Chapter 96: Learn What You Don’t Know (1)
The elegance and beauty of Park Hye-Sang, the show host of A Writer’s Study, shone even more brightly on the screen.
There were four seats set up in the studio—Park Hye-Sang, and Ha Jae-Gun sat in the middle. AppleT’s Chae-Rin was on the leftmost seat, while Kim Dae-Ik, a popular critic of mainstream literature, was on the rightmost seat.
“I feel like you’ve done a lot of research when you wrote Summer in My 20s. What was the actual process?”
“I mobilized all the information around me. However, the greatest help I had received was from my father’s friend, a forensic scientist,” Ha Jae-Gun replied calmly.
In the control room, the producer looked at his team.
He sounded surprised as he said, “He’s doing quite well and not getting clammy at all.”
“Yeah. He was quite stiff when we were filming at his house before. He’s performing better here. That’s surprising.”
“I hope he will talk about quite a bit of interesting topics with Ms. Chae-Rin later. We can still go according to the script if there’s nothing good coming out from them.”
“But why does Ms. Chae-Rin look like that? Is she not feeling well?”
“I know, right? Is there any particular reason for her to get nervous when it’s just an educational program? We’re not even doing this live.”
Chae-Rin was indeed feeling nervous.
It wasn’t as bad as when her group had achieved first place in a music program before, she was still feeling quite nervous to the point that her throat was parched.
She was gripping her water bottle quite tightly. After the question and answer session for a topic had ended, questions from the critic Kim Dae-Ik followed up.
“Summer in My 20s is close to having a million copies getting sold. It’s quite an amazing feat in the current recession, which even the publis.h.i.+ng industry and the consumers couldn’t escape from. How do you feel about this?”
“I knew that the readers of the mystery genre would definitely spot a good mystery novel if they saw one. Despite the current market being dominated by novels written by famous overseas writers, I am thankful to our readers for being willing to open their wallets for my humble novel, even though I’m still being labeled a rookie writer.”
Ha Jae-Gun let out a sigh of relief after finis.h.i.+ng his answer. If he hadn’t been given the script beforehand, he would probably have only given them a standard answer like—I would like to thank everyone for reading my novel.
It was now Chae-Rin’s turn.
She gulped before asking Ha Jae-Gun, “I heard that the movie adaptation for Summer in My 20s is scheduled to premiere this coming summer, and the team is currently speeding up its production. As the author of the original novel, are you involved in any part of the production?”
“I have only taken part in deciding the scenario writer for the movie’s script.”
“Are you saying that you won’t be writing the script personally?”
“I made the conclusion after considering various factors, and when I saw that it would be better to leave the job to someone who is good at writing scenarios with enough experience working with the director.”
“I see. There’s something else that could be a sensitive topic for you. Your copyright fee has been becoming a hot topic recently. As the original writer of a novel that has been adapted into a movie, how do you feel about receiving an enormous amount of two hundred million won for its copyright fees?”
“I’m very grateful as I feel that my value as an artist has been recognized compared to just putting a price tag on my name. Of course, my editor-in-chief has played a huge role in that portion as well.” Ha Jae-Gun then looked at Oh Myung-Suk, who was standing outside the film boundaries in the studio.
Oh Myung-Suk then slightly raised his hand with a bitter smile.
“Mm… I see.” Chae-Rin nodded in response.
That marked the end of the script…
However, the producer hoped that her questions wouldn’t end there.
“What, you should talk some more. Bring up more topics to discuss. Something interesting. Don’t you have a lot of them?” the producer muttered under his breath while signaling anxiously at Chae-Rin, who looked like the cat got her tongue.
The producer had made it clear to Chae-Rin to talk about topics that weren’t within the script prior to the filming. However, it was frustrating to see the lively girl group member wordlessly sitting there like a statue.
Just then, Chae-Rin’s eyes widened and shone brightly.
She put down her script and asked, “What do you think about the actors?”
“I am quite satisfied with them. I have the most trust in specifically Mr. Park Do-Joon, who was cast as the male lead. To be honest, I didn’t know about him as I rarely watch the TV. But thanks to the casting news, I took the opportunity to watch all of his projects, and I’m relieved to find that he is a cool and great actor.”
Color returned to Chae-Rin’s face in an instant. Only a few people—including her company’s president and manager—knew that Park Do-Joon was her boyfriend.
Hearing her boyfriend getting complimented by a writer she liked made her so happy that she even forgot that they were filming.
