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A Thousand Faces Chapter 53

Updated: Mar 5

The next day, the same location. It was the second day of practice. 

 

The square was filled with an even more intense energy than the day before. 

 

Participants were busy choosing roles that could unleash their potential. 

 

"Focus on communicating with your fellow actor. Acting isn't something you do alone. How you react to your partner's lines and actions is also important. Shall we sync up for a bit?" 

 

"Yes, thank you, actor...!" 

 

Fabio, accompanied by an interpreter, was busy moving among them. 

 

He tried hard to forget yesterday's events and focus on his role. 

 

Then, shortly after, someone called him. 

 

"Judge." 

 

Turning around to see who it was, Fabio tensed up. 

 

It was that kid from yesterday. He had hoped to avoid meeting him again. 

 

'Why is he here again…' 

 

His face, which had been smiling warmly at the participants until now, stiffened. 

 

"I was hoping you could take a look at something for me." 

 

"At what...?" 

 

"I'm having a bit of trouble with the practice." 

 

Fabio narrowed his eyes for a moment. 'Take a look.' 'It's difficult.' These were phrases he had been hearing all day. But coming from this kid, it seemed out of place. Suspicion was his first reaction. 

 

"Difficult, you say?" 

 

"Yes. Could you teach me a bit?" 

 

Although he spoke politely, there was an indefinable edge in his tone that Fabio couldn't shake off. 

 

There was a slightly different, unfamiliar air about Junwoo today compared to yesterday. 

 

"Alright. What do you need help with?" 

 

With a mix of reluctance and curiosity, Fabio followed Junwoo. 

 

After departing with Junwoo, Fabio did not return to the practice area for an entire hour. 

 

*** 

 

Yoo Sang-jun was among the production team near the square, reviewing the footage. 

 

"Excuse me, PD-nim." 

 

At the staff's call, Yoo Sang-jun looked up. 

 

The staff pointed to a spot where Fabio, who should have been at the practice area, was standing among the camera equipment. 

 

"He says he urgently needs to speak with you." 

 

Yoo Sang-jun felt puzzled and a sense of foreboding at the same time. 

 

Just moments ago, the judge seemed relaxed and was attentively helping the participants. His sudden change was odd. 

 

What could have happened to leave him looking so terrified? 

 

"...I urgently need to talk to you." 

 

"What's the matter?" 

 

Fabio glanced around cautiously. Then, the words he uttered made Yoo Sang-jun's face turn even paler. 

 

"I'm sorry, but I have an urgent matter and need to leave now." 

 

"What?!" 

 

His face was restless as if he was being chased by something. 

 

"What do you mean all of a sudden? We still have a lot of shooting to do. The main mission hasn't even started yet!" 

 

"I only had one day left anyway. I'll return part of the appearance fee, please understand." 

 

He was resolute. Yoo Sang-jun was so shocked that he sputtered in disbelief. 

 

"This is outrageous...!" 

 

He started to raise his voice, then checked himself, lowering it again. 

 

"How can you do this? Who will judge the mission then?" 

 

"...I don't know about that. But I can't continue like this." 

 

"Why are you doing this all of a sudden? If there's an issue, please tell us. We'll do our best to accommodate," 

 

Yoo Sang-jun stopped mid-sentence, realizing it was futile. Fabio seemed mentally elsewhere, clearly not in a state to continue judging. 

 

Fabio continued with a face full of regret. 

 

"This isn't what I had in mind. I don't want to be on TV anymore. I hope you can understand. Please." 

 

He wasn't the kind of person to make such requests. The same man who had been difficult and demanding during negotiations was now pleading with a bowed head. 

 

"This is... I mean, even so, this is..." 

 

"I'm sorry." 

 

"At least tell us why. It's not really an urgent schedule, is it?" 

 

"I don't want to say it out loud. That's why I'm doing this!" 

 

Suddenly, Fabio raised his voice in anger. It was a clear sign for Yoo Sang-jun to back off. 

 

Then, with a furrowed brow, Fabio seemed to ponder for a moment before speaking in vague, almost warning tones. 

 

"About this show. I understand your intent. You want to showcase exceptional talent to revive the show. But," 

 

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

 

"Think about it. Will people really welcome a bizarre character they can't even understand?" 

