Volume 1: Chapter 1
The relationship of giving and receiving is good. Giving appropriate greetings, favors and affection and receiving them in a similar manner is both a comfortable and great way to leave a good impression on other people. To painstakingly pour love towards a person who can’t reciprocate is a luxury.
“The weather is chilly today, did everyone come dressed well?”
I’m doing that useless thing right now. I should be using this time to practice dancing, but instead I’m at a fansigning event.
“Junghoon-ah! Junghoon-aaaaah! Taeyang-ah! Jay-ah!”
The fans welcome the real people in front of them by screaming until their throats are about to burst. The person sitting next to me seemed especially excited that they smacked me with a giant stuffed toy. Even if one of the group members just wriggled his finger, screams would pour out from every side. Then the me who was about to go up the stage in the middle of this atmosphere, with an excited expression, behavingly lined up.
It was really hard getting into this fan signing event. I feel tired just thinking about it.
While dragging my carrier, I went to a one hour away street from home that has an album store. I purchased the album in a bundle and carefully filled up the entry tickets one by one with my own handwriting then put it in. The desk prepared to fill up the entry ticket was too small, so I didn’t notice how much the people behind me saw. I regret not calling my uncle sooner.
The process took three hours, and most of my money in the bank was used up, but it wasn’t too bad. This is the only hobby that I can enjoy in my busy daily life.
“Junghoon-ah, I had to lose 10kg to be able to come here,” a fan said.
“Aye, you still look pretty even without losing them,” Junghoon replied.
Compliments constantly came out from the members’ mouth and at the same time, the sound of the Canon camera’s shutter burst out. As I slowly lay my eyes on the members one by one, the line began to shrink.
“Please go down quickly!”
Thanks to the members who are famous for their strong sense for fan service, the shrinking of the line is as slow as a crawling turtle.
The fans standing behind can’t help expressing their anxiousness and some fans are sharing the current situation to various communities through their cell phone.
As soon as school was over, I ran over here and I didn’t have time to change my clothes so I’m still wearing my school uniform. I was afraid of being photographed and having my picture posted on the school’s bulletin board so I wore a mask, but the person next to me didn’t seem to care so I slowly slipped it down. Well, who would pay attention to the person next to them when they have the perfect option to appreciate the faces of the idol group members right in front of them.
My turn quickly came. I carefully sat down on the chair in front, enthralled by the handsome face so close to me. .
It’s the second time I’ve attended a fan signing event but I’m still embarrassed to make eye contact. Not to mention, the front-runner of today’s fan sign event is a member who’s famous for making eye contact with fans.
“Hello, Junghoon-ie hyung,” I greeted.
“Long time no see. How was the album this time?”
“The choreography is really good. The highlight is the group dance.”
“That part is really good. But aren’t you a highschool student, why are you not studying hard?”
“I’m doing my best .”
I really liked the choreography for this album. Especially the part where the members all stepped together perfectly. .
I wanted to talk longer but when the conversation ended, Junghoon-ie hyung and I shook hands. After the short handshake ended, he slowly opened a new album and found the page with his picture on it.
“What do you want me to write?”
“Please write my name.”
Sometimes, people mishear names because of pronunciation, so I pulled out my name tag on my school uniform vest and showed it to him, Junghoon-ie hyung smiled widely and signed. Junghoon-ie hyung, who has the most mature-looking handwriting, also has a mature-looking autograph.
When I was told to move after the signing, I took a step to the left.
“Oh. You came again! I remember you! You came wearing a school uniform this time. Isn’t this Korea Arts School uniform?”
“Yes? Ah, yes.”
“You must be talented? What do you do?”
“I do practical dancing.”
“That’s cool. What are you going to do after graduation? How about being an idol?”
“I’m going to go to college.”
“I see, I see, fighting! If you pass, how about you come again and boast about it?”
Jay hyungie playfully smiled and twirled the pen around his fingers, he then naturally asked my name and quickly signed it.
I was just one of their many fans so to be remembered by them is fascinating. I kept on turning my autograph here and there. The moment I was about to take out a gift from my bag before moving to the side again, my body suddenly leaned downward.
Why is my body suddenly leaning downward? Did someone push me? The surrounding noise that was loud enough to hurt my ears, gradually faded, and before I understood what just happened, my vision blacked out.
As I randomly waved my hands in the dark, I felt a sudden realistic pain. I opened my eyes as I collided with something hard. It was the floor that greeted me.
I can’t believe I fell out of my bed at this age, how embarrassing. And it also stopped when I got an autograph and liked it.
“Why did I dream of that now……” I wonder. Talking to myself is a habit I developed when I started living alone.
I slowly lifted myself up, rubbed my bird nest-like hair and went to the bathroom to wash up. As soon as I came out I started cleaning up my clothes from the day before.
The pile of autumn clothes that I bought from an online shopping mall will arrive tomorrow, so I need to organize these summer clothes as soon as possible.
As I put the big box on top of the closet, I saw the dust sitting on the floor. I was thinking of sweeping off the unpleasant lump of dust with a vacuum, but it’ll continue to pile up anyway so I decided to put it on hold. Instead, I just grabbed the clothes on top of it.
His urgent voice came out of the phone as I was thinking about throwing away the t-shirt that was stretched out around the neck. I wore this a lot when I was practicing and I couldn’t easily throw it away for some reason, so I was holding it up and down for a long time.
