shin Hanjun responded with disdain. 

 

"Do you think we'd be here if it wasn't a complete mess? By saying that, you're implying that my judgment is flawed." 

 

"No, that's not what I meant..." 

 

"You're just fledglings freshly introduced to the world, and now you're trying to teach us? Do you have any idea how much is at stake with that kid? You don't, right? Then just be quiet and act according to your place." 

 

Choi Han-gyeol fell silent, unable to respond. 

 

Park Jun-gil and Shin Hanjun, after strongly urging them to follow Junwoo's direction as if it were a threat, finally stood up to leave. 

 

With a thud, the door closed, leaving the practice room in a solemn silence. 

 

The plans Choi Han-gyeol had made and the practice that followed were now rendered obsolete. They were being told to start over from scratch, whatever it took. 

 

The teammates all glanced at Choi Han-gyeol, wary of saying anything that might exacerbate the situation. 

 

In the midst of this tense silence, with everyone sweating nervously, 

 

"I have an idea." 

 

Choi Han-gyeol spoke, his mood clearly soured. Frustrated that even the higher-ups seemed to favor Junwoo, he felt they couldn't just let things slide. They had survived this far. 

 

"Snap out of it, everyone. We need to stick together. So, we'll align with what he wants, as they said." 

 

"Right." 

 

"But why does it have to be him... Can't we just ask for a team member swap?" 

 

Choi Han-gyeol suddenly remembered Junwoo's plan to center around Shin Dami. 

 

He stared intently at the silent Shin Dami for a moment and then clicked his tongue. 

 

'Even if it means enduring that.' 

 

Choi Han-gyeol began to scheme. 

 

"Let's use what Han Junwoo said against him." 

 

"What?" 

 

"He said to center it around Shin Dami, not himself. Ultimately, what matters is the final product, not the practice process. We'll pretend to elevate her, leave all the tedious shooting and stuff to him. Let's minimize her role in the actual play." 

 

"Ha, right. As expected of Han-gyeol. If he wants to do it, let him." 

 

Choi Han-gyeol thought to himself. Junwoo had indeed said that. He would take care of everything else. If they were ever accused of deviating from the plan, they could simply say Junwoo had wanted it this way from the start. 

 

And as if the timing couldn't be more perfect, 

 

"How's it going?" 

 

Right after their scheming session ended, Junwoo entered the practice room. 

 

"Yeah, we talked it over. And you know what? You were right all along. We've decided to go with the direction you set." 

 

Then Choi Han-gyeol added, 

 

"It's a decision we made because we also want to do well. But we'd like you to take care of all the shooting and related matters. Not sure how well you'll be able to manage your role along with all that, though." 

 

Despite their careful plotting, Junwoo appeared utterly indifferent to their scheme. Choi Han-gyeol tilted his head, puzzled. 

Junwoo glanced around at the team members. It seemed like they had already agreed to this plan. 

 

So, they're letting me do as I please from now on. Junwoo raised his eyebrows slightly. 

 

"Are you sure that's okay?" 



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NOOOO I NEED MORE!!!!

(thank you for the update!!)

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