 

With that, Fabio truly left the filming site. 

 

Watching him get into the car with his manager, Yoo Sang-jun was stunned. 

 

What was this all about? The amount of money invested in just this segment was enormous. 

 

Yoo Sang-jun ruffled his hair in frustration. 

 

If this were Korea, it might be different, but given the location, the options to handle such a situation were limited. 

 

"What on earth happened in the meantime..." 

 

Yoo Sang-jun quickly began to review the footage from the cameras installed around the practice area. 

 

This was no time to focus on filming practice scenes. 

 

He started sifting through the footage, one clip at a time. Then, a particular scene caught his eye. 

 

"What's this..." 

 

Yoo Sang-jun paused the screen. 

 

It showed the moment Fabio disappeared with Han Junwoo. 

 

As if intentionally avoiding the camera, the last thing captured was the back view of the two of them heading somewhere. After that, there was nothing. 

 

And he didn't know this was just the beginning. 

 

*** 

 

As time passed, Yoo Sang-jun found himself in a whirl of confusion. 

 

Han Junwoo was acting strangely. He always stood out wherever he went, but now... something was definitely different. 

 

While the production team scrambled to find a replacement judge, Junwoo seemed determined to outshine the other participants. 

 

Yoo Sang-jun started to approach the bizarre scene unfolding in the square. 

 

And then, 

 

"What, what is that..." 

 

A huge crowd centered around one person. A participant who seemed indifferent to everything, effortlessly performing roles meant for ten people. Junwoo was dominating the stage, seemingly taking over every role from the other participants. 

 

"Our time has ended. There's no reason. It's just over." 

 

William, having lost everything, resigns to his fate. 

 

"Ha-ha. Is this really all mine? Everything? I can't believe it even when I see it." 

 

Megan was filled with joy at finally reaching the position she longed for. 

 

"No. That place is mine. I've always been the king here. If you're scared, get lost! I have no intention of giving up." 

 

Daniel, who will stop at nothing to reach the top. 

 

"Let go! I'll kill you. Let it go!" 

 

Amanda is in denial of her fallen reality. 

 

And the scene continued. 

 

Everyone gathered was struck dumb. Even the participants who had been pushed aside. 

 

One by one, people stopped to watch Junwoo's performance. 

 

It was an overwhelmingly dominant spectacle, making everything before it seems like mere child's play. Nobody could take their eyes off it. 

 

The long script had long been discarded. He was filming a movie meant for ten actors, all by himself. 

 

Changing voices, moving lines, and shifting perspectives – all done by one person. It was an unbelievable sight. 

 

This was no longer a simple rehearsal space for a broadcasting mission. 

 

No participant dared to take a spot next to him to perform. 

 

None considered it an interruption. 

 

Everyone simply stopped and became immersed in that astonishing performance. 

 

They completely forgot that this was supposed to be a competitive arena. 

 

The theme of 'unleashing potential' seemed trivial compared to what unfolded. 

 

And when Junwoo's performance ended, Yoo Sang-jun, who belatedly noticed the expressions of the other participants, was engulfed in a sense of foreboding. 

 

The same spectacle continued the next day and the day after. 

 

Participants would move to a corner to practice, but they would soon stop and stand in a daze. 

 

There was no longer a place for them. 

 

An insurmountable gap in talent. Until now, the other participants had simply let Junwoo do as he pleased while they focused on their own performances. But after witnessing such a display, no one could dare to perform the same role. 

 

"How can we appear on the show with him? Now that there are fewer of us, the comparison will be even more obvious." 

 

"We're just devices to showcase how exceptional he is." 

 

Negative conversations, which had never occurred in the program before, were now taking place. 

 

They had lost their will to compete. The realization came belatedly, almost surprisingly so. 

 

A sense of powerlessness washed over them, delayed but overwhelming. 

 

Yoo Sangjun realized that this situation was a serious emergency. 

 

After observing Junwoo for three days, he had a rough idea of what was happening. 

 

It was impossible for Junwoo to change so suddenly. Something must have triggered him. 

 

It wasn't just about putting in the effort; it seemed intentional, like he was driving the situation to this point. 

 

He must have learned about the issues related to Joo Mansik. 

