Oh Jin Shim was nervous, truth be told.
The man who had discovered her, Yeon Joon-seok, led her towards one of the more private rooms of the restaurant they're in. "It'll just be a very short interview," he'd explained to her, sounding nervous himself - which was never a good sign. "Actually I don't know why this meeting was called. The others didn't need to go through this--"
She paused on her tracks. "So is-- is this a bad thing?"
"Oh no no no!" Joon-seok said, tapping her shoulder in what she thought was supposed to be a comforting gesture. "Maybe he just wants to see you in person to check if you're as beautiful as the picture I sent him."
"Yoo Shin Jae," he replied, straightening his jacket as he stopped in front of a door. "The owner of Yeon Entertainment - as well as many other companies." He paused and said, "If you don't know what to say, just smile and nod. I'll handle the rest." Joon-seok then took a deep breath and opened the door.
From where she stood she heard Joon-seok and Yoo Shin Jae exchange pleasantries before she was beckoned to come in. Jin Shim inhaled sharply, tucked in her hair behind both ears, and stepped in.
"G-Good afternoon," she greeted, bowing deeply. Jin Shim didn't dare raise her eyes towards Yoo Shin Jae; not unless he gave her explicit permission to do so. "I-I'm--"
"Oh Jin Shim," he said, his voice deep and yet not unkind. "Good afternoon."
Despite herself she found the courage to glance at him, found him to be looking at her quite-- oddly. She quickly averted her eyes, lest she get called out for being impertinent. "Y-Yes," she said, for lack of something better to do.
"Sit," Yoo Shin Jae told them, and soon both she and Joon-seok were scrambling as gracefully as possible to do as he'd said.
"It truly is an honor to be invited to see you," Joon-seok said, "and with my latest discovery, no less--"
"What are your plans for her?" Yoo Shin Jae asked point-blank.
Joon-seok blinked as if caught off guard at the question. He glanced at her before looking at Yoo Shin Jae again. "W-Well, I was thinking CFs first, then perhaps--"
"A drama," Yoo Shin Jae said decisively. "Let her do one."
Then Jin Shim covered her mouth after blurting out that word.
Joon-seok cleared his throat. "W-What she means is--"
"You don't want to do it?" Yoo Shin Jae clearly directed that question at her.
Jin Shim swallowed heavily. He didn't seem offended, which was always a good thing. She tucked her hair behind her ears again. "I-I do," she said, trying hard to control the tremble in her voice. "But, um, don't I get to be trained at it first--?" She glanced at Joon-seok.
"Of course! Of course!" He looked at Yoo Shin Jae. "She'll just need one to two weeks or-- or days! One to two days--"
"Whatever she needs," Yoo Shin Jae said to him. "Arrange it. I'll have a drama script sent to your office within the week." He then got to his feet - and so did they.
"Thank you!" Joon-seok said, bowing deep. "Thank you for this opportunity--"
But Yoo Shin Jae seemed to only have eyes for her. He smiled - one that made the corners of his eyes crinkle - and placed a hand on her shoulder. "You'll do well," he said. "You always do." He paused and added quietly, "It's good to see you again."
Only a few hours later did she think about how he'd used the word again--
--when she'd never seen him in her life before.
The preview of her first drama - The Lost Queen - began airing almost non-stop in the studio Yeon Entertainment was affiliated with.
"It's also owned by Yoo Shin Jae," Joon-seok said, rubbing his palms together as they caught it on air again. "You're very lucky, Oh Jin Shim-- no. Oh Yoon Seo. You're very lucky to have his support."
Jin Shim-- no, Oh Yoon Seo, she reminded herself - smiled brightly. "I'll definitely show him my best as my way of thanking him."
You'll do well, he'd said.
You always do.
"That's the spirit!" her new manager - Kong Hyuk Joon - told her with a wide grin. "Let's all do our best!"
Just then, Joon-seok's secretary came in, armed with the biggest bouquet of flowers Yoon Seo had ever seen in her life. She stopped in front of Yoon Seo and said, "Look! This means you already have a fan!"
Yoon Seo felt herself reddening. She touched her cheeks; sure enough, they were warm. "I--I do?"
"Yes, of course! I'm sure this fan saw the preview of your drama and fell madly in love with you!" Hyuk Joon took the flowers from Joon-seok's secretary and beamed at Yoon Seo.
Joon-seok said, "Hyuk Joon, I want to know the name of our Oh Yoon Seo's fan - the first of many, I'm sure!" He then grinned at her.
Given the enormity of the bouquet, Hyuk Joon struggled at first to get the card from the bouquet's side. "Ah, here we go. 'I look forward to seeing you every Wednesday and Thursday at 9 PM. You remind me of someone I know, which is why I'll be watching your drama very intently. It's good that your show is not very late as I need to get up early the next day for work. Sincerely, your new fan, Kim Woo Bin.'"
"Kim Woo Bin," Joon-seok grunted, sounding suddenly doubtful. "Sounds like an odd one."
"He sounds very sincere, you mean," Yoon Seo said, clutching her hands together. "I don't care if he's odd! I have a fan!"
Kim Woo Bin, she thought, imagining him to be as handsome as Yoo Shin Jae - or perhaps even more so.
Please always support me!
The Lost Queen began airing, and with it came the harsh comments about her acting - specifically, her inability to do so.
The reviews had been consistent, praising almost all the elements of the drama while damning her most harshly; painting her as a bad actress who had her script memorized but could not deliver her lines with any warmth or feeling--
Oh Yoon Seo kept to her apartment for a few days after that, and not even Hyuk Joon or Joon-seok could coax her into coming out.
"Come on, Yoon Seo!" her manager said, sounding very worried as he called her over the phone. "Can't I at least visit you?"
