Eventually, a drinking session unfolded at the black pork restaurant.
Min Jiheon and I ran into each other outside the restaurant, as we both stepped out to get some fresh air.
I thought Min Jiheon might be smoking, but he wasn’t.
We greeted each other awkwardly and began fiddling with our phones when I felt a piercing gaze.
As I rolled my eyes to the side, I saw Min Jiheon staring at me blatantly.
As if he was looking at some fascinating creature.
…Why is this guy like this?
Even if there were rumors going around among the staff that I was not that friendly in front of my seniors, it didn’t really matter in reality.
But it felt like he would keep staring at me if I didn’t say anything, so I took the initiative.
“Do you have something to say?”
“No… I’m just curious.”
“Really unique and interesting.”
Min Jiheon simply shrugged his shoulders.
Then, as if he had some social skills, he introduced himself first.
“I’m Min Jiheon.
I couldn’t properly introduce myself earlier.”
“Yes, I’m Seo Hoyun.
It’s nice to meet you.”
“So… I think it’s really our first time seeing each other.
If I had seen you before, I would have remembered you because you’re so interesting.”
So, what’s the point of this?
I looked at Min Jiheon with a slightly annoyed expression.
Min Jiheon was an actor who had joined the Hallyu star ranks after striking it big with a supporting lead role in a drama, following his early career in theater.
He was a character that existed even before I was transferred into this game, but unfortunately, I had never encountered him when I was working as a PD.
If I had known him, I would have had some information about him, but Min Jiheon was a mysterious actor who rarely appeared on variety shows or gave interviews.
He also held fan meetings only occasionally, and there was hardly any information about him available to the public.
I think I know why they call him a mystery.
It’s because if people knew how clueless he was, his image would be ruined…
I was always mentally prepared to face choices popping up as if they were waiting for me to meet new people.
But strangely enough, he remained quiet.
That couldn’t be right.
As I frowned slightly, Min Jiheon turned his head and stared intently at my face.
“So… you’re an idol, right? You’re in the same group as Jeong Dajun… I remember seeing you on TV.”
I haven’t debuted for very long.”
“Is that so? I don’t think you have much time left…”
Could it be that he’s being condescending?
I couldn’t help but let out a hollow laugh.
Just as I was about to ask him what he meant, Kim Seongcheol, Min Jiheon’s manager, burst out of the restaurant.
“Hey! Min Jiheon, where did you go?”
“I was full.”
“Finally full, huh? Should I stop ordering food now?”
“No! I think I can eat about five more servings.”
“Min Jiheon, you pig…”
“Hyung, I’m a person too, and I get hurt.”
Min Jiheon pouted and mumbled with a sullen face.
Yet, Kim Seongcheol, who seemed used to this, didn’t pay any attention and greeted me before hastily dragging Min Jiheon away.
“Hey, let’s get going quickly.”
Well, it’s better to get rid of this mysterious guy quickly.
“Oh, Seo Hoyun, could I see your phone for a moment?”
As he was being dragged away by his manager, Min Jiheon suddenly turned his head toward me.
Beside him, Kim Seongcheol looked at him with a face asking, ‘Why is he suddenly doing this when he never did before?’.
Here you go.”
As I handed my phone obediently, Min Jiheon punched in his phone number.
“This is my number, so… later, when you return to Seoul, please give me a call.
You seem to be in a hurry.”
What? What is it?”
“Jiheon, are you feeling sick? Did you eat something wrong? Why are you suddenly doing this?”
“Ah~ Seongcheol-hyung, I have some social skills, too.”
“Did you drink too much? Should we go to the hospital?”
Kim Seongcheol, the manager, was so confused that he grabbed Min Jiheon’s shoulders and shook them.
Min Jiheon stuck out his tongue and grumbled that he was being looked down upon before handing my phone back to me.
“Anyway, please call me later.”
“Seo Hoyun, sorry! We’ll go ahead!”
In the end, Min Jiheon was dragged away by Kim Seongcheol.
Watching that clueless figure, I quietly looked at the number written on my phone.
“Somehow… it feels unsettling?”
There’s no need for big data analysis.
Min Jiheon was unsettling.
There was a loud warning signal that I should never get involved with him.
I not only added Min Jiheon’s name to the blacklist but also carefully saved his number before calling Kim Jaeyeon.
“Kim Jaeyeon, do you have time?”
Having insurance was not always a bad thing.
“Please check this one thing.”
“Oh! Seo Hoyun, The Dawn! It’s been a while!”
“Hello, Director Jeong.”
