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A Thousand Faces Chapter 54

Updated: Mar 6

Chapter 54 




Yoo Sang-jun momentarily lost his words. 


He swallowed involuntarily. 


"It's true, but... this is still a broadcast..." 


His voice trailed off, becoming quieter. Somehow, he couldn't meet those eyes directly. 


Facing Junwoo's calm demeanor, Yoo Sang-jun was engulfed in an inexplicable fear. 


At the same time, he was baffled. 


The picture he had wanted? Had all the efforts shown so far been just to keep up with the rhythm? 


Yoo Sang-jun had been confident that the show's success was guaranteed with each of Junwoo's achievements. But that was when he was simply a participant, an aspiring actor standing out. 


But now, things were different. The entire concept of competition encompassing the program was disappearing. 


If this continued, there would be no tension, nothing to keep viewers engaged. 


What guaranteed a program's ratings was the audience's ability to follow and support someone. 


Who could possibly support this kid in his current state? The idea of supporting the other participants, now seemingly insignificant at his feet, would become meaningless. The show was at risk of losing its identity. 


Yoo Sang-jun momentarily recalled the day he first discovered Junwoo and decided to cast him. He wondered if he had brought someone he didn't fully understand onto the show. 


"How much longer is left?" 


Suddenly, amidst the tension, Junwoo asked. 


Yoo Sang-jun's pupils flickered. 


"...The overseas filming, you mean? There's still some time left for that," 


"No, not that." 


The unease was intensifying. 


"How much longer until this program ends?" 


Yoo Sang-jun's expression hardened. He needed to think quickly. 

Why would he ask such a question? 


"Why do you ask?" 


"Just curious. It feels like the program is dragging on with unnecessary content." 


Suddenly, he's talking about the end. Until now, he seemed to be simply enjoying himself. Is he calculating something? 


It wasn't just a statement meant to intimidate. 


Yoo Sang-jun had known that Junwoo had been plotting something on his own. 


The plans he had were just put on hold, and it seemed the recent incident with Joo Mansik had sparked something in him. 


Moreover, judging by his current attitude, that arrow is clearly aimed at the production team. 


What could his plan be? Has he, perhaps, secretly signed a contract with some agency without our knowledge? 


No, that's not it. Whatever it was, Yoo Sang-jun realized he needed to placate Junwoo before he could act on whatever he was planning. 


"Junwoo. It seems like there's some misunderstanding." 




"As you know, we have no ill intentions. We just want you to focus on the program and shine through it. You know how much effort we've put into supporting you, right?" 


It was a feeble excuse. Yoo Sang-jun knew it even as he spoke, but it was the best he could do under the circumstances. 


"Honestly, Junwoo, I know you've come a long way from home to be here and that you care about this program. Just as you trusted us and came all this way, we plan to do our best moving forward. However, our priority is to keep the broadcast running, and if things continue this way, we'll need to devise a plan. I'm worried that might end up affecting you negatively." 


But Junwoo's response to Yoo Sang-jun's efforts was dismissive, his expression suggesting he thought everything Yoo Sang-jun said was nonsense. 


"Do whatever you want with that." 




"Focus on saving the broadcast. It doesn't matter what I do." 


His tone was cold, devoid of any emotion. Yoo Sang-jun found himself unable to continue speaking. 


Junwoo's attitude seemed to say that engaging further was pointless. 


He showed no regret or remorse, regardless of what happened to him. 


His indifference until now indicated that everything happening in the program hadn't been stimulating or significant to him. It wasn't about caring for the other participants. 


Glancing over, almost involuntarily, Yoo Sang-jun's eyes shifted to the script in Junwoo's hand. 


He had already seen the astonishingly quick pace at which Junwoo had previously created a video. 


He hadn't fully considered it before, given Junwoo's consistently incredible performances in the program. 


From when Junwoo was in the corner of the practice room, holding a camcorder, Yoo Sang-jun had been thrilled, thinking he was just a genius doing his own thing, separate from the group. Now, he felt foolish for having such a simplistic view. 


A participant who, without any help, created a movie in a setting meant for practicing acting. 


And all this at the age of seventeen. 


This was an issue that should have been contemplated much earlier. 

What really occupied the mind of this young individual? 


Yoo Sang-jun wondered what Junwoo was really doing, always a step apart from the other participants who were fiercely competitive and practiced without rest. 


Was this place merely a playground for achieving some other purpose? 


Suddenly, Yoo Sang-jun couldn't even begin to guess the extent of this young man's talent. 


And even in this moment. 


Scribble, scribble, scribble. 


Junwoo had buried his face and was furiously writing something. 