She sniffled. "No," she replied. "I don't want to see anyone."
And, of course, that's when someone rang her doorbell.
"Hyuk Joon, I swear to god if this is you--"
"What? What are you--"
Then Yoon Seo saw just who was outside her door, and her mouth dropped open.
Because it was none other than Yoo Shin Jae.
"J-Just a minute!" she shrieked, trying to straighten herself and her apartment as best and as quickly as she could. Oh no, when was the last time she even took a bath? Yoon Seo tried hard not to freak out, grabbing one of her more elegant jackets and wearing it. Oh god, what if she smelled?
Yoon Seo took a deep breath, tucked her hair behind her ears, and opened the door. "Um--"
"Chicken," he said, holding up a bag of it in his hand. "I bought you one. In case you have nothing to eat here."
She blinked and accepted the bag. "Th-thank you," Yoon Seo murmured before stepping aside to let him pass. After a beat she said, "I'm sorry for the mess; had I known you were coming I would have--"
Yoo Shin Jae took a long look at her, folded his hands behind his back, and sternly cut in, "Look. I'm only going to say this once: don't let any of those idiots get to you. If they think your acting is bad, then work hard to improve on it. But don't let them make you feel bad about yourself."
He then placed a hand on her shoulder, looked her in the eye, and added, "This is war. Don't let them win."
Unable to look away from him, Yoon Seo could only nod once, twice.
He smiled at her, even patted her head. Yoo Shin Jae then moved towards the door - before pausing and turning to look at her again. He took something from his pocket - a handkerchief, of all things - and handed it to her.
"You have something in your eye," he said simply, before turning again and disappearing behind her door.
It was goop.
She had goop in her eye when one of Korea's most important people came to visit her to offer his support.
Standing in front of her mirror and discovering with horror what he had seen to make him give her his own handkerchief, Oh Yoon Seo could just oh-so-cheerfully die right then, right there.
The ending of her third drama The Sensitive Doctor was received warmly, even if her acting was singled out as the worst thing about the show.
The review stung, of course, but Yoon Seo had long learned to brush it off.
Don't let them win.
She came home to her apartment after finding out that she didn't get the lead role for the next drama she'd long had her eye on. Joon-seok said that the studio wanted someone newer, which meant someone younger, and Yoon Seo had smiled and nodded like she understood the decision when she really wanted to protest it by saying she could play a high school student if she wanted to, damnit!
A delivery was waiting for her by the door. Quickly checking the card - which was bigger than any of the others before it - Yoon Seo smiled as she realized that the flowers were from her self-proclaimed number one fan, Kim Woo Bin.
Truth be told she always looked forward to getting flowers from him. Kim Woo Bin really was an oddball, but he was endearing and sweet and made her wish she knew what he looked like just because.
He'd always have a special place in her heart for being a fan even if it was only because she looked like someone he knew.
She took the flowers and deposited them on her table, before taking a look at the card again.
Oh Yoon Seo--
I believe this will be the last time I will be sending you flowers. I'm sad that your show has ended, but at the same time I'm glad that it did before I leave this earth.
As I've told you before, you remind me of Miss Sunny, and when I see you I feel like I'm seeing her - and I will always be grateful that your constant presence on my television screen makes my missing her a little more bearable. Don't worry about your haters - before I leave, I'll make sure to pay them a little visit so they won't bother you again.
I had lived a long, meaningless life; thank you for being one of the very few bright spots in it.
Kim Woo BinWang Yeo
"Wang Yeo," Yoon Seo repeated, her heart heavier now.
Reading the card made her feel like she'd lost someone special - and she didn't even truly know him.
Another week, another lost project, and Yoon Seo began hating just how used she was becoming to being rejected.
Deciding just this once that she'd eat whatever she wanted, Yoon Seo dropped by her favorite chicken feet restaurant - and bought several of them to go. She walked out, bag of chicken feet in hand, and looked up to see--
"Oh Yoon Seo," Yoo Shin Jae, of all people, greeted her - but this time he didn't look at all imposing or harsh, merely-- sad.
And that was how she, the universe's goddess, invited him, one of Korea's most powerful men, to eat chicken feet and drink beer with her that afternoon.
"Are you all right?" she asked him, watching as he chugged his beer with gusto.
He set his bottle down and looked at her. "No," he replied, and she was taken aback with just how lonely he seemed at that moment.
Yoon Seo looked down at her plate, pushed the chicken feet about, wondering what she should say next.
Yoo Shin Jae crossed his arms and said, "Aren't you going to ask me why?"
She shrugged. "I don't want to pry. I--I don't think it's my right."
Oddly enough, that made him smile at her again. "You know, you look just like her," he said, "but I guess that's where the similarity ends."
"Her?" she asked, unable to help herself.
"My younger sister," he said softly. "Kim Sun."
Kim Sun, she thought, and wondered if she's related at all to Kim Woo Bin's-- no, Wang Yeo's Miss Sunny.
Perhaps that's why he'd always supported her - because she reminded him of someone else.
Like Kim-- no, Wang Yeo.
The thought shouldn't make her sad, of all things - yet, it did.
Shaking it off, Yoon Seo smiled and asked him, "Does this mean I have your permission to call you older brother?"
He paused suddenly, beer bottle halfway to his mouth. Yoo Shin Jae cleared his throat and looked away from her, oddly enough.
"I'd like that," he said quietly.
"If you don't know what to say," Yoon Seo told Kwon Jung Rok, "just smile and nod. I'll do the rest."
Jung Rok scoffed. "I've had powerful men as clients. I know how to talk to them."
She grinned. "You'll like him, I think."
Turned out she was wrong, however.