I Will Live as an Actor Episode 60

Episode 6


When making a commercial film, the problems one would encounter were numerous. From covering production costs to issues with props and location scouting. It was fair to say that all these problems had been resolved thanks to the existence of a certain golden goose.

But crises always had a way of hitting you when you least expected it.

“Director Kim, what do you think about toning down the colors a bit? And the fog effect, can we make it more lifelike? Right now, it looks too artificial. Darken it a bit more. If it goes out like this, what do you think the audience will say? They might think there’s been a fire in a reed field or something.”

“No, Director Shin. I thought we had plenty of time left on the shooting schedule, why are you grilling us from the get-go? We usually work after all the filming is done. Do you think creating something from nothing is that easy? We need time to produce proper visuals. If you come at us all of a sudden wanting to see samples, what do you think our VFX team is, a magic shop? It doesn’t just appear out of thin air.”

“SFX is not my field, I know, but I thought I’d take a look on my day off. I only came to see a sample, so there’s no need to get so touchy.”

“Samples, my foot. As if I don’t know what kind of person you are, Director Shin. You came to check on our team’s capabilities.”

“Hold on, stop. Rewind that. Because it was overcast that day the bloodstains didn’t show up this clearly on set even with the lighting. Wow, how did you do that?”

It would be years later that CG technology would become a staple in films, but the era at hand was different.

Although the use of special effects in the domestic film industry had been gradually increasing, starting with morphing techniques a few years back, it still fell short compared to Hollywood.

That’s when it happened.

“Director Shin!”

Assistant Director Kim Seokcheol burst into the VFX editing room, opening the door in a hurry. His face was full of urgency. At the sight, Director Shin Seonghyeon patted Kim’s shoulder and left.

As soon as Shin Seonghyeon climbed into the old car, Kim Seokcheol said,

“Did you hear about it?”

“Hear what? You show up out of the blue and ask me that, how am I supposed to know? What? Did someone win the lottery? Or don’t tell me, Jang Yeongguk is involved with a dating scandal?”

“It’s not the time for jokes! Hyung, you know Director Bae Jinwoo, right?”

“Bae Jinwoo? Why on earth are you bringing up that unlucky name?”

Directors Shin Seonghyeon and Bae Jinwoo were university classmates. Whenever the two met, they fought like they had a vendetta from a previous life, so much so that their classmates had even nicknamed them “Tom and Jerry.”

There was another reason why they couldn’t get along.

During their university days, although Shin Seonghyeon was the one more recognized by the professors, in the real world, things were different. While Shin Seonghyeon had been toiling away for ten years as a commercial film director, Bae Jinwoo’s projects were consistently box office hits, earning him the nickname “Midas’s hand,” and he was very successful.

“That guy is currently working on a 100 billion won blockbuster!”[1]

“A hundred billion?”

The average production budget for commercial films was over 1.5 billion won. Even this was considered a steep increase from the year before last. But a hundred billion was unheard of outside of Hollywood.

Director Shin Seonghyeon’s Adam’s apple bobbed at the absurd figure, but there was more.

“They’ve finished casting and are planning to do the gosa within the next fifteen days.[2] They’ll start shooting at the end of this month. It seems their release will be around the same time as ours. The problem is, we’re sharing the same distribution company. I reached out to the distributor, just in case, and it’s true. They’ve put an embargo on it for the journalists, so no announcement yet, but soon there will be a production press conference and it’ll be all over the news.”


It was a setback.

As with dramas, the lineup was critical for commercial films. Depending on the quality of the films releasing at the same time, one could benefit by comparison. Moreover, unlike dramas where good content and engagement could win against bigger production budgets, movies included the cost of promotion in their production budget.

No matter how good the quality of the film was, if it was not promoted and the audience didn’t show up, it was all for nothing. Moreover, if they were dealing with the same distribution company, they were bound to face unfair circumstances in the selection of theaters.

Director Shin Seonghyeon suddenly exclaimed,

“Let’s go to the distribution company, right now!”

His face was filled with unprecedented anxiety.



A cold air spread across the filming site. Director Shin Seonghyeon’s cries for NG were frequent. Was it because of the bit player’s inadequate acting, or did he find the aesthetic of the footage unsatisfactory?

As NG’s kept coming out of the director’s mouth, the bit player’s face turned pale. Finally, when Director Shin Seonghyeon stood up and said, “Let’s take a break for just an hour,” only then did everyone on set let out the breath they had been holding.

“Seriously, why is Director Shin so touchy today? Normally he would’ve OK’d these scenes, but now it’s take after take! How many times has it been already? Was he trying to fuck with me or what!”

