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A Thousand Faces Chapter 44

Updated: Feb 21

The camera started rolling again. 




Jo Sungrae cleared his throat. 


He managed to gather his thoughts. 


A process of simplifying his questions in his mind was needed. 


If the same answers as before were broadcast, people would likely criticize it as being too forced or scripted. 


"I heard you haven't been acting for long. Considering the usual pace of aspiring actors, the things you've accomplished seem impossible. What do you think sets your talent apart from others?" 


Junwoo, sensing his intention, responded as simply as possible. 


"Talent... Well, I don't know everything about it yet." 


"Have you never thought about it?" 


"Everything here, I'm doing for the first time. So far, I haven't come across anything that I felt I couldn't do or manage." 


Jo Sungrae narrowed his eyes for a moment. 'I don't know everything.' So, he's unaware of his own limits. But... 


"Anything at all?" 




"...Do you believe you can do everything by yourself?" 


"That's what I'm thinking right now." 


Jo Sungrae knew such confidence could only come from a prodigy, but he needed to ponder it further. 


Would he want to act alongside this young talent if he were in their shoes? 


Even if one could discover a new facet of themselves as an actor in front of this young man, anyone's beliefs and values about acting might crumble pitifully. 


"...Acting isn't something done alone. Collaboration is crucial. Do you think it's meaningful even if it's on a level incomprehensible to your fellow team members?" 


"I don't think collaboration is always necessary." 


Jo Sungrae frowned at that response. 


"Do you really think you can handle everything on your own? There must be limits." 


"Well... it's not entirely impossible." 


Junwoo paused, seemingly contemplating something as he stared into space. His expression was unwavering. It seemed as if he had already considered this possibility. 


Jo Sungrae asked, 


"Then what can you do with that talent?" 


"There's actually something I'm working on right now." 


Junwoo said this and briefly shifted his gaze to the camera. Making a 'tsk' sound, he continued as if to say it wasn't impossible to talk about it. 


"I'm involved in producing a movie with Actor Kingdom. I'm participating in it too since I'm a contestant." 




Jo Sungrae's eyes widened in disbelief, unsure what to make of this revelation. 


"...Actor Kingdom, as in, our program?" 




Jo Sungrae looked utterly confused. 


Suddenly, Junwoo stood up from his chair and started heading out of the practice room. 


"Where are you going all of a sudden...?" 


Jo Sungrae's head naturally followed Junwoo's movement. 


Junwoo, striding purposefully, approached a staff member waiting outside the practice room and seemed to be requesting something. 

Shortly after, Junwoo returned with a small camcorder in his hand. 


"That is..." 


"Yes, it's the practice camcorder I received before." 


Without a lengthy explanation, Junwoo turned on the camcorder. He knew that any verbal explanation would only lead to more questions about what he meant. Showing was faster. He also judged that someone with Jo Sungrae's extensive experience as a leading actor would be able to grasp some understanding. 


"It's still in the filming stage, but you can just flip through it roughly." 


Gulping, a bewildered Jo Sungrae took the camcorder and swallowed hard. Suddenly, he wondered what this was all about... 


In the small viewfinder screen of the camcorder, there were numerous videos, including those Junwoo had previously filmed in the practice room. 


And after checking them all, Jo Sungrae was utterly astounded. 


They showed a comprehensive view of Actor Kingdom's progress so far. 


Not just the participants but also the production team, staff, and scenes related to the program both inside and outside the broadcasting station were captured. 


There were even strange scenes involving people and objects whose intentions were unclear. 


'He filmed all these with this camcorder...?' 


Despite the poor quality and occasional lagging speed of the videos, the shooting techniques used in them were unheard of. It seemed impossible that these were filmed with such a simple camcorder, lacking any notable features. 


Amidst his busy schedule, when could he have possibly filmed all this? But a movie? 


"I get the intention, but..." 


There wasn't a single actor performing in the videos. They were real-life scenes of the participants and staff engaged in the survival competition. 


Jo Sungrae slowly raised his head. 


"This seems less like a movie or drama and more akin to a documentary. Like a survival reality show..." 


