It was right before sunrise in the town of Yulchiri.
Producer Na gave a difficult task to Miyoung Kim, who was the youngest of the writers and no particular beauty. That task was to wake Dojin first and give him a mission.
“Can I…not do it? Mr. Dojin will really angry.”
“How do you think I feel? You know that yesterday we only filmed everyone’s mukbang* log. We stayed up thinking of ideas so we can do things properly.”
Her sentence trailed off as she really had no other reply. It seemed like she would be convinced if he asked her once more. So Producer Na kept encouraging her, saying she was the only one he trusted.
“Dojin hyung likes you the best, Writer Kim, so this once will be okay. So let’s do it, hmm?”
She knew she was the only one who could do it, but that didn’t change her reluctance. Dojin wouldn’t cross the line because he knew broadcasting well enough. But she was timid enough to get scared when he began raging in anger, even though she knew he was just acting. On top of that, he had said, “I’ll wake up when it’s time, so don’t come sticking that camera in my face to get me out of bed!” She could see Dojin getting really angry if she were to wake him up this way.
Writer Kim was going to ask for help but all she could see was everyone avoiding eye contact clearing their throats. No one wanted to take the bomb that was about to explode on her.
It was up to her to wake Dojin up early. Producer Na smiled brightly.
“I know you’ll be able to explain it to him. Thanks.”
She became a bit sullen at his annoying smile which seemed happy to pass the bomb over to someone else.
“Then I’ll do it right away.”
“That’s my Writer Kim. Then start filming from this point…huh? Hey don’t go by yourself, go together!”
While Producer Na went to get Dojin’s personal cameraman, Writer Kim ran as if spurred by her sense of duty, but in reality she just wanted to get over with it quickly. She opened Dojin’s door and vigorously shook him as she spoke.
“Producer Na said you have to do some other work today. Producer Na said you have to quickly go to the town office. Producer Na requested that you go and apply for the organic farming certification. Producer Na said to wake you up quickly.”
It wasn’t a long message but she put the same repetitive words in between. Dojin was fast asleep but his face became contorted from hearing the words ‘Producer Na’ continuously like a spell.
Writer Kim saw his reaction and kept spewing out sentences with Producer Na’s name like a parrot until Dojin said something.
“Okay, I get it. Urgh!”
Due to the cameraman running in late, Dojin’s first words on camera ended up being said with a glare.
“Where’s this bastard Producer Na?”
The camera pointed to the back knowing that the word would be beeped out along with his glare during broadcast. Dojin quickly got up and put his slippers on.
A refreshing morning shone on Yulchiri.
Producer Na’s shirt stretched as someone grabbed it. He grinned–it was just by the collar, so he had gotten off easy. Dojin was a professional. There would be no not-for-broadcast moments, as long as he wasn’t being woken from a sound sleep.
Indeed it was ‘Producer Na who flies’ over ‘Dojin who runs’. Producer Na looked up at the sky, a walkie-talkie in his hand.
“The scene looks good.”
The small drone with a camera attached was closing in as it filmed the scenery starting from the mountain ridge. The thick fog slowly receded and revealed Girl Seven’s lodging, nestled in the picturesque farming village.
“Let’s see Dojin hyung.”
The camera captured Dojin, coming out early and getting into a car. Even though he had washed up and gotten ready first, he looked up at the drone and scratched his head in frustration. He spoke to his personal cameraman.
“We’ll see about this, Producer Na.”
He started the car and disappeared down the road.
Now the opening–it was time to film the Youth’s Journal with the ducklings that were left now that their leader, big brother, had been sent off.
Producer Na, controlling the camera from behind the lodge house, signaled to the production crew.
The clamorous siren sound from the loudspeaker rang through the lodge house.
A moment later:
The doors opened and small sounds emerged.
The seven girl idol members started to appear one by one on the country house floor. They all seemed not quite awake and still wandering in dreamland. And all of them had hats on or towels on their heads because they were embarrassed to reveal their natural faces.
The doors to the back room opened as well and Minho and Jinsuk came out with messy hair.
“Did you guys sleep well?”
Sora was yawning as she nodded but covered her mouth in surprise when she saw the camera closing in on her no-makeup face. The other Girl Seven members reacted the same way. Most of them turned around and avoided eye contact with the camera.
Minho stretched his arms and asked Sora quietly, “Do you usually wake up this early?”
“No. I think Producer Na wants revenge for yesterday. Ugh, my eyes feel tight.”
Minho fixed his gaze on Sora who was keeping her eyes closed. She was blinking attempting to open her eyes but her pupils didn’t want to reveal themselves to the world.
“Are you sleeping?”
“It’s because I ate salt. It’ll be okay in five minutes.”
She had definitely been a charismatic idol leader before they went to sleep but now there was a familiar younger sister with puffy eyes in her place.
Minho let out a laugh thinking the panda eared hoodie Sora had on suited her well.
“Huh? Are you laughing at me right now?”
Sora who was squinting barely able to keep her eyes open shot a glare at him
“No~…Pfft. Ah, sorry.”
