All the cast of Youth Journal gathered in front of the assembly hall.
“Film standby. Cue!”
The afternoon filming started with Producer Na’s shout.
“Everyone, good work. We’ll present the results of the morning mission starting from yesterday.”
Producer Na brought out the bulletin board with the potato team and the water team divided. Then he spoke to Dojin.
“There’s only Minho and Sora on the water team. You’ll definitely go to the water team right, Dojin Hyung?”
“You call that a question?”
Girl Seven and Jinsuk made disappointed faces, but Dojin was high spirited.
“Hey, in this hell, when we’re not working it’s best to not do anything..”
Producer Na spoke with a smile as if he had something planned.
“We prepared a way to save the potato team as well. Would you like to hear it?”
“Forget it. It won’t be for free.”
Producer Na shouted ‘Correct!’ as he put his hands up above his head in a circle. And when Dojin frowned, he changed it to a heart shape and then stepped back.
“Don’t be like that and have a listen. We prepared a very simple common knowledge quiz.”
When Producer Na said that, Dojin made a face as if to say ‘Simple my butt.’
“Who will solve them? Me?”
“Doesn’t matter who solves them. Either way, If you answer correctly you’ll save one member of their team, but if you fail then one member of the water team has to go to the potato team. You can try as many times as you want.”
Dojin burst out angrily.
“Shove it. Last time you gave us ten questions that were nonsense.”
Producer Na mumbled, ‘That’s why the viewing rate increased.’
“What are you going to do? Are you going to take the challenge?”
It would be a loss for the water team even if they tried. And of course, Dojin’s choice was a ‘No.’
“You’re always like this. Let’s be smart about this.”
“Then I have no choice. We’ll put the subtitle: there’s no compassion in being smart. It’ll be worth trying to save one member if Dojin hyung sacrifices himself……”
Everyone on the potato team looked at Dojin pitifully. If he failed he would have to go right to the potato team. But the temptation worked even though only one would be saved if he succeeded. Dojin, wavering, glared at Producer Na.
“You’re really cruel.”
“If you don’t want to just say you don’t want to. Then the potato team can get on that truck and go right away.”
Minho was reminded of a racoon the more he looked at Producer Na. He was an expert at maneuvering. Dojin looked back and forth at them and admitted defeat.
“Wait a bit. I have to ask my team as well.”
Dojin walked over to the water team and asked for their opinion as he looked at Sora.
“Should we do it? We have to go dig potatoes too if we fail.”
“Oppa, doesn’t it feel like we have to?”
“Yeah, but the situation is different.”
He gestured for Sora to look at Minho.
Minho was just dubious. He lacked the broadcast experience but he could tell when the timing was right and they had to move forward. That was what gave the show life..
But why was he hesitating?
“The penalty is big, right? It was so good until now.”
“But you’re the type of person who doesn’t care for those things, oppa.”
“Hey, if someone hears they might really think I’m a bad person. Minho’s case isn’t like yours. For a guest it’s all about the image.”
Minho understood right away from their conversation. His current image was that of a multi-talented gamer. And no matter what, the start of that image was his title as quiz show winner.
If Minho’s team took the quiz, it would naturally be staged with him as the one stepping forward, or the one they looked to for advice. But if he were to say ‘I don’t know’ then it would put a blemish on the character and image he’d been creating.
“Well it’s just once so wouldn’t it be okay to make a mistake? On top of that it’ll probably be a question about farming.”
Dojin shook his head at what Minho said.
“That’s not bad, but I think it would be more effective to imprint a smart image first and then go with being more familiar next time. That will get you the first casting calls no matter what. And if they capture you on camera well you can easily aim for permanent casting.”
He explained there were pros and cons but going with this would be better for the future. It would be a great advantage in making other choices outside of Youth Journal.
Minho felt Dojin had a very strategic discerning eye for something simple. If Minho was a professional gamer in Pentastorm, then they were the professionals when it came to broadcasting.
“But that question we have to get correct,”
He wanted to satisfy their anticipation at this point.
“Is it a short answer question or multiple choice?”
“But the difficulty is incomparable to The Answer. It’s nonsense.”
