TL by Myoni
Edited by Myoni & Yoni
“It’s morning, but there are a lot of people in front of the studio.”
As soon as they arrived at the studio, Gunyoung stuck his head out the back seat window. Unlike before, I was in the driver’s seat while Gunyoung was at the back. And next to him was LJ, in full makeup, tapping her foot with her legs crossed.
It was a little unfair.
“Ah… Most of them are here for BYG. They have a comeback today.”
“The live broadcast is at night, but they are already waiting?”
“BYG will have to come for rehearsal as well. They are waiting for them to come so they can take pictures.”
There were many fans holding camcorders and huge cameras crowding the front of the studio. I thought only kids did these things, but most were adults. There were even women in heels who looked like they were going to work.
“Those ‘Someone’s work outfit preview’ pictures on Twitter are all uploaded by those Chikduk.”
What are these work outfit previews and what is this Chikduk?
“Picture taking Dukhu. Some of them take better quality pictures than those you find on new articles. Some take pictures to share, while others create a photo book to sell to other fans.”
Our pictures were taken while we were on our way inside after parking the van. I was nervous as I imagined people jumping over the fence to ask for autographs and handshakes, but in reality, it was embarrassingly quiet.
While they did look at us, no one shouted out our names. On the other hand, Neptune members were happily greeting other group’s fans.
“Hello everyone, we are Neptune!”
As the four brightly smiled and waved their hands, the amount of people taking pictures grew. A few even returned their greetings.
“What are you doing. Smile, both of you.”
Hyunjo poked the sides of Gunyoung and me. He already had a bright smile on his face.
“A post on Twitter saying ‘I saw Neptune today and they were pretty good’ is better than most publicity stunts.”
I kept greeting people, without knowing who they were.
“Ah, right. Also…”
As soon as we entered the lobby, Hyunjo advised us.
“You can’t swear in front of fans who come to watch the broadcast.”
“There are still some stereotypes that celebrity managers are gangsters, so we have to be careful. Just don’t do anything that turn into controversy. Don’t even touch anyone. ‘Today, the manager of Neptune or whatever pushed me. Just my luck.’ If comments like these are circulated, the image of our kids will worsen.”
“And keep greeting people.”
“Do you know who you have to greet?”
I was speechless. How would I know that?
“You don’t know?”
“Yes, I don’t.”
“Since you don’t know, just greet everyone you meet. Especially those with photo-badges, when you meet an employee, say these words exactly, ‘Hello, I am (name) from W&U. Currently, I am working with a girl group called Neptune. Please take care of us.’ Easy right? Memorize it.”
Gunyoung was already muttering the words as he memorized them. I did the same as we made our way to the waiting room. Hello, I am… Hello, I am….
As if this was funny, Seoyoung laughed behind me.
“You said you are Jung Sunwoo oppa?”
Who is Jung Sunwoo oppa? Oh, it’s me.
“Since you wore a suit, every person you greet is going to think you’re the chief. You look like Hyunjo oppa’s superior.”
“Ah… Do I? Do I?”
“You should have worn a necktie.”
“My necktie’s in my bag.”
Seoyoung laughed even harder. It felt like something was tickling my ears. Her laugh sounded completely different from how she sounded when she nagged her members. Her cotton candy-like sweet voice, her eyes that closed into half-moon shapes, she was very cute.
I just wanted to put her in my pock… Cough cough.
The waiting room for KpopCon was located in the basement. As we got off the elevator, there were tons of people bustling around already. I couldn’t tell who was a manager and who was a staff member just by looking. I couldn’t even tell the difference between back dancers and singers.
What was certain was that there was no one prettier than the members of Neptune, especially Songha. It wasn’t because I am working with them, really.
“Where is our dressing room?”
“Over there. Second last one at the end.”
Along the narrow hallway, there were doors spread tightly on either side. Neptune’s waiting room was the second last one on the right. A paper with ‘Neptune’ written on it was stuck on the door.
Curious as to how a studio waiting room might look like, I opened the door with anticipation…
It was a chicken coop. It was smaller than my one-room.
