Chapter 13 – Gamer, Not a Musician (1)

It had been a while since Minho was able to sleep late in his gaming house bed. He woke up with a satisfied expression and stretched his arms, but then recoiled in alarm.

“Auugh?!”

His left fingertips stung. It was like a sharp pain that went through his finger joints all the way to his elbow.

‘It stings so much!’

He carefully looked down at his hands. But his left hand was without a scratch and he couldn’t see anything wrong with it. Minho thought it was weird and slightly bent his fingers.

Twing!

“Ack!”

A rush of pain hit him suddenly.

It hurt. It stung so much his face contorted. His hand was normal right before he slept–why was it like this all of a sudden?

Wait, it was his left fingers that were especially painful, and he had some aches and pains in other places too. Those parts that hurt were the parts he used when he played the guitar so enthusiastically.

‘Oh yeah, I kept playing the guitar until Manager Gong came even after the radio ended. Perhaps?’

He didn’t play one or two songs, but he played as many as three songs. He was entranced by the joy that he could play and became excited as he heard the live singing of Sanggun Lee right next to him.

‘Hmmm…It was way better than listening to it on the radio. I was in this postu….Ugh!’

Minho thought of yesterday and got into the position of playing the air guitar with his two hands. Then closed his eyes and moved his fingers the way of actually playing. But his fingers shook.

Maybe it was because he tried to use the muscles he had used yesterday, but his body jolted enough to make him groan.

‘Re-really hurts!’

He was about to cry. Minho winced and hunched over, helplessly waiting for the tsunami of pain to pass. Garam was sleeping in the bed across from him and at that moment he woke up and stared at Minho weirdly.

“Hmm? Did you scream?”

“Me? What?”

“I heard a weird groan too……”

Minho spoke with a serious face.

“Did you have a nightmare or something?”

“Huh? Maybe I was dreaming but maybe I wasn’t…”

You can get confused if you’re half asleep. Minho clicked his tongue at Garam as he changed the subject.

“I told you not to watch weird things at night before you sleep.”

“Eh, I only watched one episode. Huh? Then did Fate-chan appear in my dream?… I should continue dreaming! Hyung*, I’m sleeping in~”

Garam seemed to have thought of something and with a pleased look he went back under his blanket to get some more sleep.

“Su-sure.”

Minho answered absent-mindedly. Then he sighed in relief when he saw Garam fast asleep falling into his dreamland.

‘I don’t think I can even press the keyboard in this condition.’

He looked at his left hand.

He hadn’t realized the side effect of pressing chords on the metal strings with his bare hands would come back at him like this. Minho now realized that a problem could occur if he played the guitar when he wasn’t a practiced musician.

He decided to make a fitting excuse and play hooky. He thought he would be let off the hook since he went through all that hard work yesterday.

“I’m sick of scripts now.”

It was enough to make him hate A4 papers.

***

That evening.

Minho was tired of watching his juniors practice all day long. He was able to play 10 hours, even 20 hours without knowing the time passing but he was unsatisfied with just watching.

Minho returned to his room and took out his cellphone. He usually turned off his phone to not be distracted during training, so there were a lot of backed up text messages.

“Heol*”

Most of them were messages from Manager Gong. Did something happen? There were even three missed calls so he felt uneasy.

‘I told him I was going to rest for the weekend. I wonder what’s up?’

Minho briefly skimmed through the text messages.

[Are you training right now?]

[Open the internet search bar and search ‘Music Journey Live’]

[Did you see it?]

‘What is this? Why is he like this?’

Minho hadn’t talked about music all day, probably because he was with his juniors who were crazy about gaming. And Minho himself hadn’t even heard of Music Journey, with its 20 years of history, before yesterday’s cramming. 

Moreover he felt more like he had enjoyed himself than feeling a sense of accomplishment, since he had used Sanggun’s guitar. But seeing as how Manager Gong told him to search it, it must mean the reaction wasn’t bad.

“Let’s see~”

Minho opened the internet and searched ‘Music Journey’. A bunch of edited videos of the visual radio ‘Sanggun Lee & Minho Kang Live’ came up. Among those, he checked the viewer count on the most popular video site.

