The Sun shone brightly high in the sky but the wind chill in the busy commercial area of Yeouido, made the people huddle closer together. It was a perfect weekend to hang out with friends and have soju shots while grilling some meat to release the cumulative stress of the work week.
Amidst the crowd stood a two-story building housing a famous Samgyupsal restaurant. Photographers and cameramen were trying to peek through the door of the restaurant searching for something or perhaps someone. A group of young women approached the restaurant entrance forcing the photographers to give way. The women tried to gain entry but the waitress inside signaled to them that they were closed. She pointed to a yellow sign posted on the big window outside, which read:
“Apologies for the inconvenience. The restaurant will be closed this afternoon from 5:00 pm – 11:00pm. It is reserved for a special event.” An arrow sign pointing to a small TV show poster below the message. “…We will be accepting customers again tomorrow, Sunday, 10:00am. Thank you.”
A collective gasp could be heard from the group when they finished reading the message and seeing a TV drama poster featuring an actress and an actor.
“Oh my gosh! Moon Geun Young will be here? Is she already inside?!” gushed a woman.
“Geun Young is forever pretty!”
“I didn’t know she would be having a show…Oh. It’s on TVN.”
“The show’s name is ‘Catch the Ghost’... is that a horror series?”
“What time is she arriving? I want to see her. Let’s wait for her, maybe we can take a picture with her!”
Another woman in the group looked again at the poster and pointed at the guy besides Geun Young. “Who’s the guy with her? Is he the leading man?”
The woman read aloud the name of the man in the poster. “Kim Seon Ho.”
“That’s the guy? I don’t know him… but he looks handsome, eh.”
“Meh. Kim Soo Hyun is much more handsome than him.”
“Oh! I remember him!” Another woman chimed in. “I saw him on another series... he was the second lead there but I didn’t get to finish it though, I got bored.”
The group continued to chatter while more customers arrived at the restaurant only to be disappointingly denied admission as well. As the commotion ensued at the entrance, an unassuming gray sedan passed at the side of the restaurant and took a sharp turn at the street corner. It slowly went down the ramp of an underground parking lot. Then it quietly went to a full stop at the side of a waiting bench.
A small woman sitting in the driver’s seat turned her head around. Her smiling eyes turned to concerning ones upon seeing the tall man seated at the back frozen and staring blankly at the car’s stick shift.
“Seon Ho,” the small woman called the man at the back.
The tall man seemingly woke up from his reverie but did not look at her. He sighed heavily and unconsciously pursed his lips tightly causing two deep dimples to appear on both his cheeks.
“Oh no, there he goes again.” The woman thought to herself. She needed to snap him out of his stupor and she’d better do it fast or else he might not get out of the car. She loudly snapped her fingers in front and shouted. “Yaa! Seon Ho! Wake up! We are here!”
Seon Ho jumped at the loud voice and looked around him. Realizing where he was, he turned to the woman in front of him and apologized.
“Sorry, Yooni.” He pursed his lips again out of embarrassment, causing his dimples to show again. He looked straight at her unaware that he was giving her the puppy eyes.
Choi Hong Yoon (or Yooni as her moniker), the woman in front knew this look of Seon Ho’s all too well. He was very nervous. She has known Seon Ho for years and with a single glance, she could tell exactly what he was thinking and feeling. His expressions, even the subtlest ones were already second nature to her. It’s not as if she wanted to know everything about him but being his all-around manager, PR, assistant, driver, confidant, big sister (even if she is younger than him) and sometimes even cheerleader for the past six years left her no choice but to know him inside and out. Working with Seon Ho was the first celebrity manager gig she was assigned to. She was so nervous the first time they met. Yet, after only a few weeks of working with him, Yooni felt at ease. He was easy and comfortable to work with. He was also a very caring and honest person. So caring in fact that at first, she doubted the sincerity of his actions. Yet time proved that his actions were genuine. His honesty was indeed a rare thing in the entertainment industry. She could even attest that in her years of working in the industry, she had seen countless celebrity darlings with lovely façades in front of the camera but who would turn into the vilest of creatures off-camera. Fame and fortune can swallow a person whole if they lack the fortitude. She has always wondered when Seon Ho decided to go into television if he was aware of how dirty the industry and its people could get. She fervently hoped that his honesty and passion with his work would never waiver. He exuded kindness and innocence that was much needed nowadays.
Yooni looks back at him. “Seon Ho, it will be alright. You’ve attended wrap-up parties before, right? And you did well. Just enjoy the party and everything will be alright.” She squeezed his arm lightly and gave him a warm smile.
“I guess I’ll never get used to these kinds of events.” Seon Ho replied back.
“Well, you should. There’ll be many more that you’ll be attending, right?” Yooni gestured an ‘okay’ sign to encourage him.
Seon Ho smiled at her, grateful of her positivity. “Yes. Of course, I will. Thank you, Yooni,” He said while still not budging from his seat.
“Seon Ho, if you don’t get out of this car, I’ll drag you out myself.” She joked.
He didn’t hear what she said. He bit his lower lip and asked, “Am I underdressed?”
Yooni checked his attire. He was wearing a peach-colored hoodie, light jeans and white sneakers that made him look younger than his age.
