SBC Broadcasting’s drama, Youth, finally raised its curtain. From its premier slot in the golden hours to the vigorous debates among journalists even before its broadcast, the buildup to the premier episode of Youth was significant. It was more than enough to cause a syndrome. As proof of its popularity, it was so noisy in Jang Yeongguk’s school at the moment.
The rooftop was the sunniest spot in the schoolyard. Moreover, it’s the most peaceful space. However, the sudden noise startled the pigeons perched on the rooftop railing, causing them to flap their wings and fly away.
“Class president, your noisy.”
“Are you for real! It’s already noisy enough when the classroom has become a marketplace, and the person responsible for it all has slipped away like this. Do you know how chaotic it is now for everyone wanting to see you? Should I just shout out loud here that Jang Yeongguk is hiding on the rooftop?”
Yeongguk got up from where he was basking in the warm sunlight. He rushed to the rooftop as soon as lunchtime arrived because seniors, juniors, and classmates alike flocked to his classroom to see his face.
“Class president, when do you think it’ll die down?”
“How would I know? I’m not a fortune teller. If the first episode had this much attention, it would only worsen. Apparently, a group from the girls’ school across the street came to see you during lunchtime, but they got caught by the security guard and chased away.”
It was beyond his expectations. He never imagined this much attention just after the first broadcast. He had only been a supporting actor in his past life and had never experienced such a heated response. Back then, people who didn’t recognize him when he used public transportation were the majority. But the situation was different now that he was a lead actor.
His life changed overnight, so much so that countless people recognized him on the way to school. That’s how much the character “Kim Dojin” resonated with the public. Thanks to that, he barely had a chance to sit in the classroom outside of class time. It was a moment when he both appreciated and resented the famous director, Kim Jin.
He chose the footage too well.
The first episode of the drama Youth was like Yeongguk’s one-man show. Although there was a female lead, the story’s main focus was the male lead, Dojin. Additionally, the production value made the drama feel refreshingly youthful, as its title suggested.
It was confirmed that PD Kim Jin’s go-to phrase, “I’ve bet my life on this production,” wasn’t just for show.
“Class president, did you watch the drama too?”
“Of course I did.”
“How was it?”
“It was good. There were even some lines I personally liked.”
If the picky class president was this satisfied, the ratings were as good as guaranteed. But speaking of memorable lines from episode one, none stood out as particularly memorable ones. That’s when the class president made a gesture as if biting into something in the air and added,
“Handsome men love apples.”
* * *
This was the first episode rating for SBC’s drama, Youth. This was an extraordinary score considering last year’s MBS broadcasting drama, which was a rating hit, had a first episode rating of 19.8%. After all, the result was achieved with a cast of rookie actors instead of top-tier stars, making it even more extraordinary.
“PD Go, are you hiding here again?”
Variety Show PD Go Manseok, who was peeking through the partition that enclosed the drama department, turned around in surprise.
“A big guy yet so timid. What brings you here today? Did your maknae cause trouble again?”
“Hey, do you think our maknae only causes accidents? Must there always be a problem for me to come by? I just came to see the drama ratings for yesterday’s. I heard that it already surpassed two digits.”
“It’s a relief that it broke two digits. Remember that big-budget drama The Target that aired on MBS last year? Choi Jongmin was the lead in it. We easily beat their first episode’s ratings.”
“If you came here to try and cast Yeongguk again, give up. Be satisfied with what you got.”
“PD Kim, please reconsider. Things would have been different if Yeongguk did not get a good response when he appeared on our show. Plus, the department head likes him too. My head hurts from trying to cast him again this time. If you could just help out once more…”
“We don’t have time to film. No more variety shows, especially not yours. Fortunately, Yeongguk has a good personality, or else I would have been cursed out.”
Kim Jin flatly refused. After all, it was obvious that requests, similar to asking for personal favors, would flood in. Such was the impact of Youth. Sharp-witted PDs and reporters had already foreseen that Youth would dominate this year’s dramas. That’s when it happened.
“Kim-sunbae, the department head is looking for you!”
The scenery in the drama department head’s office was the epitome of peace. The color of his tie was a deeper blue than usual. He was tending to his orchids but quickly opened the door at the sound of the knock.
“Our treasure is here!”
“Why are you like this? Normally, you treat me like a troublemaker. Just act like you always do.”
“Hmm, when did I ever treat you like that? Did you see yesterday’s ratings? The president called me directly as soon as the records came out. The visuals were amazing. My dear child directed it.”
The head of the drama department’s face was filled with a happy smile as if he were a fisherman who had just caught a boatload of fish. It was understandable since the SBC Drama Department had lagged behind other terrestrial broadcast dramas for years. There were even rumors that SBC should only produce variety shows. However, the drama Youth turned the tide all at once.
“Department head, when will you grant the salary increase? There should be some reward for creating such an excellent piece despite the short production period. Naturally, the rewards should follow. You should also increase the schedule and production budget. The visuals are stunning, but we have to cut some scenes because of the time constraints. Who loses out? The reason you mentioned, it’s here now.”
“I knew you’d be so persistent in taking care of your own interests! I’ve already prepared the salary increase, and the additional production costs have been approved.”
