Suhyeon’s acting classes were going smoothly.
He had thoroughly analyzed the scripts for the initial three episodes to the point where he could recite his co-star’s lines. For the content up to episode 10, he had practiced meticulously enough to recall the situation and emotions of any line when prompted.
“There’s really no need to look at the script in the car. It makes me carsick.”
“I’m just breaking it in. It’s too pristine.”
Suhyeon flipped the pages with his plump little fingers, wetting them with spit.
Although it is often better to hide most of the effort, sometimes showing it can lead to better results.
Especially with young people, effort only truly shines when it’s shown to others.
“That’s a good idea.”
Sangil smiled contentedly, agreeing with Suhyeon’s opinion.
To some, it might look like a trick or a shortcut, but to him, such behavior was a form of self-promotion.
“Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Hmm… No, it’s okay. It’s kind of gross how eagerly a kid takes care of everything.”
“If you’re an actor, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’re cute and charming, and people will interpret it in a good way.”
For two months, they had built a close relationship, discussing things Jiyeon could not even imagine.
Now they were making their wat to TNB.
It was the seventh week since Suhyeon had signed the contract.
Today was the day of the first script reading before the crank-in.
“You’re early today, aren’t you?”
“Hello. Be careful, you might fall.”
As Suhyeon greeted them, the staff in the conference room, who were preparing, welcomed him with open arms.
He had become quite familiar with many staff members from frequently visiting the station to check the script.
A few friendly staff members would quietly hand him candy or chocolate, showing their affection.
“Suhyeon, your seat is here.”
“The manager has to be in another room once the reading starts… Can you manage on your own?”
“It’s work so I’ll be fine!”
“Well, you do come to read the script diligently, so you’ll be more than capable. Want me to bring you a drink?”
“Uhm. I just want to read the script for now.”
“Our lead actor is really hardworking. I won’t bother you then. Fighting!”
Seeing Suhyeon’s beaming smile, the staff member left, looking as if their heart had melted.
Suhyeon surveyed his own seat and the surroundings.
Across from him was a nameplate labeled “Hochan,” at a right angle was the director’s seat, and between the director’s seat and his, there was a nameplate that read “Seohee.”
Wasn’t the actor playing the role of Seohee the senior Choi Taebin?
He recalled the dramatically decided role of Yeonwu’s mother.
The role of Seohee had gone through many twists and turns.
Initially, it was an idol from a popular group, then a rookie actress who had garnered popularity with her innocent acting, and next, an actress making a return after a long hiatus…
Various celebrities were considered and even confirmed in the news, but ultimately, the role went to Choi Taebin, a voice actor turned actor with five years of experience.
The decision was made last week, right… Did she check all the scripts?
The selection for the role of Seohee was significantly delayed because the actors considered for the part fell through right before signing the contract.
It was a precarious and nerve-racking start, with the crank-in almost being postponed.
Well, it’s only possible to shoot the drama because Jeil is pushing it from the top…
Since there weren’t many cable subscribers yet, entertainment agencies were hesitant to let their more established artists appear on cable channels.
“Hochan,” too, was only able to proceed because Jeil Group nudged the agencies. Otherwise, without any backing or pressure, no actor would want to be tied down to a drama for a long time.
“Sangil-hyung, I’ll be reading the script.”
“Then I’ll be in the adjacent waiting room. Call me if you need anything.”
Suhyeon sat down and sent Sangil off before pulling out the script for episode one.
He was intent on diligently reading the script amidst the chaos, as befitting a “hardworking child.”
“Hello. You’re here early?”
But no sooner had he resolved to do so, an energetic voice came from the seat next to him.
The Choi Taebin he had just been thinking about was smiling broadly at him.
“You’re Kang Suhyeon, right? You’re even cuter in person.”
“Hello, senior Choi Taebin.”
“Oh, you know me? Don’t call me senior, call me noona. Or, would ‘mom’ be more comfortable for you?”
Taebin, pleased with her own joke, burst into laughter.