Sora covered her eyes as she pushed Minho. It’s not that he didn’t know this natural look was part of Youth Journal’s concept but it was certainly different seeing it in person than on screen. The other idol girls felt a bit more familiar as well.
“So, everyone’s here.”
Producer Na spoke as he checked Girl Seven standing in one place.
“The reason I woke everyone earlier than usual is because there’s a very important event today.”
The youngest, Hayeon, looked at Producer Na with her face filled with curiosity. The idols were used to hearing that word because they would attend three or four of them a day during the busy season.
“It’s been three months since you guys took your place in Yulchiri.”
‘It’s been a day for me’
Minho tilted his head to one side while everyone nodded. Jinsuk was also watching and listening from the other side just like Minho.
“We’ve eaten well and passed the time well since then. We received help from the town elders, but we’ve never really properly greeted them, have we? That’s why we have prepared a special in order to repay them properly. The title is ‘Let’s treat the elders!’”
It seemed like a fitting atmosphere to play the ‘Tada~’ background music.
“We did eat well but it was seldom we spent good times!”
Girl Seven booed but Producer Na didn’t pay any attention.
“Everyone has to bring one elder of Yulchiri to the village assembly hall and treat them to lunch.”
The floor director gave out maps with the elders’ locations and names to each person.
“We have prepared the ingredients at the assembly hall so all you need to do is cook a meal of your choice that will satisfy the elders’ taste buds. And this.”
Producer Na took out signs that had ‘it’s good’ and ‘it’s so-so’ written on them.
“You’ll be able to go home early if your individual elder’s assessment is ‘it’s good’. You’ll have to go dig out Yulchiri’s specialty crop, the potatoes, if their assessment is ‘it’s so-so.’”
He added that the prize for finishing well was being able to go swimming in the refreshing water. It would mean you could have your vacation while the others were working under the scorching sun.
Girl Seven were in confusion but they didn’t seem to worry too much. It was because there was someone trustworthy to step in as he grumbled and cleaned up this chaos.
But they were the only ones there staring around. The person they needed to see was still absent.
“Eh? Where is Dojin oppa?”
“He’s never overslept, right?”
Girl Seven looked around as they saw Producer Na grinning and they all fell into panic mode. Producer Na smiled smugly when he saw the expressions he had anticipated.
“Dojin went into town to the town office. He has to register for the organic farming certification for the garlic and onions you guys planted in April.”
“Why does he have to do that now?” Sora asked angrily.
“The deadline to register en bloc is today, that’s why. If he doesn’t do it, he has to go to the ministry of agriculture and forestry himself.”
He wrapped up the conversation.
“There’s a lot of paperwork. He won’t be able to finish up too quickly.”
Producer Na stood up and gave a sly smile, recalling Dojin grabbing him by the collar.
“I bet it’ll be difficult for Dojin hyung to return before lunch.”
“Ah ah, what do we do!”
Producer Na had deliberately sent away Dojin, who had become the master of cooking country food from being in charge of Girl Seven’s meals every time. Then everyone understood the severity of the problem.
“I really can’t cook.”
“The elders in this village are so honest. If it tastes bad they’ll say so.”
Minho had watched the previous episodes of Youth Journal and could guess the situation. There was a reason why Dojin had gone out so early. They would have to sell the crops cheaper if they didn’t get the organic farming certification. And they wouldn’t be able to pay off the farm debt, increasing the work they would have to do.
There was nothing for it but to solve the problem themselves!
“There’s no time for us to be like this!”
Sora was the first to come to her senses, now that she had a fire lit under her.
“Let’s all go to the assembly hall first and decide on the menu we’ll each cook.”
“Let’s do that, unnie.”
“Let’s go, go!”
Girl Seven gave a shout and all headed to their rooms rather than to the assembly hall. Every one of them came out with their portable makeup bags and headed towards the washroom.
All of Girl Seven were putting on their makeup. To Minho they looked like soldiers preparing for training putting on camouflage cream. Being beautiful took a lot of work.
“Let’s go wash up too.”
Jinsuk came out from the back room with a small pouch. Of course there would be all types of makeup in it. These days even men wear powder as well.
“You’re not going to get ready, Minho?”
Minho shook his head as he was the only one to quickly wash his face at the faucet. He refreshingly washed up and finished up with only toner and lotion.
‘Anyway what do I do about cooking?’
Minho sat on the wooden floor drying his face in the morning breeze as he thought of all sorts of dishes and erased them in his head. He had eaten those foods but never cooked them.
He knew nothing about cooking and knew even less about country dishes that would satisfy the elders’ taste buds.
‘I heard I just need to follow Dojin around and get a free ride for the morning mission but…what now?’
Minho was turning his head without much thought but came to a stop. Jinsuk was meticulously putting on face cream and maintaining his skin. He’d been sullen since yesterday afternoon, but his eyes were sparkling now.
‘Why is his expression so bright?’
Minho instinctively knew right away.
Jinsuk had prepared something.
Mukbang – From the words for “eating broadcast,” a video of someone eating large amounts of food for entertainment.
Yulchiri is an actual town famous for its film location for the movie ‘Welcome to Dongmakgol’ ^^