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A Thousand Faces Chapter 48

Roberto felt like he was going crazy, not just from hunger but from something more complex. This wasn't just today; it had been the case for the past few weeks. 

 

He was a VIP regular at this restaurant. 

 

His deep cobalt blue eyes, usually so intense, now seemed empty, hollowed out by some unfulfilled need. 

 

He'd habitually come to this restaurant whenever he couldn't resolve something. He kept asking the chef for dishes with different flavors, trying to fill an unquenchable void. 

 

Even though he knew food wasn't the solution, Roberto felt like he couldn't cope without doing this. 

 

Today, Roberto was even more irritable than usual. Unaware of his mood, the chef excitedly talked about a recent encounter with the child. He's talking a mile a minute.

"Today, an interesting foreign kid came to the restaurant. It turns out he's an actor from Korea who is doing some TV shows. I'm sure you, as a director, would find it fascinating..." 

 

"Enough, just bring some other dish." 

 

The chef's words were abruptly cut off. He thought Roberto would find the story fascinating, but someone by his side gently stopped him, signaling it wasn't the right time. 

 

The chef belatedly realized that the atmosphere in the room was more tense than usual. 

 

Roberto Parmachio. He was a perfectionist film director who dominated the Italian movie industry. 

 

He was also the organizer of a fashion show that was scheduled to take place in a few days. Everything - the setting, direction, casting, and costumes - had been finalized without issues. 

 

No one had raised any concerns about the upcoming show. Yet, Roberto's face showed no signs of satisfaction. 

 

There was an unresolved issue bothering him. What could be the problem? He had racked his brain for weeks but couldn't find the answer. 

 

"..." 

 

A heavy silence filled the room. 

 

Apart from his request for more food, no conversation took place. 

 

The only sound filling the room was that of plates and forks clinking. The officials seated around the table, all dressed in suits, were careful not to upset Roberto, each cautious not to provoke his mood. 

 

After a meal that Roberto barely touched, he finally spoke up. 

 

"I'm thinking of not going ahead with the show." 

 

A statement that shattered the silence. 

 

Clang.  

 

In shock at his words, one of the officials dropped his fork. What they had feared, yet hoped wouldn't happen, was now spoken aloud. 

 

"...You do realize that's nonsensical, right?" 

 

The officials disregarded his comment. At this point, the director's stubbornness or feelings weren't the priority. Everything was already set and ready; backing out was not an option. 

 

"There's been a request for slight modifications in the collection for the final walk." 

 

"I've heard about it. Let's adjust during the final rehearsal tomorrow. And…" 

 

"......." 

 

They deliberately started discussing the show as if to make it clear that Roberto's words were not even to be considered.  

 

Seemingly in a world of his own, Roberto didn't participate in the conversation at all. 

 

Despite the risk of incurring substantial losses, Roberto had concluded that burying this project might be the lesser evil. 

 

As he spoke those words, his face bore an expression of despair, indicating that the decision hadn't been easy for him. 

 

*** 

 

Kang Hyeok stepped out of the restaurant and paused at a corner. 

 

He was wrestling with a tumult of emotions. The sudden appearance of that guy had shattered his long-held self-confidence. 

 

Every actor has their unique charm and set of strengths and weaknesses. Kang Hyeok had believed that what the newcomer lacked, he surely possessed. This belief had kept him going. 

 

But having witnessed the scene just now, Kang Hyeok's feelings had begun to shift. 

 

Kang Hyeok was filled with doubt. 

 

Han Junwoo. Why did he have to appear before him of all people? 

 

He didn't even seem desperate, and that was what angered Kang Hyeok the most. While he had been running forward without looking back, not wanting to tarnish his reputation, this guy, with seemingly nothing to lose, acted as if he would give up at the slightest setback. 

 

People often say that everyone has their own destiny. Now, even those without knowledge of acting were praising and following this guy. It seemed like Junwoo was destined to rise high, even without acting. 

 

It was a realm unreachable from the start, a territory he was never meant to touch. Kang Hyeok thought it would have been better if he had never known about such a person's existence. 

 

His motivation to pursue anything further had dwindled. 

 

Kang Hyeok bit his lips hard, lost in his turbulent thoughts. 

 

"Ah... Ah! There you are." 