“Calm down, Senior Park (cinematographer). It seems like he’s not happy with the lighting. Since we’re in the woods, the expressions of the bit players aren’t coming out well. Maybe we need to change the light source.”

“Sunwoo (Lighting Director), you’re too kind, that’s your problem. I can’t take this anymore. My knees will be gone if I keep carrying this handheld camera up this wild mountain. Seokcheol, you’ve got to know why Director Shin is acting like this, don’t you?”

The filming site was on a wild mountain. It’s a low hill, but how many retakes have there been already? However, AD Kim Seokcheol couldn’t give a clear answer, just mumbling to himself.

“It seems like Director Shin is not feeling well. Please try to understand, seniors.”

“The guy who never drinks is having a bad condition? What could it be, did he catch a cold?”

“It’s not that.”

“It’s not that artistic illness flaring up again, is it? Seokcheol, I mean Assistant Director, if it’s going to take days to shoot a single scene like last time, tell him I can’t do this. If it’s like this already, how are we supposed to get through the remaining schedule? Are we superhumans? Just look at today’s schedule, we’re supposed to finish shooting in the mountain in the morning and move to the school district in the afternoon. At this rate, we won’t even finish the mountain shoot today. The kids haven’t even had lunch, what the hell are we doing?”

“Don’t be like that, the lunchboxes will be here soon. Let’s eat and then continue shooting. I’ll talk to Director Shin for you.”

“Ugh, alright. I get it!”

The cinematographer seemed to have backed down, thinking this much should be enough. Indeed, exhaustion was evident on the faces of the filming team. The cinematographer stepped forward to represent them, like a king leading his troops into battle. He thus pre-empted any further complaints from the crew.

I then cautiously approached AD Kim Seokcheol.


“Yeongguk, sorry. I didn’t expect the shoot to go this long, especially since we started early in the morning for the afternoon shoot.”

“No, it’s not that. Could you come here for a moment?”

Only when we reached a thicket far from the filming site could I ask cautiously,

“Is there a problem with the movie?”


“The investment issues had been resolved, and the sponsorship came from a major corporation, so it’s not a prop issue, and most of the location permits had been granted, so that’s not a concern either. Then it must be a distribution issue, right?”

The AD’s eyes opened wide as saucers. Eventually, he hurriedly looked around, confirming that no one was around, and asked,

“Yeongguk, how did you know?”

There was a saying, “Even a dog at a temple can recite scripture if it stays there three years.” How could I not know how the commercial movie business worked after being involved in the film industry for so long in my past life? Especially when the director was so wrapped up and sensitive, there was definitely a hitch with the movie.

“If you can’t tell the filming crew or the actors, what other reason could there be? Someone quick-witted would catch on in an instant. If Senior Kim Hyeongseop had been here today, he would’ve noticed right away.”

For minor issues, Shin Seonghyeon would have discussed it with the other directors, including the cinematographer. However, a distribution issue was beyond their capacity to resolve. Thus, the director had no choice but to suffer in silence. It was a scene I’d seen often in my past life, so it’s nothing new.

AD Kim Seokcheol heaved a sigh and added,

“Yeongguk, do you happen to know Director Bae Jinwoo?”

“Bae Jinwoo? The name rings a bell.”

“That’s surprising. He’s pretty well-known in Chungmuro. He’s working on a 100 billion won blockbuster this time.”

“A hundred billion?”

“Yeah, a whopping hundred billion. It’s the first time I’ve seen such a reckless amount of production budget being thrown into a project.”

“Don’t tell me, is that Bae Jinwoo director’s debut work, The Beauty Salon Next to the Photo Studio?”

“That’s right, you do know.”

Of course, how could I forget?

In my past life, Director Bae Jinwoo was a figure who faded into the annals of history. I knew him as a once-popular director in Chungmuro. I remember the hype clearly, even though I was just a high school student with no interest in acting.

[Chungmuro, finally surpassing Hollywood’s stronghold?]

It was an overhyped buzz if there ever was one. Director Bae Jinwoo’s 100 billion won mega-project ended up flopping disastrously, leaving a stain on South Korea’s film industry. It lacked both artistic quality and visual appeal.

Of course, there was another reason the movie became such a flop despite the huge production cost. It was a well-known incident.

At that moment, Assistant Director Kim Seokcheol elaborated,

“Our lineup overlaps with that blockbuster. And to make matters worse, we share the same distribution company. We went to the distribution company a few days ago because of issues with theater allocations. You know how that turned out.”

