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A Thousand Faces Chapter 42

Updated: Feb 19

After finishing their evaluation, the rookie team NK came down from the stage. 

 

Their faces were all somber. 

 

Even though their performance received positive reviews, they couldn't be completely happy because of Cheong Myeong's last comment. 

 

They were all at risk of elimination. Today could have been their last performance in the Actor Kingdom. 

 

They had somewhat anticipated this outcome. 

 

Among them, the team member who had made a mistake had a twisted expression on his face and couldn't say anything. 

 

Then, another team member suddenly tapped Shin Dami on the shoulder. 

 

"You know it's because of you, right?" 

 

"What?" 

 

He gestured towards the team member who had made the mistake. 

 

"Sure, he messed up his lines momentarily, but if you had just left it, he would have managed to recover on his own. But because you jumped in like that, the whole performance got thrown off," 

 

"Will you shut up?" 

 

It was Choi Han-gyeol who suddenly spoke up. The team member who was speaking flinched at the interruption. 

 

"Neither of you did anything commendable, so just stay quiet. The same goes for me." 

 

Choi Han-gyeol glared at the team member as if he would throw a punch if he said anything more. 

 

The teammates, who had expected him to take his side, were flustered and stumbled over his words. 

 

Choi Han-gyeol then stared intently at Shin Dami before suddenly extending his hand. 

 

"You were impressive." 

 

The one who found his behavior most incomprehensible was, of course, Shin Dami. 

 

"What are you talking about all of a sudden?" 

 

"Sorry. I judged you harshly without knowing. I didn't realize you were capable of that much." 

 

Choi Han-gyeol did not withdraw his hand or his gaze from Shin Dami. He just waited. 

 

After a moment of hesitation, she finally grasped his hand. 

 

"No, it's okay. What he said wasn't entirely wrong. I'm sorry for acting on my own." 

 

"Even now, I think that was the best choice. Even if we get eliminated, I think I'll be okay now." 

 

Okay? The teammates wore expressions of confusion, wondering what they had just heard. 

 

"I realized during this mission that I've been too arrogant in many ways." 

 

After saying this, Choi Han-gyeol looked around briefly. 

 

"But why haven't we seen Han Junwoo around?" 

 

*** 

 

Meanwhile, in the quiet corridor of the broadcasting station on the 9th floor. 

 

All the staff members were gathered in the studio where the filming was taking place. 

 

And at the end of the corridor, 

 

Creeeak. 

 

The sound shattered the silence as the editing room door slowly opened. 

 

Emerging towards the light with heavy steps was Junwoo, looking utterly spent. 

 

His face was gaunt, with dark circles under his eyes, and his hair was disheveled and greasy. 

 

His parched lips were cracked, likely due to dehydration. 

 

Anyone seeing him might mistake him for a homeless person who had sneaked into the broadcasting station. 

 

His eyes were bloodshot from fatigue, yet they still held an undiminished mix of vitality and madness. 

 

Junwoo had managed to get permission from Park Jun-gil to use the editing room separately. 

 

He was granted two days. During the day, Junwoo instructed his teammates on stage directions, and at night, he stayed in the editing room, pulling all-nighters for two consecutive days. 

 

"Hey, found you. Yo, kiddo." 

 

Swoosh 

 

Junwoo turned his head towards the source of the voice. 

 

From a distance, his teammates were approaching hesitantly. 

 

Each of them looked like a child who had just done something wrong, cautious in their approach. 

 

Whirr.  

 

Junwoo's eyes narrowed like camera lenses. 

 

His focus settled on Choi Han-gyeol, who was leading the group. 

Choi Han-gyeol flinched upon seeing Junwoo's disheveled state. 

 

"...What have you been doing?" 

 

"..."  

 

"Did you see our performance?" 

 

Panorama shot. Their movements, expressions, and voices are captured in a single frame. 

 

"Hey. What do you mean, 'did you see'? If you were there, you would've known." 

 

Cut and action. Commands are issued in his mind, measured in seconds. 

 

Click, as he splits the scene with a mouse, the voices of his teammates grow muted. 

 

'Why isn't he saying anything...' 

 

Shin Dami bit her lip. 

 

They had no idea what had transpired in there over the past two days. 

 

And still, 

 

"Finally. We couldn't see you anywhere." 

 

"But why does he look like that?" 

 

Their overlapping voices buzz in the ears. 

 

Choi Han-gyeol leans close to Junwoo, his expression a mix of anxiety and concern. The face captured within the frame slowly zooms in. 

