A fortune teller.
It’s a dialect from Gyeongsang Province referring to fortune tellers. In the past, there were many fortune tellers in Yeongdo. The refugees who fled after the Korean War went in all directions to find out about their families’ well-being, and there was no shortage of people seeking fortune tellers out of desperation. A clean-cut middle-aged man in a suit entered the reputedly most famous fortune teller’s house in Yeongdo.
“Is this the house of the Grandma Bear of Yeongdo?”
” Oh yes, can’t you tell at a glance?”
The old lady, resembling a bear, greeted the man. There was a small shrine and shelves full of books on fortune-telling.
“What are you standing for? Sit down!”
“Aren’t you going to ask why I’m here?”
“What does it matter why you’re here? You came to a fortune teller, so you must be here to have your fortune read!”
Kim Seonghwan, the CEO of Songwon Entertainment, gave a sheepish grin and sat on the cushion. He was someone who believed in this kind of fortune-telling. It’s said that you should tap a stone bridge before you cross it. At a crossroads in his business, he often sought out such fortune tellers.
“Thirty minutes for thirty thousand won. I’ll give you the basics and interpret your face and fortune. If you have any questions, ask during that time.”
The price was reasonable for such a famous fortune teller. Whether cheap things were indeed inferior could only be decided if one tried, but in Seoul, this kind of service wouldn’t even reach that level. Every time he visited famous fortune tellers, his wallet would be emptied.
“You have a business?”
“How do you know that?”
“It’s either that or you’re a swindler since you’re all dressed up in a suit in the middle of the day on a weekday. Your business is doing well, huh?”
Kim Seonghwan opened his eyes wide.
Wow, this old lady is really a psychic.
The entertainment industry was, after all, a business of people. The value of the company changed depending on the actors affiliated with it. Unfazed by Kim Seonghwan’s surprise, the old lady alternated between looking at the paper he handed her and his face.
“You have a face that gathers wealth, with a wide Guanlu Palace and a small, but plump chin. Your fortune is quite good, and so is your birth date and time. Your parents must’ve considered everything from name numerology to birth geography. Be good to your parents. Thanks to them, you have a good character and are naturally blessed.”
“I’m not finished yet. But you trust people too much, and that’s your downfall. Your temples are thin, and your earlobes are deep, so you’re prone to be betrayed by those you trust. Don’t trust people too much. Remember what I said. Did you come here to meet someone today?”
He came to Yeongdo because of Park Suyeong’s veiled threat. She said she found a promising actor. Park Suyeong had a keen eye for talent after working in a theater troupe for a long time. If there’s a goose that lays golden eggs, why wouldn’t he go anywhere to find it?
“Can I meet them?”
“You already know where they are, so why couldn’t you meet them? That person will become a very significant figure.”
“Will that significant figure become my person?”
It was then that Grandma Bear held up three fingers. What could it possibly mean?
“Thirty minutes are up. Extending it will cost more!”
Namhang, the harbor spanning miles, was full of countless stories.
“Scene number 11, the cry out for one’s mother―!”
These people lived a life as winding as the waves of the ocean. A boy looking down at the beach was no different on a coastal cliff. In the boy’s arms was a small box. It was his mother, who had turned into a handful of ashes without even a funeral. Amidst everyone’s focused attention, a trembling voice came out as if a trigger was being pulled.
“What are you doing going so soon?”
His mother, who had devoted her life to her son.
“What are you doing going so soon? Tell me! Why won’t you say anything?”
He yelled, but there was still no answer. Only the waves crashing against the cliff moistened the boy’s heart. He hadn’t even realized his mother, frail as a withering flower, was sick. Such a heartless son he was.
“How foolish, truly foolish! What were you doing working yourself to death like this? What were you doing living like this? For what, for what…”
The boy clenched the small box until it nearly broke. His tiny shoulders shook violently. Everything felt like a lie. He wanted to deny that his mother had turned into a handful of ashes in the small box. His mother, who couldn’t afford the hospital fees and thus couldn’t even receive proper treatment. Beneath his trembling shoulders, a laughing voice came out as if in self-mockery.
“Mom, I’m here. It was so nice when we walked hand in hand when I was little. Everyone was envious. How lucky was Mom when Dad’s eyes were glued to her forehead because she caught such a big fish? That’s right, because of that, my mom married my poor father, who lived like a slave.”
His mother had passed away in a shabby inn, covered by an old blanket. She probably never had a chance to stretch her legs comfortably.
“That’s right, what was wrong with my mom? Tall and beautiful, she was a famous beauty from the bottom of Yeongdo Island. Dad was just envious, Mom. Rest well there. Don’t sleep curled like a shrimp. Just stretch your legs.”
A handful of ashes scattered on the swaying seawater.
The boy’s desperate cries continued. He shouted as if roaring, but there was still no answer. Only the serene sound of waves ruthlessly struck the boy’s chest. Tears streamed down his reddened eyes. He removed some new shoes from his arms and placed them on the cliff. Just in case the path was difficult or if she got sick.
“Since you’ve met Dad now, don’t wear old shoes. Wear these instead.”
Even in her dying moments, his mother only worried about him.
“What will we do if our Jin can’t eat?”
Why did she have to live like this?
“There, take it easy, and don’t worry about your useless son. I promise I’ll live well! I’ll try to live well! Mom, now rest comfortably!”
Yoo Myeonghan couldn’t yell “cut” at the boy’s figure reflected on the tally screen. The last shoot in Yeongdo had already long surpassed the script, but he didn’t want to stop. The waves mournfully swayed as if they understood the boy’s heart.
“Mom, don’t be born as my mom in the next life. It’s enough that you’ve lived a difficult life once. Don’t suffer anymore.”
