Chapter 14 – Gamer, Not a Musician (2)

‘Play innocent.’

Minho’s eyes were sparkling as he opened his mouth.

“President.”

“Yes?”

“I’m a professional gamer. You know that, right?”

“Of course.”

Minho kept his gaze firm. Proud and earnest. He wanted to show her his determined expression. It was his desperate ploy to avoid immense future embarrassment.

“An image as a musician–I don’t want my image to be stuck like that.”

Sohee seemed taken aback by the look in his eye.

“Why would you want to improvise rather than go with what the company arranges for you? Didn’t you say you like challenges when you signed the contract with me?”

“That’s…The reason why I played the guitar was because I liked Sanggun’s music. Even if I were to go on a music program, I won’t do it unless it’s with him.”

‘It’s no use without Sanggun’s guitar!’

Minho made an effort to keep his face composed.

Sohee considered a moment and nodded.

“It looks like I must have misunderstood you, Minho. It’s an efficient strategy to reveal your strong points little by little for later in the future. I understand. I’ll tell Manager Gong, so please schedule broadcasts aside from music programs.”

Minho sighed in relief and left the president’s office.

He came out lighthearted and spoke to Manager Gong in a good mood.

“Music broadcast programs are off limits of course, and any music-related programs.”

“No-not even a little?”

“Right.  Absolutely not.”

‘I’ll consider it if I practice enough to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.’

Right now, I must decline with all my life.

Seeing that, Manager Gong, who had been walking proudly, let his shoulders slump.

“I only thought of music programs, so this is all that’s left of the casting requests.”

‘Whatever it is, it shouldn’t be as bad as doing music, right?’

But this magnanimous attitude lasted only briefly.

Minho’s eyes grew wide as he received the list of possible broadcast castings from Manager Gong.

“Why are there only these kind of things?”

From programs with tasting rancid food as a penalty to programs where he would dress as a slave in the Joseon era, they were mostly cable programs where no musical knowledge was needed.

“The thing is, your character is nothing special without the musical aspect so…..”

He meant if he had built a unique character, it would have been easier to start from that as the foundation. It also meant having the titles of professional gamer and quiz show winner was far from gaining popularity with the public.

‘Hmm.’

But that didn’t mean he could act like a music genius when he wasn’t. Minho imagined appearing on that kind of show.

‘It’s funny to watch but horrific just thinking about doing it myself.’

He’d rather just be a professional gamer. Minho wasn’t struggling financially nor was he thirsty enough for popularity to voluntarily go through such suffering.

“Let go with something else.”

Minho shook his head. He rejected one after another after another.

“Hmm…! Then what about this one?”

Taking into consideration Minho’s pickiness, Manager Gong found one among all the requested schedules from broadcasting stations. Minho rejected so many that he started feeling sorry, but Manager Gong wasn’t tired of it since he was the head of a household and also had experience.

“This is the reality variety show on the public TV network that most of our company members appear on. Of course, there’s no need for you to sing on it.”

Manager Gong handed him the production file for ‘Youth Journal’

“It’s a farm village reality show. Mr. Hyunwoo Jin was filling the good-looking uncle role but he’ll be absent for two weeks due to his Asia tour. So they’re urgently looking for a replacement. They’re putting together a list of names of guys from each agency but you’ll pass it with no problem.”

Minho hesitated after reading the production plan.

  • Korea’s best girl group’s farming project after being dropped off at the mountainous farming region.

Minho shook his head after realizing it was a program of suffering in the farm village.

“It’s only this if it isn’t the music programs. This is popular with the younger age group, so it’ll help increase your recognition.”

Manager Gong spoke with certainty. Then he added,

“If you decline this one, there aren’t any more.”

He looked calm, but he spread out all the schedules that Minho had rejected in front of him. It was a silent pressure saying – shouldn’t you say okay to at least one of them if you’re a human being.

‘Ugh.’

Minho realized he didn’t have a good reason to keep declining, and looked over the other programs.

“Phew, Okay then.”

“Do you mean then…?”

Minho felt this one was the best one among all the others where he would have to endure physical labors and, more importantly, sacrifice his sanity,

“Yeah, I’ll do it. I just need to go and farm a little bit right?”

It was the girl group that was doing all the work anyway. How difficult could the farming be if it was possible for those girls with their thin arms.

“I’ll bring you the detailed documents shortly,so let’s meet at the public office in about an hour.”

Manager Gong stood up from his seat filled with enthusiasm. Then, he laughed as he spoke..

“I was really surprised as we prepared for the radio. I felt I underestimated your ability. I believe you’ll do well on this program as well.”

Minho became momentarily speechless at Manager Gong’s compliment.

‘You can underestimate me all you want…’

Manager Gong was about to leave but then spoke as if he’d just thought of something..

“Ms. Sora Oh from Punkyline appears on this program as well, and she came out early today because she has a music program. You should meet her.”

‘Sora Oh?’

Minho recalled the idol’s face that had no double eyelid and was hard to recognize without any eye makeup. He didn’t want to especially see her since her illusion was broken, but he did have to ask her about the program.

As he had managed to straighten out their relationship as older brother and younger sister, he thought there wouldn’t be any difficulties in talking to her.

‘How difficult would farming be on a broadcast? It’s all scripted anyways.’