"No. I plan to create a completely different story with these." 


A completely different story? Jo Sungrae doubted his ears. 


"Not about the program?" 


"Right. It'll be about something completely unrelated to the broadcast or the competition." 


"How is that possible? And you're saying you'll make a movie without a single actor? With just this tiny camcorder?" 


Jo Sungrae shook the small camcorder in his hand. 


Junwoo, deep in thought, slightly lifted the corners of his mouth. 


"The material is great. Everyone is showing a variety of aspects while practicing." 


In reality, the equipment was hardly an issue. 


"And there will be actors, not entirely without a single actor. I told you I'm participating as well." 




"The backbone is me... but it's still early stages, so I can't tell everything." 


"Hold on, are you okay with all this being broadcast?" 


Realizing the situation belatedly, Jo Sungrae hastily covered the camera with his palm. 


Junwoo reacted calmly. 


"It doesn't matter. I wasn't planning to use that for anything special anyway." 


Jo Sungrae's hand slowly lowered. 


He began to understand why this young man had been so unassuming about his participation in the program. 


While the other contestants were gritting their teeth, practicing, and battling it out in this competitive battlefield, trying to survive any way they could, 


To this young man, each of those scenes was merely material for his own creation. 


From the start, the massive program, Actor Kingdom, had no impact on him. 


And Jo Sungrae realized it was the same for himself. He suddenly felt incredibly small. 


Then, he contemplated for a moment. 


What this young man was producing was something of an unimaginable scale, something that a simple camcorder like this could hardly capture. 


Even though he had heard and seen it with his own ears and eyes, it was beyond his imagination. 


He's creating a film that captures the raw reality without the collaboration or rehearsals of actors. 


And it's about something completely unrelated to the nature of the program. 


'What is he thinking? Horror? Comedy? What genre...' 


If it's a comedy, is he planning to present the contestants' conflicts in a humorous way? 


Or will he portray the desperation of those vying for victory and the despair of others in a tragic light? 


'No, that can't be it.' 


Jo Sungrae shook his head. This was beyond his capacity to imagine. 


It was even questionable whether the concept of genre existed for that young man. 


He might even be capable of breaking the mold set by the history of cinema and establishing a new genre. 


'Whatever it was, ultimately, it would be that young man's acting that made it possible.' 




A promotional meeting for the program continued in the production team's office. 


Yoo Sang-jun's face was alight with excitement. He announced a new plan, not previously scheduled, to everyone. 


"We're planning to release a new second trailer two days before the broadcast. Production starts today." 


"A new trailer?" 


The team members were puzzled. 


"Didn't we already release all the material suitable for a trailer?" 


"If the initial trailer focused on the identity of the program and participants with high profiles," 




Yoo Sang-jun displayed something on the screen. It was a scene from the recent interview between Jo Sungrae and Junwoo. 


"Now that we've raised expectations, it's the right time to throw in the real bait." 


Yoo Sang-jun pressed the play button. 


The scene showed Jo Sungrae asking Junwoo what he thinks his talent is. 


-Talent... Well. 


- I don't know everything about it yet. Everything here, I'm doing for the first time. 


In response to Jo Sungrae's question about whether he can do anything by himself, 


- Yes, that's what I'm thinking right now. 


The young contestant's calm and, without hesitation, responses filled the screen. Yoo Sang-jun then pressed the pause button again. 


The next scene that followed was from the first round of the main competition, the first and last time Park Jun-gil appeared. 


- Let's take a brief break! 




The screen froze on Park Jun-gil's pale face, his arms wildly flailing, revealing his stomach. 






The team members nodded, looking away from the screen, while Park Jun-gil awkwardly touched his nose. 


Yoo Sang-jun continued, 


"Han Junwoo made his debut distinctly different from the other contestants. He appeared as a freshly arrived country boy with an unadorned and innocent appearance but a demeanor and personality that contradicted his looks. The public initially saw him as a naive and reckless young participant, but soon their attitudes will change, just like ours did." 


Yoo Sang-jun went on. 