It is as if even Yoo Sang-jun's words and reactions a moment ago were being included as material for his script. 


Yoo Sang-jun contemplated the worst-case scenario. 


Even if Junwoo left the program, he wasn't the type to just sit idly by. 


It was unpredictable what he might do next. 


A genius bored with the low level of the program, declaring a self-withdrawal and leaving. 


Such a move would not only tarnish the reputation of Actor's Kingdom but also the entire broadcasting station. It could severely hinder future content planning. 


The public would lose interest. They would criticize the broadcasting station's inability to properly showcase a young participant's talent, leading to his exit from the show. 


Yoo Sang-jun felt a need to resolve this situation here. Whatever Junwoo was working on, if it were to be revealed, it had to be within this program. Having brought him this far, it was imperative to see it through here. 


'What have I done?' 


Fear gripped Yoo Sang-jun as the worst possible futures unfolded in his mind. 


He remembered the words he had uttered just a few minutes ago. 


'You know everything is being recorded for the broadcast.' 


'If you continue with this attitude, it will be problematic.' 


He had been so focused on the current turmoil that he had spoken without thinking. 


He regretted his words, feeling he should have been appeasing Junwoo instead of potentially aggravating him further. 


Yoo Sang-jun hesitated, his lips parting slightly. 


An instinctive judgment flashed through his mind that any further interruption here would not be beneficial. 


But he couldn't just walk away like this. 


"Junwoo... let's forget what we just talked about. Can we start over?" 




In the end, nothing changed. 


On the day of the evaluation, watching Junwoo dominate the stage from a distance, Yoo Sang-jun felt all the energy drain from his body. 


The reason was apparent. Under Junwoo's overwhelming presence, the other participants were delivering performances that were significantly worse compared to their previous missions. 


The evaluation room lacked tension, ambition, or enthusiasm. 


How could this be broadcast? 


The hastily arranged substitute judge was also disheartened, overshadowed by the overwhelming talent on display. 


Eventually, the month-long overseas schedule was swiftly concluded. 


During the return to Korea, there was no conversation among the participants. 


Finally, the first broadcast aired. 


The morning of the broadcast, the headlines read: 


[Actor's Kingdom: Birth of a Star, debuting tonight in a grand premiere. The production cost a whopping 200 billion won.] 


The response was explosive, far beyond expectations. 


On social media, portal sites, in the press, and on the news, comments about the first episode were pouring in continuously. 


In the broadcasting station's meeting room, the production team gathered. 


They were scrolling through the large screen, monitoring the real-time reactions pouring in. 


The last scene of the first episode featured Junwoo conversing with Cheong Myeong during the first main stage performance. 


Even under Cheong Myeong's attempts to draw out emotional responses, Junwoo spoke calmly and fluently about his past. 


Scrolling down, one of the team members checked the comments. 

The moment they had eagerly awaited. The excitement was short-lived as they now faced a bigger challenge. 


The production team's faces were sombre in a moment that should have been like a grand celebration. 


-"Wow, he's not even flinching against Cheong Myeong lol" 


-The trailer already had me interested, but this kid's character is incredible. Can you believe that presence at his age, even if it's just a concept? 


-Where did they find this guy? He's so good-looking. 


-He's exceptional even without styling. Someone, please do his hair. 


-I bet his acting is at least above average. My instincts say so. 


-Eh, his acting, not so much... 


As expected, his mere appearance was enough to cause a stir due to his star quality. 


With his existence now revealed to the world, the response was incomparable to before, with calls pouring in nonstop. 


Various advertising agencies and entertainment companies were immediately interested in Junwoo's name. 


Here's why: 


-"Do you know which agency Han Junwoo is under? We can't get through to Joo Theater. Oh, or maybe Han Junwoo's personal contact information, if possible..." 




It had been like this since morning. 


The phone in the meeting room hadn't stopped ringing. 


"Is everyone glued to their seats? Why hasn't anyone answered that yet?!" 


Park Jun-gil shouted, closing his eyes in frustration. 


A team member near the door rushed outside. 


Park Jun-gil was extremely on edge at the moment. With the broadcast gaining more attention than expected, it was urgent to address Han Junwoo's current unpredictable behavior. 


"Currently, not just the video comments, but various online communities are flooded with discussions about Han Junwoo." 


"Already? But we had agreed not to focus too much on the first episode." 


"... We're not sure what's happening." 


"According to the plan, the next episodes should focus more on Kang Hyeok. But now, I'm not sure if we can proceed as we anticipated." 