It was fiction, not a documentary. Following the Field Manual during his service in the army had been enough. He decided to just ask her for some tips for when the camera was rolling.

***

“Wasn’t this supposed to be easy?”

The answer was different from what he expected.

“What do you mean easy? Most people want to quit right away but are sticking it out.”

Sora was picking out her stage costume and raised her voice, sounding angry. Minho froze due Sora’s unhesitant reply then asked,

“Is it that bad?”

“Every guest that appears suffers through hell. I would’ve done anything to get out of it if the ratings weren’t good.”

The members of Sora’s group all answered unanimously.

“Sora unnie* gets severely ill every time she comes back from Youth Journal.”

“Yea. she can’t even move the next day. And she snores a lot that night…”

“Hey!”

Sora burst out angrily and turned her head. Her completed full makeup brought out the life in her eyes, creating an intense impression as she slightly frowned.

Sora turned her head towards Minho.

“Don’t spread that around.”

“Sure, sure.”

“I have to try this on, can you turn around for a bit?”

The short dress fluttered around her thighs. Minho let out a dry cough because of the stage costume that was no different from lingerie.

But wait.

‘You don’t ask me to leave but just turn around?’

She was wearing hotpants, but that was still very bold of her. It wasn’t that she didn’t have a sense of shame, but just that she had pride. She felt unexpectedly like a professional as an idol.

“Oppa, you play the guitar pretty well.”

Sora said to Minho who had his back turned. Minho was just about sick of explaining to every person he met yesterday and today, but he quickly made something up.

“I just play a little as a hobby. But you listened to the radio too?”

“I usually listen to the radio every day as I travel here and there for performances. I was surprised when I heard it was you playing the accompaniment. I wanted to ask you to play a song for my solo project. There’s one song that needs an awesome guitar accompaniment.”

“Nah. I don’t have that kind of skill.”

‘Do that with a real musician.’

Minho shook his hand with his back turned.

“Either way, thanks for the talk.”

“Wait!”

Minho turned his head when Sora called. Then his face turned red. She was wearing tight clothes that revealed her slim figure in all its glory.

‘You really are a transforming girl.’

Minho realized that Sora wasn’t gaining popularity as the sexy charismatic idol for nothing.

“If you’re a professional gamer, are you good at other games as well?”

Minho returned to his senses and answered Sora’s question.

“Pretty much.”

“Then play a round of this game for me.”

Sora abruptly pushed her cellphone at him. There was a puzzle game ‘Pang Land’ on the screen. Minho stared at her with his face expression saying – ‘Why me?’

“They always underestimate me because my score is so low. Especially that vixen, Hyorim. I don’t know why she’s so haughty about this. She’s super annoying. It’s harder to increase the rank on this than the music show rank.”

When Minho heard Hyorim’s name he thought of Hyorim Jung from Cutie Six, one of the three big girl groups these days.

‘…This is.’

He took a look at the Pang Land rankings. They were filled with the faces of girl groups. Minho had played against many people as a professional gamer, but he’d never gamed with a girl group member.

This was a new world. Minho was overflowing with zealousness.

“How much do you want?”

“Huh?”

“How much do you want your score to be?”

“Just beat Hyorim please.”

‘Heh, simple.’

Minho sat in a corner and got comfortable.

Pang Land. It was a mobile game with the goal of matching pairs of stuffed animals by moving them one space at a time in a randomly-stacked pile. The game mechanics were simple but you had to know how to build a combo to help boost your scores in the limited time.

Minho immediately figured out the basics and hit the start button.

[Stage 1 Start!]

Minho, who matched the pairs with the speed of thunder and cleared the first stage in a flash, reached stage 32 in an instant.

[Score obtained: 220,310]

Minho confidently looked at the ranking.

“Huh?”

The rank was still the same and hadn’t gone up at all. Minho checked Hyorim’s score.

[Rank 3. 630,870]

“……”

It was three times more.

‘Do they do nothing but eat and play games? .’

Sora, who had finished getting dressed, walked over.

“So, did you get a good score?”

Minho spoke as he hid the cell phone.

“Wait a little bit. I was warming up my hands so I didn’t beat her yet.”

He couldn’t taint his reputation as a gamer with this child-like puzzle game. Minho focused and tried  again. He matched pairs like crazy and concentrated on making combos.

[Score obtained: 302,900]

‘Again!’

[Score obtained: 513,200]

‘I am a gamer. A professional gamerrrr!!!’

[Score obtained: 667,800]

He barely reclaimed rank three. Minho sighed in relief and handed back the cell phone to Sora.

“Here. That’s good, right?”

“Um, Minho oppa……”

Sora observed that Minho seemed worn out somehow and carefully opened her mouth.

“You didn’t use any of the items that were saved up.”

“What? Aren’t you supposed to not use them?”

‘You should score fair and square.’ Minho murmured as Sora spoke

“The other girls can’t use them because they don’t have them. You would’ve scored three times higher if you used them.”

No wonder they were so good at it.

“…professionals don’t use stuff like that.”

Minho quietly walked out of the dressing room as he said those words, trying to act like it was nothing. But Sora laughed when she saw him tightly gripping his fist.

————-

Unnie: Older sister. Word that is used by females to call other females who are older than they are.


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