The members woke up at dawn and gathered at the restaurant on the first floor of the hotel to eat breakfast and were sitting around a circular table.
Suk Ji Hoon, who was sleep-deprived from staying up late looking at fan responses, was barely eating the scrambled eggs in front of him.
After having a lot of time to think while practicing and uploading the cover song, Suk Ji Hoon privately messaged Do Wook in the next room at dawn expressing that he wanted to upload a cover song again sometime, even if he had to do it by himself.
“The response from the fans was really really good!”
Ahn Hyung Seo said with a mouth full of cereal.
The response to the cover song Do Wook and Suk Ji Hoon posted really was all positive.
Comments were posted saying that they didn’t realize it because they didn’t fully understand his personality yet, but that Suk Ji Hoon seemed like a very big hearted mangnae*. A lot of people also said that they wouldn’t expect anything less from Do Wook.
(TL note: Mangnae means the youngest. )
There were also a lot of compliments about the song. There were numerous fans who were saying that not only were their faces nice to look at, their voices were nice to listen to as well, and that it felt like being drunk on sweetness.
Of course there were people who pointed out that Suk Ji Hoon was lacking compared to Do Wook when it came to skills, but it was said in a way that they were looking forward to his growth in the future.
The fans unanimously agreed that they had known Do Wook was really good at singing, but that this surpassed their expectations. There were a lot of fans who felt that Do Wook had discovered a new voice color, which was what Do Wook was aiming for.
Aside from the fan cafe, the response from the community was exceptionally good.
Since it was a song uploaded specifically for KK fans, there wasn’t much interest from others, but they said they were jealous that the “oppas*” would sing for their fans like this.
(TL note: “oppa” is what females would call older males but it is not only for blood related older males.)
Comments that said Suk Ji Hoon treated fans coldly, which used to appear without fail on any articles related to him, found it harder to get support.
Some people tried to undermine Suk Ji Hoon’s intent behind posting the cover song by saying things like ‘He probably saw the stories circulating in the community. He thinks singing one cover song will put those stories to rest’, but it didn’t work.
-It’s not easy practicing, arranging, and posting the song on a busy schedule…;;
-Please stop bothering our Ji Hoon…
-Even if it’s because of the rumors, isn’t that even more reason to be thankful he cares about his fans like this?
-You’re looking at it in such a twisted way lol
In general, most of the comments were on Suk Ji Hoon’s side, and the negative opinions couldn’t come to the surface anymore.
Of course, Do Wook also didn’t think that this one cover song was enough to completely get rid of Suk Ji Hoon’s anti fans.
On the contrary, he knew that the more popular KK became, not only Suk Ji Hoon but also Do Wook or the other members would get anti fans, and their numbers would grow. If there’s an action, there is also an opposite reaction.
It was impossible to not have anti fans at all. However, what was important was the power of the absolute majority to minimize them as much as possible. The flow direction of the power of the majority determined whether the anti fans gained or lost power.
Do Wook thought that continuing to maintain a positive image of KK and its members with the majority was the important issue.
In the caption Suk Ji Hoon posted, he also included that he wanted to practice singing whenever he had time, so that he could gift songs to his fans.
He had to put in nonstop effort.
“Maybe later I can also…with the raps I wrote that weren’t good enough to make it into the KK albums. Maybe I should clean them up and post them.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea.”
(TL note: First sentence is said by Jung Yoon Ki. This second sentence is said by Ahn Hyung Seo.)
Ever since he heard about the cover song idea, Ahn Hyung Seo was already making a fuss that he’d also practice a song next time and join them. Now, even Jung Yoon Ki wanted to be included after seeing yesterday’s response.
Kim Won agreed to what Jung Yoon Ki said. Do Wook nodded his head as he wiped his mouth with a tissue.
“That sounds good. I think the response will be good too. You also have your own hip hop fans too.”
“Hip hop fans? I’ll be lucky if they don’t lash out at me because I’m an idol. Oh! I should write a rap about these regrets. Haha.”
Jung Yoon Ki giggled as if he thought of good lyrics while he was talking. Park Tae Hyung, who had been eating a sandwich, also hesitantly spoke up.
“…A video of me practicing choreography on my own time…I want to practice a lot and post it…”
He was still very shy, but he was turning that shy personality into a charm. Aside from that, he spoke up about his opinion when he had to, and there were many times when he had a different opinion than all the others.
“I think it’ll do well even if you posted a video of you dancing right here. Post it anytime you want, Tae Hyung.”
