“Is it strange?”
“Well, it looks okay and not okay.”
“Don’t be vague and reply properly. Is it okay or is it strange?”
“With my standards, it’s not that good. But it’s fine since you’re cute, noona.”
“God, don’t talk about something unnecessary.”
Yoo Jiseok grabbed the script that was closing in on his eyes.
“Blade catching! I watched a Hong Geunho movie last night and he catches a blade like this.”
“Why don’t you join a circus already?”
Chaerim, who approached him, quickly snatched the script away from him.
“Your acting is pretty decent.”
“But you just said it’s not that good.”
“That’s a matter of personal preference.”
Chaerim’s nose twitched before she went to a corner of the practice room before coming back with a laptop. That laptop was there to be used to listen to music. After connecting the internet cable, Chaerim searched for something on the internet before showing him the screen. It was an internet café hosted on a web portal.
“Look at this.”
Jiseok made an awkward smile as he looked at the screen. There was a big banner that said ‘Anti-Blue’ in big red letters.
“A fan café, huh. I don’t have anything like this.”
“It’s an anti-fan café.”
“Well, anti-fans are still fans.”
“Shut up, and go to my category and read some of the articles.”
“Wow, there’s a category dedicated to you, noona?”
He moved the cursor and clicked the ‘bitch Lee Chaerim’ category. He moved his eyes to read a few of the post titles and coughed awkwardly before closing the lid. The feed was filled with unspeakable insults everywhere. The most eye-catching words, though, were ‘crap acting’. They were used in tandem with the f-word, b-word, and stuff like that to insult Chaerim. Their expressive powers were so strong that they might as well win the Lee Sang Literature Awards. Oh, wait, that might be a little offensive to that person.
“You’re quite popular,” he spoke with a smile.
The script was flung at him. Jiseok looked down at the script that hit his face and fell to the ground.
“You’re going too far, throwing something like that at a person who has a bad heart.”
“Ah…. I’m sorry,” Chaerim was startled and immediately apologized.
“Oh! That worked. Looks like I should use it a lot in the future.”
Jiseok picked up the script and handed it back to Chaerim.
“Do you really want me to hit you?”
“You already did. But noona, it’s not like this is the first time it happened. People that want to insult you will insult you even if you do good deeds so just forget about them and smile.”
“I know that. If their insults were groundless, then I would just ignore them. Like you said, this is not the first time it happened after all. But there are things I can’t simply ignore.”
“You mean the one about crap acting?”
“Did you really have to say that out loud?”
“I really can’t be indirect with stuff like this.”
Jiseok opened the laptop lid again and searched Youth Generation on the web portal. Chaerim participated in the afterparty for the drama yesterday. Now, all she had to do was to watch the last episode on TV. She should have an ease of mind, but she didn’t seem to.
‘Well, the reason is obvious.’
The view rates for Youth Generation could be seen right underneath the search bar.
7%. Although the drama started off with a double-digit viewing rate, it kept going down as time went on, and now that the last episode was a few days away from airing, it finally went down to one digit. Even though the drama was an ambitious one with popular idols and youth stars, the results were below expectations.
The previous season of Youth Generation hit a huge jackpot and reached a 20% viewing rate even with actors that were practically nameless. The 7% of season 3 paled in comparison.
With bad results, the viewers started trying to find the reason, and their arrows were naturally pointed at the actors. After all, the highschool romance plot hadn’t changed, so they came to the conclusion that it was the lack of skill on the actors’ part. As a result, the official website for Youth Generation was filled with all sorts of insults and swear words, while the fan cafés of the actors were also filled with posts that expressed their sneers and disappointments towards them.
The one that had the highest ratio of insults was Lee Chaerim from Blue.
“It wasn’t that bad, you know?”
“So it wasn’t that good either?”
“Uhm, for some reason, I think we’re going back in a loop, but in any case, you weren’t really my style.”
“Like I said, what’s the problem?”
Chaerim collapsed on the floor. Jiseok giggled as he saw that.
“You changed a lot recently, noona.”
“What changed about me?”
“Don’t you remember how you treated me the first time we met? You simply outright ignored me. I talked to you and you acted like you didn’t hear it. You sat down like this with an expression that looked like you were bearing the burden of the entire world on your shoulders.”
Jiseok made a ‘The Thinker’ pose.
“What are you saying?”
Chaerim pouted before turning her head away.
“I’m saying it’s good to see it. You grumbling, smiling, and even getting angry - people need to express their emotions. Otherwise, they’ll get ill. But seriously, your expression softened up a lot. Are you perhaps dating? Perhaps the man is from the popular group Change?”
After saying that, Jiseok immediately got up and prepared to run away. Chaerim was holding a plastic water bottle with both of her hands. If he got hit with that, he’d have a broken bone at least.
He was slowly taking steps backwards when his phone that he left on the floor started vibrating. Chaerim snorted and grabbed the phone.
“Uh, noona. Privacy, please!”
“Privacy, yeah right.”
Jiseok shrugged. Actually, there were no calls or messages that would be bad if someone saw them. He sat down again and looked at the clock in the practice room.
Chaerim picked up the call. Jiseok blinked his eyes. Who was it on the other end that she was so natural about it?
He approached her while walking on his knees.
“It is Jiseok’s phone. Why am I the one picking it up? Because I wanted to.”
“Noona, who is it?”
Jiseok scratched his head. Did they get close during the shoot before? When Chaerim said that she wanted to call Maru before, Jiseok thought that Chaerim had a romantic interest in Maru, but from the way she picked up the call right now, he seemed to be mistaken. Well, not that liking someone who already had someone would do her any good.
