What he found out through some of his experiences with auditions was that the producers, casting directors, and the majority of the staff were actually quite lax.
They did not ask pressuring questions like they were interviewing, nor did they urge the participant to start acting.
If they delayed the whole thing without reason, the organizers would naturally warn that participant, but most of the time, if the participant asked for some time, they would allow it.
That was because the organizers knew that acting wasn’t a standardized thing like injection-molded plastic.

“Can I get into the right emotions after thinking a bit?”

“If that’s necessary for your acting, then sure.
But don’t make me wait too much.
You know that my expectations will become bigger the longer I wait, right?”

There were thorns in her soft words.
Maru accelerated his thought process.
Just as Jayeon said, her score of him would become lower the longer she had to wait.

Maru started sketching.
Since he didn’t start sitting down, he had to decide on a general movement path.
Delicate acting was the combination of the expression of emotions that provoked sympathy, as well as the rationale to assign those expressions to their right timings.
Too much emotional expression would make the act lose context while being full of rationale would make it look dry.
Actors had to construct a building with the ever-changing emotions using the blueprint known as the script.
That was why the majority of the good actors were smart.

Maru, who thought of a design and also thought about the middle point of his act, took a deep breath before drawing the finale in his mind.
Starting well would win half of the battle, but that also meant that a half-assed finish would mean the result would be half-assed as well.
He played the short skit in his mind from beginning to end.
He couldn’t say that it was perfect, but it was definitely satisfactory.

“I’ll begin now.”

In his declaration was a trigger for himself.
Just like inserting and turning the key to the car would start the car, Maru felt that his own words were revving up the engine of acting within him.
That sound was enough to awaken a certain man who slumbered within him.
He could feel that the guy had opened his eyes slightly.
Maru offered his place on the stage, but he refused.
It seemed that he was only going to move after being fired up a little more.

Maru didn’t ask anymore either.
It wasn’t that he was in need of his help.
The true worth of the masked man would only appear in an act with violent fluctuations in emotions to the point that reason could be abandoned.
Right now, he had to inject his past into this acting and put on a more delicate type of act, so it would be better if Maru himself stepped up.
The only reason he offered the guy his place on stage was to see how much he could negotiate with the guy.
When he couldn’t feel the guy’s conscience before, he just called him the ‘red guy’ and did as he wished, but ever since Maru realized that he was a completely different entity unto himself, Maru was no longer able to call him out as he wished to.
In order to work together with the guy, who only voiced out his opinion from time to time from a corner of his heart, he would need to set up a reward and negotiate with him.

He loosened his jaws.
He also relaxed his shoulders.
Becoming nervous would make a person tense, and conversely, relaxing would resolve that nervousness as well.
It was a trivial but necessary trick to use.

He stood in front of the imaginary door with a lightened body.
He started off by looking inside the door.
He looked back on what happened during lunch.
The two gukbap restaurants were facing each other.
That in itself wasn’t that interesting, but a highschool student hesitating between the two definitely would.
If he sublimed his memories with his father into the process of selecting one of the restaurants, that interest just might turn into focus.
The figure of a necktie-wearing father going to work would provoke the tear glands of everyone in the world, but it was rather common, so it might look a little boring.
Then what about a father who drove a bus for a living? It might feel like a familiar subject, but it also might become an element of interest to the audience who did not know the reality of that occupation.

Everything was something he experienced himself, but Maru decided to borrow his father’s name here.
That was reasonable enough, so the only thing left was to show it through his acting.

Maru, who was wandering between the two restaurants, eventually chose one of the restaurants.

“Yes, hello there.”

There was no one there, but he strongly believed that someone was there as he made his greeting.
He felt like the annoyed restaurant owner’s voice could be heard.
He pulled his chair out and sat down.
He could see Jayeon’s eyes fixed on him.
He blew those ink-black eyes out of his consciousness and continued on with his acting.
After all, Jayeon didn’t exist in the gukbap restaurant.

He did exactly the things he did during lunch as though he was going over a prior chess match.
His actions before the gukbap came out – he crossed his legs and put his locked hands on his knees.
He listened in on the taxi driver’s laments next to him.
He was saying that he had a fight with a drunk customer during broad daylight.
Maru didn’t look into the void, he actually pictured the taxi driver and looked right at him.
He then turned his head left.
Three men wearing paint-colored work outfits were just focusing on eating the gukbap without talking.
It was as though they believed that talking while eating was a sin and scraped the bottom of the bowl as though it was their worst enemy.
Creak creak – when Maru reminded himself of the screeching sound, his body reacted by itself.
To Jayeon,  neither the taxi driver nor the three men in work outfits would be visible.
However, she should have felt that something or someone was there.
He left her to deduce and continued with his acting.
The focus was on eating, not the other customers inside the restaurant.

A boiling gukbap was placed in front of him.
Maru looked at the gukbap before shaking the rice bowl, which had a lid on it.
He grabbed the silver-colored stainless steel bowl and shook it up and down before tilting it and pouring the contents into the soup bowl.
He did not exaggerate anything.
He just repeated what he did during lunch.
He did not stuff his nose into the bowl to smell it, nor did he look down at it with a blissful expression.
He just picked up his spoon and fixed his gaze on the TV hanging on the wall.
A baseball match between The Eunsung Dragons and The Joogook Eagles was showing.
He decluttered the rice grains with his spoon and put a piece of cubed radish kimchi into the bowl.
He then ate it.
He opened his eyes and focused his eyes on the TV as his mouth mechanically chewed on the food.

