“Unconditionally liking….”

Yuna thought back to yesterday.
She went to her clubroom after school and passionately practiced.
She did some stretches, then did some vocal exercises, and then did some acting.
She physically felt tired, but while she was acting, she forgot about the sweat on her forehead and enjoyed it.
Becoming someone other than herself was something exciting.
It was like going on an adventure.

She rewinded the clock some more.
She was in her 3rd year of middle school.
She saw herself, who was acting at the acting school.
The lessons were a bit hard to follow, but it did not change the fact that the very act of acting itself gave her excitement.
To her, acting wasn’t the sweet fruit that she could get at the end of a harsh class, but the sports drink that enabled her to last the harsh class.

She went back even further to when she just entered middle school.
Bitna, who was a child model back then, tried her hand at a drama for the first time, and successfully won a role.
Yuna became interested in acting after seeing her very young sister acting on TV.
Her mother happily enrolled her in an acting school, telling her that she should try it out.
When she first went to the academy, she felt rather overwhelmed since everyone around her was already good at acting.
The people that received the so-called ‘camera massage’ were different on a fundamental level.
She felt like an ugly duckling amidst a group of elegant cranes.
Did acting not suit her after all? – she had such negative thoughts when she received her first lesson.
Indeed, she was overwhelmed and couldn’t do anything.
She was the only one who lacked basic voicing and pronunciation skills and had to receive personal lessons from the instructor.
Her first lesson was terrible.
She even had the feeling that she couldn’t do anything there.
When she had almost given up, the instructor told her to try some simple acting.
As she hadn’t learned anything yet back then, the word ‘acting’ seemed like a big wall to her.
Her peers next to her all displayed good acting one after the other.
They became angry, smiled, and cried.
Just when she felt deeply impressed by them, it became her turn.
Her head turned blank since she didn’t know what to do.
As she stood there frozen like a statue, the instructor told her that it was okay and told her to express anything she wanted.
At that moment, a clothes hanger entered her eyes and Yuna imitated that clothes hanger without thinking.
She stood upright, bent her arms into an L shape and pressed her fingers together.
She saw her own figure reflected on the wall and she found herself really freaky.
She thought that she was going to get laughed at, but no one laughed at her.
In fact, what she received was a compliment.
Yuna was curious.
The performance she had just shown was too different from the acting that her peers had shown.
It was nothing more than an infantile form of imitation, so she couldn’t understand why other people would say that she was good.
The instructor smiled gently at her and replied to her:

That is what acting was about.

The moment she heard those words, Yuna’s body shook, without knowing why.
Acting, which existed in another world and was something that she could only watch from afar, felt like it was right in front of her now.
Ever since that day, Yuna became engrossed in acting.
Expressing something other than herself – that kind of excitement was what she liked.

Until now, Yuna had never once felt afraid of acting nor felt that it was hard to do.
She may have thought that a technical aspect of acting might be difficult, but she never felt burdened by acting itself.
To her, acting was a refuge, a playground always filled with new and fun things.
Being afraid of going to such a place? She couldn’t imagine such a thing.

“Learning to act is definitely a difficult thing.
There were many times when it was hard, but I’ve never felt afraid or like I was afraid of acting even once.”

“If you think that, then there’s no problem.
You don’t need to hesitate and can just keep doing things the way you’ve been doing until now.
The path you’ve been treading on is very solid and must be heading in the right direction,” said Maru, who sat in front of her.

They were words of encouragement, but the same words were echoing inside Yuna’s head.
Is unconditionally liking something really liking something? When she thought about it simply, there was no need to hesitate.
She unconditionally liked it because there was nothing to hate about it, right?

Yuna shook her head.
With years of practice and effort, her skills had definitely improved.
She knew that she had improved dramatically when she thought back to how she was during her 1st year of middle school.

However, as the years passed by, her technical skills may have improved, but the instructor became even more strict.
The instructor that used to compliment her for her improvement now started pointing out the dullness in her emotional expression.
The way you express it is not bad, but the appeal is lacking – that was what the instructor said about her.

It was around that time that she saw Maru’s acting.
That was the first time Yuna felt dazed by an act from someone around her age.
The words that she lacked appeal became a mallet and smacked her head.
The moment she saw Maru’s acting, she realized that what he was showing her was the ‘appeal’ that she lacked.
She thought that she wanted to be like that as she continued with her acting.
Acting was still enjoyable and she felt happy whenever she acted, but what increased was only her technical skill, while the emotional expression that couldn’t be formally verified did not improve at all.

If she was doing nothing wrong, then shouldn’t she be improving? As time passed, the instructor’s opinion of her became worse by the day, and recently, she even felt hopeless.

She wanted to know how this person named Han Maru could act like that.
The explanation from the adults didn’t feel real to her, and always felt distant, making it hard for her to accept.
She also felt like she would have an easier time understanding if someone around her age told her about his own experiences.

However, the result of the conversation made Yuna feel more confused than ever.

‘Afraid of acting?’

Yuna had a look at Maru’ s face.
He was talking to Bitna with a smile on his face.
When she looked at his face, she was reminded of his acting.
The person that displayed such chill-inducing acts was afraid of acting? They say a genius cannot win against one that puts in the effort, and that one that puts in effort cannot win against one that enjoys.
Isn’t enjoying something the same as liking it? Yuna couldn’t understand how it was possible to like something and be good at it when he was afraid of it.

“Is unconditionally liking something a bad thing after all?”