“They give questions that aren’t even worth calling quiz questions.”
They said the topics of the questions jumped here and there having no specific range in the vast concept of common knowledge. It was about something trivial and miniscule.
“I’ll do it.”
“Will you be alright?”
“If I get it right, I’ll be the best.”
“Wow, oppa you’re awesome.”
“You guys seem to have grown close very quickly?”
Sora laughed with a ‘pfft’ when Dojin said that.
Minho was really confident.
‘If it’s multiple choice, then thank you.’
Producer Na had made the wrong game choice. Dojin nodded when Minho said ‘Let’s do this’ without worrying.
“Fine. Let’s try. Well, even if the question is ridiculous I’ll try my best not to let it get to you, so don’t worry.”
Then Dojin shouted accepting the challenge.
“Water team, fighting!*”
“Please get it right!”
Both the potato team and the water team cheered enthusiastically.
“That’s Dojin hyung.”
Producer Na put up both his thumbs and spoke.
“You only have one chance to choose. We’ll give you the first question right away.”
Writer Kim came forward and read the question.
“First question. Common knowledge of agriculture.”
All of the cast carefully listened, anticipating the question to be presented.
“What is the total distance of the Saemangeum land reclamation project?”
“Distance? Not even the name of a street but distance as in meters or kilometers?”
“Yes. That distance.”
Dojin let out a forceful laugh probably because it was so dumbfounding. He was confident he could guess right on most questions since he had gotten used to agricultural work. But what was this.
“Producer Na. Are you crazy? Is this agricultural common knowledge?”
“Saemangeum is in the farming area.”
“Do you want to answer a family common sense question? What’s the width of my bed? I’ll give you a quiz prize as well.”
“Now! Let’s see the choices.”
Writer Kim began to present the choices following the direction of Producer Na who told her to read.
“Number one: 33.1 km. Number two: 33.2 km. Number three: 33.3 km. Number four: 33.4 km. Number five: 33.5 km. Number six…”
“How many numbers are there?”
“It increases by 0.1 km. And there are ten of them.”
Ten consecutive multiple choice answers were presented. It was a 10% chance–truly a question of extreme difficulty. Minho thought Producer Na was a person who was very talented in increasing his anti-fans.
“I graduated with an art degree. Give me an art common knowledge question instead!”
It was a moment that everyone was in a panic. Minho, standing next to Sora, put up nine fingers.
Minho nodded and sent him a signal telling him not to worry. Dojin answered as he looked at Producer Na.
“Number nine. 33.9 km.”
Cheers exploded from the potato team. Minho shrugged his shoulders at Dojin and Sora’s gaze. Dojin smiled at him.
“Okay. We saved one for now. Give me another one.”
The production staff was slightly taken aback by Dojin suddenly changing to a more combative attitude.
“What? He guessed it and got it right?”
“It can’t be. Maybe he read an article about it somewhere. There was some buzz ten years ago.”
“It’s weird he memorizes these things. It’s definitely a coincidence.”
“We can’t be sure so do your best to pick. Something they can’t know.”
The next question was presented after the production staff’s discussion.
“Which marsh is registered in the Ramsar Convention?”
“Number four. Upo Wetland.”
“Who is the founder of McCarthyism which is anti-communism and what year did it begin?”
“Producer Na. Did you throw away agricultural common knowledge?…Number seven: Joseph McCarthy and 1950.”
“What is the name of the book used as holy scripture by the Quiche Maya tribe of Guatemala, who are descendants of the ancient Mayan people?
“Producer Na, You’ll be flustered. Number nine. Popol Vuh.”
Producer Na had no choice but to be surprised at this point. Minho, who kept giving Dojin signals, was a thorn in Producer Na’s eyes.
“Minho, you’re the best. You know all sorts of things.”
All of the potato team nodded in agreement when Dojin said this. Especially Hayeon, who was still a senior in high school stuck with studies, was about to have hearts sprout from her eyes.
“I’m going to ask Sora unnie later and get tutoring from him.”
Already three members were saved and joined the water team. The potato team all waited in excited anticipation for Producer Na’s quiz questions.