But the number was quite large.

“1,10, 100, 1000, 10000, 100000…?”

There was 300,000 viewer count in a day. And it was rising with stupendous speed. There were dozens of articles about this.

“So Sanggun hyung’s popularity exploded. I heard he’s been through a lot…huh?”

Minho looked at the comment section of the most clicked article, and had to swallow a gasp. Aside from comments complimenting Sanggun, there were comments about him as well.

-He played that kind of rearrangement on the fly? Is Minho Kang crazy?

-My Minho oppa* also won the quiz show. And he’s a professional gamer as a hobby. His face when he concentrates while gaming is so cuuute ♡ ~~

-He’s a friend of a friend of mine. This guy’s at least a musical genius. If you listen to the intro section at 2 mins and 11 sec, isn’t it amazing?

-Sanggun Lee is amazing too, singing to that. But his mistake was to show his expression on ‘look’! Sanggun was surprised but Minho was playing with his eyes closed. So it’s obvious who was leading the other person, right?

∟Hey~ do you know who even wrote that song? Minho Kang just changed companies so he’s playing tricks to step on an Indie singer and gain popularity.

∟You guys don’t know anything. You wouldn’t be able to play that even with practice. Do you think if anyone can sing ‘what~should be done~, what~should I do~’ then everyone would be Jaebum Kim.

-I’m not sensitive to music but playing like that looks amazing. It feels like, he plays… easily?

∟I listened to Sanggun’s music 30 times but I don’t get sick of it. It’s addictive.

∟It’s only this version. The rearrangement saved it.

엄청난 오해가 일파만파로 퍼지는 중이었다.
너무 황당해서 당황스러울 지경.
민호는 하나하나 다 반박해 줄 수도 있었다.

A great misunderstanding was spreading significantly. It was so absurd that he felt himself becoming flustered. Minho could have refuted each and every one of them.

‘The rearrangement was thanks to the sparkling headset. No, it was due to Chulhwan sunsaengnim’s abilities. What? Professional gamer is a hobby? And who’s the friend of the friend who said I was a music genius? Let me meet him too.’

What crazy rumors!  That’s why it’s a hassle to have younger girl fans. But the more Minho read the comments, more supporting comments were added making him think, ‘I really did play the guitar well.’

A feeling of crisis came over him.

He was thankful they liked him. But he felt stupefied by such an overblown reaction.

“Agh…This is crazy!”

What if someone asked ‘Can you play what you played that time?’ The counterfeit who pretended to be the real thing would definitely be in trouble! 

His feet were to the fire now. Minho took out from under the bed a dust-covered guitar that belonged to his junior Chulsoon, who got it to learn as a hobby but gave up. 

He played so proficiently yesterday, so wouldn’t that skill really become his? That’s what he expected.

“Hoo~! Be possible, please be possible!”

Minho chanted an incantation and held the position ignoring his painful fingers. Sanggun’s songs he played yesterday. Now, the song would play if he just gave his body to the melody. Just like yesterday, brilliantly and freely….it was BS.

“Damn it!”

Nothing happened. He just sat there blankly holding the guitar. He could think of the song but his fingers didn’t miraculously move by themselves. 

He still had some of the sensations left so he mimicked the movements but that was just it. He had a slight hope that he might be able to roughly imitate it if he practiced night after night. 

‘Well, should I take this chance and learn it?’

It happened to be that he had become very close with Sanggun. Minho thought to go learn from him from time to time. Either way, it looks cool for a guy to be able to play some guitar.

He might be able to receive a sweet and soft kiss as a gift if he were to sing to Eunha a love serenade on a starry night with the firewood burning.

“Heh heh”

‘Ok. I should learn this slowly as well.’

Di ring~

“Ouch”

Minho put down the guitar slowly due to the sharp pain in his fingers.

‘I should start on a day when I’m not in pain.’

At that moment, a text message came from Manager Gong.

[The president wants to see you tomorrow right away.]

‘Whaat?’

