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A Thousand Faces Chapter 71

Updated: Apr 2

Han Junwoo had disappeared. 


Days earlier, in the Fantasia production company's editing room. 


Since the shooting wrapped up, Junwoo had been holed up there, working tirelessly on the post-production. 


He hadn't been home. For over a week, he practically lived in that cramped editing suite. 


The 8th-floor corridor, where the editing suite was located, was eerily quiet. Fearful of disturbing the director's work, everyone from the production company staff rigorously avoided that floor. 


Except for one person, Moon Kangwoo. 


Silently, he placed water and other necessities in front of the editing suite. 


While Junwoo worked, Moon Kangwoo, like a loyal attendant, provided everything the director might need. 


He never knocked or entered. 


He simply crouched in a corner of the corridor, waiting for Junwoo. 


If Junwoo stepped out, he would spring up, hoping to share a meal with him. 


On the 8th day, Moon Kangwoo sensed something was off. 


No matter how long he waited by the door, there was no sign of the director coming out. 


Worried that Junwoo might have collapsed from overwork or encountered some problem, he cautiously approached the door. 




As expected, there was no response. He knocked, but no sound came from inside. 


When he finally mustered the courage to open the door... 




Junwoo was gone. 


The editing suite was filled only with cold, hollow air. 


'Didn't he come in today…?' 


That seemed impossible. Junwoo wasn't someone to skip a day just because he was tired. 


Something felt off. Moon Kangwoo couldn't shake the uneasy feeling as he looked at the empty spot in the editing suite. 


The neatly organized space without a single piece of trash. The editing equipment, positioned just for Junwoo. Everything was orderly, just as it was initially. 


Then, Moon Kangwoo's gaze stopped somewhere. 


On the brightly lit monitor screen. 


A single video file sat prominently on an otherwise empty desktop background. 


It was the final version of the movie. 


Moon Kangwoo shuddered. He remembered something Junwoo had said the first day they met. 


'The shooting period is a total of 67 days and 8 hours. Adding post-production, it's 75 days and 5 hours.' 


75 days from the start. Today was that day. Moon Kangwoo suddenly felt engulfed by an ominous feeling. 


He didn't even feel like checking the completed movie. 


He could only stand there, frozen, in a daze. 


'Could it be…?' 


Junwoo didn't show up at the shooting location or the production company the next day and the day after. He didn't answer calls. Moon Kangwoo searched frantically for Junwoo but found no clue about his sudden disappearance. 


Other actors also began to feel uneasy watching him. 


"Ah, he's probably just taking a break to clear his head after finishing the project." 


"He's always been quiet. Not the type to fuss over us…" 


"He'll probably return next week, right? With his usual nonchalant face." 




They said so, but an instinctive feeling that it wasn't so enveloped them. 


Moreover, today was scheduled for a post-production meeting with actors, staff, and investors about the release schedule. The director they knew wouldn't miss such an important meeting without a reason. 


Everyone in the conference room waited two hours for the director that day, but Junwoo never showed up. 


A month had passed. 


When it became evident that Junwoo had deliberately gone somewhere, the rumor spread rapidly. 


The nation was once again in turmoil. 


Excluding impersonations, there was no one in Korea who claimed to have seen Junwoo. 


Amidst rampant speculation about his disappearance, 


- What happens to the movie now? Is the release going to be delayed? 


With someone's words as a starting point, people began discussing the movie that Junwoo left behind. 


What had happened during the filming, and what was the movie about? 


The internet was flooded with speculation and interest, suggesting that clues about Han Junwoo's disappearance might be in the movie. 


Inquiries about the release schedule started pouring into Fantasia production company. 


Naturally, the production company and related movie personnel were in a frenzy. 


A heated meeting was taking place in the production company's conference room. 


"Is there really no one who heard anything about Director Han going somewhere? Think carefully, everyone." 


"Now's not the time to focus on that." 