I never suspected that now was the time for that “great anticipated project” to be born.

But on the surface, it was South Korea’s first blockbuster.

Indeed, it’s like a battle between David and Goliath. Distributors weren’t in the business of art; they’re in the business of business. They would naturally give more support to the one with more potential, even if it meant sacrificing their own flesh and blood. Director Shin Seonghyeon’s head must be in turmoil.

Should he delay the release date to avoid the lineup, or should he face it head-on?

“Aigoo, I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. Director Shin repeatedly told me not to let the actors or the filming crew hear about this. Whenever I talk to you, I just spill everything without even realizing. Yeongguk, we’ll figure this out somehow, so don’t worry and just focus on your acting. Don’t talk about today’s conversation anywhere else, okay?”

Then it happened.

“Everyone, have your lunch!”

It looked like the lunch boxes had been delivered to the distant filming site. Director Shin Seonghyeon came out of the waiting room, grabbed a lunch box, and started smoking one cigarette after another. AD Kim Seokcheol looked at him with pity. What else could he do?


There’s a saying that the knowledge of an elder could be compared to a library. The grandfather sitting before me, Director Baek Janghun, was known as the godfather of the Korean film industry. Although I might be well-versed in the film industry in the future, at this moment, there was nobody who could surpass his knowledge.

“Director Shin, you’ve been cornered, haven’t you?”

Grandfather revealed a bitter smile. It’s a testament to how difficult it was for a director alone to overcome distribution issues.

And for good reason—there were three distribution companies that dominated the South Korean film scene. On the surface, they seemed to compete with one another, but when you looked closer, you could see collusion and a thoroughly monopolistic system. No wonder they practically controlled the theaters, making them the de facto top dogs of the film industry.

“Grandpa, do you happen to know the CEO of Daejeong Distribution, CEO Kim Jeongwoo?”

“I don’t know CEO Kim, but I am quite familiar with his father.”

That’s exactly what I wanted.

“Surely, you don’t think you can solve this problem by yourself, do you?”

“Of course not. The film industry is a high-risk, high-return business. How could I, a mere actor, resolve such an issue? I just have something I want to discuss with CEO Kim Jeongwoo. If that’s not possible, I’d like to meet Chairman Kim Daejin instead.”

“But looking at your expression, it seems as if you think meeting Chairman Kim will solve everything?”

Grandfather wore an intrigued smile. Every so often, when I would meet his wrinkled gaze, I could feel as if he was reading my thoughts, making me squirm on more than one occasion. But each time, I managed to maintain a poker face.

“Yeongguk, let’s get ready to meet him tomorrow.”


So soon?

Even with grandfather’s renowned status in Chungmuro, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really easy to meet the chairman of Daejeong Group as snapping one’s fingers.

“Kim Daejin, that man built Daejeong Group with the film industry as its parent company. We weren’t on good terms at first, but as time passed, we grew fond of each other and became friends. Coincidentally, I have a meeting with him tomorrow.”


Things were going smoothly.

“Yeongguk, there’s one thing I want to ask. Is your desire to meet Chairman Kim simply born out of an actor’s ambition?”

Of course, I had no intention of doing anything that might tarnish grandfather’s reputation. Especially if it’s not my place to step in, I wouldn’t even stretch out my foot. But tomorrow seemed like an occasion where I could step forward.


“I’ll meet him as an investor for the movie, The Priest’s Confession.”

Wasn’t that a legitimate reason?

Finally, grandfather showed a satisfied smile. Just as I was about to stand up, he asked me,

“By the way, Yeongguk, do you know how to play golf?”

No way.

“Golf? You don’t mean tomorrow’s meeting is at a golf course?”

“Yes, don’t worry if you’re not good at it. Even this old man isn’t that great at it. I usually end up losing bets, haha.”

Another stroke of luck.

Golf, after all, was something I had extensively practiced in my past life. Back when I was brimming with desire for acting and success, I did all sorts of things to distance myself from poverty. Among them was golf, a sport enjoyed by the upper class. I had frequented golf courses to the point where my skills had nearly reached semi-professional level.

“Just relax and think of it as a learning opportunity.”

* * *

It was a country club.

I never dreamt that I’d be visiting a golf course on a weekend when I wasn’t filming. This wasn’t just any club—it’s a private one, inaccessible to the public and operated strictly by reservation. The landscaping was so meticulously cared for that, despite autumn being just around the corner, lotus flowers were still in full bloom in the pond. It’s a clear sign of the care that went into this place.

“Janghun, who’s that handsome young man next to you?”

