“I’m not sure about anything else, but let’s wash our feet at least before we sleep.”
“I don’t want to suffocate overnight.”
The staff and the background actors giggled as they started to take off their socks. They were in a rental house near the shooting location. The people gathered here were either background actors or part-timers. Maru and the younger minor actors had to stay the night here as well. As for Bitna, she went off in her mother’s car after the shoot.
“It’s like we’re here on a field trip.”
“Hey, let’s go wash ourselves.”
“Aren’t you coming with us, hyung?”
Maru shook his head. Even if they went now, it was obvious that they would have to wait in front of the bathroom. He waved at the younger kids that left the room and unloaded his luggage in a corner. He took out a book, a change of clothes, and a chocolate bar.
“Where’s the lighting team that just came today?”
“Come out. Let’s drink.”
A man who sat quietly in one corner took his jacket and left. Following that, the main and camera teams visited in succession and took their part-timers.
“They have it good.”
“Isn’t there anything for us?”
“Nope. I saw that the lighting team had a good atmosphere. I should have joined them as well.”
“Don’t say that, and let’s drink together with just us. I saw a supermarket nearby.”
Six men left together to drink.
Although they were people who met for the first time today, they soon became close perhaps due to the fact that they went through a hot ordeal together. The group that tried to call some food delivery ended up sighing and giving up, and the people that laid out their blanket early thinking that sleep was the best medicine, were wrestling with the heat.
30 grown men with beards would crawl into this place throughout the night and end up sleeping in empty spots. It was just like the military barracks.
“You have to wake up at 6 tomorrow and finish breakfast by 6:30. The shoot begins at 7 so bear that in mind. Don’t be late, and tell the others who aren’t here right now.”
“Yes, I understand.”
A woman left with a smile along with words of encouragement. She seemed to be part of the main team, but Maru didn’t recognize her. Since there were so many staff members for this drama, he didn’t know the faces of most of the staff members, much less their names.
“You saw her face in that short time?”
The usual male banter started, but it soon died down. It was 11 p.m. Around five people left the room saying that they couldn’t get any sleep due to the heat. It seemed that they needed some alcohol to compensate for their hard work.
“Hyung, there aren’t any people now.”
Hearing the younger actors’ words, Maru took his towel and change of clothes and went to the bathroom. When he entered the public shower, a stuffy heat assaulted him. He smiled subconsciously.
After having a light shower, he returned to the room. The lights opposite the entrance were off, and below them were people who were sleeping without any blankets. Mosquitoes entered through the ripped portions of the mosquito net, but the windows were all wide open. The outdated air conditioner clearly wasn’t enough to cool down all the people here in this weather.
Smelling a faint fragrance of mosquito-repellent incense, Maru opened his book.
“What are you reading? A comic book?”
The younger actors approached him and showed interest, but they soon lost interest and went away.
“You should read some books.”
“I don’t want to.”
The five younger actors sat around in a circle before starting to play some games. They giggled as they hit each other’s hands, but they soon seemed to have gotten tired and lied down on the spot.
Maru smiled and threw the chocolate bars he brought at them. Even though they were yawning until moments ago, they rushed to grab the chocolate bars immediately. They were at an age where they were constantly hungry.
“Guys, quiet down a little.”
A man who seemed to be over fifty, who was getting ready to sleep, spoke. Maru apologized in everyone’s stead. The man yawned and lied down. The younger actors also stopped chatting.
The TV on the TV stand was talking by itself. It was an entertainment program, but he couldn’t understand a single thing it was saying. The man who was rolling around under the TV probed around in the dark and turned it off. Only the sound of breathing could be heard in the room.
One of the younger actors spoke. It definitely was summer. The people that Maru thought were sleeping all sighed and stood up. It would be incredibly stifling once people who left came back. Maru seriously considered sleeping outside.
“Looks like everyone’s sleeping.”
Just then, the door opened and a voice could be heard. Giwoo was standing under the lights in front of the door. He seemed to have found Maru who was sitting in the corner and gave him glimpses.
“If it’s okay with you, would you like to eat some watermelons? It’s cold.”
People reacted to the word ‘cold’.
“Watermelon sounds good.”
