Jungwu opened his eyes to the sound of a pencil moving across the surface of a notebook. His head felt heavy, so he lay in a daze before he finally turned his head and saw that he was inside the Overnight room.
“You have slept for an hour and 40 minutes.”
His gaze followed the direction of the voice to find that Doctor Moon was sitting there. She had been sitting at a desk as if she was studying something before she rolled her chair closer to the bed.
Jungwu was about to sit upright when he was interrupted by Doctor Moon’s Pen flashLight being put before his face. With a click, the LED light was shone into his eye.
“Iris response is normal. Hemorrhage and eyelid tremors likely caused by strain has subsided.”
He was finally able to see Doctor Moon’s face once the light was switched off.
“How are you feeling?”
“I feel refreshed after sleeping soundly.”
Doctor Moon continued to scrutinize Jungwu’s face as he grinned. “It certainly is strange.”
“What’s strange about feeling refreshed?”
“Insomnia typically causes stress because you will have a more exhausting day the more you can’t sleep.”
Jungwu snapped his fingers after hearing her explanation.
“Oh right. I did pass out and wake up in some Storage unit several days ago too. I had the same feeling then.”
“Then and now, was there anything different than usual in your surroundings?”
Jungwu contemplated for a bit while resting his chin on his hand. He then turned his gaze towards Doctor Moon who was sitting right up next to him with her hair still wet.
Maybe because her frigidity was down a notch, she was exuding a completely different atmosphere from earlier with her makeup completely wiped off and wearing the same shirt with the cute character doll that he saw earlier in the car.
‘Like a pretty Noona* neighbor vibe?’
For a moment, Jungwu looked in interest at this new side of Doctor Moon and then recalled that a few days ago he had met a beautiful girl he couldn’t take his eyes off of. “I did have a memorable experience.”
Jungwu’s smiled as if to say ‘there was something like that’.
“Anyway, I was busy doing a side job helping set up a stage since the morning of that day.”
“Why were you doing a side job?”
“I was enticed by an autograph with a star…”
“How nice to be young.”
Doctor Moon grinned and rolled her chair away back to the desk.
“So did you get the autograph?”
“Yes. Ah! No.”
“What kind of answer is that?”
“There was a complicated circumstance. Anyway, what’s my diagnosis?”
Doctor Moon wrote something down on a memo pad and then came closer again.
When Jungwu read the piece of paper with the words ‘Cheongdam Sleep Clinic’ and a phone number, he gave a quizzical look.
“It’s a clinic run by a skilled Sunbae-nim. Get a more in-depth examination there and then come back here again. You will probably need to go the day before the weekend since they need to run the exam in an environment where you’re asleep.”
“Were my results today bad?”
“The numbers were all normal, but it was not a meaningful result that could be used to determine the diagnosis. Sleep disorder is a broad illness. It can involve Psychiatry, Neurology, Internal Medicine, and even Otolaryngology.”
Of the disciplines Doctor Moon had listed, there was one in particular that caught Jungwu’s attention. So he asked, “Psychiatry as well? Then are my problems stemming from depression or psychological pain?”
Doctor Moon maintained her gaze on Jungwu as she responded.
“If you went to work a side job on the weekend to get an autograph from a star, and you had that type of problem, then I would have no choice but to suspect you of having schizo.”
“It must be on the side of neurology. I am the very sensitive and deeply emotional type. My mother watches a lot of dramas, and when I watch it together beside her, I often cry. Last week he promised he’d definitely come back when it snows before disappearing, the main character I mean.”
“You’re serious right now, right?”
“Not reacting to my joke has hurt my feelings…”
Doctor Moon shook her head and returned to the desk and said, “It might be an adjustment period for AF-12.”
Jungwu realized that he was becoming better and better at manipulating the dust stars, and stared at his palm.
“It’s become late. We should get ready for our shift tomorrow.”
Jungwu checked his clock after Doctor Moon mentioned the time and it was already past 10 pm. He stood up and walked up to the Overnight Room’s door.
“Oh yeah, if the cause of this is really due to overtime…”
But Jungwu paused when he turned and saw Doctor Moon who was already focusing on a book. Doctor Moon turned her head and asked, “Sorry, can you say that again?”
“I said, I’ll work hard to become a Researcher who is able to contribute to every project under KG Chemicals.”
The next day.
It wasn’t until dawn that Jungwu felt something akin to drowsiness. He shut his eyes for a bit and woke up at 6 am.
‘Did I sleep that deeply in the evening?’
He headed to the first floor as he cleared his groggy mind.