 

He had just finished audio work, splitting and synthesizing seconds of post-shoot audio. 

 

It was because of Choi Han-gyeol's unnecessarily resonant voice, despite his role being more like a screen. 

 

"Kiddo, are you listening?" 

 

Swish swish 

 

Choi Han-gyeol gestures in front of Junwoo. Junwoo's gaze, which had been fixed at a point, starts to move again. 

 

"...Are you upset?" 

 

The echoing voices gradually become clearer and more distinct. 

 

The white balance shifts, making the surrounding colors suddenly turn stark and cold. 

 

Cut, and at last, the edges of the frame gradually blur. 

 

The filter lifts, and the surrounding elements start to come into sharp focus. 

 

Intently, Choi Han-gyeol, who has met his gaze, waits for an answer 

Junwoo shook his head slightly. 

 

"I saw the performance." 

 

"Ah…" 

 

Of course. Choi Han-gyeol seemed to catch on. Maybe Junwoo was upset about the potential elimination. That's why he hadn't said anything. 

 

Then, responding to Junwoo's words was Shin Dami. It seemed what she had seen on stage wasn't an illusion. 

 

"If it wasn't for you, Junwoo, we could have been in real trouble. Thank you." 

 

Shin Dami said this. The other three couldn't grasp what she meant. 

 

Choi Han-gyeol rolled his eyes. It seemed like the trouble had already happened. 

 

"Well, you see, if you saw it, you know we made a mistake. And because of that, your script got messed up." 

 

Choi Han-gyeol confessed without beating around the bush. 

Junwoo showed no significant change in expression. 

 

"It seemed like that." 

 

"Sorry. It seems like you suffered because of us." 

 

"Suffered?" 

 

"In the worst-case scenario, we could all get eliminated." 

 

"Yes, I know." 

 

"...?" 

 

Junwoo waited for Choi Han-gyeol to continue. He had never really considered the prospect of leaving the program as a "suffering." 

 

"...If it weren't for the mistake, we could have all risen higher together. That's regrettable." 

 

Their heads drooped in disappointment, their faces looking like they were about to cry. 

 

Junwoo became curious. 

 

"Why? Are you worried about the prize money?" 

 

"Well, yeah... it is a significant amount." 

 

"You don't need to worry about that. You've already achieved more than it's worth." 

 

"Huh?" 

 

Junwoo glanced briefly at the firmly closed door of the editing room. 

 

It wasn't just consolation; it was a fact. Even a rough estimate suggested they had surpassed a hundred million won. 

 

He hadn't expected much from a broadcasting station's editing room, but surprisingly, the equipment and technology there were advanced. 

 

The outcome might vary depending on how Park Jun-gil used it, but Junwoo was sure they wouldn't be leaving empty-handed. 

 

"...I see." 

 

Suddenly enlightened, Choi Han-gyeol eagerly grabbed both of Junwoo's hands. 

 

He seemed deeply moved. 

 

"More than it's worth. Thank you for saying that. The more I get to know you, the more I realize you're a decent guy. I misunderstood you for a while." 

 

It seemed like everyone was anticipating a total elimination based on what they heard during the evaluation. 

 

Junwoo thought it might soon be time to return to the countryside. 

 

It had been a satisfying experience in its own way. With not much time left and having personally created a piece of work, Junwoo didn't have much else to expect. 

 

Junwoo thought about the main theater back home after a long time. 

 

'I wonder if they're eagerly waiting for me by now.' 

 

*** 

 

In the busiest ever production team meeting room... 

 

There was an emergency due to the risk of Junwoo's team being eliminated. 

 

"What should we do? It's obvious that Team Leader Park will be furious." 

 

"Right, where is the team leader now?" 

 

"He just heard the news and is rushing over here." 

 

"What? Already? Ahhh, this is driving me crazy. How are we going to handle this?" 

 

One of the production team members frantically ruffled their hair. 

 

"The problem isn't just the judges and officials who were there. There were also some participants." 

 

"Yeah, they must have noticed that Han Junwoo and Team NK were getting preferential treatment." 

 

"Everyone had overlooked Han Junwoo as a non-factor... but now, rumors are already circulating among the participants since they see this as an opportunity." 

 

This statement caused everyone to frown. 

 

"Rumors? What kind?" 

 

"They're saying if this issue isn't resolved, they'll blow it up big time. Threatening to expose the unfair practices of the production team. It looks like it's not just one or two people but a collective effort." 

