Chapter 817. Sequence 9
"Phew, I was almost late."
"You should’ve headed out early," Giwoo scolded her.
She was about to tell him about how her elevator suddenly stopped working just as she left her house, and how the credit card machine suddenly stopped working when she was refueling her car, but she just responded by drinking a glass of water instead. Today was the day the first episode aired, but things weren’t looking good. Everything was not going well since morning. Even though she had turned the alarm on, it did not ring. The whole grain bread that she had left out on her table to eat had turned bad overnight, and her hairdryer kept turning off as though it had bad contacts somewhere inside. Looking back at everything that happened until she got to this restaurant made her wonder if one of the three disasters of her life had struck. Although she did not believe in religion or any other deities for that matter, all these bad things happening made her pick up the newspaper, and the first thing she saw on it was ‘the three disasters of life.’
"Is something on your mind? You don’t look good," Giwoo said as he filled her glass.
"It’s because I’m having a bad day. Usually, I don’t believe in things like fortune-telling, but what happened today made me seriously think about going to one."
"Should I introduce you to someone who’s known to be accurate?"
"If it’s like this tomorrow too, then sure."
The senior actors, the director, and the writer all arrived. The people seated around the table, eating lightly, all stood up and started applauding.
"Eat as much as you wish and have a great time. In two days, we’ll be starting the marathon again."
The director raised his glass and shouted "Doctor’s Office, Fighting!" Gaeul also raised her voice. The main writer of ‘Doctor’s Office’ said that they would overtake the KBS crown. A round of applause was followed by the toasting of glass. It only started getting quiet around 10. People, who had been checking the time on their phones, all became quiet and looked at the large TV on one wall of the store. The first episode, which would be the deciding factor of the whole series, was going to air at any moment.
Gaeul put a dried squid leg in her mouth. This was her third drama already yet the excitement of the first episode never changed. With both ‘Flaming Lady’, in which she appeared as a minor character, and ‘Diary of Migrating to Seoul’, where she played her first lead role, she watched the first episode with a sense of nervousness and excitement. Both of them were Monday-Tuesday series, and both of them were far ahead of the programs that aired on other channels. In terms of archery, the difference was about 10 points to 3. The two dramas that she shot before all shot 10 points and ended without relenting the crown to any other series.
"I wish we are the ones to break that jinx," Giwoo said in a small voice.
KBS mini-dramas had two large jinxes. One was that the ‘Monday-Tuesday series will always take the crown’ and the other one was that ‘Wednesday-Thursday series will come last no matter what.’ ‘Doctor’s office’ was scheduled to air in the Wednesday-Thursday slot. RBS was the one holding the crown of the Wednesday-Thursday series. KBS had never won against RBS when it came to this slot.
"I looked up the viewing rate of the last episode of ‘Man in the Dream,’ would you like to have a look?" Giwoo said as he turned his phone around.
Man in the Dream was the KBS Wednesday-Thursday drama that ended last week. Gaeul had a look at the screen. The viewing rate of the last episode was 4%. It was a good drama that started off in the 7% region, but it ended without being able to climb up. The drama was a cool one where the story, actors, and production quality were good too. Gaeul thought about the jinx of the KBS Wednesday-Thursday series again.
"Like what the writer said, I hope we can take the crown."
"DId KBS ever take 1st place?"
"Yes, apparently. Ten years ago."
"Ten years ago, huh."
Gaeul bit the squid leg with her molars and pulled it out. She had heard multiple times that actors would never become big if they were concerned about viewing rates, but she couldn’t help but be concerned. No matter how well it was received, the drama would be considered to have flunked if that didn’t show some good stats. There were no actors who would want to be the leading roles of a flunked drama.
"It’s starting," the director shouted.
Gaeul turned around to the TV. Due to the production environment of dramas, where time would be of the essence towards the end, it couldn’t be helped that the quality of a drama would fall down towards the end. In other words, if the viewers thought that the quality of the first episode was below their expectations, they would change the channel without giving it a second thought. Back in the days when they would have to wait until the rebroadcast if they didn’t have videotape recorders, many people would endure and watch the first episode, but these days, when they could rewatch the episode whenever they wanted, there were very few people who would patiently watch until the very end. If it was bad, they would change their channel within the first 10 or even 5 minutes. It wasn’t like they could plead with the audience to keep watching until the end. Since they put a lot of effort into it, the best method was to attract as much attention as possible in the beginning so that the channel wasn’t changed. She did her best for the best possible outcome. When she shot the last scene in the first episode, she pushed herself so hard that she wondered if she might fall ill. There was a sense of responsibility to show good acting, but she also had the desire to break the Wednesday-Thursday series jinx. There was nothing more desirable than that title as an actor. You can use that actor/actress to break that jinx – anyone would want that label on them.
The scenes she had repeated several times became a video and were projected on the TV screen. The rain was terrible that day, the airplane ruined the audio, there was a big problem with the shooting set – many events related to those scenes popped up in her mind.
"The quality’s good."
"The director must have worked hard."
