When he dipped himself in the hot water, he felt much more relaxed and he sighed in relief.
It had been a long time since he last came to the jjimjilbang. Although he went to the public baths a lot when he was young, he didn’t remember going to one ever since he entered elementary school.
“Phew, that’s good.”
Maru sat next to him while sounding like an old man. Daemyung quietly smiled.
“People definitely need warmth.”
“How was boxing? The master told me to bring you next time as well.”
Daemyung shook his head as he remembered the master who told him to keep his eyes open all the time.
“Later. Let’s go later.”
“Don’t say that and try going there frequently. You’ll get stronger and bolder as well. Moreover, it’s free.”
“That’s true, but still.”
Delinquents didn’t pick fights with people that looked like they’d strike back. What you need to fix is not the way you fight, but your naïve-looking eyes. - that was what he heard when he went to the boxing gym with Maru. The master was definitely a good person who taught with passion, and he thought that he would be able to change himself if he kept going there, but right now, he didn’t have the courage to go there by himself. Actually, he thought that the master was part of the mafia at first. He looked that scary.
“If you change your mind, go make a visit,” Maru said as though he had no intentions of forcing him to go.
After the two sat in the warm spring for a while, the two entered the sauna which was right next to it. Maru, who brought with him a wet towel, flipped the hourglass on the wooden chair.
“Do you want to bet who stays longer? The loser treats the winner to a drink.”
“I’m not sure about anything else, but I am good at enduring.”
Daemyung sat with a confident smile. Sand started flowing down the hourglass like it was rain.
“I heard you were helping with creating the script,” Maru asked.
“It’s not really the script. I’m just helping with the research.”
“Wow, our dear Daemyung has become successful already. You’re a drama writer at your age.”
Daemyung just shrugged his shoulders since he knew that Maru was joking.
“So, how is it?”
“It’s not hard. Like I said, it’s just research. I just look into various books and take out the necessary content and just give it to the writer. But when I helped him out, I realized just how difficult it is to write a script.”
“Is the script you’re helping to write a historical drama?”
“Yeah. It’s going to be airing on RBS. It’s about Han Myung-hoe.”
Hearing that, Maru laughed. The sudden laugh made Daemyung confused.
“The drama I auditioned for is that very one. I received the script yesterday.”
“Yeah. I’m a beggar.”
After being dazed for a while, Daemyung laughed as well. This was a strange coincidence.
“You wrote the script and I’m the actor. I guess we achieved our objective somewhat.”
“Even though I’m just helping with research and you’re a minor role?”
“We can’t be full on the first spoon, can we? It’ll gradually get better as time goes. Although you’re just helping with research and I’m a minor actor, who knows what will happen in ten years? Maybe you’ll be the main writer and I’ll be the main actor.”
“I hope that happens.”
Daemyung wiped the sweat off his face. Maru would definitely become a good actor. He had already signed a contract with a big company, and he kept working as an actor. Once his face became known, he would start getting more important roles, and he might actually become an actor loved by everyone in ten years' time.
‘But what about me?’
Although he found the thing he wanted to do, he still didn’t know if he could continue down that path. The a.d.u.l.ts always said that there were barely any people who did the thing they liked for a living. Honestly, he didn’t have the confidence to say for sure that he would become a director or a writer and work in the same field as Maru.
“Hey, you can do it,” Maru spoke as though he read his mind.
Although they were simply words of encouragement, Daemyung felt really good.
“Are you going to appear in my work even if you become a famous actor in the future?”
“As long as the work is good and the pay is worth it.”
“No friendship bonus?”
“Maybe once. But you’re going to be someone well-known in ten years too. If you’re still studying under someone else in ten years, you’ll be doing good in twenty years. You’ll be able to afford my pay at least. Also, money problems need to be especially strict when it comes to friends. You know that, right?”
“I know. I just wanted to say that once. I also learned that people need to receive proper compensation for their work.”