-Hahyun-ah, can you please do me one favor. Hm?
My uncle, who hasn’t called me in a long time, begged me before I could even ask what he wanted . An ominous feeling filled my body. It wasn’t a video call but I stared at my cell phone’s screen, expressionless.
My uncle always asks me for small favors. Since my uncle is naturally careless, forgetful and has a quiet personality, he has very few friends. To such an uncle, his nephew who works at home and rarely goes out, is a valuable human resource. Since he works on the broadcasting side, there’s always problems popping up like lack of manpower or staff not showing up. Whenever this happens, my uncle calls me.
“What is it?”
-Can you appear in one of our programs this time?
“What kind of program is it?”
I decided to listen to him calmly for now. I thought it might be about being that one person in the middle of the shouting fans when the idol group comes out. Already kinda knowing what my uncle would ask for, I put the t-shirt in a sack. . Although I can’t wear it anymore, I can’t let go of the memories of sweating in that t-shirt.
-It’s not a big deal, it’s about taking ordinary people and making them debut as an idol.
“Do I just stand on the side admiring their handsomeness?”
-No, as a participant.
“…… I think you called the wrong person, uncle. I’ll hang up now. I need to finish what I’m working on.”
I lowered the brightness of my laptop and stared at the darkly lit screen, trying to make an excuse to hang up as soon as possible. I actually worked harder than usual yesterday, so I have enough time to clean up all the clothes on the floor. But it’s unavoidable as I need to reject this offer as soon as possible.
-You might be very flustered right now, but someone who was supposed to come backed out, so now there’s a hole that we need to fill.
“There are a lot of other people who you can use. Recruit more.”
-That’s not possible. We didn’t purposely not accept appearance requests, we talked to some kids who have a little popularity behind the scenes and even did street casting to fill the line-up, we didn’t know that there would be an empty spot. But I thought of you the moment the spot opened!…… the main PD asked me to bring someone no matter what.
After numerous failures, my uncle finally got a job at a famous national broadcasting station about two years ago. I know how hard the process was, so I wanted to help a little, but this is beyond the scope of a little help. I don’t know the details but it’s title ‘Idol Debut Program’ itself looks as far away as the distance of Pluto from the sun.
-It’s because you’re the only person around me who fits the age. Hm?
“I’ve already closed the way toward that path. What idol? I can’t do it. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, I’m just really bad at it. I get where you’re coming from uncle, and I want to help you as much as I can but this….”
-I know that you quit dancing because you’re having a hard time….. But you just need to come then get eliminated immediately. I’m not asking you to debut, I’m just asking you to make an appearance. You absolutely don’t need to debut. You only need to make up the number anyway, you’ll just appear for episode 1 and 2, then you can leave like you’ve never been there. Except for a solo shot, I’ll use camera angles to avoid showing your face. The dance too, just do it roughly. No need to practice.
“Ah, uncle…… I know that you’re in a hurry but……”
The speeches are getting longer and longer. I can’t do it, however, since I’ll mostly won’t be caught on camera or will be edited out, wouldn’t it be fine?
At the request of my uncle, like a worn out bridge in between two canyons, my weak heart started to dangerously waver. Stage. Dance. I looked at my feet for a long time. I haven’t danced since graduation.
‘Hahyun-ah, uncle is here.’
Thinking about the time when I ignored my family’s call, acting like the most pitiful person in the world, and cooped up under a blanket, I thought of my uncle who visited the useless me with Del Monte juice. So in the end, I asked a question that expressed 90% acceptance.
“When do I start?”
-I used to always work behind the scenes, now that I finally have a proper seat, how can….. Uh? You’ll do it?
“In exchange, make sure that the camera won’t film me. I have to have a lesser presence than the Argon in the atmosphere.”
-Argon, haha….. Is that in the air?
My uncle let out an awkward laugh, then he mumbled like he had more things to say.
-You will have to take some photos, is that okay? I can ask the photo director to tone in down as much as they can.
I can feel that he’s already doing his best to be as considerate as possible, so I can’t ask him to do that as well.
As I felt relieved and hung up the phone, I turned my body to the side and made eye contact with the members of Noble in casual sportswear. Of course, not the real people but a picture. I already threw away all my albums, except for that bromide alone. If you asked if I still have lingering feelings, that’s not it at all.
[I’ll give you a call once the date is settled]
[Hahyun-ah, thank you so much T T]
I looked at my uncle’s message that’s full of sincerity, and turned my phone upside down. The crying emoticon quickly turned into a middle finger. I was trying to walk on a flat road, but a mountain path came to me.
Words/Terms that you need to remember from now on as some of these will keep on appearing throughout the story.
Hyung – honorifics used by males to refer to older males
PD – shortcut for producer
Fansign – an event where fans get to meet and talk with their idols. Also to get an autograph.
Filling up entry tickets – fans don’t get into fan signing events easily, it’s a raffle where you get a ticket per album then you’ll get the chance to win and attend the fansign.
Korean Arts High School- a famous school in Korea where most idols go to study.
Fighting! – used by Koreans to cheer up other people or themself. You have probably heard it in K-dramas.
Argon – makes up about 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere
Bromide – an oversized photo or mini-poster of a celebrity on card stock with a laminated cover or glossy finish.
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