Minho was sitting on the terrace of the company lounge and looking at a chart that Manager Gong had given him.
It was the weekly schedule starting from tomorrow. Because he had yet to officially start going on broadcasts, his schedule was empty except for the time for gaming practice. But one event scheduled on Friday evening caught his eye.
Minho put the schedule down and looked over at Manager Gong.
“It hasn’t been too long since we signed the contract, and you scheduled this already?”
Manager Gong responded ‘Of course not!’ to the question as if he had prepared his answer beforehand.
“This was a casting request that had already come through the gaming team. I heard it was a special on smart TV personalities.”
“Smart TV personalities?”
“The broadcast station first contacted us after seeing you win the quiz show. It won’t be overwhelming since it’s a short segment focused on interviews.”
Minho scratched his chin. It would be more fitting to call him a master of coin flipping or choice making rather than this kind of phrase.
‘Well, since it makes me look good.’
Either way, it meant he was free until Friday. Minho got up from his seat.
“There isn’t anything else I need to hear about, right?”
“Hold on. There’s still one thing on the schedule today. You have to take a profile picture to upload on the company network.”
“It’s for tactical use when there’s a casting request or when we meet an advertiser.”
Is it like a company catalogue? Minho looked at the stylish pictures of the KG celebrities that were hung along the hallway. It seemed like it would be that kind of photo. But it was easy to see there was a big difference between Minho who came simply dressed and the stars who were dressed up and styled from head to toe.
“Do I… get a photoshoot just like this? Do I get dressed up or anything?”
Minho pointed to his top and bottom.
“Ah, there’s a professional make-up room within the company. When you officially start going on broadcasts then you’ll be assigned a stylist, but right now…”
Manager Gong trailed off, unsure of how to tell Minho that he was not at that level yet. Minho understood and nodded.
“Where do I need to go?”
Minho followed Manager Gong and arrived at the makeup room on the second floor. Inside the clear glass, a sophisticated interior that was like a hair salon came into view.
Manager Gong continued to speak as he checked his watch.
“It’s eleven a.m. so we still have enough time. The appointment at the studio is set to two o’clock so we’ll leave 30 minutes before that. I’ll contact you then. You can eat before that at the cafeteria in the basement.”
Minho opened the doors to the makeup room and entered. He spoke to the employee at the entrance.
“I’m Minho Kang.”
“Hold on a moment.”
After checking the schedule, the employee spoke.
“You’re scheduled for a profile photoshoot right?”
“Please wait for a bit over there.”
The employee pointed towards the waiting chairs. As Minho sat down on the chair, he looked slowly around the makeup room.
The first thing that caught his eyes was a girl sitting in front of the mirror who looked like an idol. A female idol, for men who had just recently completed military service, was held more sacred than the military order and structure, and was the invigorator of their daily life.
It was only natural to be interested.
‘But who is she? I know most of all the famous girl groups. Did she debut recently?’
He could not recognize her just by looking at her face. Even though she was a celebrity, the first thing that came to mind was that she seemed rather ordinary and not pretty. Like a canvas that had yet to be painted on.
Minho turned his attention to the rest of the facility, but as the makeup artist began attending to the canvas girl, his eye was drawn back to her face and he could not help but stare, transfixed. As more makeup was added on, the contours of her face became more prominent.
‘Her eyes were small… But they became bigger?’
When the blush was done being thoroughly added on with a brush, her looks completely changed.
~~Her average looks which could be found anywhere on a bus or subway suddenly disappeared.
‘A miracle! That was really magical!’
An idol that you would see on TV was sitting right in front of him.
Minho then understood. That, that could never be called makeup. That was just trickery.
“Today the makeup’s not done well.”
While getting her hair done after the makeup, the girl said as she looked at herself in the mirror here and there.
“Did chief Jay Kim go somewhere?”
“He’s on a business trip because of a performance abroad.”
“Today’s an important event, I can’t believe the best isn’t here.”
As the girl discontentedly looked at the stylist’s reflection in the mirror, her eyes fixed on the reflection of Minho, who was sitting by the stylist.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen you, who are you? A trainee?”