Go with Dad, hand in hand, and rest comfortably…
The boy couldn’t say “I love you” in the end. He seemed too sorry to dare to utter those words.
His trembling lips curved into a faint smile as winding as the waves. Though his eyes were crying, the reason he was trying to smile was simple. For his parents who might be watching from the sea.
Underneath the winding waves, the sound of clinking soju glasses and boisterous laughter would not stop. Director Kim Deukhyeong put a spoon in an empty soju bottle, reciting old songs. His shoulders moved as if dancing, and the shooting team and the tavern owner laughed loudly.
“PD Yoo, was Director Kim always so lively? I thought he’d be a typical blunt Gyeongsang man.”
“He’s a cheerful person, you know. Where else would you find a sunbae who personally steps up and makes everyone feel at ease like this after the shooting team’s hard work? Ah, I can’t do that. By the way, Writer Choi, do you have to go back to Seoul?”
“Are you worried about me or the side script coming out?”
Writer Choi Eunsuk came down to Seoul for the last filming scene. Initially, young Kim Hajin was supposed to take on the scene, but they hastily revised the script for little Kim Hajin. That’s when Park Suyeong, who was sitting across from her, casually spoke up.
“Writer Choi, you have to cast me in your next work.”
“Ay, is there even a question? I should bow and beg to work with an actress like you, Suyeong.”
“By the way, did you greet our CEO earlier?”
Park Suyeong nudged CEO Kim Seonghwan, who was sitting beside her. That’s when Kim Seonghwan came to his senses. The thrill he felt at the shooting site still hadn’t faded.
“I will formally introduce myself. I am Kim Seonghwan, the CEO of Songwon Entertainment. I witnessed something truly rare today. I knew a child actor would be in the scene, but I never imagined it would be so impressive. Of course, it’s all thanks to the PD, the writer, and the filming team.”
“Thank you for saying so. In truth, we weren’t sure about this scene either.”
“What do you mean…?”
“We originally planned for the adult Kim Hajin to film this scene. It would be a monologue where the adult protagonist reminisced about his late mother when he was young. The fact that it turned out so well was all thanks to our Writer Choi, who quickly made the changes.”
“By the way, PD, isn’t Yeongguk coming today? I can’t believe he’s late again.”
“No, he said he would come right after helping clean up his mother’s memorial service.”
As the saying goes, speak of the devil, and he shall appear. The boy entered the main room, and the intoxicated filming director hugged him, exclaiming, “Our lucky charm is here!” Yoo Myeonghan quietly retorted at the sight.
“Writer Choi, how did you come up with Hajin’s lines? You picked them very well, considering the short amount of time.”
“PD Yoo, I didn’t show you the revised script today.”
“You only explained the filming composition and didn’t mention the lines. You said it would be better to see and feel it firsthand, right?”
“Actually, I didn’t give the revised script to Yeongguk either.”
“I thought hard about what little Kim Hajin’s last words to his mother would be. But I couldn’t decide. I thought of countless lines, but I couldn’t help but wonder what confession young Kim Hajin would make to his mother. I had a hard time revising the script. But when I saw young Kim Hajin’s face, it made me impulsive. So…”
“I decided to leave it up to Kim Hajin in the script. He could cry, scream without saying a word, or just stand silently. ‘Show us what you think Kim Hajin would look like. If you’re unsure, I’ll give you the revised script.’ So do you know what he said?”
Choi Eunsuk thought of the boy. The child who knew the world outside the script better than anyone. She thought he could be an actor beyond her capacity as a writer. And his answer solidified her thoughts.
“He said he would give it a try as if he had been waiting.”
Even experienced actors were hesitant to create their own lines. It’s different from ad-libbing. In a scene where one must recite a monologue while fully experiencing the space and the screen, there’s nothing to help the actor. They must utilize props, control their gaze, move within the frame, and simultaneously create lines. It’s a highly demanding task involving the writer’s meticulously calculated thoughts and struggles. Even if you brought together the best actors in Korea, they would undoubtedly shake their heads. Already, Park Suyeong couldn’t help but keep her mouth shut. That’s when it happened.
“Let’s hear Yeongguk sing a song!”
The camera director handed the boy a makeshift microphone. As all eyes focused on him, the boy scanned the room without a hint of embarrassment.
“Well, then, I will gently lift a verse!”
The small, shaggy-haired boy sang a trot melody popular among sailors. Everyone widened their eyes in surprise at his unexpected singing skills. They knew he had good vocalization during filming, but they never expected he could sing so well. Not just the filming team but even the ladies working in the kitchen at the restaurant stared in awe.
“Wow, you’ve got a knack for trot!”
With the camera director’s enthusiastic response, the atmosphere in the restaurant became lively once more. Some people, including Yoo Myeonghan, looked at the boy. What kind of actor was this boy they were witnessing? In the boy’s bright eyes, it seemed as if the surging waves and fishermen’s nets existed. They wanted to ask how he came up with such lines while looking at those eyes.
“Should I sing another one?”
“Great, Yeongguk. Let’s sing a duet this time!”
“Director, I want to hear Yeongguk sing solo!”
The last night on Yeongdo was drawing to a close. No one could have guessed. The words hurled by the boy at his dead mother, now reduced to mere ashes, were a confession from his past life.
 The standard way to say “fortune-teller” in Korean is “점쟁이” (jeomjjaengi) while the Gyeongsang dialect way is “점바치” (jeombachi).
 “Guanlu Palace” is a term used in Chinese astrology and fortune-telling to refer to the house associated with career and fortune. In Korean fortune-telling, it may be used to describe the period when someone’s career and financial situation was most favorable.
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