 

"PD-nim... When are we going back to Korea...?" 

 

"...What?" 

 

A participant asked in a powerless voice. 

 

Yoo Sang-jun's eyes flickered with unease. 

 

Participants, who were once fiercely dedicated to practice, were now losing their spark one by one. 

 

Even if he did something, the situation wouldn't change. 

 

Already disheartened by Han Junwoo's overwhelming presence, the participants' motivation had completely diminished. 

 

Continuing the filming was no longer feasible. 

 

A hurriedly convened production team meeting. 

 

Yoo Sang-jun spoke to Park Jun-gil, who was still unaware of the whole situation. 

 

"It seems Han Junwoo has somehow found out about the Joo Mansik issue." 

 

"What? How did he...?" 

 

Yoo Sang-jun sighed and rubbed his forehead, indicating that how Junwoo found out wasn't the pressing issue. 

 

"I don't know about that. But do you realize the current situation?" 

 

"You don't mean... he's going to leave the show?" 

 

"No, it's actually the opposite. Director, are you only focused on him? You should pay attention to the others, too." 

 

Park Jun-gil blinked in surprise at Yoo Sang-jun's sudden outburst. 

 

"Whatever his intentions are, we can't continue with the broadcast at this rate." 

 

Then, Yoo Sang-jun began to explain the situation. 

 

Park Jun-gil's face twisted in distress before he hung his head low. 

Amidst his explanation, one of the team members asked a question. 

 

"If that's the case... wouldn't the problem be solved if that kid just leaves? If only those of similar levels remain, such issues might not..." 

 

"What?" 

 

Startled, Park Jun-gil lifted his head, which had been buried in contemplation. 

 

"Who's spouting such nonsense right now?" 

 

"..." 

 

"..." 

 

Park Jun-gil looked around at his team with a fierce gaze, his face revealing the anxiety of someone who had lost their composure. The fear that such a drastic measure might be the only way to save the show was evident. 

 

The team members all fell silent. 

 

By now, Han Junwoo was an indispensable part of the program. Even if all the other participants were reduced to mere backdrops. 

The combined impact of all the participants couldn't match the influence of Junwoo alone. 

 

This has been proven yet again today. 

 

"PD Yoo, try to handle it. Don't just watch; try talking to him or something." 

 

"...Understood." 

 

It was the evening after practice ended when Yoo Sang-jun went to ask the participants about Junwoo's whereabouts. 

 

He hesitated for a moment, about to call Junwoo's name, then stopped in his tracks. 

 

Junwoo was writing a script alone, his face expressionless. 

 

His hand moved rapidly, scribbling continuously, his eyes seemingly vacant. 

 

Just sitting there writing, he exuded an aura that made it clear no one should dare disturb him. 

 

Watching him, Yoo Sang-jun was instinctively engulfed by an uneasy feeling. 

 

It seemed like a mistake had been made. Perhaps he should have explained everything from the beginning. 

 

He's just a kid, after all.' Yet, Yoo Sang-jun regretted following Chairman Kang's instructions to this extent. 

 

 

'What is he trying to do?' 

 

He felt uneasy. The script Junwoo was working on seemed completely unrelated to the program's mission as if there was no more attachment or joy left in it for him. 

 

"Han Junwoo." 

 

"......" 

 

Junwoo did not react. 

 

"Junwoo?" 

 

After being called several times, Junwoo finally lifted his head slightly. 

 

His face was contorted as if annoyed by the interruption. 

 

"You know the recent practice scenes are being filmed for the broadcast, right? Continuing with that attitude could be problematic." 

 

"What have I done?" 

 

"You have to consider the other participants, too." 

 

"What have I done?" 

 

His tone was definitely sharp. Yoo Sang-jun knew he had to rectify the situation. 

 

"Everyone has their assigned roles. It's not okay to take over and do everything yourself." 

 

"I never did everything alone. I was just practicing." 

 

"..." 

 

He wasn't really responding. It was as if he had no particular requests or expectations from the production team. 

 

Yoo Sang-jun struggled to maintain his composure. 

 

"...Why are you doing this all of a sudden?" 

 

At that question, Junwoo looked incredulous. 

 

"Why? Isn't this what you wanted? You were the ones always encouraging me to do more." 

 



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