This chapter may be disturbing for some people. You’ve been warned.
The world below her was miserable. The only time the moldy single-room underground apartment could be romanticized was only in retrospect after achieving success. Or, when having gone to a level even lower than that.
Miyoon, who stared at the mirror in the waiting room, picked up the pack of cigarettes on top of her makeup table. The moment she took out a thin cigarette from the red package and put it in her mouth, she was reminded of the cheap domestic cigarettes that she used to smoke a long time ago. The bitter taste was engraved on her soul.
She put the cigarette between her lips before puffing a deep one.
The reflection of her face in the mirror looked cold. She had reached this place after entering the entertainment industry in her 20s without knowing anything and encountered many things. There were people that helped her out, and there were people that made her wake up at night and insult them. President Hong belonged to the former. Thanks to him glossing over an issue that might have gone viral, she was able to continue her career.
“But he keeps trying to climb up to my level.”
She could only smile back for now since the other party had her weakness that was ‘The Five’, but she did not plan to keep being dragged around by him. An executive of a super company or the president of an entertainment agency - those titles weren’t that great in front of Miyoon. After all, there were names of many politicians in her phone’s contact list.
“How dare he try to rip one off me. People should do a trade.”
She rubbed the cigarette on the ashtray to put it out. There were rules to bad guys as well. She was thankful that he gave her one thing, but he was asking for two from her, so she could only get angry.
She pushed the ashtray away and was just about to get some sleep, but just then, there was a knock on her door.
“It’s the clothing team.”
“Come in,” she spoke as she yawned.
The door opened and two people came in. There was a girl who she hadn’t seen before, as well as a member of the clothing staff that she had seen a few times before.
“Who are you, darling?”
“H, hello. My name is Lee Haeyoung, and I’m a new member.”
“A new member?”
“Please take care of me.”
“Alright, I’ll see how you do.”
Miyoon looked at the clothes that the two women brought. They were the clothes she was going to wear for the sitcom. She was a popular novelist in the drama. She was full of vanity, but her consumer patterns were akin to that of a housewife.
“Would you please excuse me.”
The senior staff asked for her understanding. Miyoon sighed once before standing up.
“We’ve brought five sets of clothes this time, and you just have to choose whatever you like.”
The new member raised the clothes on the clothes hanger to her eye level. Miyoon looked at the clothes in detail.
The colors, quality and form. Those were all secondary. The most important thing were the tags on the clothes. She turned the clothes inside out to look at the tag that had the brand and price on it.
Miyoon laughed and picked up the first clothes hanger. At that moment, the new member asked.
“If you like that, shall I get it prepared for you?”
Miyoon looked at the senior staff quietly. She should be aware of what she meant. The senior staff bit her lower lip in unease and tapped on the shoulders of the new member.
“Darling, go outside for a moment. I’ll talk to this girl for a while.”
“Did you not hear me, darling? I said get out.”
The senior staff did a 90-degree bow before leaving the room. Miyoon saw that the new member’s face became stiff and threw the clothes she was holding on the ground.
A quiet voice could be heard from her mouth.
“Why are you looking for your mother?”
“Forget it, and give me the next one.”
Miyoon checked the tag on the second set of clothes.
“ULand logistics. ULand, huh. Do you know where you find clothes like this?”
“P-probably at the department store?”
“The department store? No. Clothes like this.”
Miyoon threw the clothes at the staff member’s face. Being hit, the staff member walked a few steps back. The clothes she was holding fell on the ground. The vinyl wraps that were there to prevent them from getting dirty made a loud rustling noise.
“These kinds of clothes can only be seen in charity shops. Or, you can see these in donations for kids in Africa. Do you get it?”
“I asked you if you get it. I didn’t tell you to apologize.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Hey, how much do you get paid? I mean, your monthly salary.”
“E-eight hundred thousand won.”
“Do you think you’re doing eight hundred thousand won’s worth of work? And also, aren’t you going to pick those clothes up? Those are all sponsored items, aren’t they? What are you going to do if there’s a problem? Are you going to report that I’m the one that dirtied them?”
The new staff shook her head and picked the clothes up. She was sniffing and looked like she was about to cry at any moment.
“Are you going to cry?”