“You look perfect. We’ve discussed this with your stylist. We’re aiming for the boy-next-door look, which is exactly what you look like.”
“Okay.” His voice didn’t sound convinced.
Yooni smirked and decided to tease him. She knew teasing him was the fastest way to distract and get him out of the car. “Don’t worry, she will still like you no matter what you wear.”
“Huh? Who?” He asked with a confused look but his ears started turning the same shade of pink as his sweater, giving away his feigned innocence.
“Geun Young,” she said with a smirk.
Seon Ho quickly averted his eyes from Yooni and cleared his throat.
His ears are red now. “Ahh! Fine, I know when you want to get rid of me so I’m going. I’m going right now!” He opened the car door to step out.
“I’ll pick you up by 11pm, okay?”
He stops and shrugs. “Can’t I just take a cab home, Yooni? I mean this isn’t like a shooting day so it’s not going to be a tiring day for me.”
Yooni shrugs. “Sorry, management’s orders. TV drama series wrap-up parties are still considered part of work hours so I’m still on the clock. Just enjoy yourself, okay? Now scoot! I have a date and I’m already late.”
“Oh, wow. You have a date?”
“Yeah! You’re not the only one who's dating, okay? I have a love life too, you know!”
Seon Ho’s eyes widened. “We aren’t dating! Stop it.”
“If you say so. Just don’t be too obvious with your mannerisms.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Come on, Seon Ho. Everyone can see how the two of you like have your own world on set.” He gave her an uneasy look but she continued to badger him with her assumptions, “It’s like
you both have magnets in your eyes zapping each other… and what’s with the telepathy between you two?”
“Uh-huh. Like how you endlessly stare and nod at each other without even talking.”
His face suddenly turned serious. He closed the car door and moved closer to Yooni, who reeled a bit out of surprise. Maybe she didn’t know him as well as she thought.
“Wait, why are you only telling me this now? You mean to say that the whole crew was talking about me and Geun Young all that time?”
She was taken aback by his stern response. She only wanted to goad him out of the car but maybe she went a bit too far. She honestly thought he knew that some of the crew noticed how chummy he was getting with Geun Young. She had heard some conversation among the crew members with some even asking her directly if something was going on between the two leads. Of course, being his manager, she told everyone it was nothing. Besides, it’s common for the lead actor and actress of a movie or tv show to be very close because of the insane amount of time they spend rehearsing and shooting scenes together. She was able to abate the gossiping on the set but she knows there were still some people floating rumors about them.
“No…” Yooni shifted in her seat uncomfortably.
He stared at her unflinchingly.
“Okay, fine. Yes. It’s common for the crew to gossip about the leading man and the leading lady. It always happens during production, Seon Ho. I’ve been through a lot of those. They can’t help themselves. You two just look so good together… and the chemistry is simply…”
He cuts her sentence. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”, his voice sounded anxious. The blush in his ears now crept to his face.
“… I thought you were aware of it! I mean I tease you about her almost all the time, right?” She defended herself.
Seon Ho suddenly became silent. His expression was blank but his eyes went back to looking at the car’s stick shift.
Yooni studied his face and tried to read it. She followed the trail of his eyes from the stick shift to the window. Then he closed his eyes and shook his head. He sighed, opening his eyes to look directly into his hands, which were holding a small purple box. Yooni didn’t notice it earlier but he was holding that box all this time.
“What’s that?” Yooni blurted out.
“Ah…nothing…. Something for the party….” he mumbled softly, with the rest of his words inaudible to Yooni. He put the box in his sweater pocket and looked back at Yooni but hastily diverted his eyes away from her.
Her eyes suddenly widened. Yooni felt she was able to piece everything together now.
Seon Ho’s phone beeps loudly signaling an incoming message. He checks his phone and a small smile appears in his lips. “I have to go now, Yooni. Everyone is almost there at the party. Thank you for the ride, I’ll see you at 11pm.” With that, he quickly opened the door and walked out.
Once he was out of sight, Yooni turned around and stared at the steering wheel. “He’s giving her a gift!” she whispers to herself. “Wow. He must like her much more than I thought.”
Knowing him very well, Seon Ho is a very warm and affectionate person. Yet, one thing that no one knows is that he doesn’t give gifts often. If it’s Yooni or a staff birthday, he will treat them to a meal. He shows his affection through spending time with someone. He also shows that he cares through warm hugs and pats. Presents are reserved to the people he holds dearly to him. Like his parents and people close to him. He has never given a personal gift to any of his female co-stars before, not even to the ones in his theater group.
She paused in her speculation. Her frowning face turns to shock at the conclusion she arrived at. “He’s in love with her and he’s not even aware of it!... Oh, boy, are you in trouble Seon Ho.”
--- oOo ---
Seon Ho presses the up button of the elevator and waits for the it to open. He reaches for the small box that is in his sweater pocket. He stares at it for a second and slowly opens it. He gently traces his fingertips on the item inside and smiles at it. It’s a silver necklace with a pendant in the shape of a girl resting her head against a big fluffy white bear as they both sit atop a half-moon.
“I hope she’ll like it,” he thinks to himself as he steps inside the elevator.
- END -