And it was after he washed his face that he felt a bit refreshed.
He looked at his face reflected in the mirror to try and copy what Doctor Moon had done last night.
He even lifted up his eyelids to look underneath them. ‘I don’t even know what to look for.’
Jungwu felt that this was why diagnostics needed to be made by a doctor. He still felt sluggish after eating breakfast, putting on his shoes, and getting aboard the subway train. ‘This was why sleep is so important’ he thought, bothered by not being able to sleep properly.
‘Wait, what if this is a symptom of stress?’
When Line 1 train left the station, Jungwu put an earphone in his ear thinking that he needed to relax his mind. He turned on his cell phone screen and was looking through music sites in search of a good song when he suddenly remembered something and opened the Search window.
In the list that popped up the moment he typed in the name was her discography, from all sorts of Mini Records to the announcement of her official 2nd Album.
And one title caught his attention.
[A dream-like performance in the snow! Views exploding!]
Someone had uploaded a video of the Mini Concert in TS Mall. He clicked on the link and pressed play, and it was of the Encore performance as he expected. It even had a 4k resolution option.
The video showed Jungwu standing blankly in white clothes and Isul Yoon singing alone on the stage while playing the guitar for about 3 minutes. Listening to the pleasant melody through his earphones brought back memories of the day he had heard the live performance of this song in person by her side.
‘It really is nice. I’ll have to listen to the 2nd album later for sure.’
In some ways, his memory was like a dream. He wouldn’t be able to experience something like that again, but he was still happy inside. Like so, the encore performance finished and the video ended with the crowd cheering ecstatically.
[Recommended Link: Identity of the White Magician]
Jungwu paused when he saw the tag at the end of the video.
He saw the exceedingly familiar view of a storage unit as soon as he clicked on the link.
-Ack, stop it. Focus on filming mostly my hands.
– Making letters appear in the air isn’t as simple as burning a letter shaped incendiary in the air.”
– When you burn these grains, you get a green light.
– And the rate the dust stars get annoyed, that timing determines when it gives off the bright light.”
Jungwu was shocked at the absurdity that the views on this video had exceeded 300,000. In the description box was yet another link with a compilation of just the fireworks from the concert.
Jungwu immediately opened up his contacts and dialed Soochan’s number.
The signal was sent and a voice deeply steeped in drowsiness answered the phone.
– Eeey, my friend. What’s up so early?
“Dude! Why is the video I made for you uploaded onto a site?!”
– That? A youtuber* asked if he could upload it so I told him to edit it a bit first. I did a good job, right?
– He said he’ll share the advertising revenue if the video gets a lot of hits. He said he’ll pay up later. Did you see the comment section? They’re calling you the White Magician.
Jungwu was so dumbstruck at Soochan’s laughter that he couldn’t speak.
– The youtuber’s name is Gijoon Shin, and he’s quite famous around here. He said that people like it even better when there is a separate dedicated page opened and urged that we make one. He kept asking where the next performance will be, so I told him that you go to a Chemical Company. He was totally shocked to find out that you were a chemist.
“It hasn’t even been that long, so why is this circulating on the internet?”
– Isn’t it fine? If my friend becomes a youtube star then it’s good for me and good for you.
Tens of thousands of people watching the same video has become rather commonplace nowadays. Although Jungwu was feeling overwhelmed, he also thought at the same time that it was perhaps not as unusual as he had first thought. So he quickly changed his mind.
“Make sure to get paid.”
– Sure. Also, do you want to work again? There’s a huge event for Chris…
“I’m busy. This majesty just recently received recognition within the company.”
– Ok, got it. Take care of your precious body, and let’s all gather for the end of the year party or something
Jungwu paused for a moment to think deeply once the phone call was over before he opened the Search window again. He searched for ‘Jungwu Han’ and got nothing but a list of people possessing the same name. He checked ‘White Magician’ just in case.
[3-minute magic that mesmerized the shoppers in a mall]
[Ssing company artist who lit up Isul Yoon’s performance, White Magician]
‘Wow, it’s on the second page’
Jungwu’s drowsiness completely vanished so he immediately took a screenshot and saved it
Jungwu opened the door and entered Research room 1 and couldn’t help but be moved by the sight of the genuine and dignified office that greeted him.**
“Is it you, Jungwu?”
Senior Researcher Gipyo Hong stood up to greet him. He was a sunbae Jungwu had come to know during the company outing.
“This is my spot, right Sunbae nim?”
“Yeah. Also, don’t attach ‘nim’ for me. You’re my direct hoobae of Research Lab 1.”