As I greeted Director Jeong, whom I hadn’t seen since our Second Chance shoot, he showed a friendly smile and gently patted my shoulder.
“I really enjoyed watching your variety show appearance in Over-Immersed Captain.
It was so fun.”
“Ah, thank you.”
“My daughter is a fan of Kim Seonghyeon, but she says Seo Hoyun is her favorite… If the MV doesn’t come out pretty, I feel like I’ll be kicked out of the house…”
Director Jeong greeted us warmly.
We exchanged a few more words before looking around at the turquoise waves reflecting the sunlight.
This MV was mainly going to be filmed at the beach, and we could already hear song playing.
“The song is good.
It’s Lim Hyeonsu again, right?”
“Yes, we asked her again this time.”
“That’s lucky! Lim Hyeonsu, with her high nose bridge, is famous for not composing songs no matter how much you beg.
How do you manage to get her songs as a priority?”
You just have to threaten her.
“We were lucky.”
Director Jeong laughed and turned his gaze to the beach.
“Wow, the weather is really nice today.
It’s perfect for a refreshing concept, isn’t it?”
“Later, you’ll be getting in the water.”
“I also want to go home.”
I asked again, but Director Jeong just hummed and left.
Although I wanted to ignore it and pretend that I heard it wrong, Jeong Dajun gently rubbed my arm.
“The water is still cold though…”
“It’s perfect for catching a cold…”
“…Do we have a hair dryer?”
“Just dry it in the sunlight, duh.”
Seong Jiwon nonchalantly replied as he walked by.
“…Sometimes, it seems like he’s the one with the least fears among us.”
“Seonghyeon-hyung, is the sandwich good?”
Jeong Dajun sat down next to Kim Seonghyeon, who was munching on a delicious-looking sandwich.
He supported his chin with both fists.
“It still feels like a dream that I got his autograph yesterday.”
“Who, Min Jiheon-sunbae?”
Even though I didn’t want to listen, my ears perked up reflexively.
Jeong Dajun’s cheeks turned red.
After living in the dorm, I realized that Jeong Dajun was a drama fanatic… a drama otaku, to be exact.
That’s why he especially praised actors who were good at acting.
“Is he that great?”
He’s such a good actor!”
Everyone else replied indifferently with “I see” and tried to move on, showing no interest.
But Jeong Dajun became even more excited, chattering nonstop.
“I’ve watched a lot of dramas and know many popular actors, but Min Jiheon-sunbae is different… There’s no other way to describe his acting other than being possessed!”
“Oh, I see…”
“I should have seen him when he was doing plays…! He’s popular now, but back then he appeared in many experimental roles.
For example, playing a mad scientist who fell in love with a frog…!!”
He did that too?
Even though we were getting bored, Jeong Dajun kept on listing Min Jiheon’s amazing achievements.
I wanted to cover my ears, but Seong Jiwon suddenly spoke up.
“Hoyun, didn’t you talk with that sunbae yesterday?”
I frowned, and Jeong Dajun suddenly leaned closer.
“How?! Why didn’t you tell me?!”
“…Well, I just greeted him.”
“Hyung… could it be!”
What was it?
Jeong Dajun suddenly stood up.
“Hyung, are you also a fan of the drama Please, Cider! where Min Jiheon-sunbae appears…?!”
“Sit back down.”
I was a fool for paying attention to Jeong Dajun when I thought he noticed something.
Jeong Dajun whined, saying, “Min Jiheon is the undisputed peak of Korean actors and is a god with acting skills that transcend genres from romance to thriller.”
I shoved a sandwich into his mouth to shut him up.
But Min Jiheon is strange.
My intuition was telling me that there was something suspicious about him.
It would be best to avoid him as much as possible.
Borrowing Jeong Dajun’s words, Min Jiheon was indeed different.
He’s not like these other punks.
I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he just felt strangely unpleasant.
After talking on the phone with Kim Jaeyeon last night, he spent the entire night investigating, and I got a call from him at dawn.
However, when I recalled our conversation, there was nothing really worth mentioning.
– “There was nothing… Not a mysterious past, just really nothing at all.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
I sipped on an electrolyte drink.
There’s no way a person without a dark past exists.
There’s no way such a person exists in this world…
“Did I just say something stupid?”
I turned my head away from Jeong Dajun, who always looked innocent.
Anyway, that’s not important… Now, it’s time to start my strategy.
“Ichae, you look great together!”
Kang Ichae was combing his hair with a lot of pomade applied.