At that moment Writer Kim, who was in charge of casting Minho, furtively hid herself behind another writer.
Producer Na turned to question her.
“You said they wouldn’t get it correct?”
“Won’t they get at least o-one wrong?”
‘Does this mean we have to wrap up two consecutive days as a happy youth drama? And what’s with that kid who has all these things stored in his head?’
Dojin smiled elated with joy at Producer Na who was grabbing his own hair.
“Producer Na. Hurry and give the quiz. We’re about to go hang out in the water all together.”
Producer Na waved his hand.
“Foul! It’s a foul to have Minho help out!”
He had to give up pretending to ignore what Minho was doing.. Dojin laughed out loud.
“Why do you keep changing the rules so frequently? The topic of the questions were originally agricultural common knowledge. I’m going to stop if you keep doing that. We saved enough people. Shall we go to the water now?”
Now Producer Na was the one begging, as Dojin refused to rise to the bait.
“You have to save all of them.”
“Then give it to me.”
Producer Na looked at Minho who was laughing as if he thought it was funny, and was flicking a coin playfully. He imagined the subtitles of defeat:
『The man who became a new person from frying Nokdu pancakes was originally an expert from a quiz show. It was a total miscalculation of the production staff.』
He was an individual who gave things an unexpected twist no matter what was planned. They would be utterly at a loss if he was a permanent cast member because he would probably overshadow the other characters next to him. But he was a character who would be cheered on by anyone if he was used for specials or events.
‘I thought he was just a professional gamer who plays the guitar well. But this kid is really like an onion.*’
In no time, it was the last question.
“Yeah! Let’s go play in the water!”
Girl Seven, who were saved thanks to the quiz expert, ran in excitement. The writers who saw this gripped their fists.
“Let’s try one more with a nonsense quiz.”
“Let’s pressure them with a large reward and then take Minho out completely.”
“Hurry and give me ideas!”
Since they had struck out brutally, this time they would give him no chance.
Minho was dozing off, leaning against a post amid the bustle at Girl Seven’s country lodge house. He opened his eyes and gazed at the yard and the pile of potato skins.
“Ugh! my every ligament is aching.”
He thumped his arm like an old person.
After playing in the water they experienced a surprise defeat when Producer Na changed his mind and they all spent two hours digging up potatoes.
Everywhere in the yard, there were signs of the last mission where they boiled, roasted and fried the mixed potatoes they had dug up.
“We’re going to wrap up the filming here!”
“Everyone, you worked hard!”
Who knew the good byes of the staff ringing out at the end of the day would feel so affectionate.
It was 9:00 pm when he checked the time.
Dojin came out from the back room after organizing his bag and walked toward Minho. It was because Dojin had compromised with Producer Na that they were all able to finish and go home at this time.
“You worked really hard. You’ll appear next time too, right?”
Minho answered honestly.
“I’m not confident.”
“I can tell you this one for sure.”
Dojin put his sunglasses on as he spoke, even though it was the middle of the night.
“When you keep doing broadcast work, you’re going to start thinking rolling around in the mud somewhere where the air and water are nice isn’t as hard as you think. You’re still young. I’m 43.”
Dojin patted Minho’s back and disappeared into the front gate. He seemed so cool to Minho, even though he wasn’t trying to act cool.
‘Should I try wearing sunglasses too?’
This time, Jinsuk came to him with a bag on his shoulders.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen someone do broadcasting like you. How can you never give in for even a single frame?”
Jinsuk put out his hand, cornering Minho.
“It was a good experience thanks to you. I think I’ll come to KG more, so I’ll see you again next time.”
“Yes, see you again.”
Minho acted cool and shook Jinsuk’s hand, since Jinsuk had acted cool about being defeated in the delightful lunch cooking. Minho could afford to be generous, as the victor of the dog-eat-dog battle for screen time.
“Minho oppa! Let’s go too.”
Sora came out of the room in the clothes she had worn for the opening. Her voice was filled with energy since it was time to go home.
“Finally, we can escape.”
Minho went out the front gate feeling like a soldier who was released after a short training that seemed very long.