“Don’t cry. You shouldn’t cry with just that. If you cry just because of that, you’re not going to last.”
Miyoon picked up the third set of clothing. She could see her flinching. There was a small smile on her face.
“You’re angry, aren’t you?”
“No. I’m not.”
“Why not? It’s not you who prepared these, right?”
“That’s true, but….”
“You’re getting scolded for something you didn’t even do. You were just holding the clothes that your superiors got, and you’re being disdained by me, getting hit on the face with clothes. You’re a precious daughter in your family, aren’t you? If you get angry, it’s not surprising that you get angry.”
Miyoon smiled and put her hand on the girl’s cheek. She could feel the girl’s cheek shaking. She raised her hand a bit before slapping her. The girl’s head was turned around.
“It must be annoying. You must be wondering what’s going on. And you must be angry since you’re getting this treatment when you don’t know anything yet.”
Tears started dropping from the girl's eyes.
“Are you crying right now?”
Miyoon looked at the fourth set of clothing and nodded.
“This looks decent.”
She hung the clothes on her chair before walking to the door and pulling on the handle. She twitched her finger at the senior staff that was standing at the opposite end of the corridor. The senior staff came in and clasped her hands together politely.
“This one’s quite good.”
“Did you pick this one?” Miyoon asked as she pointed at the set of clothes on her chair.
“Yes. I tried picking one according to your tastes.”
“You’re quite sensible. You were awkward at first, and now you look like you’re doing your job. Hm, but let me ask… who chose the other four? They’re quite ugly. I think the new member over here chose them. Am I right?” Miyoon sat down as she asked.
The senior staff looked around before saying ‘I had her do it to give her some experience in picking clothes’ in a small voice.
“So our newbie chose it after all.”
“Alright. You can leave now.”
When Miyoon smiled, the senior staff left through the door with a much relieved expression. The door closed, and Miyoon stood in front of the new staff member that had a complex expression on her face.
“Hey. You didn’t pick these right? She was the one that picked them, isn’t she?”
“But strangely, she’s saying that you’re the one who picked them. People are quite devious, right? If she’s going to say something, she should be up front with it like me. She’s supposed to be covering up for you, yet she’s leaving you like this.”
Miyoon took all the clothes that the staff member was holding and put them on the makeup table. Then, she grabbed her hand that was as cold as ice.
“From now on, listen to me, okay? I don’t like that woman, but you look decent. You don’t feel bad because I hit you, right?”
“Alright. I hope we can work well in the future. I’ll give you my support.”
Miyoon called for the senior staff standing outside.
“Darling, you’re a bit too much, huh? You’re pushing your responsibilities to a young girl who doesn’t know anything yet.”
“Uh-uhm, that’s not it, but….”
“Forget it and you can get going. Oh, I don’t want to see you on set, you know what I mean, right?”
“No, ma’am, I….”
“Ah, for god’s sake. Do I look that old to you? Ma’am this, ma’am that. You’re damn c.o.c.ky. Shut up and get going. I told you to not catch my eyes, okay? The moment I see you, I stop shooting. And I will say that I can’t work because of you. Understand?”
After chasing the senior staff out, Miyoon looked at the new staff.
“Bring good clothes in the future. Brand-name ones, or famous designer-made ones. If you do that well, I’ll give you full support. You know, I’m not a bad woman who abandons people that catch my eye. I don’t have a good personality, but you should follow me. I’ll let you meet all the famous people in the industry. What do you think?”
“Anything else you want to say to me?”
Miyoon crossed her arms and stared at the new staff. Receiving her gaze, the girl did a 90-degree bow and thanked her. Miyoon softly stroked the back of her head.
“That’s right. Just do that in the future.”
The girl took the clothes and left. Miyoon yawned and sat back down. It wasn’t that she didn’t like the previous staff member. She sucked up a lot, smiled a lot, and her senses when it came to clothes weren’t that bad either.
“But it’s time.”
People that had become numb to change had to be switched out. People that didn’t fear her were inefficient as parts after all.
The new staff would probably go around looking for sponsorsh.i.p.s for her. She would endure all sorts of insults in order to receive clothes from famous designers. Why? Because she was afraid of the woman named Lee Miyoon.
Miyoon smiled pleasantly and started picking her nails.
