Idols Rewind – Chapter 9: This is… really something

In the close-up shot of her upper body, we could all sense the same emotion. No dialogue was needed to convey it it was undoubtedly a testament to her acting talent. 

The underlying anger likely stemmed from her failed debut due to HS Entertainment’s interference and the uncooperative weather. The dominant emotion was sadness, from the members scattering and the future bankruptcy of the company. A feeling of desperation hung over it all. Her vacant stare at the moon seemed to seek forgiveness or maybe hope from the heavens.

Hee-yeon transformed my poor acting directions into an exceptional performance.

“One more time… Let’s go again right away!”

“Close-up here!”

The two directors moved hurriedly, worried that Hee-yeon might lose focus of her current emotions. After capturing the full shot, they gave Hee-yeon various directions, and she nailed every one of them.

Of course she did. It wasn’t my talent as a director or writer, but Hee-yeon’s had outstanding talent that shone through.

“Switch locations!”

“Careful not to get wet in the rain!”

After witnessing Hee-yeon’s acting, a spark ignited in Eun-chul’s eyes. It was impossible not to feel pleased. Hee-yeon’s talent was undeniable, andt it seemed she was already destined for a place in a blockbuster movie.

When today’s shoot finally ended, I told them, “Since tomorrow’s schedule starts at 2pm, feel free to eat and drink as much as you want tonight.”

“…”

“…”

Contrary to my expectations, there was no cheering.

“It would be better to save that for after tomorrow’s shoot is over.”

“I was thinking of revising the storyboard a bit.”

Eun-chul and Jong-woo both looked determined. Hee-yeon’s remarkable acting made overall revisions unavoidable and motivated the two directors. I smiled with satisfaction.

“Tomorrow, I’ll treat you until you’re both stuffed.”

“Sounds good.”

The next day, the storyboard we had planned was scrapped, and Eun-chul began to truly showcase his talent. The studio was filled with continuous excited and praiseful directing.

“Good! Let’s try it again with a little more hopeful feel, as if you heard that the moon grants wishes.”

“Wow…!”

“Zoom in closer!”

Hee-yeon wore the yellow dress she couldn’t wear yesterday. She appeared shy, feeling awkward in such a bright and lively outfit. This wasn’t acting but her genuine reaction.

“…Take a picture. Actually, no, just keep recording.”

“Already doing that, my friend.”

“What are you…!”

“’Tis the basics.”

Eun-chul, Jong-woo, and their juniors seemed to be having a great time. Once Hee-yeon put on that dress, the storyboard they had stayed up all night working on became useless.

She showed them something much better than what they had vaguely envisioned. They gave spontaneous directions, and the juniors added ideas. It fired up the filming even more.

“Hair! Let’s tie her hair up!”

“President Kang! We can do that, right?”

They poured their fandom energy into this. I nodded, letting them do as they pleased. Maybe it was because they were still students, but they shot many unnecessary scenes, though they also accumulated plenty of usable gems. Finally, when the shoot was over, they seemed torn between going for a wrap party or starting the editing.

My goodness, such enthusiastic directors. While I would welcome immediate editing, these guys weren’t the type to settle for a quick look-over.

“Let’s grill some pork belly. When we make money later, I’ll treat you to beef. But for now, let’s settle for this.”

“Yes, sir–!”

“Wow, when was the last time I had meat?”

“Let’s drink till we drop today!”

College students were so lively. However, it seemed that the film department, always exhausted, was far from lively. How could they already be knocked out after drinking so little? I clicked my tongue and drank a shot of soju.

“Too bad. Maybe they’ll last longer after more field experience?”

“Please… spare me.”

“Ugh…! Urk!”

While everyone was wiped out, Hee-yeon and Jung-han, who hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol, looked at me as if I were a monster.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“…Your drinking capacity amazes me every time,” said Jung-han.

“This is my first time seeing it,” said Hee-yeon.

I furrowed my brows.

“These guys are just weak. The film department must always be tired. They’ve been filming since yesterday.”

“Boss, if you look beside you, you’ll see the empty bottles. You’ve already drunk five bottles. Five bottles.”

“…”

“And you still look like it hasn’t hit your liver at all. Are you even human?”

“What did you say, punk?”

Jung-han shook his head.

What am I supposed to do when it really hasn’t hit me?

***

The next day, we shot pictures for the album cover. The day after that, we received the mixed and mastered audio.

“It’s so clean.”

It felt like everything was slowly coming together. A smile naturally spread across my face. Now we had to do one more thing, maybe the most important thing: promotions. I had already planned everything out, and with the right tools in place, there was nothing to fear.

“Let’s skip music shows. We won’t be able to get on them anyway.”

It was safe to say it was HS Entertainment’s doing. We tried everything during our debut, but we couldn’t even get on cable music shows, let alone public broadcasting. Variety or radio shows weren’t as influenced by HS Entertainment, so they could be a way to promote Hee-yeon, but she wasn’t great at speaking.