Her voice was clear and pure, much like the “righteous and lovable center” characters she often played in animations.
“Noona, your voice is pretty.”
“Wow, you’re really… Can someone be this cute? Can I give you a hug?”
“That’s a bit… I’m an actor too.”
Suhyeon wittily refused Taebin’s words.
Once you easily agree once, there will be a next time.
He was fine with doling out cuteness and smiles, but hugging was another matter.
There’s a thin line between being treated as a cute child and a young actor. Besides, I could be harassed because of my cuteness.
Maybe 20 years from now it would be different, but in the present, one could secretly stroke a child and get away with excuses like “It was like patting my daughter,” “Harassing a boy, what’s that?” or “It was just out of affection.”
Without power or connections, if a senior actor said that, even if it made him angry, he’d have to pretend not to notice and endure.
Although Taebin didn’t seem like the type to do such a thing, Suhyeon didn’t want to give any cause right from the start.
“Look at this kid, all high and mighty. Can I at least stroke your hair?”
“Yes, that’s fine.”
As Suhyeon nodded vigorously, Taebin laughed joyfully and gently caressed his hair.
The touch was gentle and kind.
“Your hair is like down. What am I to do with you?”
“I’m already worried. How can I hit you? Even pretending seems like it would hurt.”
“I’ll cry hard, don’t worry.”
“Are you trying to help me? How can there be such a cute gentleman.”
Taebin stroked Suhyeon’s hair as if petting a cat, spilling various stories.
How her favorite actor in Promise of the Blue Summer was “Young Jiwu,” or how she changed her phone with a motherly smile after seeing a cell phone ad.
She even added that she was Kang Suhyeon’s number one celebrity fan.
“But really, how can someone hit such a cute and young kid…?”
“You can’t, noona. We have to immerse ourselves, or our drama will flop.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll become the meanest mother and contribute to this drama’s success.”
A drama like this needed to succeed to raise social awareness about child abuse.
Taebin argued with such enthusiasm.
“Hello, sunbae. Hi, Suhyeon… Have you grown?”
“Hello, Seohan-hyung! Yes, I grew 2 centimeters!”
“Kids really do grow up fast.”
“Hello. Actor Lee Seohan.”
While the two chatted, Seohan, who had arrived at the meeting room, greeted them with a calm smile.
Today, Seohan’s stylist had dressed him in a thick sweater over a shirt, a look that would remind anyone of a teacher.
“Are you already getting into character? You totally look like a teacher.”
“I just wear whatever the stylist hands me.”
“Well, with such a good clothes hanger… This is our second time working together. Please take care of me.”
“Please take care of me as well.”
Taebin couldn’t help but find Seohan’s amiable demeanor likable, yet she pursed her lips in a dissatisfied expression.
“It’s really boring how consistent some people can be. Isn’t that why I end up selling one of the three Jiwus?”
When it was revealed that the character Lim Sihyeok’s original name was Lee Jiwu, people began referring to the three characters collectively as the three Jiwus.
The characters were assigned the numbers one, two, and three based on the order their names were revealed, and the young version of the character Suhyeon had played was separately labeled as ‘Young Jiwu.’
While some belittled the nickname as childish, it was easy to remember and use, so it became the common way to distinguish between the three characters.
“So, who’s the past of ‘Jiwu One’? I bet I could slam either side for being worse than the ‘Young Jiwu.’”
“Well, I’d rather not say if it’s just going to get criticized. You can find out in the drama.”
The reason “Young Jiwu” became a separate entity was not only because it was unclear which male lead’s past he was but also because of Suhyeon’s acting skills.
“Young Jiwu’s” portrayal, with a mysterious dark side yet showing pure love towards the female lead, was imprinted on the viewers a distinct role, not just a child character necessary for a backstory.
For Suhyeon, this was a considerable achievement.
“Anyway, congratulations on the drama breaking 40 percent viewership. Congrats, Suhyeon.”
