“The first-place winner this time is… Today! Congratulations!”
I clapped like a machine.
MC Joo Woosung smiled and handed over the trophy.
Today glanced over here as they passed by, but I pretended not to see it.
“It was really unexpected.”
On the other hand, whether they were the first-place winner or whatever, the fans who only waved at us without paying attention to anything else were smiling at us, so we were busy looking at them.
They were like ‘I don’t give a shit about anything else.
I am just going my way’.
I mean, who do they resemble, really?
When I said goodbye and leave behind the stage to go home, Today’s Yoohyuk gave me a persistent gaze.
It was an openly mocking face.
A face that said, ‘You guys can’t get something like this, right?’.
I was used to that kind of contempt, so I was just going to move on, but unexpectedly, Kim Sunghyun got caught up.
Sung Jiwon quickly grabbed Kim Sunghyun, who had a furious look, and came down.
“Let’s put up with it.”
Kim Sunghyun sighed and turned his head as he looked at Sung Jiwon.
Yeah, it was the right thing to do.
Even if it was awful and terrible, you couldn’t show it as long as the camera was running.
I could hear the cheers of Today’s fans, but an idol passing by grumbled.
“Why do they like those guys? They had bad personalities….”
“They pretend to be nice when the camera is running, so no one knows about it.”
“I feel sorry for their fans, too.
Their rumors about them are really dirty….”
I suddenly raised my head and ran into them.
The idols who were making fun of them quickly shut their mouths and walked away.
What is the name of that group? Their words that flowed in were well engraved in my head.
With a face that showed I hadn’t heard anything, I bowed goodbye to those around me and got into the narrow van.
“Good work, boys.
Let’s go to the dorm.”
It was a strange sinking atmosphere.
I simply texted the president what I had heard from Joo Woosung and put down my phone.
What should I do? I put in my earphones and listened to our song while organizing my thoughts.
I kept thinking about how to make this plan.
Even after arriving at the dorm, the manager kept an eye on me and went back.
I sat blankly on the table chair, tapped the table with my index finger, and looked at Kang Yichae puzzledly.
Strangely, all the members’ eyes were focused this way.
“Are you so sad that you couldn’t win first place? Or did someone pick a fight with you?”
“What are you talking about, all of a sudden?”
“Then, why do you look so grim? A cold wind is blowing from you.
Is this the North Pole?”
Did I? No, I wasn’t particularly angry…
It seemed this happened because I couldn’t pay attention to others when I was concentrating.
“It’s not like that.
Wait a minute, I have something to think about.”
“What did Joo Woosung sunbae-nim say?”
Why is he suddenly being mentioned here?
When I narrowed my eyebrows at Kim Sunghyun’s question, everyone was relieved.
“I guess not.
That’s a relief.
We were wondering if Joo Woosung called and scolded you.”
“Why? If he really picked on me, are you going to find him and scold him?”
“…I’m scared, but should I try it?”
Unexpectedly, Sung Jiwon returned a sharp answer.
I dismissed it as a joke and moved on.
“Then what’s wrong? Just now, the manager was also paying close attention to you.”
“The manager is so weak, it’s a problem.”
“Have you ever thought you are too strong?”
I was a weak-minded person.
I didn’t know what my expression was like, but everyone hated it and slumped down
“Are you serious?”
“It would be scary if he’s acting, but it’s even scarier if he’s being sincere.”
Kim Sunghyun hit Jung Dajoon and Kang Yichae, who were whispering in front of the person concerned.
And he turned his eyes on me.
“Then what? What’s the matter?”
Not too long ago, I told the members about the three rules.
I didn’t expect the last one ‘trust me’ to be used so quickly.
“Even if we participate in the competition, we won’t be able to win.”
“What? Who said that?”
“That’s because the candidate has been decided.”
Jung Dajoon got up, kicking off the table.
“Huh, these people are mean…!”
“Are you saying we’re folding screens?”
“How do you even know that? Wait, who the hell is it?”
I tapped the table again.
Then came a cold silence.
All the members’ faces stiffened.
And then everyone cursed.
“They do all kinds of things because they don’t have the skills.”
Kang Yichae murmured coldly.
“I originally thought he was too lucky compared to his skills.
I thought he just pushed for entertainment shows and gained popularity…”
“I didn’t know he would stab me so openly.”
Kim Sunghyun’s face distorted.
He seemed more annoyed, perhaps because he had been swayed by Yoohyuk until now.
While everyone was complaining, Jung Dajoon asked.