Ha Jae-Gun continued. “In fact, I actually met him once at the broadcast station.”
“Yes, at a certain broadcast station…” Ha Jae-Gun glanced at the production staffers.
A staffer signaled that it was fine to mention the name of another program, so Ha Jae-Gun finally said, “It was during the recording of Writer’s Night that I met him there coincidentally. I thought he looked familiar when I learned of the casting news, but I only found out later that he was Mr. Park Do-Joon.”
Chae-Rin screamed inwardly. There were a lot of things she wanted to bring up about Park Do-Joon, but they were all inappropriate with all the cameras rolling.
‘Ugh, how should I ask the question? How I wish I could reveal the truth about me dating Do-Joon oppa now.’
While Chae-Rin was conflicted about her question, Ha Jae-Gun looked around discreetly and continued lightly. “Oh, come to think of it, we’ve met before, haven’t we?”
“I was happy to hear that you came for my autograph event, although I learned about it only later since you had a mask and sungla.s.ses on.”
“Ohoho, yes. I was in the area back then with my manager. I thought that I couldn’t pa.s.s up on the golden opportunity and decided to put on a disguise. Were you surprised?”
“Yes, I was really surprised. If I had been more focused on my surroundings, I would have recognized you right away, and I would have asked for your autograph as well. Please give me your autograph after we’re done filming.”
The producer clapped loudly back in the control room upon seeing this exchange. “Yes, this is it! Keep it up. We’re going to edit the show, so don’t worry about anything and just talk freely.”
Chae-Rin’s lead did not disappoint the producer. Chae-Rin recovered her vigor after Park Do-Joon was brought up, and she quickly moved on to another topic.
“Our group members like your novels a lot, too. They’ve read both Foolish Woman and Summer in My 20s.”
“Ahahaha, are you sure you did not force all of them to read?”
“No way. I’m a very fair person. The younger members should have posted about your novels on their social media as well. You should go check them out sometime.”
Ha Jae-Gun and Chae-Rin’s conversation continued for quite a while.
The producer and staff were smiling as the number of scenes that they could use was growing. Ha Jae-Gun had also forgotten his fatigue and endured the long hours of the recording.
They took a short break before filming the closing segment with Park Hye-Sang.
“We’ve soon come to the last segment of the show: Eyes of Another. Shall we find out which novel from another writer has Writer Ha Jae-Gun prepared for us today?”
“Yes, I would like to recommend this novel.”
Ha Jae-Gun held up the novel t.i.tled You, the Desert, to the camera.
A close-up shot of the novel filled the entire LED screen in the studio. Oh Myung-Suk and his employees were busy replying to messages on their phones and missed the shot on the screen.
“It’s called You, the Desert, by Writer Oh Myung-Suk.”
“...?!” Oh Myung-Suk flinched at the mention of the t.i.tle and looked toward the studio. He hadn’t misheard it. The book in Ha Jae-Gun’s hands was no doubt You, the Desert.
Oh Myung-Suk’s face turned pale.
However, Ha Jae-Gun was oblivious to that, so he continued. “The sentences in this novel were outstanding, and it’s worthy of an award. The flow of emotions between the two main characters, Hae-Cheol and Min-Hee, was flawless and elegant as well.”
Ha Jae-Gun opened the first chapter of the book.
Thanks to that, Oh Myung-Suk saw a picture printed on the front.
It was a photo of himself in thick horn-rimmed gla.s.ses, smiling brightly at the camera.
“The female lead, Min-Hee, was the desert. She had various characteristics similar to that of a desert. Unlike the usual day and night of other deserts, hers were the opposite. Her personality was also extreme, either scorching heat or freezing cold. It was heartbreaking to see Min-Hee struggle to find a mirage in a desert-like city.”
Oh Myung-Suk looked away and gnashed his teeth. It was something of a distant past that he had long forgotten. The fragments of his old memories inundated him like a deluge.
“Just then, a man named Hae-Cheol approached her and said—the desert is a path that you have to walk alone. The words from a poor laborer saved Min-Hee, who was, in fact, a prost.i.tute.”
Myung-Suk leaned against the wall and took off his silver gla.s.ses. He pressed on his nose bridge with his fingertips as he smiled bitterly.
After the recording, Ha Jae-Gun bowed to Chae-Rin and thanked her sincerely.
“Not only for today but also for everything that you have done up until now. I’m also thankful for this chance to thank you properly in person.”
“Is that all?”
