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A Thousand Faces Chapter 70

Updated: Apr 1

He had been waiting for Han Junwoo for three hours. 

 

Park Jun-gil was pacing around, meticulously organizing his thoughts. 

 

The documentary, aiming to showcase Junwoo's filming process to the world, was Park Jungil's brainchild. 

 

Aware of his limitations in capturing Junwoo's essence, Park Jun-gil chose to entrust the production to Shin Haksu. 

 

"Damn it…" 

 

Park Jun-gil was aware that he had not been himself lately. 

 

Even at this very moment. 

 

After the last shooting of Actor Kingdom, he had been engulfed in a strange sense of melancholy. 

 

Despite having experienced numerous beginnings and endings of broadcasts, this emptiness was new to him. 

 

Not being able to see Han Junwoo again. Why that bothered him so much was a mystery. 

 

News trickled in. 

 

'He's making a movie.' 

 

'Heard he's collaborating with the top production company in the country, leading top actors…' 

 

'Today, he turned the set upside down again.' 

 

'The actors are practically at his feet. Yes, the ones you know, Team Leader.' 

 

'Among the investors…' 

 

He had anticipated it, but the boy was ascending at an unbelievably rapid pace. 

 

It became real. Perhaps their roads will no longer cross in the future. Even if Junwoo continued in this industry, Park Jun-gil was only involved in variety shows or documentaries, far from the realms of movies or dramas. 

 

Only belatedly did Park Jun-gil realize how precious every moment of shooting with that boy had been. 

 

Then, someone's footsteps became audible. 

 

Park Jun-gil lifted his head. 

 

"Ah, Junwoo." 

 

Standing in front of him was undoubtedly Junwoo. Park Jun-gil was the one who had been waiting, yet he was the one taken aback. 

 

"You've been waiting for me?" 

 

"Yes, it's just that…" 

 

He tried to calm his mind. 

 

"It's nothing much. I know you're busy, but please just hear me out for a moment." 

 

Junwoo blinked. 

 

"I wanted to apologize…" 

 

"…?" 

 

Junwoo raised an eyebrow. Park Jun-gil cleared his throat a couple of times. 

 

"I know it's late, but I'm sorry for apologizing now. You were aware of everything, weren't you? Yes, from the outset, my intention was to use your presence for the show's attention, and that mindset persisted. Even the incident involving CEO Joo Mansik... I didn't expect it to blow up this much. I did something despicable at my age...." 

 

He rambled, but it was a first for Park Jun-gil, showing his genuine self. He was always a man harboring dark secrets within. 

 

Junwoo looked slightly bewildered for a moment. 

 

"And thank you for appearing on my program." 

 

"…" 

 

Park Jun-gil's face reddened. 

 

In his long broadcasting career, he had never lowered himself to apologize to anyone like this. 

 

Especially to a guest on his show and much more to someone significantly younger. 

 

"It's okay." 

 

Junwoo spoke nonchalantly as if it was no big deal. 

 

"I don't remember much about it now. I don't regret being on that show." 

 

"Ah…" 

 

Park Jungil had nothing more to say. All the words he had prepared during the three-hour wait were just that. 

 

He got his answer. It's okay. He doesn't regret being on his show. 

But then, 

 

"Can I go now?" 

 

"Uh... just a moment, please." 

 

Park Jun-gil hastily blocked Junwoo's path. 

 

"Um… so, Junwoo, I mean, should I call you Director?" 

 

Why? He believed he came just to apologize, but his feet were reluctant to move. 

 

Was that not it? On second thought, he didn't understand why he had been standing like he was serving a sentence here for three hours. 

 

As Park Jun-gil continued to hesitate, Junwoo showed a sign of weariness. He had just completed work after staying up two nights in a row. 

 

"Mister." 

 

"Yes, yes…" 

 

"What do you want to say?" 

 

Park Jun-gil gazed intently at Junwoo's face. 

 

Now, he seemed to realize it. The apology was just an excuse. 