“Hyung, why are you so calm?! Aren’t you angry?”
I’m not particularly angry.”
“Hyung, are you a pushober?!”
Look who’s talking.
When I was dumbfounded, Jung Dajoon stepped back.
Actually, there was a reason why I didn’t get angry.
Perhaps noticing that, Sung Jiwon asked me.
“You have something.”
Even though the members were running wild, a great scenario was being established.
Sung Jiwon laughed detachedly.
“By any chance.
You haven’t given up, have you? It’s fine to not win first place, is that what you’re saying?”
“Of course not.”
“Then what’s the plan?”
Hmm, I was done thinking.
I measured several factors and found the weight of their value.
I said with conviction.
“We have to win first place.”
Silence descended to the living room, more than when I said that Today was the candidate earlier.
“Hyung, didn’t you hear it earlier? No, you’re the one who explained it, Hoyoon hyung.
So what the hell are you talking about?”
“Hoyoon-ah, it’s hard to do things like this right now because the agency is involved.
It’s not something we can do with our skills.
This happens a lot in the entertainment industry.”
I know, I know.
It wasn’t once or twice that a project got delayed because of that.
There was a time when another PD snatched away a year-long project from me.
At that time, I inhaled five bottles of soju even if I was bad at drinking.
But precisely because I’d been pushed around so many times.
“We can win first place.”
I knew this field pretty well.
At my words, the members’ faces turned blue again.
My image was confirmed here.
That wasn’t bad either.
“But there’s a condition.”
“What is it?”
“Remember what I said last time? I said three rules.”
Kang Yichae’s eyes flashed.
Everyone’s face was like, ‘No way, no way’.
“I’m sure you’re not trying to talk about dating here.
Are you saying I have to trust you, hyung?”
No matter what happens, believe me.
Even if I commit a crime, believe me.
Even if I look at the sun and say it’s the moon, believe me.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“I’m not kidding.”
“A lot will happen in the future.
Then, you have to trust me no matter what I do.
Don’t believe what others say.”
It was a remark that deserved to be questioned like, ‘What kind of bullshit is he talking about?’ and ‘Did he eat something wrong?’
Even so, everyone didn’t disregard it easily because of what I’d done so far.
I’d shake anyone’s hand to keep us rising.
Everyone might be nervous, but still.
Kim Sunghyun asked carefully.
“Why did you say that?”
“Well, aren’t you saying that because you have something on your mind?”
It was a completely different attitude from when I was first told to leave so as to not spoil the atmosphere.
I looked around at the members slowly.
“I don’t choose the means and methods.”
They were the ones who I thought were completely hopeless.
But what about now? They became quite valuable.
All I needed to do was make the star quality.
“I’ll do everything I can to lift us up.”
“At that time, you might lose your affection for me….
I am fine with that, so you have to believe me.”
I spoke frankly.
If I didn’t get the trust of the members right now, all the premises of the plans I’d thought of would collapse.
I waited calmly for the result.
Naturally, I anticipated a situation where they would dismiss it as a joke, asking what I was talking about.
Then, Jung Dajoon suddenly jumped up and took red ginseng juice out of Sung Jiwon’s suitcase and ate it.
“I suddenly ran out of energy… Hoyoon hyung always acts like a crazy person, it’s hard to deal with.
I just won’t think about it.”
“Hey, me too.
Kang Yichae chuckled.
As I raised an eyebrow, Sung Jiwon spoke carefully.
“Hoyoon-ah, I don’t know about the others, but I have trusted you for a long time.
You have a bad personality, I already knew that….”
“That’s right, I’ve already lost quite a bit of affection for hyung.
Especially at the beginning when you talked about parents, I wondered if a person like this really existed.”
“To be honest… Seo Hoyoon’s personality is really nasty.”
Kang Yichae also added in the words that followed.
“Let’s see how it goes.
Honestly, it’s fun being with hyung.
Sometimes you go in a completely unexpected direction.”
Until the end, Kang Yichae never said that he believed me.
But this was enough.
The rest was something that we could fill in slowly.
Kang Yichae grinned.
“Let’s do it.
Let’s trust Hoyoon hyung, push out the candidate, and win first place.”
It was decided.
* * *
Time flew fast, and it was already time for planning.
Even when the candidate was confirmed, the president smiled broadly and said, ‘Be satisfied with second place’.
Even the gentle manager clenched his teeth as if he were angry at the thoughtless words, but I was calm.
“Hey! You are in the wrong location right now!”
“Ah, hyung, the difference is like centimeters!”