The girl, who was getting a transformation rather than just makeup, asked informally out of the blue. Minho considered how he should answer her. It was reasonable for her to think of any new face as her junior since she was used to entering the KG company building. But he did not like her attitude that had no basic etiquette.
‘An idol should be angelic.’
The image of the girl that Minho had imagined while he was in the army popped like a bubble and disappeared. The source of motivation for soldiers was neither so sweet nor like cotton candy.
Taking out his pocket watch and spinning it once, Minho vaguely received information from the conversation that would take place one minute in the future and nodded.
“I’m Minho. You? A trainee?”
The girl’s eyes grew wide as Minho talked back to her the same way she did.
“What? Do you know who I am?”
“Well. If you finish that eye makeup well, you might vaguely look like Sora Oh from Punkyline.”
Sora glared ‘You knew that and still–?’ at him. Minho asked nonchalantly,
“Are you really Sora Oh? Wow, I really won’t be able to recognize you without your makeup.”
At the same time Sora burst out in anger, Minho spoke with a serious face.
“You’re 23, I’m 24. You debuted three years ago, I…”
Minho thought of the winter when he was 20, when he made his debut as a professional gamer.
“…debuted four years ago. That make me your oppa as well as your sunbae. If you don’t believe me, search professional gamer Minho Kang.”
He smiled as he brought a finger to his lips. And when he winked as if telling her to quietly accept the transformation, Sora forcefully put down her head as the tip of her lips shook.
“Minho Kang? Come this way.”
The person in charge called Minho as the setup finished.
Minho sat in front of the mirror. The male makeup specialist, who introduced himself as stylist Junghoon, spoke as he sprayed water in Minho’s hair.
“Let’s see, it’s a profile picture photoshoot right? Your hairstyle is not bad so let’s just revitalize it, and your skin’s not to the point of needing whitening. Your foundation is good.”
As Junghoon put moisturizing cream all over Minho’s face and finished by spraying it with a mist, Minho felt his skin being revitalized.
‘This isn’t something I should look down on thinking it’s just a transformation, huh?’
Minho began to be subtly amazed at his appearance as it changed to a smooth soft skin tone. Junghoon explained that he needed to wait for about 15 minutes with the hairpin in place in order to finalize the hairstyling.
As Minho sat still, he felt a sleepiness slowly coming upon him. The chair was comfortable and he had to wait without doing anything. When he looked next to him, even Sora was drowsing fitfully.
As he yawned, Junghoon spoke.
“It’s okay, you can catch some sleep. What time’s your appointment?”
“The photoshoot studio is close by so you have some leeway.”
Having to put on their makeup early in the morning, it was always the case for TV personalities to doze off in front of the mirror. Minho apologized and gently closed his eyes. He was still tired from the contract signing on top of the heavy drinking last night.
Doyoon Gong was sitting in the van, decorating the car interior here and there.
He put up a fresh-smelling air freshener and put on new seat covers. And underneath the rearview mirror, he hung a picture of the apple of his eye, his two-year-old daughter, Sooah. Then he looked around feeling satisfied.
It had been six years in this field.
Now he had arrived at the status of being in charge of one celebrity and driving his own van. He had suffered from experiencing all sorts of celebrities and he was finally reaping the rewards.
‘A professional gamer…….’
But the one he would be in charge of starting today, Minho, felt different from the other celebrities. It was hard to determine if Minho would adjust well in this field because he did not have the ambitious spirit that other newcomers had, instead having a strange overflowing sense of composure.
Doyoon had to take good care of Minho and make him successful so that Doyoon himself could stand on a higher level as well. Doyoon looked at himself reflected in the rearview mirror and nodded.
‘In the elite of the world of managers, Doyoon Gong, who will be promoted as the future director of KG Entertainment! Sooah is watching as well. Fighting!’
After finishing the self-hypnosis and slapping his face, Doyoon smiled at the picture of his daughter.
Ring ring ring
When he looked at his cell phone, the name of the head of the drama department popped up.
“Department head Ji?”
- Yeah, Doyoon. First, congratulations on your promotion.
“Haha. Thank you.”