Being on variety shows would do more harm than good, so I excluded them entirely. Even if we gained a little traction, we should minimize variety shows. Maybe we could do more if we gained a lot. But there was one exception: a music show with a hint of variety.

“Yeol’s Music Notebook.”

(T/N: Reference to a real-life music talk show called “Yoo Hee-yeol’s Sketchbook”)

It was a program where HS Entertainment’s influence couldn’t reach. Aside from the fact that the CP and PD cherished the program, It was because Hae-yeol Yoo had a big reputation in the music industry.

(T/N: Chief Producer (CP) is a close equivalent to an Executive Producer in the American film industry. Production Director (PD) can take on responsibilities of a Director or Producer.)

He was the president of an entertainment company, but his prior reputation was also enormous.

“I’d like to see them try to block us from appearing. It would blow up in their face.”

Well, it was best not to get my hopes up too much. I headed to KBC with Hee-yeon in tow. It was time for a head-on confrontation. 

Going to a broadcasting station was like saying, ‘I’m officially entering the battle.’ In-person greetings like this were gradually disappearing these days, but I was quite famous in this field. From my perspective, this was a hundred times better than contacting them through social media or email. Once the word spread, it might draw some interest here and there.

“Hello, PD. Long time no see, right?” I greeted a passing PD.

“Oh. Ohh, President Kang,” he responded, looking visibly uncomfortable. I didn’t care and had Hee-yeon greet him too before moving on.

That level of reaction was decent. Even if they didn’t use us immediately, at least it seemed like they were paying attention to me.

“Hello.” The PD gave a curt and dry greeting and continued on his way.

People like him thought I failed, so they didn’t give me the time of day. Just one of the many people saying hello. Nothing more, nothing less.

On the way, we greeted other celebrities, writers we knew, and random PDs we ran into. After a big circle, we finally reached our real destination.

“Oh? President Kang!”

“How have you been, Kim PD?”

Kim PD greeted me with an expression that said he was happy to see me. He disliked people visiting him directly since he received so many requests every day. I sought him out despite knowing this.

He liked me because I had once cast popular singers on his show without a word of complaint when I was at HS Entertainment. Since I had been thinking of going independent, I maintained a good relationship with him.

“Blue Sherbet, it’s been a while. First time since then?”

“Yes! Hello! I’m Hee-yeon from Blue Sherbet!”

“Still as beautiful as ever.”

“Thank you!”

Blue Sherbet appeared on this show when they debuted. I had chosen music that seemed likely to succeed. Kim PD had been satisfied with it and allowed them to appear. Although it ended in failure, this time I didn’t just bring music that ‘could work.’ I brought music that ‘couldn’t possibly fail.’ 

PD Kang extended his hand out to me with a knowing smile.

“Give it here. Isn’t that why you came?”

“That’s right.” I handed over the USB with a smile.

“Why not just bring it on a CD instead of a USB? It’s burdensome.”

“Haha. Then you can return the USB when we meet again.”

‘Meet again’ meaning during the recording.

“Very confident, are we? You know I don’t let people on just because of connections. I have meetings with the writers and Hae-yeol to decide the lineup.”

“PD, don’t you know me? People won’t just say that the program hasn’t lost its touch. They’ll be saying, ‘As expected of t’s Yeol’s Music Notebook.’”

“That confident? I’ll make sure to listen, so don’t worry and go. But don’t be too disappointed if you don’t hear from us.”

“Of course.”

Kang Hyuk and Hee-yeon bowed and left. Kim PD clicked his tongue as he watched them leave. The assistant director next to him scoffed lightly.

“I guess they’re trying to make it solo since they can’t do it as a group. Probably brought some decent ballad. They plan to go on some variety shows and then make a group comeback. Such a predictable route. I thought he would be different.”

“…Right. He’s quite capable, but reality is usually harsh.”

Kim PD fiddled with the USB.

“It won’t be easy. Even if no one interferes, it’s a tough journey.”

“They probably had no other way. Desperation, I guess?”

“Hey! What kind of word is ‘desperation’? How many times do I have to tell you to watch your mouth?”

“…Sorry.”

“Ugh. Let’s listen to it. That guy picked it, so it shouldn’t be just any ordinary song.”

Kim PD plugged the USB into the computer, and the assistant director made a disinterested face as if he knew what to expect.

But then.

“…Huh?”

Kim PD and the assistant director couldn’t say anything while the song played. When the speakers fell silent, they turned to look at each other.

“This is…”

“It’s something, isn’t it?”

Right. It was really something.

Although I had agreed with the assistant director’s comment about desperation, this was too good for just desperation. After all, Manager Kang’s reputation wouldn’t change just because he became President Kang. His essence remained the same.

“Let Hae-yeol listen to this,” said Kim PD.

“Okay!”

Kim PD handed the USB to the assistant director and picked up a folded printer paper from a corner. It was a list of potential guests scrawled on it. 

At the bottom, he wrote Hee-yeon Lee’ and underlined it several times.

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