"We plan to use that to our advantage. The current online buzz about contestants sets expectations at a level where an ordinary participant stands out distinctly. So..." 


Yoo Sang-jun scanned the team with an impassive face. 


"Let's turn the camera around this time." 




"We'll pivot Han Junwoo's concept to a twist. From a country flower boy to a genius of the century who confounds even the staff." 


"Hold on. Us, you mean?" 


"Fortunately, we have some footage capturing those moments." 


The team members, looking flustered, stuttered in response, but Yoo Sang-jun turned away as if their opinions didn't matter. The early scenes included footage of staff members mocking and ignoring the country boy participant behind the scenes. 


Suddenly, at risk of being exposed on television, the team members exchanged looks and anxiously shuffled their feet. 


It seemed they were about to be the victims of "evil editing," usually reserved for contestants. 


"Bu-but… just focusing on his looks and the skills he's shown so far should be enough to create a buzz." 


"Merely 'enough' isn't sufficient. Do you think you'll ever come across someone like him in your broadcasting career again? Opportunities like this need to be seized firmly." 


"But such a portrayal could plummet our station's image and trust, making us look like producers swayed by a young contestant!" 




One of the team members slammed their palm down on the table. 


"I agree. How can you do this without any prior warning or agreement? Where's the protocol in that?" 


Yoo Sang-jun laughed at this. Their vehement reactions were likely due to embarrassment. 


Their indignation at being shown as clueless and mocking a genius, only to be dumbfounded, would be captured for all to see. 


The fact that all of this wasn't a contrived, manipulative plot for entertainment but rather a genuine reality was astonishing. 


Then, Park Jun-gil, who had been quiet all along, spoke up. 


"Can you all lower your voices? Are you celebrities? The public won't even remember your faces for a few seconds. Do you realize how much is at stake here, and you're worried about your image?" 


With the team leader stepping in, the member who had stood up in protest shrank back. 


"What you need to focus on is highlighting the rest of the contestants. Make those idols or models with no real skills look somewhat competent. Push Kang Hyeok more than planned. And when someone like Han Junwoo comes into the picture..." 


Park Jun-gil didn't finish his sentence. The judgment would be made by the public. 


"Oh, and by the way." 


Yoo Sang-jun suddenly seemed struck by a thought. 


"About the contestants currently creating buzz. Yoo Tae-yang, who already has a solid fan base, Nana, and Mina from LK Group, who's associated with Peach Cosmetics, have started mentioning Han Junwoo." 


"Right. Those guys naturally come with a high baseline value. But it's still undecided, right?" 


"It's definitely something to consider. There's a possibility of collaboration with K-Sports and Jeff Fashion. Considering the commercial value of that kid, which is expected to rise simultaneously with the broadcast, we can anticipate significant profits on our end." 


"First, don't stop them and sort out the order. We need to figure out which side is more beneficial." 


At that time, Yoo Sang-jun leaned in towards Park Jun-gil as if he had something to say. 


"...But there's a problem. I've been feeling uneasy all this time." 


"A problem?" 


Park Jun-gil's eyebrows twitched. 


"We've offered him a contract a few times before, but he's always turned us down. I think the kid is still attached to Joo Mansik, and Joo Mansik is probably the same way." 


At that moment, one of the team members spoke worriedly. 


"Come on, surely not. After coming this far, do you think he'll really go back to that small town after the program ends? He'll have fans now, and he'll be offered amazing deals from all over." 


But no one agreed with him. Park Jun-gil also sighed without answering. Based on what they had seen of Junwoo so far, he didn't seem to have any ambition to become more famous or successful through the program. 


"Yeah, it's better to resolve any uneasiness so I can feel at ease. But still…" 


Park Jun-gil muttered to himself. 


"Do you have any plans?" 


"This time, it's for sure, right?" 


When his team members looked at him, they had expressions on their faces that showed they were having trouble making a decision. 


"Hmm…now that you mention it." 


Park Jun-gil thought back to yesterday's events. The person who had proposed the plans discussed in the conference room until now was someone else. 


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