“What about the schedule?”
The drama department head surrendered to Kim Jin’s persistence.
“That too. The president has already approved it. Be prepared to get scolded by the other PDs. Increasing the schedule means we have to reduce the time for other productions, remember?”
“Do you not remember three years ago? When I ruined a drama, the time was reduced, and ads were added. You were the main culprit, forcing me to swallow the bitter pill of ending the series too early.”
“Why are you bringing that up? My hair that fell out from stress still hasn’t grown back!”
The broadcast station was a jungle. No one could predict those that would rise and fall. Programs with low ratings were terminated early and didn’t even get a wrap-up party, while programs with good ratings got extended broadcasts and even overseas reward vacations. It was an ironic situation that was both natural and strange.
“Kim Jin, you must go all out for this production. You’ve started with a bang, but if it loses steam in the second half, you know what happens? It’s either you die, or I live. The president is pushing for this; if it goes wrong, it won’t end with just a letter of apology from both of us.”
“Right! But why do I die while the department head lives? Isn’t that too much?”
“If you continue to act like this, you’ll be in big trouble!”
Before the department head could say anything more, Kim Jin had already left the office like a snake slipping over the wall. Despite his actions, his face was full of composure.
Today, I had to finish my exercise by running around the front yard several times. No matter how low I pulled my hat down and ran around inconspicuously, people recognized me like a ghost. They charged at me, so jogging along the Han River was out of the question. The ripple effect of the drama was tremendous.
Various scenarios and scripts were already pouring into my agency like a flood, and even advertisers were bombarding me with inquiries. They said there was no separate war chest.
“Handsome men love apples. Haha!”
“Yeongguk, I was waiting for the first broadcast and was surprised to see you in the CF. How refreshing you ate that apple! And didn’t the red suit fit you perfectly? You became one with the apple, which means you did a great job. I’m not joking. I’m saying this sincerely.”
“Hyung, you know that’s the most annoying thing to say, right?”
The filming set became noisy because of the AD’s mischievous joke. It wasn’t just the drama that had a tremendous ripple effect. It was also because of the apple juice CF I had shot. Just like when I shot the Man of August three years ago and received a chocolate offensive, my class locker was filled with apple drinks. On top of that, the CF even produced a famous quote. Soon, the shooting set became busy because of standby.
“Sunbae, please make sure to use tungsten for the emotional scene and consider diffusing it with Jem Ball like natural light. When setting up the lights, make sure to properly capture the texture and outline of the subject. It might feel like a theater stage if it’s too much, so make it subtle and natural, okay?”
“PD Kim! Have you ever done this before? I already rented HMI lighting equipment. Even if it doesn’t work, I’ll try to make it somehow, so please stop this now!”
“Don’t you all acknowledge that the more I talk, the better the work turns out? Park-sunbae! Direct it to flow with tension as if it were an insert shot when DI is done, and at the end, I’ll go with a side view of Dojin to add depth. Since we’re going to rotate with Inside Work (IW) while keeping the protagonist’s emotions alive…”
“Okay, I’ve already prepared all the tracks! This is the first time I’ve ever had such a demanding request for a set shoot. The first! By the way, why don’t you nag the sound department?”
“I already talked to the sound director. And the department head even gave me a bonus today! We have a company dinner after the shoot today, so let’s keep going!”
“I’ll check that later. I have to go to Actor Jang now!”
“Hey, where’s the rule that you don’t tell the company dinner menu? Is it beef?”
As PD Kim Jin walked away, leaving behind the echo of the camera director’s question, the filming set was filled with laughter. Satisfying the entire filming team with beef would not be possible with just the bonus. Some compromises with reality must be made.
“Yeongguk, are you ready?”
Smooth communication between the director and the actor was extremely important. If the director drew the overall sketch, the meticulous brushstrokes were the realm of the actor. In this sense, Actor Jang Yeongguk was a perfect painter.
As if he himself became the director, he drew a rough sketch of the world in the script and even perfectly absorbed the coloring on top of that. During the last filming period, PD Kim Jin couldn’t help but be amazed by Yeongguk’s delicate acting expressions from time to time.
“Was the last line of the CF something you came up with, Yeongguk? Wow, I knew my eyes for people were accurate. The CF director even called me and said that the advertiser wanted to produce part 2. Not just as a one-time thing.”
“I won’t do it. I’ll focus on the drama.”
“Wow, you’re reciting the model answer I thought of. You’re really Yeongguk! The wardrobe head has called you, so go ahead. I’ll tell you the shooting order when the wardrobe and makeup are finished.”
In Yeongguk’s empty seat, the lone PD Kim Jin seemed to be basking in the scenery. The camera director approached him and asked,
“PD Kim, don’t feel too pressured. It’s good if it turns out well from the beginning. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be watching Part 2 since the first broadcast.”
“I don’t have time to feel pressure.”
Kim Jin smiled at the camera director’s question. However, his eyes were alive. Didn’t he increase not only the production cost but also the broadcasting time? As he watched Yeongguk leave the dressing room, he affirmed with conviction.
“I have to do my best. The nation’s first love is at stake.”
Love the series? Share your thoughts on Novel Updates by rating and reviewing it now!