Then came the scene where Giwoo started crying. This was the scene that also made Gaeul’s heart tighten when she watched from the side. As this was the middle part of the first episode, the director did not relent and kept shouting ‘cut’ and ‘action’ repeatedly in order to bring out the best quality. The good atmosphere at the set also gradually stiffened up due to the repeated NGs before the okay sign fell just as the mood was about to go bad. After that scene, Giwoo fell to the floor as though he was collapsing. He had been exhausted. Gaeul applauded him as an actress. There were some bad rumors circulating around the staff about Giwoo’s background, but those rumors disappeared with that act alone. An actor who possessed that amount of skill coming in through the back door was not even funny after all.
"Good, really good. I was even worried that Giwoo would slap me after that."
"You went too far back then. I wasn’t crying because I’m acting; I was crying because I was really frustrated, you know?"
"Did you forget how much you scolded me back then? I even thought about fleeing, you know?"
"I did it because I knew our dear Giwoo would be able to do it. Here, have a drink."
The director poured some drinks for Giwoo. The staff around them started raising their phones high and taking photos. Everyone had social network accounts these days, so they were probably taking photos for that. Giwoo got on top of a chair and raised his phone high. The staff and the actors all gathered into one group and made a V with their fingers.
"Let’s get back to watching. The climax has yet to come."
The director refreshed the atmosphere before sitting down.
"Hey, this is pretty good."
Giwoo showed her the photo he had just taken. Underneath the photo that was about to be uploaded to social media were the hashtags ‘#first_episode’, ‘#doctors_office’, ‘#watchit’.
"Han Gaeul, let’s take one together. I’ll upload it with this."
"You go forward, so I can look smaller."
"You are plenty small already, you’re way too greedy."
Gaeul also took out her phone. When she uploaded the photo she took with Giwoo on Instagram, she immediately got responses. Half of them were cheering her on, and half of them were asking why she was taking a photo with Kang Giwoo. She had become resistant to malicious comments now and could just chuckle at them, but she did feel quite wronged that she was getting insulted for nothing much. She also added the ‘watchit’ tag. It would be great if the people who pressed like on Instagram went to the TVs after that. Just as she turned off her phone and was about to focus on the drama, a name flashed across her mind. Gaeul put her phone below the table and searched for #Hanmaru. There wasn’t an account page as though he didn’t have an account, but there were photos related to the hashtag. There were photos where he was smiling on a stage as well as photos where he was crying with fellow actors. When she saw the photo where he raised his arms into the air as though he had everything in the world, it made her smile. The Maru that she did not know of for the past five years was there. There were quite a lot of photos he took with the JA family: Hong Geunsoo, Yang Ganghwan, Kim Suyeon, and Yang Miso. Among these four, two of them were hugely popular stars, and the remaining two were also considered top-tier in their fields. There were quite a lot of photos he took with Ahn Joohyun as well.
Now that she thought about it, she hadn’t taken any photos with him. Gaeul pouted. There were so many photos he took with actresses that she wanted to give him a call immediately and grumble about it. Why didn’t you take one with me? – if she grumbled with nonsensical stuff like that, how would he react?
"Han Maru?" Giwoo questioned.
Gaeul turned her phone over.
"I wasn’t intending on peeking, I just happened to see. Do you know him?"
"Yeah. You got to know him during New Semester, didn’t you?"
"Rather than New Semester, we met in Apgu before that."
Giwoo showed her his phone. It was a photo he took in the gym and Maru was next to him.
"You two go to the same gym?"
"I think it’s been about a year. I found out that we went to the same gym. We talk about acting and private stuff too. He’s a good friend."
"You two are close, huh. I didn’t know that."
"How did you get to know him?"
"Through acting, during high school."
"Did you two go to the same school?"
"No. We got to know when the acting clubs interacted."
"So you’re long-time friends huh."
She didn’t bother correcting the word ‘friend’. Things might become awry if her relationship was revealed after all. While she did want to reveal her relationship to the public, she had to listen to Maru’s opinion as well as both of their agency’s opinions. As she was bound by contracts, she couldn’t act impulsively.
"Let’s eat together some time. It’d be fun with the three of us."
Giwoo said that he would introduce them to a nabe restaurant that gourmets went crazy for.
"Sounds good, if we have time."
Gaeul put her phone in her pocket and stopped looking at the photo. While they were talking, the first episode was already reaching its climax. The people who were talking while drinking all let go of everything from their hands and focused.
"It’s this spot right here."
"We had a lot of trouble shooting this one. I hope people can become absorbed in it."
"They will. Han Gaeul’s acting skill was incredible."
"No way. Kang Giwoo’s acting was much better, you know?"
"My acting was pretty good."
"Hey, you can’t just do that. You need to flatter me too!"
"I’ll do it after watching that."
Giwoo pointed at the screen. Doctors in white gowns were flocking towards the doctor’s office. This was the scene where the conflict between the characters emphasized the tension in the drama. The camera scanned across Giwoo’s face and then to a senior actor’s. The background music changed just as it looked like a fight was going to break out. The OST started flowing out and the camera captured all of the doctors’ faces. Gaeul looked at herself standing on the left. She was satisfied with the expression she made. Following that, she felt relieved that she was satisfied with her own acting.
"Maybe I’m a little lacking here?" Giwoo said with a smile.