- Let me urgently get to the point. Do you have time to pick someone up right now? I saw that the one you’re responsible for has an appointment at studio B. But there’s someone that needs to go to studio A.
“Who is it?”
- Eunha Seo.
The department head’s voice was filled with heavy irritation as he spoke the name.
- There’s a photoshoot but she’s being stubborn saying she can’t take the time off her lecture. Is she saying that while knowing it’s a several tens of thousand dollar contract? If she wants to move on her own then she should’ve just gotten her own personal manager. If she wasn’t supported by the CEO then I would’ve fired her by now.
“I understand. I’ll pick her up.”
- Please. You know where she is right?
Doyoon put his hands on the steering wheel and turned on the engine.
‘She gets points for stubbornness.’
Eunha Seo, who was balancing her acting and her studies, was KG Entertainment’s rising star despite having had only a few works as an actress.
She had a strong educational background in the form of an international politics major at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and also good acting skills, so the drama department had been persuading her to sign the contract for her to work officially. But she kept her feet on the ground. Her broadcasting work was only a way for her to earn her tuition.
The van left the company building and passed the intersection, headed towards the University of Foreign Studies. Doyoon picked up his phone as he arrived near the campus grounds.
[Ms. Eunha. I’m Manager Gong. I’ll be waiting at the pick-up spot by the main entrance.]
As soon as he sent the text, a reply came right away.
[Manager Gong, you’re here? Yes! I’ll be right there!]
A moment later, Manager Gong smiled as he looked at the side mirrors and saw a person approaching at a run with her clothes flowing in the wind.
She had big glasses and a hat over her head. This young lady was unadorned unlike any other ordinary college girl; who would’ve thought she was Eunha Seo, who was rising in popularity through her role as the sophisticated younger sister in a weekend drama.
To Doyoon, who had seen a number of celebrities, Eunha had a fairly preeminent appearance. If one considered that that was her unadorned face, she had a high chance of rising to the top. Usually, the more the actress received camera massages* the prettier she became.
Eunha Seo, who came closer, waved both of her arms at him through the window signalling, ‘I’m here!’
The side door opened and Eunha got in, breathing deeply.
“It’s a relief that you came, Manager Gong. I was prepared to be yelled at by Department Head Ji.”
She put her bag down and it seemed very heavy. Doyoon guessed it would be her books for her major. As he was turning on the engine, he asked.
“How was the lecture?”
Eunha took off her hat and smoothed her hair before tying it back. Then she shook her head.
“It’s difficult, difficult.”
She stretched out her arms and gestured as if she were giving a speech.
“‘It’s the ballot or the bullet!’ Have you heard this phrase?”
Doyoon shook his head.
“I’m not sure. Is it a line from a movie?”
“Ah, there’s also a movie. Malcolm X. Either way, I have to write an analysis report on the violent and non-violent civil rights movements. But my professor is so picky. I can’t write ‘Bang! Shoot the politicians because they didn’t keep their pledge.’”
Doyoon was only able to nod his head ‘I see.’
“Oh my, who’s this?”
Eunha’s gaze turned towards the baby picture hanging from the rearview mirror.
“She’s my daughter. Sooah Gong.”
“She’s really cute. She looks a lot like you, Manager Gong.”
“I’d rather she didn’t look like me.”
Even if he said that, Doyoon contentedly smiled, and Eunha smiled brightly in response. She was well known among the managers for her good personality because, unlike some other celebrities, she was not so particular about formalities nor was she fussy.
To be smart, pretty, and on top of that have a good personality just meant, in other words, that her value as a celebrity was much higher.
As he looked over at Eunha, who had started to read her thick book, Doyoon thought that getting a promotion would be in the bag if he were her manager. His current charge, though, was an unknown factor.
Doyoon mumbled ‘It’ll turn out well’ as he pressed on the gas pedal.
Camera massages (cultural reference): It is a popular term in the Korean entertainment industry. It refers to how the actress or actor becomes more beautiful or handsome as they increase their experience and exposure to the camera. But it doesn’t mean that the beam from the camera makes them more attractive. As they are seen more and more on camera, they become self-aware of their looks and maintain their beauty and good looks through self-maintenance.