“There’s sikhye as well. Can some of you come with me? I won’t be able to carry it by myself.”
Maru closed the book he was reading and slapped the backs of the younger actors who were next to him.
“If you think you should be the one to go, then you should go.”
He told the a.d.u.l.ts that he would do it as they were about to stand up and walk outside. There was a truck outside the house, which still had its engine on.
He unloaded some watermelons and sikhye from the back. They were cold as though they were just taken out of the refrigerator. He took the watermelons and the sikhye back to the room. Everyone had woken up and pushed the blankets to one side of the room.
“Wow, they’re big.”
A man, who tried tapping one of the watermelons with his palm then sliced down with the knife he was holding. The insides of the split watermelon were a ripe red.
“Hey, you kids should eat first.”
The a.d.u.l.ts let the kids eat first. Maru also picked up a slice. It was cool enough to blow away the heat of the summer in an instant, and it was also sweet.
“Who’s buying it? Did we get the budget for it?”
One of the men, who was drinking sikhye, asked Giwoo.
“It’s… me. I mean, the shoot was delayed because of me. Sorry about that. It was hard, wasn’t it? The weather is hot as well,” Giwoo spoke in a careful voice.
The people in the room started laughing as though it was nothing to worry about.
“Anything can happen while shooting.”
“But it definitely feels good. Thanks to you, we get to eat watermelons.”
Giwoo said ‘that’s good’ in a small voice before sighing slightly. Maru put down the watermelon peel and looked at Giwoo. He was such a good kid. There were two types of apologies: One where it was pleasant to listen to, and one where it made people frown, and Giwoo’s was the former. If he just dumped some food on them as though he would treat someone lower than him, he would have sworn at the guy, but there was no one who would blame him for anything when his attitude was like this.
“Keep that up in the future. Social life is nothing special. If you act like that in the future, you’ll be doted on by the a.d.u.l.ts.”
“Yes, please dote on me in the future as well.”
Giwoo poured some sikhye for the people with a smile.
“You too, Mr. Maru.”
“No, thank you for last time.”
“Nah, don’t keep bringing it up. You’re embarrassing me.”
“I received a big help, so I can’t really just forget about it after just saying thanks. Please take care of me in the remaining shoots as well.”
Maru nodded and drank his sikhye. Giwoo poured sikhye for one last person before sitting down next to him.
“How long has it been since you started acting?”
“I’m not sure. I guess I’m in my second year now.”
“Really? I thought you would’ve started much sooner. You’re amazing.”
“I’m not that great.”
“You showed a perfect act you didn’t prepare for in a perfect manner in front of so many people. Normally, people call that amazing.”
“It’s something that everyone’s doing. I’m happy that you’re looking at me in a good light, but I don’t think it’s worth complimenting.”
“Aren’t you too humble? You’re skilled too.”
Maru smiled and started at Giwoo. His bad habit of becoming suspicious of too much flattery was flaring up again. He knew that it wasn’t a good habit, but it was a habit he developed just like how herbivore animals would perk up their ears to scan for danger. Giwoo could have said those words out of goodwill, but Maru always raised his guard up subconsciously when someone he didn’t verify talked good about him.
He looked into Giwoo’s eyes. A speech bubble started forming behind Giwoo’s head. He couldn’t read deep into his heart, but he could see what he was thinking about Han Maru.
-Am I disturbing him when he’s tired?
“You must be tired right? I guess I talked too much.”
Giwoo smiled as he stood up. Maru slapped his left cheek. He was too suspicious of everyone. Of course, he couldn’t evaluate what kind of person Giwoo was with just that, but he found out that he wasn’t someone that would think about something else when talking to him. If he talked to Maru with the intention of looking down on him, the speech bubble would have contained something else.
“Uhm. Mr. Giwoo.”
“Let’s do our best tomorrow.”
Giwoo nodded before leaving the room.
“Ooh, hyung. Aren’t you going to become a lead actor at this rate?”
“Don’t betray us when you do.”
“Don’t talk nonsense and go brush your teeth. Your teeth will rot if you sleep now. Don’t lose millions in cash later in life and manage them well while you still can.”