“Yeongguk, say hello. This is the Chairman Kim Daejin that you wanted to meet.”

“He wanted to see me?”

“Hello, my name is Jang Yeongguk.”

Kim Daejin.

Just like grandfather, Director Baek Janghun, Kim Daejin was an indispensable figure in the Korean film industry. Wasn’t he the one who ignited the spark in what was once known as the barren land of Korean cinema?

Under his guidance, many had gone on to run major production companies, and he himself had nurtured what was now considered the top distribution company in Korea. Though he had stepped back from the front lines and now sat as the honorary chairman of the group, his gaze was still as sharp as ever.

“Today, something came up and Junghyeon couldn’t make it, so I brought him as a substitute.”

“So, he’s the boy you couldn’t stop praising.”

“Chairman Kim, Yeongguk is practically new to golf, so just think of it as a leisurely walk.”

“Oh, we’ll see about that. Remember how much you and Junghyeon took from me in our last bet? I even brought a player with me today to beat you. He’s our Director, Ahn Jongman. What do you say? I’ll give you a handicap, but there’s nothing like a bet to improve your golf game.”

Grandfather shifted his gaze to ask me what I was thinking. I mustered the politest expression I could and asked him,

“Grandpa, what are the terms of the bet?”

That’s when it happened.

“Hehe, I’ll grant you whatever you wish for.”

Chairman Kim Daejin answered on his behalf, his demeanor suggesting he was already anticipating his victory. Well, he was up against someone who had never even swung a golf club before. How could he possibly worry about losing when his opponent probably didn’t even know how to hold a driver properly?

As proof, the face of Ahn Jongman, the Director standing next to Chairman Kim Daejin, was brimming with joy. No doubt he was already thinking he could use this opportunity to gain more of the chairman’s favor.

“Go ahead, you can take the first shot.”

The caddy followed suit, and Grandfather took a driver. It was the first hole’s tee shot. Grandfather’s face showed careful consideration, but the corners of Chairman Kim’s eyes who was watching from behind betrayed his tension. It’s a clear sign of his competitive spirit.

“Ah, that’s a drop!”

Chairman Kim exclaimed as he watched the ball get sucked into a water hazard. Despite the tinge of regret in his voice, there was a smile creeping around his eyes while grandfather showed a somewhat embarrassed smile. Eventually, Chairman Kim stepped up and took hold of another driver. Since it’s a foursome match, each team competed using a single golf ball.

“Chairman, what a great shot!”

Director Ahn Jongman clapped without even looking at the trajectory of the ball. He was certainly someone who knew how to get by in society. Chairman Kim was also smiling contentedly, pleased with his tee shot.

“Should I move the ball away from the side?”

“It’s okay.”

The golf ball was teetering on the edge of the water. Chairman Kim said it was alright to take it out and play it, but was it really necessary? I’ve had plenty of experience with this in my past life. My body may have gotten younger, but the skills ingrained in my mind were stored somewhere within it.


I suppose I should act like a beginner.

When hitting a golf ball close to the water, one shouldn’t touch the club to the water in advance. But I casually asked the caddie for a wood, as if it was no big deal.[3]

As I fumbled with the club like a beginner, Director Ahn tried to intervene, but Chairman Kim shook his head, indicating it’s fine. He obviously found the sight of a beginner like me endearing.

“Is this how you do it?”

Mimicking the actions of famous golfers, I even took off my socks, causing the caddie to suppress his laughter. With an awkward stance within the water, I hesitated as if about to strike, and just when Chairman Kim and Director Ahn momentarily shifted their gaze away…


With a brisk sound, the ball escaped the water hazard, beautifully tracing a parabola. The caddie, Director Ahn, and even Chairman Kim couldn’t hide their surprise as they followed the ball’s trajectory. It curved elegantly through the air, heading straight for the hole.

Chairman Kim’s face suddenly registered shock. I put on an innocent smile as if I was clueless and added,

“It hit better than I thought.”

[1] About 80 million USD today

[2] A shamanic ritual meant to invoke good luck

[3] A driver and a wood are types of gold clubs

Private: I Will Live as an Actor

Private: I Will Live as an Actor

Score 9.7
Status: Hiatus Type: Author: ,
I Will Live as an Actor is a heartwarming story of a young man who grows up poor as the son of a widowed fishmonger. Fueled by a passion for acting, he neglects his mother and her sacrifices, only to regret it when she passes away. In a twist of fate, he is reincarnated back to his youth, just before he went down the wrong path. Determined to live a better life and honor his mother’s memory, he embarks on a journey to become a successful actor while also being a filial son.
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