Having meals was important.
If this ugeoji gukbap was something he ate after days of starving, he would look at it as though he was blessed, become touched, and might have even prayed to god in appreciation.
On the other hand, a normal meal was, while important, frequent as well.
Since it happened very frequently, no one would focus on the motion of chewing.
The ugeoji gukbap was, while tasty, nothing special, and had no worth beyond being food.
He simply chewed and simply swallowed.
He did not bestow any meaning to eating beyond just eating.
Maru just slowly picked up some side dishes and scooped up the gukbap.

When half of the gukbap was left in his imagination, Maru thought about the past.
The memories of his previous life.
He remembered the ugeoji gukbap that supported the mornings of a bus driver in his forties.
He took out the gukbap, which had a bland taste but had a wonderful spice known as cheap price and put it on the table.
It was something he had experienced himself, but he was going to package it differently now, as something that his father had experienced; that it was something he had heard from him.

He did not make a depressed face.
He did not bite his spoon and frown either.
He just looked at the gukbap for a long time.
He rolled over the cubed radish kimchi and reminded himself of the chilly early morning wind, and reminded himself of the taste of the cheap coffee that he drank.
Gukbap was a bridge that connected his present life to the previous one.
There was a memory in each rice grain inside the oily soup: when he had to apologize to the passengers for the broken air conditioner, when he had a hard time because the schedule was messed up during winter, when he was insulted by a youth that he didn’t know the name of, as well as the faces of the people who offered him a cold drink for his efforts.

That happened huh – a smile briefly appeared on his face before disappearing.
Maru tilted the bowl and scraped the rice inside.
After putting every last grain in his mouth, he had a momentary look at the TV.
A home run – he said as he wiped the sweat below his nose.

He stood up from his seat and called out to the owner.
He handed over the money before taking out a mint candy from the plastic container next to the cashier’s desk.
He put it in his mouth before leaving the restaurant.
Feeling saliva gathering below his tongue, Maru turned around to look at Jayeon.

“That’s it.”

“Sit down again.”

Jayeon pointed at the chair without giving him any time.
Maru sat down on the chair.

“What was in the restaurant that made you choose this one?”

“There was a taxi driver and some construction workers.
There was also a savory smell as well.
My father always said that if you want a thick-tasting gukbap, you should go to the restaurant where people wearing work outfits go.”

“Good, okay then.
Overall, the drive behind your acting was pretty decent.
It almost became a little boring, but the smile you showed midway changed the atmosphere.
What was the meaning behind that smile? I thought you were looking somewhere other than the present.”

“I was watching a baseball match while eating gukbap during lunch when my father’s words came to mind.
He liked ugeoji gukbap a lot.
No, rather than saying he liked it, I guess he just ate so much of it, that he came to like it.
It was gukbap that he ate while working.”

Jayeon nodded her head in understanding.
Maru, who was preparing to explain further, could not do so because Jayeon didn’t ask any more questions.

“That gaze, I loved that gaze of yours.
Do you see that I’m really excited right now? That’s precisely the kind of act I wanted.
The joys and sorrows of life, and then a pojang macha.”

Jayeon smacked her hand on the table and jumped around in joy.
She walked around the audition room and clicked her fingers several times before returning to her original position while heaving out a deep breath.

Han Maru, was it?”


“You’re mine now.
Don’t think about going anywhere else.
You gotta work with me.
Oh, right.
There was one more person.”

Jayeon looked at Lee Haejung, who was waiting on one side.

“Are you ready, Miss Haejung?”

“Eh? Ah, yes.”

Haejung calmly walked over.
Maru stood up from his seat and moved back.
Since it looked like he passed, he just had to wait calmly now.

Haejung took several deep breaths before starting her act.
Just like the two before, she ordered an ugeoji gukbap before starting to eat.
Her act was something easier on the eyes.
She did not cheer out loud or make a big deal about it.
It seemed that she also didn’t bestow any meaning to eating beyond just eating.

Maru observed her acting in detail.
Generally, shy people were sensitive to those around them.
Their sharp radars, if used in the right way, would become an ability that would suck in information from around them.
To an actor, it was a treasure-like ability.
Like him, she also put a lot of detail into her acting.
She tried expressing the appearances of the other applicants who were sitting with her and even showed what was placed on the table.
Good – Maru inwardly shouted.
She had gotten the form down to a certain extent.
The only thing left now was to burst it out.
An act that was too unified would not look fun.
It was about time to spice things up.

Haejung put down the gukbap bowl and finished her act.
Jayeon looked at Haejung for about five seconds before speaking.

“Is that all?”


“Your acting was pretty good, but do you know what you lack?”

“I don’t.”



“There’s no drama in your act.
What does acting exist for? Is it fine if you just imitate doing something? Of course not.
If it’s just taking form, even a machine can do it.
Drama, a human’s act needs drama.
Of course, I’m not saying that you did bad, Haejung.
I just find it a little lacking.
You are a hundred, a thousand times better than the failures before you.
If you develop your acting brain a little more, you will become a great actress.”

It was a compliment.
Haejung, who had shrunken up, finally smiled shyly.

“Two people, huh.
I guess that’s a decent harvest.
Oh, Mr.
Manjin, you can go now.
Also, take Miss Minjoo over there with you.
Before you go, if you would allow me to give you a tip, don’t overreact.
Did you really eat like that when you ate food? You exclaimed at the taste of the food and moaned whenever you picked up a side dish? Think about it carefully.
Sometimes, exaggeration is necessary, but that is usually for dramatic expression which doesn’t happen normally.
I’m saying this because you show promise.
I hope you can improve your skill and meet me again at a later date.”

Her tongue was really relentless and merciless.

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