“I told you it’s not.
It’s more likely that I’m wrong.
If you think of something as infinitely good, that’s an incredible thing.
If you truly never felt afraid of acting, then there are no problems at all.
In fact, it would be me who would be envious of you.”

“But my performances don’t have the attraction that yours does.”

“That’s probably because the roles I played were impactful ones.
I don’t have any presence in the drama, right? My acting is nothing special, so there’s no need to worry about it.”

“In the drama, you’re so natural that you feel flawless.
When I perform an ordinary life act, I always get told that I’m bland.
You really are different from me.”

“I’m happy that you see me so highly, but I wonder if that’s what’s troubling you instead.
You acted until now without any worries at all, didn’t you?”

“I did have my worries.
I just didn’t mind them that much since I enjoy myself a lot while I’m acting.
Now, however, I have a dream to debut as a proper actress.
There won’t be a problem if I’m just acting as a hobby, but I think I need to change if I want to become a pro.”

At that moment, Maru sighed and turned his eyes towards the counter.
Maru spoke for the first time without looking her in the eyes.

“I do not know a lot about you.
That’s why I can only tell you basic and fundamental things.
I think I have a vague grasp of what you’re worried about, but I can’t answer you precisely because I only have a vague grasp.”

“I’m fine with anything.
I just want to hear your story.”

“Will my advice have a chance to change you?”

I want to act just like you.”

“Then that’s all the more reason I can’t tell you anything.”

“Why is that?”

“It’s because I don’t want you to resent me.
If my words influence you, and you end up failing later on in life, you will remember this moment.
You might swear at me.
I don’t want to get sworn at in a place I don’t know.”

Yuna widened her eyes.

“I won’t do something like that.”

“You might.”

“I’m not someone who would do that.”

“I can’t be sure that you aren’t someone who would do that.”

“I just wanted to hear your opinions though….”

“Why don’t you look for someone that’s much better than me? Someone who can take responsibility for their words, that is.
You said you go to an acting school right? Asking the teacher there is also one way.”

“The instructor’s advice doesn’t really feel that real.”

“How about your seniors at school then?”


“Why not?”

Yuna bit her lower lip before speaking,

“You were the only one.
You were the only one I was deeply impressed by.
Of course, I am deeply impressed by some adults acting on TV, but you were the first high school student who impressed me that much.
That’s why I tried to meet you even when I had to end up lying to a senior I really liked.
I thought that you would tell me something different.”

“I have to apologize, but I’m no one special.
I just happened to grab some lucky chances, and I managed to make use of them.”

Yuna felt her chest tightening.
Maru’s words were right.
Someone he had seen for the first time was asking him for an answer with a serious face, so it would be even stranger if he replied properly.
However, she felt frustrated and sad when she thought about how she wouldn’t be able to get any hints from the meeting she looked forward to so much.

This is not right – Yuna forced herself to smile.
She couldn’t inconvenience him here.
After all, she had to thank him for meeting her in the first place.

“I’ll keep doing my best like this then.
Since it’s what I like to do, I will definitely change if I keep doing it.
I learned a lot from meeting you today, seonbae-nim.
Thank you.”

She decided to let him go and hoped that Maru didn’t feel bad for coming today.
She didn’t want to be hated by Maru.
It would be horrible if the actor who made her excited looked at her with contempt.

Just as she was about to stand up,

“Oppa, don’t hate unni,” Bitna said.

Yuna looked at Bitna in surprise.

“I don’t hate your big sister.”

“Then why aren’t you answering her?”

“Because it’s not something I can solve.”

“Can’t you just tell her something? Unni really looked forward to meeting you today, like, thiiiis much.”

Bitna created a big circle with her arms.
Yuna grabbed Bitna’s hands.

“Bitna, unni is fine.
I’m completely fine.”

“You’re lying.
You’re about to cry.”

“No, I’m not.”

“No, you look sad.”

Large teardrops appeared on Bitna’s face before she started crying.
Yuna quickly embraced Bitna.

“Sorry, Bitna, your sister was in the wrong.”

When she patted Bitna’s back, Bitna stopped crying.
She never thought that the docile girl would cry all of a sudden.
Yuna felt her heart aching.
It felt like everything was her fault.
Just as she was wiping Bitna’s tears with her palms, she heard a voice.

“If I assume that you’re in a similar situation as me, I can tell you a few things.”


“I feel bad now since I feel like Bitna will hate me if I go just like this.
I’m weak against children.
Especially against good girls like Bitna.”

Maru brushed his hair upwards with his hands before speaking,

“If you’re okay with regretting after hearing my story, I can talk to you for another hour or so.
However, there’s no customer service after that.
Even if what I tell you sets you off-track, the only thing I can do is to hear you swear at me.”

“I don’t care.
I want to listen to you.”

Yuna had a look at Btina.
Bitna was smiling brightly as she looked at Maru.
Maru also looked at Bitna as though he had lost.

“But seonbae-nim.
What changed your mind so suddenly?”

“I told you.
I don’t want to be hated by Bitna.”

“Is that really it?”

“That’s really it.
I find it strange too.
I usually never step into other people’s business when they aren’t related to me.
For some reason though, I can’t win against Bitna’s eyes.
Perhaps this is what a father with a daughter feels like.”

After saying those words, Maru frowned and didn’t speak for a while for some reason.
He seemed to be in deep thought as he though he was going through his memories before he eventually sighed.

“Not that I would know what a father with a daughter would feel like.”

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