“Ah, ok Sunbae.”
Jungwu sat in his seat. It was an empty and unfurnished space, but it was spacious, clean, and most importantly, it had electricity sockets.
‘Is the neighboring seat Boyoung Sunbae’s?’
There was a frame on the desk of a middle-aged woman who with a glance resembled Boyoung. He thought that having to see her almost everyday until her dispatch early next year might become annoying, but on the standpoint that they become friends who can share discussions about chemistry, perhaps it wasn’t so bad.
Once 9 o’clock rolled around, the Research team 1’s office became packed.
‘Eh? Why isn’t she here? Is she going to be late?’
Jungwu tilted his head when Boyoung didn’t show up to work even after 30 minutes had elapsed.
He called to Jungwhi Cha who sat on the other side of him and indicated Boyoung’s seat.
“Do you have any idea where she might have gone?”
“Boyoung? She followed Sunbae Oh on a business trip to Daejeon. She will be there all week to try and get us some new projects from the Research Institute of Technology.”
“Ah, I see.”
“Boyoung cleaned up your desk yesterday, saying you were going to be using it. Surprisingly she even went as far as to wipe it down with a clean rag.”
For some reason, while he felt thankful, he suddenly felt the urge of wanting to see Boyoung’s cute face again.. Since Jungwu already had her attention, he decided to ask, “Sunbae, then what am I supposed to be doing today?”
“If you didn’t get any specific instructions, just do whatever you like. You have dispatch today anyway, right?”
Jungwu nodded and took a look around Research Lab 1.
There were those searching the internet for overseas articles relating to their individually assigned research topics and others investigating the matters related to claims by affiliates. Then there were those who dropped by briefly before heading to the Research room.
‘I might as well do what Doctor Moon told me to do.’
Jungwu opened his notebook (laptop) and inserted the power cord into the electricity socket.
Projects Professor Seongook Chun had intended to pursue but dropped. The project he had given a presentation yesterday seemed to have been put on the back burner. But, since there was a large pile of similar projects, he just needed to organize them and set up an outline for them.
He had one body but had dozens of projects to propose. At moments like these, it was better to just mindlessly prepare them.
He was in the middle of arranging paperwork when he got a text.
[Did you show up at work?]
It was Boyoung.
[Yes, Sunbae. Thank you for cleaning up my desk.]
Another text came as soon as the reply was sent.
[Just verbally? Jungwu ssi, you should pay during the next Thesis study. Food Food ^0^!]
Jungwu laughed when he saw what the text said. He didn’t dislike it.
Wednesday too, as well as Thursday and Friday. Jungwu continued to work for Lab 1 without much of a hitch. But as he went about his daily life, he would experience abrupt symptoms of sleep disorder. While working on assignments, while having lunch, while having a conversation with the Sunbaes, he experienced passing out a few times. As Doctor Moon had told him, a problem is a problem. And like that, it became Friday evening.
“I’ll be heading out, Hong Sunbae.”
“Uh, yeah. See you next week. Enjoy your Christmas.”
Gipyo Hong indicated a calendar on the wall at Jungwu’s reaction.
Tomorrow was the 24th. The next was the 25th. (1) Although the weekend and Christmas overlapped, the symbol of December was just before him.
‘I completely forgot about it.’
He had been too engrossed in work since everything was new to him that he had completely lost track of time as he organized Professor Chun’s research archive.
‘Right. I’m just addicted to work. It’s not a psychiatric problem.’
Mental illness, even just the sound of it was off-putting.
Jungwu showered and dressed himself in preparation for the Sleep Clinic appointment he had at 8 pm.
He came down to the first floor and then flinched when he saw his younger brother standing there holding a drink with utmost politeness.
“What are you doing?”
“Drink this. It’s the orange juice you like, Hyung”
“What made you do this?”
“It’s just, you’re working so hard, it must be tiring, my brother~”
“Ack, you’re giving me goosebumps. And don’t make that nasal voice with that face when you say the word ‘hyung’. Your face is like that of a middle-aged man minus the mustache.”
Normally, poking fun at him would have provoked a pushback response. But Jungchan just grinned and held out the drink.
Jungwu picked up the drink and asked, “So, what is it? Pentawatch skin?”
He only drank one gulp of the drink when his brother said something completely unexpected.
“Someone asked me out. A girl who goes to the same reading room as me.”
Jungwu spewed out all the juice and snapped his head around.
“Really? What kind of crazy girl would ask you out?”
“Not crazy. Really pretty. Although she’s not as pretty as that Noona you called Sunbae.”