 

Maybe he just missed this genius. The moments of conversation, the time spent in the same space, the sense of connection from being part of the same show. 

 

Park Jun-gil instinctively felt that this might be his last chance. 

 

"I've been in this industry for over 30 years. Honestly, I might not know about movies, but I'm pretty knowledgeable about sitcoms and variety shows. I thought maybe I could be of some help. Maybe later when you're less busy with movie filming." 

 

"…" 

 

"Just wanting to work together with you, Jun.., I mean, Director." 

 

Junwoo remained silent for a moment, then seemed to ponder something, his brow furrowing slightly. 

 

"I don't know. It seems difficult." 

 

"Ah, of course, it would be. You're so busy, and there are so many people looking for you. And who am I to…" 

 

Park Jun-gil's shoulders slumped, seemingly deflated. 

 

"It's not that." 

 

And then Junwoo dropped a meaningful statement. 

 

Park Jun-gil had to wrack his brain, unused to deciphering such words. 

 

Even after Junwoo left, Park Jun-gil stood there for a long time, lost in thought. 

 

"Could it be…" 

 

An unknown anxiety welled up inside him. 

 

*** 

 

The long journey of Actor Kingdom. Last night, its final episode was broadcasted. 

 

Amid the unexpected result that shocked the nation, the interior of the car Kang Hyeok was in was filled with a serene atmosphere. 

 

"Don't worry too much. First, review the list of questions, and we'll block any suspicions of deals between our side and the broadcasting station or any questions that might upset you." 

 

The secretary seated in the driver's seat spoke. 

 

They were en route to the winners' press conference. Everyone was waiting for the final winner of Actor Kingdom. 

 

Kang Hyeok gazed out of the car window with an indifferent face. 

 

"Questions that will upset me?" 

 

"Well, you know," 

 

"That my victory was predetermined from the start?" 

 

"..." 

 

"That I don't have the capabilities to justify my position?" 

 

"Hyeok." 

 

"Or is it about Han Junwoo-related stuff?" 

 

Kang Hyeok's voice was as detached as if he were talking about someone else. 

 

"It's fine. Why block them? There's nothing incorrect about those. Just let it be. It doesn't matter anymore." 

 

"...You knew?" 

 

Kang Hyeok didn't answer. The secretary, flustered, just moved his mouth without managing to ask anything further. 

 

From the start of the show, Kang Hyeok had been holed up in his room. 

 

He had unplugged all the TVs in the house and instructed everyone not to bring him any news related to him. 

 

Yet, the secretary couldn't forget the sight of Kang Hyeok sitting stiffly in front of the TV yesterday, watching the final stage of the competition with an expressionless face. 

 

The secretary found the Kang Hyeok heading to the press conference now strangely unfamiliar. 

 

Shortly after, when Kang Hyeok got out of the car upon arriving at the conference venue, 

 

"...!" 

 

In an instant, Kang Hyeok's pupils dilated slightly. It was a subtle tremor, not noticeable enough for someone at the scene to detect. 

 

The scene unfolding before him was unbelievably vast. 

 

Media personnel from across the nation, including newspapers, TV, radio, and online outlets, were bustling around. It resembled a festival site just before the start. 

 

They were busily preparing to cover Kang Hyeok's arrival with cameras, microphones, and laptops in hand. 

 

Even though the program had garnered national attention, it was ultimately just an event for the winner of an audition program. 

 

Indeed, it was becoming understandable now. 

 

Kang Hyeok, momentarily startled, composed himself and walked decisively into the crowd. 

 

Soon, the journalists began their questions. 

 

"What do you think about your victory? Do you believe the judgment was fair?" 

 

As soon as that question was asked, flashes started going off relentlessly. 

 

The sound of shutters filled the conference hall. 

 

It was Kang Hyeok's turn to be baited. 

 

The controversy surrounding Daemyoung and the criticism and malicious comments directed at Kang Hyeok were heating up the internet even at that moment. 

 

Despite being raised in the Daemyoung Group and being different from his peers, he was still just a nineteen-year-old teenager. 