Does this company not take Sundays off?

***

Manager Gong came to the gaming house early in the morning. Uncharacteristically, he gave a big smile in greeting.

“Did you see the view count?”

“No.”

He ignored it because there were too many comments about his musical talent that he couldn’t answer. It was enough to make one question if the Minho Kang in reality was the same person as the Minho Kang on the internet.

His acquaintances had greatly increased, from older brother to friend to younger sibling. Of course, he didn’t even know all of them. The total sum of people was exceeding the combined number of his elementary, junior high and high school graduating classes.

“It broke through 500,000.”

“Wow, that’s frightening.”

Minho mumbled to himself and Manager Gong asked in response.

“Huh?”

“I…I mean, it’s amazing.”

“Haha, it’s  great. I can walk around proudly thanks to you.”

Manager Gong looked proud. Minho, on the other hand, was completely baffled.

It had grown too big. Sanggun’s ‘Dreaming Youth’ was rising up in the music charts. As that extended to Minho, though he had only assisted, there was a commotion in the gaming house as well. . Minho got chills down his back because Garam asked Minho to do a duet with him.

Either way, he was forcibly going to the office on a Sunday because of that. Manager Gong was speaking proudly but Minho let it in one ear and out the other as he was thinking intently.

‘They definitely called me in because of that. What if they ask me to play again?’

He couldn’t keep taking Chulhwan’s headphones and borrowing Sanggun’s guitar every time something like that happened. And there was no reason for them to sell him their cherished objects even if Minho gave his entire fortune.

On the contrary, Minho was sure they would be offended if he were to try to buy the items that had memories of their joys and sorrows with money.

Ultimately, the best solution was through his own efforts!

But the problem was there wasn’t enough time even if he practiced like his life depended on it. There was only one thing that could save his life now.

‘Don’t be nervous, be strong with your lines and your eyes!’

He quickly prepared a countermeasure. His image training as a professional gamer was turning out to be very helpful.

Minho was was using the time to formulate a plan but the commute on a Sunday was a breeze with no traffic. They arrived in no time and after taking a few steps, he was in front of the president’s office.

‘Ah, whew’

He stood briefly in front of the president’s office and reflected about what had happened on Friday.

“Have a good talk. I’ll wait in the lounge.”

Minho composed his face and nodded at Manager Gong’s words. Then he knocked on the door.

“Excuse me.”

President Sohee Im was sitting on the sofa and turned her head as soon as the doors opened. She smiled with her eyes and pointed to the seat in front of her.

“Welcome~”

‘I knew this would happen.’

As Minho went over to the sofa he turned his gaze to the screen Sohee was watching and swallowed a groan. The screen was frozen on him playing the guitar live. Of course, that was the reason she had asked him to come.

“That result was much more than I expected. To be honest, I didn’t know you would do this much appearing on Music Journey.”

Sohee continued to speak as if she was proud of him.

“Why didn’t you mention that you were so skilled at playing musical instruments?? The more strengths the entertainer has to appeal to people, the better. And it’s easier to schedule appearances.”

Minho took a deep breath and said what he’d been worrying about on the way here. Sure, let’s get through this crisis as calmly as possible.

“I did it as a hobby, that’s why.”

“It’s musician level not a hobby if it’s to this degree.”

Sohee held her two hands tightly. Minho saw ‘$$’ in Sohee’s eyes but that was definitely his hallucination.

“You have an intelligent image and on top of that, the image of a musician. It’ll be your forte that the advertisement companies drool over if you build recognition.”

Sohee was grinning as if she’d hit a gold mine. She spoke as she put the broadcast list on the desk.

“This is the list of music broadcast shows that appeal to the younger age group. Let’s build your recognition by actively appearing on them starting this week.”

Minho waited for the perfect timing. As he was coming here, he’d agonized over a way to get out of this without breaking Sohee’s expectations.

There was only one way.

———-

Heol:  A Korean slang term used to show surprise or disappointment. Mostly used by people in their 20s or younger.

Hyung: Older brother. Word used by males to call other males who are older than they are.


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