They had expected Junwoo to become a topic of interest as his talent became evident, but they had not foreseen that merely showing his face and a few responses would create such a stir from the first episode. 


Ultimately, the public's reaction was the same. 


There are always individuals who stand out, no matter where they go, even if they're just silently mixed in with others. 


If this much attention is garnered without even fully showcasing his talents, what will happen in the future? 


Right before the broadcast, the production team briefly considered re-editing the footage to minimize Junwoo's presence, amidst the current situation. 


Whether Han Junwoo would suddenly announce his departure or if other participants, overshadowed by Junwoo's presence, would start a joint exit movement, Park Jun-gil was on the verge of a mental breakdown trying to weigh the lesser of two evils. 


A rapid meeting was convened based on the public's response. 


Some participants became topics of interest as expected, and those who, despite their screen time and effort, did not receive many reactions. 


In the midst of discussing others' reactions and editorial direction, 

"Wait a minute, wait, now's not the time to talk about this." 


Park Jun-gil just couldn't concentrate. 


The first episode wasn't what mattered right now. 


What was important was somehow keeping the broadcast going. 


If things continued like this, the broadcast that had started with such a huge impact could fizzle out inconclusively. 


As expected, the focus returned to the current topic about Junwoo. 


"Can't we edit some of Han Junwoo's footage from this shoot to create a competitive angle with the others? Even if it's a bit forced, we must make it work for the broadcast." 


One of the team members, after glancing around cautiously, responded. 


"I'll check it out. But it's likely…" 


"Likely what?" 


Unless they were completely clueless, they knew what kind of footage they had of Junwoo. 


A competitive angle? More like he dominates on his own. There were hardly any scenes of him having common conversations with other participants. Except when acting, he's always wearing a poker face or looks bored. Even if they tried to produce something different, it would be obvious that he's in his own world. 


"Nowadays, viewers aren't fools. Unless it's done really cleverly, it seems impossible." 


"That's exactly why I'm saying we should try to do it cleverly." 


"But, you see…" 


The team member hesitated, biting their lip, seemingly unable to find a solution. 


With a grunt, Park Jun-gil suddenly started to lose his temper. 


"What have you learned while being on this team if you can't even do this much?!" 


The team members shrank back, avoiding his gaze. 


After a moment of contemplation, Park Jun-gil raised his head as if he had made a decision. 


"Then let's just leave it as it is for now." 


"You mean Han Junwoo?" 


"Yes. Let it proceed as it is. It's not a bad picture, after all. A genius appears out of nowhere, and everyone is so intimidated that they lose the will to dream and pursue their passions." 


"...Is it really okay to do that?" 


"What's not okay about it?" 


"There could be a host of problems. The agencies and advertising companies tied to the other participants won't just sit back and do nothing." 


Park Jun-gil narrowed his eyes. 


"We have many episodes left, so let's think about that issue in the meantime." 


"But there's also the issue of the other participants losing their motivation." 


"What do they expect us to do if they're demotivated? We can't go around comforting each one. It's out of our hands. Wasn't reality the most important aspect of this broadcast?" 




"Instead of filming those pointless and depressing scenes, just follow Han Junwoo. That'll do." 


The team members exchanged glances. After all this time focusing on stirring up controversy and employing various tactics, now they're talking about 'reality'. 


In truth, Park Jun-gil was just as confused by the situation. He couldn't predict how the remaining broadcast would unfold. However, as the team leader, he couldn't just fret over the situation, especially when everyone else struggled. He had made what he thought was the best decision under the circumstances. 


"And now, the important thing is something else." 


Park Jun-gil looked at Yoo Sang-jun, who nodded as if he understood. 


"We've shown enough of his acting. If the footage from this overseas shoot gets aired, the public will be looking forward to something different." 


"You're referring to the project Junwoo is planning separately, right?" 


"That's right." 






Park Jun-gil, who had been holding a grave expression, blinked in surprise. 


"But what is it?" 




"If you don't know, who would?" 


"I'm sorry." 


"What have you been doing all this time without finding out? Didn't you say you checked with a camcorder last time?" 


"Oh, that… I kept reviewing it, but it's all jumbled up and full of unrecognizable stuff. It's hard to understand what he intended to shoot… Should I show it to you?" 


"Forget it. Just a bunch of people with no ability." 


"I'm sorry." 


Yoo Sang-jun glanced at Park Jun-gil. Even he had seen it before. 


At that moment, 




One of the staff members hurriedly approached Park Jun-gil and whispered something to him. 


Park Jun-gil's expression gradually soured as he listened. 


"Who did you say?" 


Someone completely unexpected had arrived, someone nobody in the place had anticipated. 


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