TL by Yoni
Edited by Yoni & Myoni
Many of the windows of the building were still lit at this time of day. The streets had quite a bit of traffic and people were walking around.
Unable to tell if they were going to or leaving from work, people were hastily walking on the streets early in the morning.
On the bench in front of convenience store, there was a person drinking a can of coffee. A loosely hung necktie, messy hair and beside him, there was a suitcase. It might have been a daily routine for him, but it somehow seemed cool to me.
I wasn’t sure if I was nervous or excited. Anyhow, it felt good. A student, a soldier, a part-time worker and a job applicant, this wasn’t any of the ‘half-jobs’ I had till now, I had become a real salaryman.
Going to an office, leaving an office and drinking coffee while talking about issues around the world with colleagues during our break, that kind of salaryman. That sort of a member of society. A working man.
I’ll buy a car as soon as I save some money.
The unique appearance of the W&U, in-between similar buildings, caught my eye. In front of a glass door, I double-checked my appearance. I was wearing the suit my brother bought me as my graduation gift, the polka-dotted necktie and dress shoes my mom bought me. The dandy and favorable impression giving off a new employee look was verified by my nephews and my sister-in-law.
I thought of the brief encounter I had with my older self in a dream. Compared to him, the present me looked sloppy. I looked much more composed and dignified in my dream.
A CEO of a successful management company. A powerful man.
My current self was a far cry away from the appearance in my dream. Well, probably because it was obviously a dream.
Since I was a child, I loved movies and dramas. And I loved the actors that lived in that world. When I was in middle school, I filled my room with card stocks and postcards of Korean and International actors and actresses. In high school and university, I have filled my phone’s photo gallery with them. Even when I was a soldier, my locker was filled with actresses rather than girl groups.
I loved them and I yearned to be a part of their world.
In the entertainment world.
It was an obvious choice when I decided to partake in that world.
The reason why I chose to become a manager instead of a celebrity was because of my personality. Instead of being in the spotlight, I found it more interesting developing someone who would stand in that spotlight. Even while watching movies and dramas, I found myself more focused on the supporting characters than the main characters themselves. The characters who moved within a story while not getting the attention.
With my own two hands, I wanted to produce a top star who would be acknowledged not just within Korea, but throughout the world.
Within the W&U, I could learn and gain experience while working in the management team. And when I get older, I could liberate myself from the company with my actors and actresses and start my own management company, and become the CEO. Becoming the person who I was in my dream.
That was my ambition.
Today, I was able to make my first step towards my dream.
I took a deep breath before opening the door and headed in. No one was there. It was even pitch black. There was only a blinking light in the direction of where I was headed.
What floor was I supposed to go again?
As I approached the front of the elevator, I heard the sound of a girl humming somewhere.
Oh God. I might have gotten a heart attack. Shit, it was my ringtone. It was the soundtrack from a horror movie I was impressed by during the summer. I didn’t think this song was that scary. Who the fuck calls at 3 in the morning?
As I took out my phone, it was from an unknown number.
– Are you Jung Sunwoo who is supposed to start work today?
I bowed my head out of habit.
– My name is Kim Hyunjo. I’m the chief of Management Team 3, are you on your way?
“I’ve just arrived, but what floor was I supposed to go to?”
-I’m on the 2nd floor of the underground parking lot. I’ll meet you there. We need to leave right away.
“Yes, I understand. I’ll get there right away.”
I quickly took the elevator. The mirror attached to the door reflected my face. A stiff, nervous face. I needed to make a good impression.
I tried to force a smile while looking at the mirror. He wouldn’t spit on a smiling face.
As I arrived on the 2nd underground floor, I heard a honk. A man came out of a black van. Some distinct features stood out.
First, he was thin and short. His slender figure made him look like a student from a far.
On the other hand, he had a haggard appearance. I wasn’t sure if he just didn’t shave properly or if he just didn’t shave at all, but I was able to see stumbles on his chin. He had dark circles that stretched down to his chin. He seemed like he had went through all sorts of hardships to become an veteran manager…
I didn’t expect my supervisor to be angel-like, but he didn’t seem like he had a good personality.
As I took a look at Hyunjo, he glanced at me as if he was scanning me.
“Are you Jung Sunwoo?”
“Yes. Feel free to talk to me however you want, chief.”
“For now, this is more comfortable.”
He seemed uncomfortable.
Also, the fact he said, for now, seemed a bit odd.
“But… You came dressed in a suit? Didn’t someone remind you to dress comfortably as you would be working on the field right away?”
I just received a message about when and where to go for my first day of work.
Since it was my first day of work, I even took my time on deciding what to wear. But, looking at Hyunjo, he was wearing a sports jacket and jeans. He was also wearing a cap. He was dressed the complete opposite of me.
I quickly removed my tie and shoved it in my bag.
Hyunjo roughly scratched the back of his head.