“Now that’s something good you’ve learned there. So become a pro and pay me a lot, okay?”
Maru picked up the towel he had around his neck and stood up.
“I’ll buy the drink so let’s get out. You’re good.”
“I told you I’m good at enduring.”
Maru shook his head and opened the door. Cool air entered through the gap. Daemyung slowly breathed out the hot air circulating inside him and left.
When he washed his body and went to the waiting room, Maru gave him some sikhye, and in his other hand were some boiled eggs.
“Sikhye and boiled eggs are critical to visiting jjimjilbang.”
“I know right?”
They sat around a table and ate the boiled eggs. This was the first time he came to a jjimjilbang with a friend, but he had fun for no specific reason. Even the man that slept while snoring didn’t annoy him and made him smile.
On the TV was some news about pro golf. Some Korean won some whatever cup for the first time, and the prize was in the hundreds of millions of won. The snoring man suddenly woke up and said ‘that’s enough to pay back my loans’.
“Pros are cool.”
He felt as though the face of the player that took the interview with the prize in his arms shined. Money was one thing, but he was more envious of the fact that he boldly proclaimed his victory. A bold champion always looked cool.
“They look cool because they are as good as they get paid,” Maru said as he scr.a.p.ed the rice grains inside the sikhye cup.
“Is money what separates amateurs from pros?”
“Amateurs receive money to prove their worth, while pros prove their worth according to how much they get paid. But hey, are you not eating that egg? If you aren’t, give it to me.”
Daemyung hurriedly peeled the boiled egg and stuffed it in his mouth.
“Hey, hey. Take it easy.”
Maru giggled and bought some more sikhye.
Daemyung watched the TV as he drank the sikhye with ice in it. Would there come a day where his worth would be proved just like that person?
‘I should prepare myself.’
Proving himself wasn’t something others did for him after all. Chewing the egg in his mouth, Daemyung imagined the far future.
A future where he could have confidence in himself.
* * *
“There are no problems with the actors, right?”
“Yes. Some of the actors have arrived in Mungyeong already. They’re quite earnest, aren’t they?”
“I hope they won’t be late at the very least. Waiting for people on the first day is a sign of bad luck.”
“Should we depart as well?”
“Yeah. But why do you want to bring a car when we can just take the coach?”
“I have places to go when I’m there. Senior, please put your seatbelt on.”
Changsung grabbed the seatbelt and locked it. The vehicle carrying the props was departing as well. Their destination was Mungyeong. The first location for the shoot.
“The war has begun.”
Jinhyuk started driving. Changsung looked at the tall RBS building and sighed. From now on, he would have to say goodbye to his home for a while. After he shot all the scenes at the location, he would return to the in-house set and resume shooting. After that, he would have to reserve and shoot in external locations according to the script which he hadn’t received out yet. He would have to alternate between visiting the countryside and coming back to Seoul. Once an accident happened and messed up everyone’s schedule, it would be real hell. All of the staff members might have to adjust their schedule to match an important actor’s. After a couple of incidences of that, he would eventually reach a stage where sleeping comfortably at night would be a godsend.
“I’m going to get some sleep. I need to save up on stamina while I still can.”
“Alright. Once you wake up, you’ll have to keep shooting.”
“Shut up. If things go wrong, I’ll just hand everything to the B team and go missing.”
“Senior, the drama will do horribly if you do that.”
“You’re in charge of the B team and you don’t even have that much confidence?”
“Please stop running away from reality and get some sleep.”
Changsung put the script booklet that he got from the bindery on the dashboard before closing his eyes. It had been two years since he was last in charge of creating a long-running drama. Although he wasn’t nervous, he had mountains of worries. He was still in his mid thirties, which was considered young in this field. Unlike what his seniors told him where producers required at least ten years of experience before directing their first historical drama, he did his first in his sixth year. The fantasy historical drama he produced while being pressured by the expectations of those around him, produced decent results, but as Changsung inwardly wanted it to do better, he was very disappointed.