“Get it right again!”
Because Sung Jiwon’s switch was turned on again.
It was so damn hard to follow Sung Jiwon, so I couldn’t even think of the president or Yoohyuk’s angry words.
When I collapsed in the corner, Kang Yichae slumped down.
“I think Jiwon hyung is crazy.”
“Yeah, he’s been possessed.
I think a trainee who died in the practice room is possessing him.”
“He hasn’t been like that for the past year… It’s true that he’s famous as a real practice maniac.”
At this time, everyone secretly gathered and talked behind Sung Jiwon’s back.
Even Kim Sunghyun participated.
“Sung Jiwon was famous?”
“Oh, you didn’t know? Hyung was originally a big rookie and he was in the debut group, so he was a bit popular.
Most of the fans we had were because of Jiwon hyung.”
“Is that where Today is?”
An agency called D.go.”
Kim Sunghyun answered quietly.
“They must have been very rude.
He was unlucky to fall out of the debut group there.”
“He practiced recklessly like a dead person, but after hyung came in, his eyes turned upside down.
Hyung, you fanned a house on fire, no, you poured a can of oil on it.”
Kang Yichae said and emptied a bottle of water.
Does Sung Jiwon hyung hate Today’s Yoohyuk for that reason?
No, why did he fall out in the first place?
As people often said, Sung Jiwon was the one with the best skills and good balance in The Dawn.
“It’s good that I got kicked out.”
Sung Jiwon’s reply surprised Kang Yichae.
Maybe he had heard all of our talks.
He trudged out and fanned himself.
“I didn’t want to debut with Today’s members either.”
“Even though you might win first place? Doesn’t your stomach churn?”
“I’d rather get a stomach ache here than choke to death there.”
Sung Jiwon cut him off without answering the question.
It seemed something really had happened, so I had to prod around and ask him later.
I thought Jung Dajoon had passed out, but he jumped up and asked.
“Are you saying loyalty is more important than popularity?”
“Hn? Is that what you’re saying?”
“Make sure to include those words in your autobiography later.”
“Do idols usually write autobiographies?”
Sung Jiwon was flustered and got caught up in Jung Dajoon’s nonsense.
In the meantime, my cell phone rang.
When I checked it, Kang Yichae raised his head.
“Hyung, is it the composer?”
“No, it’s not.”
“That’s too bad.”
Kang Yichae closed his mouth.
He was strange these days.
He watched like a distant person without much interest in anything, but when Lim Hyunsoo was mentioned, he turned over.
“You, don’t tell me…”
Don’t tell me… You can’t possibly like Lim Hyunsoo, right?
When I glanced at him, Kang Yichae laughed.
“Hyung, what nasty thoughts are you thinking?”
“Ah, I am sorry.”
“I didn’t see it like that, but you’re really narrow-minded…”
Kang Yichae gave a long speech, saying, ‘The composer is from a different realm, and my feeling is closer to religious belief’.
I roughly closed my ears and checked the text.
[Joo Woosung: Hey]
It was Joo Woosung.
[Joo Woosung: I checked what you said last time.
I know what the first mission is tooㅋㅋ]
[Joo Woosung: Are you curious? Yeah? , I’ll let you know if you say thank you, Joo Woosung sunbae-nim is the best, I respect you.]
I carefully took a picture of the text.
[Joo Woosung: Really^^]
[Joo Woosung: Sometimes I wonder, am I a pushover for being nice to you even if you treat me like this? ^^]
You’re not a pushover, Mr.
Joo Woosung grumbled but he gave me the information.
I slowly checked the mission written in detail there.
Lately, I got a lot of help from Joo Woosung.
[Joo Woosung: And I also checked the producer.]
[Me: Who is it?]
[Joo Woosung: D.go earnestly intervened, and a lot of producers have been replaced… The final producer seems to be this person.]
I knew most of the producers of the broadcasting station.
I guessed with the names passing through my head.
The person in charge of such a contest program wouldn’t be far from my expectation.
My heart dropped as I looked at the casual text message.
[Joo Woosung: Producer Kim Heeyoung]
I was at loss for words for a moment.
Kang Yichae, who was still talking about Lim Hyunsoo’s great points next to me, tilted his head.
“Hyung, what’s wrong?”
I pressed my eyes hard.
And lay on the floor.
“…What is it?”
“Life is not easy.”
Kim Heeyoung, cool, smart, and famous for being the ‘crazy bitch in this area’ on cable TV.
“It’s not easy…”
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