Elation, shock, and déjà vu
What words can describe the boy’s acting?
Yoo Myeonghan felt dizzy and trapped, unable to move, as the boy’s performance boasted an irresistible attraction that captivated everyone watching.
Choi Eunsuk was no exception.
She wore a mesmerized expression as if she had transformed into a butterfly in a dream.
The brief statement poured cold water on the silence.
“Did you intentionally choose that scene?”
“Yes, I never imagined he would memorize everything in such a short time.
I wondered how he would handle a scene requiring emotional shifts since he seemed quite confident.
Honestly, I didn’t expect much, but…”
“Wow, he’s a true gem, a real gem…”
The lingering doubts were natural.
The boy they encountered at Namhang Market epitomized a filial son.
Exploiting this fact, they chose a scene where he had to display a reprehensible attitude toward his mother.
They wondered if a beginner could portray such an act he had never committed.
“Did you see his facial expression earlier?”
“Yes, it was spine-chilling.
My hair stood on end.”
I never imagined I would regret not bringing a camera this much.
He performed with his expressions as if they were broken down frame by frame, like in the theater.
And that’s something only highly trained actors usually do.”
It wasn’t wrong.
The boy’s facial acting made Yoo Myeonghan’s jaw drop.
In the blink of an eye, numerous expressions changed as if cut frame by frame.
Hollywood legend D.W.
Griffith once said that the true acting of an actor in a close-up shot was not exaggerated gestures, but subtle emotions conveyed in extreme detail.
If Griffith had witnessed the boy’s script reading, he might have jumped out of his seat and applauded.
“It felt as if Yeongguk was projecting his subject onto the camera, treating my gaze like a camera lens.
He even adjusted the distance and changed his vocalization and voice tone.”
It wasn’t just one spine-chilling event.
“At first, I thought it was a coincidence, so I intentionally shifted my posture, leaned my chin, and he adjusted his performance to follow my gaze each time.
Didn’t you feel it, Writer Choi? I’m talking about those subtle changes in his acting.”
An actor overwhelmed by their counterpart’s performance cannot feel anything else, only the illusion of being strangled.
At that moment, the boy truly became “Kim Hajin,” so Choi Eunsuk could not notice it.
If she possessed the keen eye to recognize all the changes in the boy, she should have been a director or an actor instead of a writer.
Regardless, Choi Eunsuk’s mind was utterly preoccupied elsewhere.
“The script said so, that’s why.”
She couldn’t forget his calm voice.
It felt like she had discovered her muse, like an alarm ringing.
Yoo Myeongham still seemed to be in shock, wiping his dry lips with a solemn expression.
“I’ve only seen one person act like that in my life.”
An actor captivated and trapped within the script, capable of showing more.
Was it acting born out of effort, or was he a born genius? What would his place be in the world of acting? Yoo Myeonghan experienced a spine-chilling déjà vu, reminiscent of witnessing a great actor’s script reading long ago.
At the same time, Choi Eunsuk felt as if she was being tested as a writer.
Eventually, their gazes converged on an empty space.
* * *
The summer sea was a continuous ensemble.
The cries of seagulls, the horns of fishing boats bouncing along the shore, and the rhythm of auctioneers at the live fish market.
It evoked the successive hymns of Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy.
Moreover, the vitality of fish thrashing in the red tub expressed sensuality and liveliness, indeed a scene of life!
“Son, you don’t have to follow me around since dawn.”
“I’m not sleepy.
And how can you move all of this by yourself with just a cart?”
Although young, he was still a boy.
Sweat-like morning dew formed on the forehead of the boy who led the cart.
His mother felt both pity and gratitude.
However, the boy felt even more sorry and affectionate, knowing that this was all he could do for his mother.
It was when the fish stalls were lined up in the labyrinth-like alleys of Namhang Market.
After laying fresh live fish on the fish stall, the boy spotted a familiar face among the Busan women and widened his eyes.
Wiping his eyes with his sleeve, he confirmed the person’s identity.
“Mom, we still have some time before we start selling.
I’ll just go somewhere quickly.”
Watching her son dart away, his mother nodded with satisfaction.
Indeed, summer vacation was when children went crazy and couldn’t stay put.
If he were like others his age, he would have left Namhang Market and been playing with friends at the playground.
While her son made her work more manageable, her guilt only grew.
His sudden departure actually brought relief to his mother.
The boy approached the figure lurking in Namhang Market.
Messy hair, an unkempt beard.
His eyes looked somewhat lazy but shone like jewels embedded in his face.
“You’re the actor who played Dojeong in Days of Theatrical Joy, right?”
“Kid, you know me?”
“Of course, I’m a huge fan of Song Jeongseok.”
Was it because he had met someone he knew in a previous life? The boy impulsively sprang forward.
Actor Song Jeongseok was a household name in Korea twenty years later.
An actor who leaped from theater to sweep through dramas and films.
Of course, he worked on so many productions that it was impossible to know every film and drama he appeared in from his early supporting roles.
Yet, he was the actor the boy admired the most in his past life.