Jung Yoon Ki patted Park Tae Hyung’s shoulders. Do Wook replied as he gave a smile full of faith.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea. It’ll showcase your talent too.”
Ahn Hung Seo also gave Park Tae Hyung a thumbs up.
Like that, everyone finished their breakfast, enthusiastic about their self-produced content. They were each thinking about what they had to do and how much harder they had to try to achieve those things.
‘All the members are definitely pumped up.’
It was time for them to change clothes and get ready for the event.
Do Wook thought as he rode the elevator back to the hotel room.
They may be one team, but at some point they became teammates and competitors at the same time. Do Wook wanted the members to inspire each other to grow with friendly competition.
In that sense, they were only at the starting line. There was no doubt that the better the members’ individual skills became, the better the group and individual activities they would be doing in the future.
Osaka Kyocera Dome
The members, who were starting to doze off, became wide awake after arriving at the dome. It was because they couldn’t help but be surprised when they saw the fully decked out stage on their way to the dressing room.
“Wow. This must be why they say a dome tour is the dream…”
Ahn Hyung Seo muttered as he looked back at the auditorium.
‘Will this huge auditorium be filled with people tonight?’
Do Wook was also in awe.
Once they heard the MR* sound of the other performing team doing a sound check, the members’ jaws dropped again. The quality of the sound was more outstanding than any concert hall they’d encountered before.
(TL note: MR stands for Music Recorded, typically the instrumental part of a song.)
‘Impressive. As expected.’
Do Wook thought as he was being guided to the waiting room by Manager Oh Baek Ho, Do Ra Hee, and the event staff.
Of course it wasn’t their own concert; KK was only doing the first opening song.
However, it was their first overseas performance, taking place in Japan no less, which could be considered the core of the Asian music market. It was honestly a different mindset than at their previous performances.
The < Korean-Japanese Cultural Exchange Festival > was happening for the second time; last year and now this year.
An event organized by the Ministry of Tourism and the cable broadcasts that expanded into Japan, they put a lot of effort into making KPOP more widely known and parading its popularity while broadcasting live in Korea and Japan at the same time.
It wasn’t to the level of Korea’s ‘Dreamy Concert’ or award ceremonies, but that year’s top Korean singers, especially those making their names known overseas, were invited.
Among the list of distinguished invitees, the people newly invited this year were KK and M2M.
Since the order was decided by seniority, KK was given the opening spot but M2M ended up performing second to last as an exception.
Ara Entertainment’s main idol group ‘Sa Bang Shin Hwa’, who were also the recipients of the highest award last year, was given the ending spot. They reached the top spot in the past so they were trending downward, but they were still the group with the best fandom in Korea.
It was a given that they made it onto the Oricon chart in Japan, but they were also the most popular Korean singers in Japan. They even successfully completed a Tokyo Dome concert, which was hard for even local singers.
Riding on the coattails of Sa Bang Shin Hwa and Ara Entertainment Agency, M2M had secured the second to last spot.
Of course it was true that M2M’s popularity was substantial too.
KK were rookies and it was also their first performance in Japan, so they went to both rehearsals.
The members were incredibly nervous at first, but they immediately felt at ease during rehearsal thanks to the system that was built in order for the artist to be able to give their best performance.
Everyone realized that Manager Oh Baek Ho’s words ‘You just have to perform the way you have been doing’ were right.
< Korean-Japanese Cultural Exchange Festival > started with the prelude to KK’s ‘Very Sorry’
The plan was for the MCs to come out and say their opening remarks after their performance.
Once the prelude for ‘Very Sorry’ started to play, the stage lights shone on the KK members, who had been standing ready in one area, and fan lights in the audience turned on in unison.
Among the differently colored fan lights that were shining, the color being held by the most people was definitely the color for Sa Bang Shin Hwa. However, KK’s blue light also accounted for quite a bit of people. The fluttering blue light was greeting KK.
The members reached out their hand with precise timing, moving as one.
‘A day will come when we come back to this concert hall for our own concert. It doesn’t feel far off.’
Do Wook thought as he moved to the back of the formation after singing his part. When he thought about how a lot of the people in the audience had really come just to see them specifically, his heart raced.
The Japanese fans’ reactions were clearly on the calmer side compared to the Korean fans. However, that was just because of cultural tendencies. It wasn’t that they weren’t hot among Japanese fans.
The members could easily feel the energy of the fans watching the ‘Very Sorry’ performance with burning gazes.