Two stylists were murmuring beside him.
“I want to make Ichae look a bit rascal-like.”
“As the dye in Ichae’s hair fades, there’s a beauty of that summer, like a wildflower blooming…”
“Ahaha, I look like a wildflower?”
Kang Ichae closed his eyes and laughed softly.
The makeup artist called me.
“Hoyun, come over here!”
“Since you always had a strong and sexy vibe, how about changing the concept this time? How about a national first love vibe, since it’s summer?”
“Wait a minute! But it’s too bad to miss out on the sexy vibe!”
“Sexy or innocent?!”
The hairstylist and clothing stylist joined the heated debate about my look, while the sun was burning hot, and the waves were refreshingly rolling in.
I kept thinking as I looked at the members playing and bickering.
I just need to win over three more of them, and when I become an A-lister, the mission is complete.
Everything was going according to my plan.
Even if a variable like Min Jiheon appeared, the outcome was already determined.
I’ll get out of this game, go home, and return to my life.
It’s obviously necessary.
“—What do you think about this?”
…I also had things to check.
“Why are you like this, so absentminded and unresponsive?”
The arrow suddenly turned towards me.
I awkwardly smiled, feeling caught off guard.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
There was a moment of silence.
The stylists glanced around and murmured.
“Hoyun, what did you do before becoming an idol? I’m really curious.”
“Why did you join Daepaseong… I mean, you must have received many offers.”
Then, they all quickly gathered around me, buzzing with opinions.
“We must go for both innocent and sexy!”
It’s a pity to give up on both with that face.
Instead of bangs, let’s give it a slightly wet look with wax.”
They spoke hastily and finished setting my look.
I glanced at the mirror, and it seemed fine.
I thanked the stylists and joined the members.
Shortly after, the MV shoot began.
“Oh! That’s good, keep up the lively vibe!”
Director Jeong continued to give strange orders, and amidst that, I kept collecting my thoughts.
After several retakes of a scene where I simply walked on the beach with gentle waves touching my ankles, we finally got an okay.
“Hoyun, you’re really capturing the camera today.
The atmosphere is no joke~”
Atmosphere or not, there’s no need to keep getting tangled up in thoughts alone.
There’s no need to complicate things.
Let’s catch just one person.
I looked around.
Okay, let’s have a serious talk.
Everyone was doing individual shoots right now… and the only one apart from the others was Kang Ichae.
“What is he doing?”
[…Building a sandcastle?]
Well, it looks fun and nice…
I walked up to Kang Ichae, who was happily building a sandcastle by himself, and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Ugh, you startled me.”
I carefully sat down beside Kang Ichae because of the costume and asked him with a serious expression.
“Are you troubled by something?”
“What are you talking about?”
“If something’s bothering you, tell me.
I’ll give you advice like an older brother.”
[What are you doing right now?]
I had resolved the issue with Kim Seonghyeon in a similar way, so why couldn’t I do the same with Kang Ichae? He might just spill all his concerns.
[…I think I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not how it works!]
You never know.
It’s worth a try.
Kang Ichae glanced at me from head to toe with a questioning look.
“…What is it?”
“Ah, never mind.
Just say anything.”
Kang Ichae dusted off his sandy hands and smirked.
Then he lowered his voice and said,
“Hoyun, actually, I have a concern.
I can’t sleep well these days because of this.”
“What is it?”
“Will you listen to me?”
I showed a trustworthy smile, also known as the “magic participant-dismissing smile.” Even those who cursed me behind my back for being a two-faced character or a villainous PD would be disarmed when they saw this smile.
They’d spill all their inner thoughts and earning me the reputation of being an interview genius.
I silently congratulated myself.
[Is this really… possible?]
Even the system was taken aback.
However, the other party was Kang Ichae.
“I want to be good at acting cute.”
“I want to do it for my fans.
I’ve been thinking about how I can be as good at it as Hoyun… Ah! Hyung!”
Annoyed, I stomped on the sandcastle, destroying it, and walked away with long strides.
I could hear Kang Ichae deliberately making fake crying sounds from behind, but I ignored him.
As expected, Kang Ichae soon caught up and stood beside me, fidgeting.
“What’s up? I noticed something’s been off since yesterday.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“We came all the way to Jeju Island.
Kang Ichae gently scratched my nerves.
Once I smacked his head, he quieted down.
As I was about to enter a building with a café on the first floor, I heard voices from inside.
“Isn’t it true that The Dawn isn’t really a group that should make it this big?”
“Ah, I agree.”
It was staff gossip.
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