Wait. Four members of Neptune, three managers including myself, later, when stylists and makeup artists come to fix their makeup, there wasn’t going to be a place to sit.
If we were like this, how do those groups with 10 members or those with back dancers deal with this?
“This is better than sharing a room awkwardly with other groups. And later, if we have a location shoot or an event, we have to eat and sleep in the van. At that time, you will miss this waiting room.”
Seoyoung pouted at Hyunjo’s words.
“I don’t have to sleep or eat, I just hope we get a location shoot or an event.
“Be patient, that day will come. You guys will definitely become popular.”
“Really. You guys must be tired, go sleep.”
“We have to greet our seniors.”
“I’ll wake you up then, so just sleep.”
Neptune members covered themselves with their outerwear or blankets and nodded off to sleep on each other’s shoulders. With their full makeup on, they were definitely celebrities, but their sleeping faces looked like a child’s. Well, they are kids. The oldest here is 22.
“Don’t just stand there, both of you should get comfortable and sleep. We have to stay here until the broadcast is over.”
Hyunjo grabbed a chair and closed his eyes.
Looking at my watch, it was only a bit after 8. KpopCon’s live broadcast was at 7p.m. We had around 10 hours left. How should I spend my time in this windowless chicken coop? Should I sleep too? No, if I close my eyes, I don’t think I will be able to get back up… The only thing I could trust was my cellphone. If I knew it was going to be like this, I would have brought my charger or some extra batteries.
Why did we have to come so early when the broadcast was at 7?
“Do you know what to do until the broadcast?”
Gunyoung scratched his chin as he answered.
“I don’t know… It’s my first time at a music program so I’m not certain.”
“Blackout didn’t go to any music programs?”
“When I worked part-time there, they were already done their music activities and were only doing events and autograph signing events. From what I heard, they do a dry rehearsal then wait, camera rehearsal then wait, while other groups were doing their preliminary broadcast, wait. After our turn, we wait until they announce first place… I think it’s something like that?”
What is that? It’s not like it’s neglect play.
Gunyoung looked around before lowering his voice.
“Those at a higher level seem to have other schedules between wait times. We probably won’t. We probably even have to eat in the waiting room.”
I felt suffocated. Even if it was a live broadcast, we had to wait 10 hours to do a 1-hour broadcast? Wasn’t this too inefficient?
“After all this, how much do we get paid?”
“I don’t know.”
We talked in a small voice, but Hyunjo lifted his head when he heard those words.
“We get $100.”
“…So in total $400?”
Although it wasn’t on a major broadcasting company, a major cable company was stingier than I had expected. Salon costs would probably be higher.
“No, in total $100. If we divide it, it would be $25 per person.”
At first, I thought I had heard wrong. With that money, it would only pay for three meals. From 4 in the morning until 8 at night, it was a schedule that took up a whole day and they only give us $25 per person?
“Honestly, isn’t that too little?”
“Who here cares about that. And who does music programs for money? You accept the losses to promote yourself. We are lucky that we have a good company and Blackout to lean on, or else the Producer wouldn’t even us cram us into his program. There are countless of groups who aren’t able to appear on music programs when they make a comeback.”
He taught us a few more things with a tired expression. Although there were some differences between music programs, at most we would receive $500. It didn’t matter how many members we had or if we had back dancers, the money would be the same.
Hair, makeup and the different outfits requested by each studio meant that they would have to spend a few thousand dollars. Unfortunately, new groups had no choice, but to make an appearance on TV and sing their songs to promote themselves.
“Rest a bit now. We haven’t even started.”
After thoroughly shocking Gunyoung and me, Hyunjo placed a hat on his face.
Soon after, Gunyoung closed his eyes. It seemed like only I was truly shocked.
Looking through some news on the internet, I found that it may be worse than what Hyunjo said, but it definitely wasn’t better.
While there were top idols who made upwards of $100, 000 per day and big companies with revenues of tens of millions, there were also girl groups who had to make their own outfits since they didn’t have the money and small companies who would take private loans to debut their girl groups.