 

"Ah, this might blow up even before the broadcast. I don't know what we're going to do." 

 

Just then, with a bang, Park Jun-gil burst in, halting the conversation abruptly. 

 

He stood there, panting heavily, showing how hurriedly he had come; his hair was even in disarray. 

 

The team members braced themselves for the imminent barrage of expletives they expected from him. 

 

However, the team leader's face, which should have been twisted in anger, looked surprisingly okay. 

 

It was as if he was so shocked that something had gone wrong. 

 

"You seem to have rushed over." 

 

"Huff. Huff. Had to. I'm dying here." 

 

"We're also trying to come up with a plan." 

 

"Do you know what I brought?" 

 

Park Jun-gil placed something onto the table with a thud. It was two USB drives. 

 

"What are these?" 

 

Park Jun-gil picked up one of them and shook it. 

 

"First, this is what the editing team made. And," 

 

He picked up the other, 

 

"This one's from that guy. Ah, had a hard time sneaking it out." 

 

Question marks appeared on the team members' faces. They began to worry about the team leader's state, given his sudden and seemingly irrational statements. 

 

"You don't understand, do you? Just watch." 

 

It was a one-act play of Junwoo's team, edited differently from the same footage. 

 

"The editing is already done? But the mid-term evaluation results haven't even been released yet." 

 

"Like anyone expected them to mess up. As soon as we got the footage of Han Junwoo's team, we sent it to the editing team. It's been finished for a while. But that's not the problem, this is." 

 

As Park Jun-gil turned on the video, 

 

Upon seeing the video, the staff were shocked and began to understand everything. 

 

"This script was for this?" 

 

"This stage was for this?" 

 

Their words overlapped in unison. 

 

"The feel is completely different. I had no idea it was supposed to be like this." 

 

"The scene order is completely changed too." 

 

The original goal was to piece together the fragmented footage and create a one-act play by simply adding things like background music. 

 

But this was like a piece of art. 

 

From basic match cut compositions and montages to transitions using dissolves and wipes, rewinding past scenes, sound balance and layering, subtly adjusted color correction and grading for each cut, and even creating a three-dimensional sense of space in certain scenes through stereo – it was all there. 

 

The broadcasting station staff, being only involved in the production, couldn't possibly dissect all these technical details. 

 

But one thing was clear to them. 

 

'This quality is beyond our level of judgment...' 

 

The production team members were left with expressions of disbelief. 

 

Then, Shin Dami's face slowed down and filled the screen. Her expressions, contorting and relaxing as she spoke, dominated the screen. Someone remarked upon seeing it. 

 

"That's the main lead, the participant from earlier, right...?" 

 

Her acting was just a part of it; it was clearly Shin Dami, yet it didn't seem like her. 

 

Every scene perfectly captured Junwoo's original intent. 

 

The ending was flawless. A haunting and bizarre sound, mixing Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique with Bach's Fugue in D minor, flowed along with the credits. 

 

They were speechless for a moment. 

 

"He did this in just two days..." 

 

"What the heck is this guy's real deal? Why did he come here?" 

 

The script was tailored to be easy for newcomers to act. 

 

They thought the quality was unbelievable just from the script. 

 

"Shouldn't this be submitted to a film festival?" 

 

Various questions poured out from around the room. 

 

But there was no one there who could answer them. 

 

One of the more perceptive team members realized why Park Jun-gil wasn't as upset as they had expected. 

 

He was soon engulfed in irony. 

 

"...Now that I think about it, that's true." 

 

"What is?" 

 

"The purpose of the mid-term evaluation was to decide whether the footage was worth turning into a video." 

 

The video created by the participant was already showing overwhelming quality, 

 

So, it made no sense to eliminate them from the main fourth round just because they messed up the mid-term evaluation. 

 

In any case, 

 

'We're saved.' 

 

The production team breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't just the contestant who was saved; it was the production team itself. 

 

With several companies already eyeing that young talent and a bidding war underway, Junwoo had become an indispensable asset. 

The production team wasn't debating whether to save him or not but rather how to do so. 

 

Since he had provided a justification for his revival on his own, they couldn't help but feel grateful for Junwoo's talent. 

 

That USB had become an undeniable justification that no one could refute. 

 

"If someone sees that and still talks about elimination, it's just proof of their incompetence." 

 

Park Jun-gil said, with a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. 

 

"But the problem is..." 

 

"Will the editing team agree?" 

 



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