“You want me to switch to Jiseok?”
Chaerim narrowed her eyes and glared at him. Jiseok kneeled and politely extended both of his hands.
“A-ing~ noona, pwease give it to me.”
“Ew, that’s so disgusting. Don’t you ever try to act cute again in front of someone. They might slap you in the face.”
Chaerim slapped the phone on his palms.
“Your violent and direct attitude really is your charming point.”
“Don’t speak nonsense and just pick up the phone already. He sounded quite serious.”
Han Maru and serious? At that moment, Jiseok predicted what Maru was going to say.
-I have something to ask.
“What is it?”
-Did nothing happen at the shoot?
It was just as he had expected. Jiseok tapped on the floor with his fingers, wondering what to say to him. He thought deeply, but not for a long time.
“Well, a lot of things happened. A shoot is pretty hard after all. We were called around everywhere, had to wait, and… oh yeah, your girlfriend had a pretty hard time as well. She seemed pretty nervous and made quite a lot of mistakes. Though, there weren’t any big problems since she’s a pretty brave girl.”
“What else could there be? If you want to know more about me, I can talk to you about it for an hour, but if you want to know about your girlfriend, then you should just call her yourself. Stop bullying a single man.”
He made a dry laugh. Chaerim, who was sitting next to him, looked at him with a strange expression. Jiseok turned his body around to look at the mirror in the practice room. Right now, he didn’t want to meet eyes with her.
-So nothing happened?
“Hey. I get that you’re worried about your girlfriend and all, but do you take her for a kid? Well, I guess 2nd year of high school is still a kid. But at least she’s not a little brat that bursts out crying when she falls over. Just how much do you love her? Why don’t you just bring her with you in your pocket at all times, Mr. Han Maru?”
-Alright, if nothing happened, then that’s that.
“Then do you want to know about me?”
-No, I’m going to sleep.
“Are you at home right now? What happened to going to Gunsan?”
-I’m inside the coach going to Seoul.
“Really? You should be tired then. Get some sleep.”
Just as he was about to hang up with a laugh, he heard a voice over the phone.
-Please take care of her.
“...Don’t worry about it. This Yoo Jiseok will support your girlfriend with all of his heart.”
He hung up before heaving a sigh. From the look of things, it seemed that Maru had an inkling of what was going on.
‘It’s not like she’s the type of person who’d tell everything to Maru either.’
When he first met her, he thought that she was just a feeble girl just from her looks, but after watching her from the side for a while, he noticed that she was clearly the tenacious type. She was an ordinary girl when talking with others around her normally, but she never backed down when facing off against that old woman. She was like a tree branch that did not break easily.
‘But she’s still a tree branch. It’ll be very troublesome if she does snap.’
Lee Miyoon. That old woman was a scary one. Her eloquent speech was one thing and combined various rumors that floated around about her, she was a woman who could give others not just mental problems, but actual physical problems. There was a reason why producers were submissive to her.
She was a woman who most people would bend down to. She was a person to avoid fighting even if that required apologizing and begging. Yet that girl never became submissive in front of that woman. She admitted her wrongdoings and apologized for them, but she boldly told Lee Miyoon that something was not right when she asked for more than that.
Jiseok shook his head in resignation when he watched her. Just where was all that courage coming from in such a small body?
The problem was that she found the situation very exhausting. She was like a general when duking it out with Lee Miyoon, but after that, she would relax her fists and start shaking all by herself. Just like a rabbit that was abandoned alone in the winter.
He tried telling her to bow her head and compliment that woman even if she didn’t mean it since that woman liked flattery, but it was of no use.
‘In that sense, she’s just like her boyfriend.’
She was young. She had nothing to lose even if she bent down. In fact, it would make her life much easier. Yet she didn’t do that. She continued to fight the difficult battle.
He couldn’t exactly cheer for her either. He knew how hard of a time she was having, so there was no way he could cheer for her. It also didn’t look like she would tell Maru about her hardsh.i.p.s either.
“It’s me who’s stuck in the middle who’s having a hard time.”
“Ah, that startled me.”
Jiseok looked at Chaerim who suddenly appeared in front of his face.
“I know you were looking at me. But what’s this about?”
“It’s nothing much yet you’re putting on a face like that?”
Jiseok turned his head around to look at the mirror that replaced one wall. He was putting on an ugly smile.
“Maru’s girlfriend, huh, you mean Bunbun?”
“Bunbun? That’s her nickname? I guess it does suit her.”
“Don’t change the topic. If it’s about her, you should tell me as well. She’s a friend of mine.”
“You two know each other?”
The two were a rather unexpected duo so Jiseok asked back in surprise. Chaerim nodded very seriously. It didn’t look like she wanted to know just for fun. She seemed truly worried.
“It doesn’t matter even if you don’t want to say it. I can just call her.”
“Hm, if you say so.”
Jiseok decided to tell her what happened during the shoot. Chaerim told him that she was her friend with her own mouth. This was the first time he heard such a thing from her. This went to show that she treated that girl just that importantly.
Jiseok nodded once as he looked at Chaerim, who looked concerned as though this concerned her.
“So it’s not a boyfriend, but a good friend that you got.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean the reason your expression became pretty. Alright, I’ll tell you. However, you have to keep it a secret from Maru, and help me out since you heard it.”
Chaerim looked resolute. Jiseok thought that this was really unexpected as he started to speak.