There were articles that said that if they flopped this time, they would have to go to Han river… The CEO seemed to have ultimately ended up bankrupt, I wonder what he’s doing now.
As someone who dreamt of becoming the CEO of a management company, my heart is disturbed. I may not know much, but I will definitely never take out a private loan.
Closing the article, I once again searched for Neptune. Skipping past the ones I had already read, I looked at the comments on the articles or webpages I haven’t seen yet.
Those articles were obviously promotional articles made by the company. I checked every single one for comments, but there were none. Not even a negative comment. If you excluded the promotional articles, there were only on lists of groups performing on music programs or of brief appearances on cable entertainment programs.
After looking through for 30 minutes, I finally found one. On the general forums on a Car Community site, someone started a topic called, ‘They are pretty. Who are they?’ and uploaded a picture of the members.
-Neptune or Napkin, a completely failed girl group.
-Their visuals are top among the groups coming out these days? Is it just the photo?
-I approve if it’s not photoshopped.
‘I approve if it’s not photoshopped?’ Like hell, you approve. They look much better in person than in that picture.
Looking at these comments, I felt a bit sad. Even if they say you need heavenly luck to become successful enough to have the whole nation at their beck and call, they should at least have some popularity.
Let’s think as if I was the producer of Neptune. How could I promote them?
Their songs and concept seem to be good and above all, they all seem to have unique traits… Well, those traits weren’t of any use outside of entertainment programs. So this was why they risked their lives to appear on broadcasts.
“What are you thinking about so seriously?”
Gunyoung, who kept opening and closing his eyes since a while ago, slowly woke up.
“I was wondering what Neptune would have to do to become famous.”
“Hahaha. If there was a way, I’d like to know as well. Luck and timing are determining factors on whether a celebrity becomes a hit or miss. They say that celebrities are like clouds, you don’t know which cloud the rain will fall from. Look at BYG, who knew they were going to be so popular.”
“I still don’t know why they are so popular. I can’t follow kid’s preferences these days.”
As we talked quietly not to wake up the girls, someone poked Gunyoung’s side. Turning around, we saw Hyunjo staring at us.
“Look at these critics. If you’re not tired, stop chatting and go buy some coffee.”
“Yes? Yes. Coffee?”
“Buy some snacks as well. Choose sensibly.”
After receiving the credit card, almost as if we were chased out, we left the waiting room. It seemed like there were a few more arrivals after we arrived as the hallway was packed. As we barely made our way through the crowd, a woman carrying a laptop bag suddenly barred our way.
“You are the Chief in charge of Blackout, right? I am Reporter Kim Sooyoung from CelebBridge. We met briefly at the autographing event before, do you remember me?”
The reporter struck a friendly conversation with Gunyoung.
This guy was even close to reporters. Suddenly, I felt Gunyoung’s 3 months of experience was enormous.
“Hello, Miss Reporter. Of course, I remember you.”
“Oh my god.”
“But I am not a chief, I am just a manager.”
“Oh, you were a manager. Anyways, why are you here? Does Blackout have a schedule at Knet today? Radio? Can you spare some time for an interview? It will just take a minute.”
“I am actually working with Neptune, a girl group from W&U.”
I asked in vain.
That was what was written on the reporter’s face. Ah fuck, I asked in vain.
“Oh, so that’s how it is. Then let’s see each other some other time.”
Gunyoung was still friendly, but the reporter coldly turned and walked away. Soon, she approached another man.
“… Let’s just go buy some coffee.”
It seemed like this was the sorrow of being an unknown group’s manager.
 Chikduk – Picture taking Dukhu
 Dukhu – Korean version of Otaku, means the same thing (actually taken from the Japanese language)
 In Korea, we use casual and formal speech depending on who we talk to. In this case, Sunwoo first talked formally, then switched to casual speech. Another thing to note is that Hyunjo speaks formally to Sunwoo and Gunyoung and vice versa.
 Go to Han river is a common phrase meaning commit suicide by drowning in the Han river.