"What do you mean? What's more important than the fact that Han Junwoo has disappeared?" 


"Well, it's not like he's dead. He's organized his things, and the timing is too cunning. It seems he had something in mind. We should focus on what's right in front of us." 


Jeon Gwang-in, the company's CEO, investors like Kim Yujun, Moon Kangwoo, Jin Do-ryeon, and other actors and film-related personnel were seated in the conference room. 


"Do you know how people are reacting to Director Han's movie right now?" 


"Is there anyone here who doesn't know?" 


"Why are you being confrontational from the start?" 


Given the gravity of the situation, the conversations among them were somewhat heated and agitated. 


"Let's all calm down. First, let's think about what we can do, not about Director Han's whereabouts. Let's talk about the movie." 




"Anyway, it's our production company's work. We can't just sit idly." 


Jeon Gwang-in was the one mediating the situation. Although he was significantly affected, as the CEO, he had to take responsibility, especially at moments like this. 


"Let's think about the outcome. The whole country is in chaos right now. Everywhere you go, people are only talking about Director Han. If the movie is released in this atmosphere, it's going to be a huge hit." 


"You've all seen the movie. You know its commercial and artistic value is undeniable. Now, with the disappearance added on top, the promotional effect will be huge." 


"Ha, should we be thankful for this? Surely Director Han didn't plan this, right?" 


"What, do you think he's that kind of person…" 


There was a moment of silence. 


"…But is it okay for us to do this? Shouldn't we wait a bit more?" 


"No. Everything will proceed as planned. Exactly as Director Han originally intended." 


Jeon Gwang-in's face didn't look thrilled as he spoke. 


He was questioning whether it was the right decision. Was he blinded by greed, making a wrong judgment at this moment? 


Now, they were at a point where they couldn't make any decisions without Junwoo. 


Among them, Moon Kangwoo sat with a ghostly pale face. Everyone at the shooting site knew what Junwoo meant to him. So they cautiously avoided speaking to him or offering careless consolation. 


Leaving Moon Kangwoo aside, Jin Do-ryeon was unusually quiet today. She stared blankly into space throughout the meeting. 


Jin Do-ryeon recalled the last day she saw Junwoo. 


On the day the last shooting was safely finished, Junwoo stayed behind in the studio alone after sending everyone away. 


Late at night, Jin Do-ryeon returned to the studio to retrieve the belongings she had left behind. 


It was something she could have asked her manager to do, but somehow, she felt that the director might still be there. 


And indeed, Junwoo was there, tinkering with the equipment. 


The moment Jin Do-ryeon spotted Junwoo's back from afar, she thought she might have deliberately left her belongings behind. 


"Director, you've really worked hard." 


Jin Do-ryeon approached Junwoo and spoke. 


Junwoo was busy restoring the production company's equipment he had adjusted and turned during the shooting to their original state, wearing gloves. 


Junwoo turned around. 


"Yes, you've worked hard too." 


Jin Do-ryeon thought this moment, alone with him, was an opportunity. She asked playfully. 


"Director, can't you cast me in your next project?" 




"This project. It's the work of my life. I wanted to thank you for giving me this experience. So, if there's a chance, I'd really like to work with you on your next project…" 


Junwoo was silent for a moment. 


"Well, I don't know what I'll be filming then. I don't know yet, either." 




"It might be something completely different. You might not like it, Jin Do-ryeon." 


Junwoo said this with an indistinct expression on his face. 


Jin Do-ryeon couldn't shake off the word 'then' from Junwoo's statement. It sounded distant to her as if she also didn't know when that would be. 


She knew. 


Junwoo's decision to leave one morning was not a spur-of-the-moment impulse. 


It must have been predetermined from the start. He vanished, knowing everything that was happening in this conference room and what would happen in the future. 


That day, the production company's website was bombarded with all sorts of complaints and wild speculation until an official statement was posted. 