 

It was remarkable that Kang Hyeok even showed his face in these circumstances. 

 

The questions were aimed at capturing any signs of blushing or evasion. 

 

The content people wanted from this situation was somewhat predetermined. 

 

However, Kang Hyeok immediately responded. 

 

"What do I think? As an actor, I delivered a good performance, so I believe I won." 

 

Kang Hyeok didn't avoid or hesitate with any questions. 

 

"How do you feel about Han Junwoo, with whom you shared the final stage?" 

 

"That stage allowed me to show who I am. I'm thankful to Junwoo." 

 

"The final results are being questioned as manipulated. Don't you feel wronged?" 

 

"Yes, I do feel wronged." 

 

Kang Hyeok continued. 

 

"That guy's talent isn't something to be swayed by mere manipulations of a broadcasting company. I've observed Han Junwoo more closely than anyone else, so I can say this with certainty." 

 

The journalists started to hesitate. 

 

He didn't shrink back at all, and he wasn't even shaken by the barrage of malicious comments. 

 

The press conference was more like a grilling than a place to congratulate the winner and ask about their thoughts on their journey. It would have been a harsh experience for a teenager who had just stepped into the public eye. But no one raised any objections. Only Kang Hyeok stood with his back straight and endured it all. 

 

"…!" 

 

The journalist who had just asked the question locked eyes with Kang Hyeok. 

 

It wasn't a facade of confidence to hide his intimidation. 

 

His face was filled with sincerity and conviction. 

 

Instead, as time passed, those becoming more daunted were not Kang Hyeok, at the center of national criticism, but the journalists trying to exploit him. 

 

Indeed, Kang Hyeok's demeanor was extraordinary. His face, set firm, bore the hardships endured during the program and the fear from the broadcasting process, along with the battles he had fought with himself. 

 

If the public were witnessing this scene, they couldn't criticize him any longer. Kang Hyeok was the rightful winner of Actor Kingdom before Junwoo's return. 

 

"…Can you tell us about your future plans?" 

 

"Yes. For now, I plan to follow the Daemyoung legacy and receive training as a successor." 

 

The journalists began to murmur, taken aback by his response. 

 

"Not as an actor…? Are you saying you're giving up acting?" 

 

"No, not necessarily. I'm just looking ahead. It's hard to discuss the details here." 

 

The journalists jotted down every word Kang Hyeok said. 

 

Then, someone threw the final question. 

 

"Currently, Han Junwoo has disappeared, and his whereabouts are unknown. Do you know anything about this?" 

 

At that question, the shutter sounds and barrage of questions abruptly stopped. 

 

As if everyone had been waiting for this moment. As if that was the sole purpose of gathering here. 

 

"..." 

 

Kang Hyeok glanced around at the journalists, their faces almost manic in their intensity. 

 

Indeed, even for the heir of Daemyoung, there was no reason for the nation's media to gather just for the winner's remarks of a broadcast participant. 

 

A few days ago, Han Junwoo disappeared after leaving behind the final edited file of a movie. 

 

The nation wasn't flipped upside down because of the finale of Actor Kingdom. 

 

Kang Hyeok was aware of this. Even at the very end, Junwoo's presence was indelible for him. But now, Kang Hyeok showed no agitation. He simply nodded slowly, with a composed expression. 

 

"Do I know? I heard through the articles, too, that he vanished overnight without a trace of his belongings. He must be somewhere safe, pursuing something, as always." 

 

A hint of longing fleetingly crossed Kang Hyeok's face. 

 

"Instead of groundless speculation about his whereabouts, shouldn't we find meaning in what he left behind? He disappeared right after completing the movie. As if everything was planned from the start." 

 

*** 

 

Unbeknownst to anyone, a video was uploaded on the internet that dawn. 

 

"Could this be it…?" 

 

An anonymous account with no source, no ads, no chatter. 

 

The title was 'Actor Kingdom.' The video was two hours and twenty minutes long. 

 

Click. Someone, mindlessly browsing YouTube from their room, pressed the play button. 




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