It was difficult for the production staff’s vehicles to come in this far because only crane vehicles could make it up the narrow country path. They had to walk a bit to the location where Manager Gong’s car was parked.
“Stack the lights here!”
“Floor director! Take care of the sound equipment!”
It was chaotic outside the gate due to the staff cleaning up the production equipment. Producer Na, who was directing the clean up, waved to the two young people.
“Minho, I think the broadcast turned out good this time. You can count on it. Sora, you worked hard too.”
“Producer Na, you worked hard as well. We’ll go on ahead.”
Minho and Sora finished saying their goodbyes and walked into the night of Yulchiri. The road had no lamps because the country house was located right at the foot of the mountains.
“It was hard, right?”
Sora asked as she walked quietly.
“I don’t like anything else about this program, but I like walking and staring up at the stars after the work is done.”
Minho looked up at the sky when she said this.
The sky, which had been bright with sunshine, was now filled with shining stars. It was a scene that was pleasing to just keep looking at. At that moment, it occured to Minho that having the countryside as your friend and filming a broadcast might not be such a hard thing.
Anything romantic is always short.
‘I can only think this way since it’s over.’
If he opened his eyes and found himself back at yesterday morning, he would definitely feel like digging a hole and sticking his head in the ground.
As he walked along the country road, something ahead caught Minho’s eye and he stopped short.
“How are you with scary things?”
Minho pointed in front of them. There was an old building that looked deserted, giving off a spooky aura.
“I’m not scared at all!”
Sora took a step closer to Minho as she said this. Minho grinned and started walking. He wasn’t completely fearless but he could watch a horror movie without screaming so he was able to walk by that run-down house without a problem.
Then Minho noticed a light shining in the run-down house. It was a house that seemed like no one was living in it. There was no reason for light to shine from it. Minho felt chills run down from the top of his head to the tip of his toes.
“What is that?”
“What is what?”
Sora grabbed Minho’s clothes due to his surprised voice.
“Don’t you see the light from that window?”
Sora’s eyes scanned the old house, and she hit Minho’s back.
“Don’t joke around!”
Sora dropped her honorifics as she was swept with fear.
“I’m not joking. Look over there.”
As Minho was saying this he realized the light wasn’t a ghost or anything. He didn’t feel creeped out or repulsed the more he looked at it. He rather felt a small anticipation and even excitement.
There’s something there. It’s something that is not bad.
“Stay here for a bit.”
Minho walked toward the run-down house as if entranced. He opened the door that was almost falling off and when he walked into the room, he felt the light more clearly.
There was a small gourd bottle that was rolling in the middle of the floor. Minho was gripped by a certain excitement. It was the first time he had seen a cherished object that was not owned by anyone, unlike the other cherished objects he encountered that all had owners.
“What are you doing? I’m gonna leave without you!”
Minho came out of the old house and smiled widely at Sora, who was shaking.
“I must have seen wrong. Let’s go now.”
It seemed Sora was still scared as she stayed one step away from from Minho. Minho looked the gourd bottle over as he walked toward the parking lot.
“What is that?”
“Something I picked up.”
Observing the gourd bottle, Minho felt something strange. The faint light was the same but there was no reaction even though he was holding it and shaking it. The cherished objects he had seen all lost their light as soon as he touched them when he discovered them.
‘Whatever, haha! Awesome find!’
He didn’t worry about taking the bottle since it was an item that was thrown away without any owner. He would find out more about it when he got home.
“Mr. Minho! Ms. Sora!”
Manager Gong, who was in the parking lot, happily greeted them.
Minho and Sora were fast asleep in the van headed toward Seoul.
The gourd bottle that was in Minho’s hands began shining at some point.
Minho twisted and turned briefly, falling into his dream again as he smacked his lips. The faint light of the gourd bottle went up Minho’s hand and disappeared.
There was only Manager Gong who was driving, Sora who was more deeply asleep than Minho, and Minho himself. No one was able to see that sight.
Hidden object: gourd bottle from the run-down house.
Fighting – A korean phrase that is said as a chant to cheer or encourage.
Be like an onion – it’s a Korean phrase which means the person has more qualities to them the more you get to know them. It means a person has many layers to their character like an onion.