“Sorry?” Ha Jae-Gun looked up at her with his eyes wide open.
Chae-Rin glanced at her manager—who was waiting in a corner—and whispered to Ha Jae-Gun, “Is that all? If you’re thankful, why not buy me a meal?”
“What? You don’t wish to treat me to a meal?”
Ha Jae-Gun waved his hand, fl.u.s.tered. “No, no. It’s because you’re a celebrity.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“I would definitely want to treat you to a meal, but aren’t celebrities all very busy? AppleT is quite popular as well.”
Chae-Rin burst into laughter and lightly tapped Ha Jae-Gun’s shoulder.
“Even so, we have enough time to eat. What, do you really think that they’ll starve us?”
Chae-Rin held out her hand, and Ha Jae-Gun handed her his phone.
Chae-Rin dialed her phone number on his phone and returned it.
“I’ll take it that we’ll meet sometime later for that meal. Feel free to drop me messages whenever you’re bored.”
“And you have another avid fan as well.”
“Another? Oh, another member from AppleT?”
Chae-Run giggled with her mouth covered and tapped Ha Jae-Gun’s shoulder slightly harder this time.
“You’re that curious? But he’s a guy. Anyway, he likes your novel as much as I do, but I’m not sure if he would join us for the meal. I’ll talk to him again and let you know,” Chae-Rin said.
Meanwhile, Chae-Rin’s manager finally approached them from behind.
“Chae-Rin, we have to go.”
“I’m about to go. Writer Ha, please stay safe on the way back.”
“Goodbye to you, Chae-Rin and Manager-nim.”
“Thank you. It was an honor to meet you.” Chae-Rin’s manager greeted Ha Jae-Gun politely before he led Chae-Rin into the van.
Ha Jae-Gun turned around and headed to his own car as well.
Ha Jae-Gun found Oh Myung-Suk—whom he thought had left a while ago—waiting by his car. Oh Myung-Suk smiled at Ha Jae-Gun and suggested. “How about having dinner together tonight?”
“Ah, sure. Sounds good.” Ha Jae-Gun agreed in a heartbeat, as he could always just have dinner with Jung So-Mi tomorrow.
He couldn’t refuse the dinner when he had just introduced Oh Myung-Suk’s work on the show earlier. Soon, the two of them arrived on their own at the location that they had agreed upon.
Oh Myung-Suk and Ha Jae-Gun clinked gla.s.ses at their table in a j.a.panese restaurant.
Ha Jae-Gun was astonished to see Oh Myung-Suk drinking alcohol.
After all, Oh Myung-Suk had never really been the type to drink alcohol.
“Please speak, Mr. Ha.”
“Are you feeling down because of my actions?”
Myung-Suk shook his head and smiled. “Which writer in this world would hate it when someone else recommends their own work? I’m extremely grateful to you, and that’s why I wanted to treat you to dinner.”
Oh Myung-Suk filled up Ha Jae-Gun’s gla.s.s and asked, “But… how did you find out?”
“I searched on the Internet,” Ha Jae-Gun replied and handed him the book.
Oh Myung-Suk took the book and signed it before returning it to Ha Jae-Gun.
“You’re a great man, Editor-in-chief. You’ll soon take over OongSung Publication Group.”
“I’ll have to become a businessman whether I like it or not.”
“Yes, it’s expected since you’re the eldest son.”
“It’s not that.”
Oh Myung-Suk shook his head with a sad smile. “I have no rights to be a writer and editor. That’s why I chose to escape from it and become a businessman.”
Ha Jae-Gun was confused. He had acknowledged Oh Myung-Suk’s skills as both a writer and editor when he read You, the Desert.
So what was Oh Myung-Suk talking about?
He knew there was a story behind it, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask.
“Mr. Ha. I’m sorry, but could you call a subst.i.tute driver for me today?”
Ha Jae-Gun smiled as he picked up the bottle and said, “I’ll call for one myself as well. Please drink.”
Just as they were about to go for another toast, Oh Myung-Suk’s phone rang.
Oh Myung-Suk turned away to answer the call and soon returned with a smile.
“Congratulations, Mr. Ha.”
“What is it this time?”
“Your novel has finally sold a million copies and is ranked first on Bandi and Lunia’s bestseller list. You’ll be doing better and better for the rest of this year.”
The two men clinked their gla.s.ses with vigor. As the spring night deepened, bottles were emptied one after another, and their laughter grew louder as well.