A well-known actor who consistently held a position among the top five actors in Korea.
Buddhism said there were no coincidences in meetings.
In contrast, Song Jeongseok felt bewildered.
After all, he was still an unknown actor, even in the theater world.
Moreover, Days of Theatrical Joy was performed in Seoul’s theater district.
And lastly, Dojeong was a character that hardly appeared in the play.
However, the boy’s eyes were not lying.
On the contrary, they were burning with passion, as if he had met someone he greatly admired.
“Thank you, thank you so much.
I never imagined I’d meet my first fan so far away.
Actually, I was cast in a minor role in a drama set in Busan.
That’s why I came down here, wanting to learn the dialect.
But on the first day, I was pickpocketed.
I don’t even have a proper place to sleep, and my ticket back to Seoul was stolen.
I’m such a fool, right?”
“Pickpocket? What about the police station?”
“They said they couldn’t find the culprit.
A look of injustice was apparent around Song Jeongseok’s eyes.
It felt like he was Robinson Crusoe, alone on a deserted island without any acquaintances.
He didn’t even have an agency, and the notebook containing the casting director’s number who had cast him was stolen.
The boy quickly understood his situation.
Nowadays, pickpocketing is rampant, especially during the peak season, and there were no proper CCTV installations in that era.
Song Jeongseok’s appearance and attire made him look homeless, and people might have assumed he was lying.
“You said you came here to learn the dialect, right?”
“Then let’s learn it today.
The boy showed unexpected kindness to Song Jeongseok.
In his past life, Song Jeongseok was the only one who advised and taught him acting when he jumped from theater to dramas and films.
The senior actor who had treated him to a warm bowl of rice soup and a glass of soju – he still couldn’t forget that favor.
– “Yeongguk, are you suspicious about why I’m helping you?”
The elderly actor’s eyes reddened as the soju glass clinked down.
– “I also jumped from theater to drama when I was your age.
At that time, there was no one to help me.
It was so hard and lonely.
So, don’t just pass them by when you meet someone like you later.
Help them out.
A glass of soju, it’s no big deal.”
At those words, the young actor’s eyes also reddened.
The elderly actor, who saw his past self in the thirty-year-old boy, marveled at the strange workings of fate.
The connection the adult boy had made now reached the young boy.
It was time to repay the debt he owed.
Pursuing a life without regrets was a relationship that had to be crossed, just like a fisherman catching a big fish by destiny.
“Yeongguk, who is this person?”
Startled, she looked back and forth between her son and Song Jeongseok.
The boy had hooked the noble man he had met in his previous life.
“He’s helping us out today.”
* * *
“Oh my, this is exhausting.”
Song Jeongseok felt as if he had been beaten all over.
Selling fish at Namhang Market was not an easy job.
But what he gained was certain: the native pronunciation of the dialect, the unique intonation, and the accent of the Busan people.
Although they spoke the same language, their breathing, rhythm, and the way their lips and tongue moved were different.
“This is truly amazing.”
Song Jeongseok looked at the boy who had put him to work today.
At first, he thought the boy was just peculiar.
But in Namhang Market, the boy was a bold leader, and if it were a play, he would have been a brilliant actor capable of dominating the entire proscenium stage.
Whenever the boy acted and moved his lips, all the people at Namhang Market became tourists and focused on him.
Despite the pressure, the boy’s shoulders were as light as feathers, and his gestures were lively.
Perhaps the innate talent of an actor lies in the ability to draw such attention, just like the boy.
“There isn’t much prepared for our guest.”
“No, this is a feast.”
Song Jeongseok brushed off the mother’s apology.
The dinner table had enough food for the two of them.
If anything, he felt sorry for intruding.
The yellowed wallpaper, aged like autumn leaves, and mold spots around the room pained his heart.
But on the boy’s face, there was no shame or sadness, as if he had read Song Jeongseok’s thoughts.
Only pure happiness filled his expression.
“Is it okay for you to sleep in the kitchen tonight? I’ll prepare the softest bedding.
It’s the first train in the morning, but you should still rest a bit.”
“As long as I have a place to lay down, I’m grateful.
But Youngkook, we have quite an age gap, so shouldn’t you call me uncle instead of hyung?”
“Hyung, have you ever seen me call an elderly woman at the market ‘auntie’?”
“Fine, Yeongguk, I admit your determination.
But I’m not sure if it’s okay for me to stay here with your mom around.
I feel so sorry for both of you, and I don’t know how to repay this debt when I return to Seoul.
I feel like I owe you so much.”
“What’s the big deal about debt? Just help someone like you later on.
A warm bed and a bowl of rice, it’s nothing.”
It was impossible to argue with the boy.
Yet, he wasn’t annoying.
How could he not know that he was trying to make Song Jeongseok feel at ease, worried that he might feel burdened? Song Jeongseok swallowed the tears that welled in his eyes and shoved a mouthful of white rice into his mouth.
The young actor had a hunch.
The delicious feast would become the foundation for his future acting career.
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