[Fantasia Production Company Statement] 


-The release schedule for the movie will proceed as planned. 


That was the entirety of the statement. 


There was no mention of Junwoo. 


Comments flooded the statement asking, 'So where is Han Junwoo?' and 'What happened during the shooting?' 


Among the comments, one stood out: 



"Hey, you idiots, have you even watched that video? If you watch it, you'll get the answer. Why Han Junwoo disappeared." 




An anonymous video titled 'Actor Kingdom.' 


"Guys, this looks like Han Junwoo, right?" 


The video spread rapidly as someone initiated its spread. 


The views on the originally uploaded video skyrocketed. 


Within a day, the 'Actor Kingdom anonymous video' topped the search charts. 


Low resolution. Consistent color scheme. Shaky footage. Muffled audio quality. 


The video was the final product of footage that Junwoo had been recording with a camcorder during the program. 


No one could believe that the video was the result of a practice camcorder recording. 


The editing and techniques were inexplicable. A two-and-a-half-hour video with an ambiguous concept, not quite fitting the definition of a movie. Its quality far exceeded that of a typical movie. 


Scenes made from fragments of numerous participants' rehearsals, their performances, conflicts, reconciliations, and dialogues. Participants and production crews blinded by desire. 


And then, inexplicably bizarre scenes that were beyond understanding for the rest. 


Viewers couldn't fathom why the video was titled 'Actor Kingdom.' 


Junwoo was its backbone. 


Compared to the blurred focus on others, the focus sharpened every time Junwoo appeared. 


Moments in the program when Junwoo first held the camcorder. 


The first time he viewed the world through the lens. 


The first time he tried editing. 


The moments when he elicited performances from others. 


Each time, countless selves within him were newly born and expanded. 


These fragmented cuts sped past in a fast-forward manner. 


Scenes and dialogues that seemed to represent the countless voices within Junwoo. 


And the final scene of the video. 


Junwoo had been filmed by someone else throughout the film, but in the end, he looked straight into the camera. 


As if making eye contact with the viewers of the video. 


Just watching it brought confusion and distress to many. 


The public, who had been discussing Junwoo's identity and existence, were plunged even deeper into the labyrinth. 


The reactions of the viewers who saw the video were as follows: 


'It felt like I briefly entered and exited the subconscious of Han Junwoo.' 


'An experience I don't want to go through again.' 


'It was painful.' 


'I had nightmares for days after watching the video. I want to beat up the person who made it.' 


'What is this content about? It's seriously affecting my daily life.' 


'I regret watching it. I think I'm going to go insane.' 


Resentment and speculation about the uploader continued. With the surge in views, there were even protests from the public about possibly restricting the viewing, claiming it was too harmful. 


Even though there was not a single harmful scene, the video itself was so impactful that it was overwhelming for the average person to handle. It raised the question of how a mere video could invoke such feelings. 


While Junwoo was central to the video, there was no definitive clue that Junwoo himself had created it. However, the public unanimously pointed to Junwoo as the creator of the video. 


The reason was simple. All these phenomena were directly connected to the level and skill of the video's creator. 


"Is there anyone else in our country besides Han Junwoo capable of creating something of such shocking quality?" 


Apart from the distress it caused viewers, the 'Actor Kingdom' video possessed an unparalleled level of artistry and quality. 


"After watching this, all the movies that were touted as the most shocking of the century seem pale in comparison. LOL." 


"Can someone please interpret this? Is there really no one?" 


As opinions diverged on why Han Junwoo created such a video, what he intended, and why he released the video at this particular timing, artists and critics from various fields rushed in, driven to frenzy. 


Furthermore, the controversies surrounding Kang Hyeok naturally faded away as a result of this incident. 


In such a situation, winning the program seemed trivial. Instead, there was a growing sentiment of pity over the identity crisis faced by the 200 million-won-investment program. 


And then, someone said: 


"But after watching the video, didn't you get goosebumps during the finale stage...?" 


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