Once KK finished their performance, the Japanese fans gave a rousing round of applause at KK’s reserved yet amazingly flawless performance.
It was a performance worthy of capturing Japan’s attention.
The members, who returned drenched in sweat, rested in the waiting room and watched the next performance on the monitor.
After many teams performed, it was getting close to M2M’s performance. Do Wook recalled his brief encounter with Seo Kang Jun at the waiting room hallway not long ago.
When Do Wook greeted him, Seo Kang Jun half-heartedly accepted the greeting. Seo Kang Jun’s gaze as he looked at Do Wook up and down was dirty, as if he didn’t like Do Wook.
Honestly for Seo Kang Jun, who was living with a vain attitude as if he were the only person in the whole world who mattered, there weren’t many people that he liked. The M2M members also tried to not offend him, and they were only working together because they needed him.
To such a person, Do Wook was someone he especially disliked. Seo Kang Jun felt like Do Wook’s gaze was burning through him every time he saw him and it rubbed him the wrong way. On top of that, the fact that Do Wook was his rival was more than enough reason to get on Seo Kang Jun’s nerves.
Do Wook quickly passed by Seo Kang Jun, who was trying to say something. It wasn’t time for them to interact privately yet.
Once M2M’s performance started, a loud roar erupted in the concert hall outside the waiting room.
It was inevitable that they would be on a different level than KK when it came to recognition. As the group that Sa Bang Shin Hwa would pass off their popularity baton to, they often appeared at Sa Bang Shin Hwa’s Japanese performances, and recently they officially released a single in Japan.
Do Wook bit his lip as he watched the audience fawning over M2M through the monitor.
‘The gap was just starting to close in Korea, but overseas…especially in Japan, it was something that required more power from the agency.
Do Wook thought about the remaining issue.
It was simply that their official expansion to Japan was a little later since they debuted about 3 months after M2M. KK’s popularity was growing day by day in both Korea and overseas.
The power of ‘Very Sorry’ was unbelievable. It was first place in music broadcasts for 8 consecutive weeks.
The record for first place until now was the girl group ‘Win Win Girl’ with 8 consecutive weeks at the beginning of this year. Their records were tied.
With its ongoing 1st place streak, KK’s ‘Very Sorry’ active period stretched longer and longer.
Once it passed 8 weeks, the company started to adjust the schedule for the happy but physically exhausted members. They stopped music broadcast appearances except for 3 public stations and major cable broadcasts. They also cut off things like radio appearances after a certain point.
During that time, they released a separate remixed version so that the fans and the public wouldn’t get sick of them.
They were still active, but that didn’t mean they could slow down moving on to the next stage, including the repackage album.
The weather had already gotten to the point that they had to turn the AC on in the car on their way to events.
The trees visible through the window were green. A blazing summer was starting.
On his way up to the studio to see Yong Soo Chul, Do Wook received a call from his cousin Kang Seo Hyun. Do Wook had asked for a favor when he gave her Monster’s Kwon Ji Hyung’s autograph.
-Are you free to talk?
-Yes. What’s up? Were you able to find him?
-Seriously, who is this person that you want to find them so badly? I found him. I found everything through the internet. When it comes to getting information, stans are the best.
Kang Seo Hyeon replied triumphantly.
Do Wook found out Seo Kang Jun’s middle school and had asked Kang Seo Hyun to look into which school someone named ‘Kim Bo Myung’ was currently attending, where they’re living, how they’re doing, etc.
He had initially planned on asking Manager Oh. However, Manager Oh would have stopped at nothing to find out the reason and he thought it’d be hard to talk his way around it, so he ended up asking Kang Seo Hyun.
Do Wook’s hand that was holding the cell phone was sweaty. He grabbed the phone tighter so it wouldn’t slip.
“So where’s Kim Bo Myung now…?”
-It turns out he’s currently attending U-Jung High School. I would have found him sooner if he used FaceNote…but he wasn’t on it. Anyways, I looked into people related to Friendship High and found a page with a picture that has that Kim Bo Myung person in it.
-I’ll send you the link right now. See if it’s the Kim Bo Myung you’re looking for.
“Huh? Oh…Thank you.”
After thanking her, Do Wook quickly hung up the phone. The message from Kang Seo Hyun with the link soon arrived.
Do Wook clicked on the link with trembling hands.
Translator comments: I forgot to announce last week that due to Daylight Savings time change in the US, the schedule for post chapters is now one hour EARLIER. Thank you for your continued support~ I hope y’all are enjoying the series.