“So what did you answer with?”
Jungchan had a serious look as he opened his mouth.
“I freaked out and just nodded.”
“What the hell?”
Jungwu laughed out loud at his brother’s words.
“What idiot answers a girls’ confession like that.”
“…She wanted to go on a date tomorrow. I don’t even know where I’m supposed to go or what to do.”
“What makes you think I know any better?”
“Hyung had Eunshil noona and stuff.”
“Let’s skip the stuff that happened in elementary school.”
Jungwu had Jungchan sit at the kitchen table.
“Do you even want to go out with this girl?”
Jungwu was laughing at the sight of his brother nodding shyly for the first time in his life. And at the same time, this budding love story tickled his mood.
“Dude, tomorrow is Christmas Eve. You can’t settle for a normal date.”
“Help me Hyung. I’m almost out of allowance.”
Jungwu thought about it for a moment before speaking. “Clean my room, 3 months.”
“Or don’t, if you’re not interested.”
“Fine. But in that case, only if it works out tomorrow.”
Jungwu told him right away. “What’s there to a date between high schoolers? Just go somewhere nice for dinner and don’t forget a romantic movie.”
“Find out a street where a lot of people go to visit and just go there. And make sure to hold hands as you walk.”
“You dummy. A man should be bold and just go for it. And since it’s Christmas Eve, the moment the lights in the street go out, you should pull her in and then…”
Jungwu stopped when he noticed Jungchan’s face.
“Ah, that won’t work. With your face, if you did that you might get locked up.”
When Jungchan saw Jungwu take out his wallet, he zipped his mouth shut and presented his hands toward him with their palms up.
“I was going to give you only 50,000 won (47ish dollars). But I’m feeling generous. Christmas Bonus~”
Jungwu was loaded with the money he earned during his part-time job las week so he decided to give his younger brother a good amount of cash.
“Thank you, Hyung”
“Now go and win the heart of that girl with the strange taste. Like a man of the Han Family ought to.”
When Jungwu headed for the door after successfully completing the coaching, Jungchan asked, “Hyung where are you going?”
“To finally get some sleep. Tell mom I won’t be home tonight.”
Jungwu waved bye to Jungchan who did not look like he understood and headed out.
In front of a luxurious 5 story building with the name ‘Cheongdam Sleep Clinic”, a van came to a stop.
The side doors slid open and a lady wearing a baseball cap stepped out.
“I hope our Isul can manage to sleep today.”
“I can sleep well here.”
“We need to hear the Director’s opinion to know that. I’ve completely opened up your Christmas schedule, so just focus on getting a good rest. I will also take care of any rumors of boyfriends.”
“Really? In that case, I should go find that actor who is said to be my type and just-!”
She made a fist as if threatening him, but the man in the van also made gripped a fist together with her and said ‘Fighting!’(4)
“Yes, please do. So you can laugh.”
“I can laugh very well even now.
The van left and she turned to look at the Sleep Clinic.
“Today will work out somehow.”
She mumbled to herself before wearing a filter mask to cover her face and entered the building.
Jungwu got off the subway at Apgujeong Station and followed the navigation until he arrived in front of a building. It was not as large as the AN Hospital, but it had a considerable size. Out in front of the building was a placard which read ‘For illness of the mind, the best solution to the loss of sweet dreams. Jungwu turned to look at the advertisement placard on his way in.
‘Is that Director Doctor Moon’s sunbaenim?’
Seeing the face of a confident career woman looking to be around her mid-thirties made Jungwu slightly nervous. Not only was she attractive enough to submit a photo-inclusive application sheet (5), she exuded an atmosphere that was strangely similar to Doctor Moon. The fact that she wore glasses was the only major difference; a proud and cold atmosphere.
‘It’d be scary if even her personality turns out to be the same.’
Pass the clean hallway layered with pastel-colored stones, Jungwu arrived at the reception.
“I have an appointment. Jungwu Han.”
After saying his name and showing his ID, he was instructed to head to the exam room 1 right away. Perhaps due to the fact that this was a sleep clinic, the hospital was not loud or chaotic. It was very quiet. In this atmosphere, it would not be surprising to yawn and doze off in the lobby.
Jungwu, as if overtaken by this aura, tried walking as carefully as he could to not make noise as he headed towards the examination room located at the far end of the hallway. As soon as the door opened, the Director whose image was on the placard turned to greet him. On her chest was the name tag reading ‘Mina Sung’
“Please come in.”
A pleasant voice.
“Will you please sit over there?”