 

A person, panting and rushing, had followed him out and spotted Kang Hyeok standing at the corner. 

 

Kang Hyeok lifted his head and recognized the person as a member of the program's production team. 

 

"You hardly ate anything. Are you feeling okay?" 

 

"Yes, I'm fine." 

 

"Um... I guess the pressure for the next mission is quite heavy, isn't it?" 

 

Kang Hyeok found the producer's concerned expression contemptible as if he knew everything yet still asked. 

 

The people he had trusted to be on his side now seemed unneeded. 

 

"I said I'm fine," 

 

Kang Hyeok responded coldly. 

 

The producer flinched. He was genuinely worried about Kang Hyeok's condition. 

 

Despite treating the participants like commodities in the show, moments like these made him question his work. Even though Kang Hyeok was being showcased as a third-generation Chaebol, he seemed too young and vulnerable to the producer. 

 

His forced smile twitched, betraying a hint of strain. 

 

To Kang Hyeok, even that concern seemed like mockery. 

 

The feigned worry and the pretense of caring- all this is just to extract a good scene for the show. He found it not only ridiculous but also tiresome. 

 

It was time to stop pretending to be calm. 

 

"And don't film this." 

 

Kang Hyeok's gaze fell pointedly to the chest pocket of the producer's shirt, presumably where a recording device was located. 

 

As the producer fumbled for words, Kang Hyeok turned away, his action a clear signal for them not to follow him anymore. 

 

*** 

 

'Diner Ready-to-Wear Show.' 

 

A fashion show targeting celebrities from around the world, including lead designers from Paris, London, and Milan, key investors of luxury brands, board members, and fashion magazine editors, was to be held in Rome. 

 

Unlike other fashion shows that primarily focused on attire, the Diner fashion show had a concept and a story. It was more than a stage to showcase clothing; it was a drama, a performance. 

 

With everything already set and only the show's execution on the designated day remaining. 

 

"Go away. I don't want to talk to anyone," Roberto said. 

 

He was in the backstage waiting room of the Arena Hall, reviewing the list alone. 

 

The bustling noise of the stage hummed in the background. It seemed like they were checking the sound system. Roberto covered his ears. 

 

He was obsessively searching for a solution, repeatedly reviewing and re-reviewing, but the problem remained unsolved. 

 

Everyone who came to him was intent on persuading him. 

 

His abrupt declaration of not wanting to proceed with the show had sent the officials and staff into a state of anxiety. They all repeated the same arguments. 

 

"The show is perfect as it is, ready to be a hit! What exactly is the problem?" 

 

But Roberto, being a perfectionist, would not allow even a single flaw. 

 

This constant pursuit of perfection constantly tormented him. The current crisis facing Roberto was that there was a problem, but he couldn't pinpoint what it was. 

 

Eventually, someone burst through the door as the situation grew more urgent. 

 

Roberto's face soured. The only person who might dare to do this was his assistant director, whom he had worked with for a long time. 

 

"Director, enough is enough. Please stop this!" 

 

The assistant director began to lose his temper. 

 

"Do you realize how many people's livelihoods and how much money is at stake with this show?" 

 

"..." 

 

"Have you considered how many people will suffer because of your stubbornness? You need to think about what really matters!" 

 

"What's more important than the show itself at a show venue?" 

 

His face flushed with frustration, and the assistant director slammed the door shut. 

 

"Everyone's in a frenzy. Tens of thousands who've seen the venue are filled with immense expectations. And the media, how do you think they're reacting? Why are you doing this?" 

 

"..." 

 

"Everyone here has dreams and a life to live. For some models, this show is so crucial they're putting their all into it. Please, stop being so stubborn." 

 

".... I'm desperate too," Roberto murmured quietly. 

 

"If you keep this up, no one will ever entrust a fashion show to a film director or artist like you again." 

 

The assistant director, looking utterly exhausted, expressed his feelings. 

 

Roberto quietly listened to his outpouring of words. 

 

His face grew somber as he listened, and a sense of loneliness enveloped him. 

 

"....If that's how you feel, why don't you take a day off on the day of the show? If you can't bear to watch it. The preparations are complete; I'll handle the execution." 

 

"..." 

 

"They're now trying to get rid of me. As expected, no one understands me." 