* * *
“Huff, huff, phew.”
Hong Janghae put down the baseball bat he was holding. He was just about to wipe his sweat with his handkerchief and leave in a pleasant mood, but the sack in front of him made some noise - whimpering noises, to be specific.
Janghae picked up the bat again. Then he swung it with all of his power towards the sack. Along with a loud pow noise, the whimper of the dog stopped as well. Thick blood dripped beneath the sack.
“Phew, son of a bitch. What a tenacious life.”
He felt much better. The sensation couldn’t be compared to hitting a sandbag. Beating up something living gave him a completely different sensation from hitting a pile of sand.
He pulled up the tie he had loosened and left with his suit jacket in his hand. The owner of the bosintang restaurant nodded his head and went inside.
Janghae did his top button and got in his car. Just as he was about to drive off, he got a call. It was from his company employee.
“What is it?”
-Uhm… regarding the actor I told you last time, the negotiations fell through. He said he’s going to NL Company.
“Hm, team leader Park.”
“Didn’t you say that you were certain?”
-I’m sorry, sir.
“Sorry, huh. Well, I guess you can’t do anything about it. Business doesn’t always go according to plan. Thanks for your work, you must have put in a lot of effort.”
-Not at all, president.
“Alright, look for the next actor. Anyway, well done, and see you when I’m there.”
Janghae hung up and got out of his car. When he went around to the back of the restaurant, he saw the owner taking out a dog with all of its flesh mangled. The dog which had its eyes popped out of their sockets was dragged along the ground.
“Should I give you another one?”
Janghae didn’t say anything and nodded his head. The dog keeper brought a yellow dog from somewhere. As it was quite strong, he took some time to put it in a sack. The sack was then hung from the ceiling. Janghae rolled his sleeves up and picked up the bat.
The sack shook a lot due to the dog barking and struggling. Janghae stood in front of it. The dog keeper quietly closed the door and left.
“Team leader Park, you damned f.u.c.ker.”
Whoosh, the bat made a sharp noise.
* * *
“Yes, team leader Park. This fellow looks good. Try getting him.”
“I will definitely succeed this time.”
“Of course you will.”
Janghae smiled as he saw team leader Park leave his office. In his head, the name ‘team leader Park’ was already erased. He would be advised to resign in one month. Reason being: receiving illegal entertainment.
Shouting at people did not fit the image of the ‘gentle’ Hong Janghae. He had to act smart, and do everything cleanly so that there wouldn’t be any noise. Today, he felt much better, perhaps due to relieving all of his pent-up stress. Although it was quite a hassle, it was definitely worth driving all the way to Cheonan for it.
“It was better when Geunseok was still at home.”
Back then, there was no need to drive all the way to Cheonan. There was an obedient dog at home after all. Janghae stretched his neck left and right before picking up some doc.u.ments.
* * *
Uljin carefully called out to Giwoo who walked up front. Giwoo made a cold smile as he turned around.
“What is it?”
“Uhm, about yesterday.”
He wanted to explain properly. That it was definitely not his intention and that it was just a mistake.
“It’s really just a mistake. I was not going to do the game you told me….”
“Game? What game?”
“Uljin. I don’t get what you’re talking about at all. I mean it. A game? Are you talking about a video game?”
“Why do you look so depressed?”
Giwoo approached him and hung his arm around Uljin’s shoulders. Uljin was creeped out by his actions.
“What are you mistaken about? What game did I tell you about? Tell me properly. Hm?”
“N-no, it’s nothing.”
“Right? It’s nothing, right? You were just mistaken, right?”
“Then that’s good. Oh, you did well in today’s shoot. See you next time, my friend.”
Uljin gulped as he watched Giwoo’s back.
* * *
3 p.m. Maru arrived at home. He greeted her mother who welcomed him and went straight to bed. He wasn’t that tired physically, but his brain wasn’t working right now.
“And school starts tomorrow too.”
It seemed that he would have to prepare a lot of absence notes. He might not be able to go to school for the entirety of September. He was a little worried about attendance, but it seemed that he wasn’t at a stage where he should be worried. Things were going well too. His days were smooth without any worries.
Maru yawned loudly before closing his eyes.
Time to get some sleep.
 Dog-meat soup. Wikipedia for more info.