“Suit and dress shoes… If you work with those kids, you need to run around to take care of them all day long and most of the time you even need to wait for them all night long inside the van. But, you won’t be able to work properly with a suit on. Starting tomorrow, dress more comfortably. Ah, even if I said comfortably, I will kill you if you wear stretched out sweatpants and squeaky slippers.”
I’m doomed. How bad was my first appearance?
“Comfortable, but not sloppy. Do you get what I mean?”
“Yes, I underst…”
“There, that guy dressed properly for the job.”
Looking behind me, Hyunjo waved his hand. When I turned around, I saw a man who looked similar to my age. He quickly came out of the elevator and walked towards us. A man that seemed to be the kind of person who would kindly answer you when you ask for directions. A face which appeared to be smiling even if it really wasn’t. He even had dimples. Shit, Shit.
“Nice to meet you. My name is Chae Gunyoung.”
“I’m Jung Sunwoo. Hello.”
“So great to meet you.”
After shaking hands, Hyunjo took a look at both, Gunyoung and me.
“Between the two of you, I heard one had experience, it’s Gunyoung right?”
“Feel free to talk to me however you want, chief. It’s embarrassing to say that I have experience. I worked part-time under Blackout manager hyung for 3 months. I only drove the van, did the chores and stopped people from taking photos, but that was all.”
“That’s still good. Ah, then you should know Hojun hyung. Chief Lee Hojun.”
“I have met him a few times.”
Blackout. As I heard it, it came to me. The successful boy group of W&U, the ‘ChoTongLeong’ idol group. They were called Blackout. The company he worked part-time for 3 months was this one.
Damn it. It seemed as though everything was crooked from the start. The outfit I spent a lot of time on was turned down and the new colleague I was compared to already had 3 months of experience.
If I’m not careful, he could be recognized as the sharp, fast, sensible, new recruit. And, me as the slow and insensible type of new recruit.
“First, both of you get in the van. We need to pick them up, get them to the shop and drop them off at the music program rehearsal by 7am. Let’s talk about more specific details on our way there.”
I was too lost to realize what was odd about what he said.
Of course, Hyunjo sat in the driver’s seat and Gunyoung sat beside him. I moved quickly as I sat in the backseat. I quickly took off my jacket and shoved it in my bag, loosened my buttons on my shirt and folded the sleeves up right up to my elbow. It was only then my outfit looked a bit more comfortable.
As the van entered the highway, we started to talk more about the specifics.
The specifics that shocked my ears.
“Starting today, Gunyoung and Sunwoo will be in charge of the group called Neptune. They are a 4-member girl group that debuted early last year. Have you heard of them?”
“Yes. I listened to their single album not so long ago.”
Gunyoung replied right away.
“The reactions didn’t seem that bad.”
“Not bad? The single dropped off the charts right away and disappeared.”
“Really? Because the group members are all pretty, they were often talked about in an online community I go on.”
“Is that so? They are really pretty. Since we were originally a company in charge of actors and actresses, when we decided to make a girl group, we decided to pick those with actress like appearance. But, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the skills. They were mostly trainees for a long time in a different company. We even thought of the oversea market before choosing them so they are capable of speaking other languages. Since they have the basics, if they just make a hit, they will go a long way, but that hit didn’t happen for the last two years. Are they just unlucky, or do we just not have enough experience with planning…”
I wasn’t able to cut in their conversation. I was completely lost.
The girl group Neptune which debuted two years ago. I was in charge of a girl group instead of an actor or an actress.
The things I heard from my dream were becoming true, they were really happening. Can this really happen? Is this what I think it is? A déjà vu?
“What about you, Sunwoo? Is this the first time you have heard of them?”
I made eye contact with Hyunjo through the rearview mirror.
Because of my slow reply, he clicked his tongue.
“If you look behind you and search through the index file, you will see it contains all of their profiles. Take one. Since it takes about 15 minutes for us to arrive at their lodging, take a good look at it. Or, search online. You need to at least know their names and their faces before meeting them.”
“Yes. I understand.”
As I lifted the index file, there were a couple of thick profiles booklets. I took one booklet out. Even if I was still a bit confused, my hands moved automatically.
“So Gunyoung, do you have any siblings?”
“I have an older brother and a younger brother. I’m the second oldest.”
“Ah, I’m also the second oldest. The second oldest are usually more self-determined and quick-witted. For this job, the qualities you need the most are determination and quick-wits. It’s not easy to constantly be with 4 young girls all day long. Do you have any siblings, Sunwoo?”
“Yes. I have one older brother.”
“You’re the youngest? Thought so.”
My mind started.
What was I doing right now? Déjà vu or not, this wasn’t the time to think about my dream. Hyunjo was starting to think of me as a joke. If I don’t straighten up my first impression right now, I’ll have a miserable life ahead.
I was worried that my life ahead will be full of hardships as I ruined my impression on the very first day.
 Korean proverb meaning you don’t mistreat someone who treats you nicely.
 Shop refers to a makeover salon, where celebrities get their hair and makeup done.