The drama had just passed its midpoint and entered the latter half, smoothly reaching over 40 percent viewership thanks to its smooth start and steady progress.
With competing dramas from KBC and SBN sinking due to external and internal issues, the ratings were expected to rise even further.
“These days, there’s nothing to watch but Promise of the Blue Summer so I hope our drama follows.”
“After our drama ends, Praise is scheduled to air. If all goes well, we might pull in the viewership.”
While the two conversed, Suhyeon, feeling like a third wheel, went to greet the other supporting actors who had arrived at the meeting room.
Most were people whose names he couldn’t remember, but regardless of popularity or experience, it was essential to greet them first to avoid any gossip.
“Hello! I’m Nam Jiyeon!”
As Suhyeon approached the supporting actors, a newly arrived girl weaved through the crowd with a bow, her mother, playing the manager role, watching fondly.
…Did she just give me a dirty look?
Suhyeon paused mid-step and blinked as he caught a glimpse of overt hostility in the gaze of a middle-aged woman.
It could have been a mistake, but a strong signal in the back of his mind insisted it wasn’t.
It couldn’t be jealousy because I’m too cute…?
With no clear suspicion, he cocked his head and then continued on with confident strides.
Regardless of any hostility, it was important to greet everyone and maintain his image.
“Don’t you know not to stand out? Useless brat, only good for wasting food!”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Mom.”
“Aigoo. Seohee, she’s still your child though.”
“That’s why it’s even more horrific. My life would have been better without that thing.”
As the script reading began, a sense of seriousness filled the conference room.
It was because two fixed cameras and one VJ camera were capturing the actors without missing a beat.
It really feels like an all-out war here.
In my past life, TNB started to seriously produce dramas five years from now.
In other words, if this drama failed or bombed, it meant that they gave up on producing dramas for five years.
If it flops, it’s practically the drama team disbanding.
Given the situation, TNB went all out using every method possible to create buzz.
Exaggerating the news with headlines like “The Second Promise of the Blue Summer” based on Seohan and Suhyeon, and making the script reading seem like a bonus video was just the beginning.
No one’s going to retake shots even if they make a mistake, so everyone’s tense…
Maybe it was the desperate atmosphere of the production staff that affected them,
The actors gave their best to proceed without a single error.
And amid them, the one who shone brightest was none other than Choi Taebin.
Her presence is seriously intimidating.
True to her background as a voice actor, Taebin’s acting was so vivid and realistic, you could picture the scenes just by her voice alone.
Her voice was overflowing with malice, and some actors glanced at her face to check if she was actually angry.
Suhyeon was determined not to be outdone by her performance, portraying a more pitiable and terrified “Jang Yeonwu.”
With Choi Taebin’s “Lee Seohee” being so fierce, acting out the role wasn’t too difficult.
“I’m reflecting on it!”
“Mom, I’m sorry. Please open the door. I’m cold… Mom.”
Suhyeon pleaded, gasping for breath.
There was a dampness in his voice, and someone listening to the performance sniffled, recalling the actual scene.
It was likely the image of “Jang Yeonwu,” chased onto the balcony in thin, worn clothes on a cold winter day, that came to mind.
For Suhyeon, it was a satisfying reaction.
“Haah, it’s cold… If I cover myself with this, Mom will scold me.”
Suhyeon recited his lines while envisioning the scene.
Unable to withstand the cold, “Jang Yeonwu” knew he would be scolded but still used the piled-up dirty laundry as a blanket to cover himself.
And, inevitably, “Lee Seohee” opened the door in the morning and physically and mentally abused him for dirtying the balcony.
No matter how you looked at it, “Jang Yeonwu’s” life was truly harsh.
Having to say so much in one go makes me run out of energy. The actions are quite intense… I don’t know how filming will go, but I’ll need to manage my stamina well.
However, that was the emotion the viewers were supposed to feel.
Suhyeon, who played “Jang Yeonwu,” checked even the minutest details for a more perfect delivery.