Once Jungwu sat across from the doctor, Director Sung checked her appointments on a small screen.
“Jungwu ssi. Today is the first visit…”
Suddenly her eyes grew wide. “Oh right. You were referred here by Chaeun, right?”
“In that case…”
Director Sung clasped her fingers together and rested her chin on her knuckle before scrutinising Jungwu’s state.
“It’s been forever since Chaeun asked for a personal favor. Are you perhaps going out with her?”
“…No. Just coworkers.”
“If that’s the case, please excuse me.”
Director Sung made a beaming smile and apologized. The warm and gentle personality that exuded from her tone washed over Jungwu. She typed something on the computer and the monitor facing Jungwu lit up with Diagnostic Table labeled ‘Sleep Study’
“It responds to touch. Please complete the form as you listen.”
Jungwu turned to look at the screen.
[It takes longer than 30 minutes after laying in bed to fall asleep]
[0 Not at all… 4 Everyday]
He was working on the prompts when Director Sung began to speak.
“The examination will follow a comprehensive procedure since it is especially important for us to accurately collect information regarding your sleep. So please be at ease and make yourself comfortable.”
“I doubt I will be able to relax if I hear more questions like the one you just asked.”
“That was done on purpose.”
The Director turned to look at Jungwu who had a confused expression on his face.
“Most Insomniacs are defensive. If you say things like ‘Oh no, you couldn’t sleep for the last few days?’ or ‘Are you afraid to try and go to sleep?’ then it will only add stress to the patients who are already feeling down.”
“Is that so.”
“On no, you must be exhausted because you couldn’t sleep the last few nights.”
Although it was not said in a mocking tone, Jungwu nodded in understanding because it did not feel all that reassuring.
“Any treatment that does not begin with ‘Identifying the exact cause’ is less helpful than taking a single sleeping pill. Something like that. And speaking of which…”
Director Sung said in a cheerful voice as Jungwu finished working on the Diagnostics table.
“Please go and get some sleep. Sleep Room number 4. It’s on the 2nd floor. We can discuss the details tomorrow.”
Her way of speaking made Jungwu feel like he was being led into something.
Jungwu recalled that the placard had introduced the Director as [Medical Doctor/Neuropsychologist] and developed a hunch. That, although the Director had a different personality from Doctor Moon, the Director, too, was yet another fastidious detail-oriented Specialist.
Jungwu, who arrived on the 2nd floor walked in the ‘Sleep Diagnostics’ area in search of his number 4 room. Almost all the rooms had their lights off. But there was a single room at the far end where the light leaked out under its grand door.
It read ‘VIP Diagnostics room’ It seemed as though someone was inside.
‘Since this is Cheongdam Dong, it’s probably a bigshot executive.’
Jungwu was dazzled when he opened the door to the number 4 Sleeping room. It looked very luxurious. If his bedroom were a motel, this would be like a hotel room, and the VIP room there would be like a penthouse.
He had just sat down on the comfy-looking bed when the door opened up.
“Here are the sleep articles.”
A clinic employee entered. After handing over the pajamas and toiletries, the man asked Jungwu to dress up and get ready to sleep and that he would return in a bit.
Once Jungwu had changed into his pajamas and brushed his teeth in the bathroom outside, the clinic employee entered with EEG equipment. Once sensors were attached to his head, face, and legs, Jungwu laid down on the bed. Then the clinic employee said to him,
“We will check your active brainwaves before you fall asleep then turn off the lights.”
“What if I can’t sleep?”
“Sleep Polyvalence Study is not meant to measure how well you sleep, but examine whether there is a problem with your sleep.”
Jungwu’s mind felt much better after hearing that.
‘As a bonus, it looks so much comfier than being at home so I’ll probably sleep better here.’
Soon, the lights in his room went out.
*(Not youtuber in kr, but this would make most sense in english and later context)
(** kr includes detail saying that it looks like it was fit for human habitation/human dignity)
(1) The year on the calendar (by math) is in 2016.
(2) Poker terminology. ‘Call means you accept the current state of the table and won’t raise the bet. ‘Call’ or better, “Kor”, is often used in conversations involving favors.
(3) 2C is the two first pronounciation of a three syllable swear word in korea. 2C was probably cut off because Jungwu interrupted.
(4) ‘Fighting’ is korean form of cheering/wishing good luck.
(5) In korea, higher paid job applications require the photo ID to be on the front page, and it is common practice to filter people out by their photo before looking at the specs/accomplishments.This is why even some men put on makeup in korea, and plastic surgery so common.