Then came his second opportunity. This time, he wanted it to take first place among the programs airing at the same time. Recently, the Wednesday-Thursday dramas produced by RBS kept doing worse than programs from other TV stations. The fact that the president gave them the opportunity to create an in-house drama and even a special season meant the president should have a lot of expectations from them as well. In this era where TV stations outsourced the production of half of its dramas, the proportion of outsourced works would continue to increase if the producer of their own programs did worse.
It wasn’t like he would get fired if he did bad, but the problem was that he would be deprived of any opportunities to produce anything in the future and his work responsibilities might change to just simple accounting. These days, the production was mostly handled by producers in outsourcing companies and the resources were provided by the TV stations. From the TV station’s perspective, it was satisfactory since they practically got to blow their nose without using their hands, but for the producers that have the ambition to create their own work, they were, unfortunately, losing their reason for entering the company.
“Let’s take first place.”
Changsung opened the window slightly and looked outside. Next to the car he was in was the coach with the RBS logo on it.
It had begun. The boring shoot where no one would be at ease, that is.
* * *
Maru looked at the sedan that speeded ahead of the coach. He saw the producer getting in that car before they departed. Was he driving there by himself? If so, then he had to have great stamina.
“Child, you should get some sleep. You’ll have a hard time once you go there.”
The elderly sitting next to him put on a blindfold before speaking. The people seated in other seats also closed their eyes to get some sleep. Although the coach currently held more than 30 people, it was deadly quiet. If someone made noise, they would receive the glares of others.
Maru quietly took out his script. His role was ‘beggar 4’. He was one of the beggars that Han Myung-hoe hung out with when he was young.
It was told that Han Myung-hoe was born feeble since young and was destined to be abandoned. In that era, those that were born prematurely were signs of bad luck, while Han Sang-jil, the grandfather of Han Myung-hoe, belonged to a noble household as one of the contributors to the founding of the nation. So, he would probably not be happy that such a person had been born in their household. As such, he was abandoned. However, an old maid would look after him and he would barely survive his infanthood. That was the beginning of the drama.
He looked some things up and Han Myung-hoe’s early life was indeed very unfortunate. Not only was he an orphan, his younger brother was not accepted by his household either, so he was raised under his great uncle, not his grandfather.
In this work, the beggars were Han Myung-hoe’s first friends.
Maru checked the few lines he had. He played the prankster beggar role next to the boss of the beggars, ‘Gaeguk’. Han Myunghoe and Gaeguk were the main characters, while he was just part of the background that would make them shine.
“Gee, brother. That dude just came out of a big mansion. He’s not someone who’d play with us.”
He said his line in a small voice. When he did, the elder said ‘child, let’s sleep’. Maru apologized to him before closing the script. It seemed that practicing while saying his lines out loud was going to be impossible.
He took out his earphones and put them in before closing his eyes.
He decided to do some image training that wouldn’t require producing any sound. Listening to the calming music, Maru started picturing his own version of the beggar.
* * *
“We’re here everyone. Please visit the bathroom and wait inside the coach.”
A staff member wearing a red cap backwards shouted. The people all got off. Maru was among them.
“The air is good.”
“You’ll get fed up with the air soon enough.”
He listened to the staff’s conversation before looking around. The staff members flocked to the cars that parked on the muddy ground. Behind them, a tiled-roof house and a thatched house could be seen. He could also see the ends of a big gate. He wondered if it was a set specifically created for shoots, but from how there were a lot of tourists around, it seemed that it wasn’t created by the TV station.
“Let’s get things done quickly!”
The staff’s shouts could be heard.
Maru watched as dozens of people carried out video equipment before getting into the coach again. It was waiting time, which he was all too familiar with.
 Refer to footnote 1 in the last chapter
 Sweet rice drink. Wikipedia for more details.
 To be exact, born on the 7th month of pregnancy.
 Families in the Chosun era were helmed by the grandfather.