 

"...Right. That's probably for the best." 

 

Roberto trailed off. 

 

He knew, deep down, that it wasn't entirely his fault. 

 

Yet, he found it excruciatingly difficult to accept. As he gripped his distress tightly, Roberto made a decision. 

 

This show would be his last; there would be no more after this. 

 

Leaving everything behind, he strolled out to the stage. The hustle and bustle of the crew was evident. They all looked exhausted and haggard from staying up all night preparing for this show. 

 

"Yeah... You're right," Roberto said. 

 

Roberto had said his piece, and he didn't want to look at the scene any longer. 

 

He was about to close his eyes when he saw something strange out of the corner of his eye. 

 

"This is the main stage. It's designed with the audience's view in mind." 

 

The language was foreign to him. It was a scene he hadn't expected - a group of East Asians, unfamiliar to him, gathered around his set. 

 

What's more, there were officials with cameras, capturing them as they looked around the site and expressed their amazement. 

 

Roberto was puzzled. 

 

"Who are they?" 

 

"Oh, they're a team from a Korean acting program broadcaster. Remember, you approved their visit for a tour." 

 

"A tour...?" 

 

Roberto racked his brain for a moment. He couldn't recall giving such permission. 

 

It was a common occurrence. Caught up in the madness of putting on a show, he would have said anything else didn't matter. 

 

Seeing the bewildered look on Roberto's face, the assistant director's expression hardened as if realizing a mistake had been made. 

 

"......I see. I was wondering about that. If they touch or damage anything on the stage you set up... Should I talk to them and send them back now?" 

 

Roberto shook his head. 

 

"No, it's a show doomed anyway. At this point, it doesn't really matter anymore." 

 

Roberto, resigned and with a dazed look, watched the group of East Asians for a moment. 

 

The boy leading the group was pointing around the site, showing off as if he was teaching something. 

 

"Feel free to ask anything you're curious about. I've been to places like this many times before." 

 

"Hyeok, how do you know all this stuff? I just can't keep up with your unusual experience." 

 

And then there was another child at the very back, his eyes shining with interest, capturing the stage scenery here and there with a tiny camcorder. 

 

The boastful child seemed a bit excited. 

 

Then, leading the group, he started walking towards the back of the stage. 

 

Roberto couldn't hide his growing anxiety. 

 

"Do you know what this is? It's the highlight of the show. The Diagne Show always has a set concept, and this is the centerpiece of this show, the heart of the story. Amazing, isn't it?" 

 

"Wow......" 

 

"That's really awesome. I want to see this show before we go back. It must be expensive, right?" 

 

"Is the cost really the issue? Not just anyone can enter places like this. We should be grateful just to be here on a tour." 

 

At the back of the stage was a large photo of an Italian actress, a photoshoot specifically for this fashion show, directed by Roberto. Her lavish dress and flawless features were undeniably beautiful, a picture that would naturally elicit admiration from anyone. Yet, strangely, it was this very photo that had been bothering Roberto all along. 

 

Even though he couldn't understand their language, it was clear they were excitedly discussing the photo. 

 

Hearing the explanation, the others opened their mouths in awe, admiring the large photograph. 

 

The assistant director leaned in and said, 

 

"Look, Director. Even these foreigners who know nothing are all busy admiring it. It's that perfect." 

 

But Roberto's face was growing paler by the moment. 

 

With its flaws, this show was like a blemish to Roberto. That photo was the core of that blemish, and now all eyes were fixated on it. 

 

Soon, tens of thousands would see it. Facing this imminent reality, Roberto wanted to leave the scene immediately. 

 

"...Highlight?" 

 

Then, a low murmuring voice from afar caught his ear. 

 

It was the boy with the camcorder, whose face had strangely drawn Roberto's attention repeatedly. 

 

No. There's no such thing as a highlight in this disastrous show. 

 

Just as Roberto, unable to bear it any longer, turned to leave the scene, there was a sound. 

 

Click. 

 

It was the sound of the camcorder being closed. 

 

Roberto stopped in his tracks. 

 

"Weren't you leaving?" 

 

"Just a moment..." 

 

Unlike others who still couldn't take their eyes off the shining eyes in the photo, the child had just turned away, suddenly losing interest. 





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