He tapped the younger actors with his feet before getting his own toothbrush and going to the bathroom. Just then, his phone started vibrating. After telling everyone else to go ahead, he sat down on a bench outside the house and took the call.
“It’s late, why are you calling me now and not sleeping?”
-No reason. I just called you because I was worried. Is the shoot over?
“Yes. It is.”
-It’s hot, isn’t it?
“Just a while ago, it was unbearable, but now I can take a breather. Rather than that, you should get some sleep. Your first shoot is tomorrow, isn’t it?”
Maru leaned against the backrest and looked up at the sky as he spoke. Tomorrow was the first day of shooting for the sitcom that she was shooting. Apparently, the shoot happened on a set in Paju.
-I want to sleep, but I’m not sleepy.
-Of course I am. I feel like my heart will jump out of my throat.
“What’s up with you? You’re so good on stage.”
-This is different from a play. Moreover, there are a.d.u.l.ts as well. There will be seniors everywhere around me. Just thinking about it makes me dizzy.
“Appeal your cuteness by smiling. At least you will hear fewer swear words that way.”
-Sounds sooo helpful.
“Then what, should I sing a lullaby for you or something?”
“What’s up with you?”
-Don’t switch the subject and start singing. I’ll listen to it with my eyes closed.
“Really? You really want me to sing for you?”
-Yeah. I think I’ll only calm down if I listen to something.
Maru scratched his brows. She really wasn’t like usual. It seemed that she was really nervous.
-Aren’t you going to sing?
“There’s a lot of people here.”
-So you’re going to retract your words?
“I know you hate things like this.”
-I want to listen for today.
-Are you singing or not?
“Do you really want to listen? You know I can’t sing.”
-...Yeah. I want to listen.
Her voice didn’t have any power. He could imagine her lying on her side with a depressed expression. They say people couldn’t take the opportunity when they see it, and it seemed that Maru was the same. For some reason, his tongue felt dry and he was overly sensitive when he was told to sing a lullaby. At that time, her quiet voice entered his ears.
-I was just joking. You must be tired so get some rest.
The moment he heard those words, Maru started singing a lullaby in a low voice. ‘The Baby in the House in the Isle’, that started off with ‘When the mother goes to pick oysters’. He heard her giggle once and then the sound of blankets rustling could be heard over the phone.
He felt that his body temperature rose by at least 2 degrees centigrade after singing.
-Why is the song so depressing?
“It’s that kind of song. Also, get some sleep. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time tomorrow.”
Just as he stood up after putting the toothbrush back into his mouth, she spoke in a small voice.
-You too, good night.
Good night. It had a different ring to it than goodbye. Maru put on a faint smile as he hung up.
* * *
“You’re going to finish the shoot here during the morning and go back to the set in Seoul in the afternoon, right?”
“Yeah. Rather than that, the art director was amazing. It feels like he’s going to grind his soul into this.”
“Thanks to him, the ones working with him are having a hard time. Just look at all that money. Have you seen the budget he’s asking for? It’s seriously no joke. Even though it’s a historical drama, I’m surprised that such a plan got approved. From the rumors, I heard that he is actually acquainted with the president.”
“Why don’t you get some work done if you have time to listen to rumors? And talk to some actors while at it.”
“It’s really hard for me to talk to the elders. There’s too much pressure.”
“If you keep acting like that, when will you ever become the main producer? Time flies you know? Before you know it, 1 year becomes 2 years, then 3 years, then once you look around, you’ll be doing your first piece and ruin it.”
“Fine. Oh, here, take this. It’s breakfast.”
Changsung put the sandwich that Jinhyuk gave him in his mouth. Since it was a self-produced historical drama, and he didn’t have pressure from advertisers, he was able to get 10 episodes prior to airing. Although it would change according to the flow of the shoot, Changsung’s objective was to finish 8 episodes at least before it started airing.
“Have you seen Uljin this morning?”
“Yeah. Well, he looked okay.”
“I hope nothing bad happens today.”
“Me too. Kids these days are so hard to handle.”
Changsung stuffed the sandwich in his mouth as he stood up.
It was time for work.
 In Korea, due to military service being compulsory, living conditions were known to be quite bad. (It has improved over the years)
 An actual song. Here’s a video with English subtitles.