Jang Jae Bum walks down the hall taking off his shirt on the way, rolling it in circles above his head and then letting it fall in whichever direction. He gives a victorious high five to several prisoners who are now shouting his name in celebration from inside their prison cells. But for Jae Bum, time has come. Finally, the time when he gets to return the favour to his younger brother, Jang Jae Yul, for sending him in the rotting prison in the first place. Spending ten relentless years in a prison for a crime he did not even commit has turned his black hair into ivory almost gray strands that now act as a constant reminder of the injustice he has faced. The almost childlike happiness is evident on Jae Bum’s face as he twists his waist in something of a victory dance, giving more high fives to his cell mates who haven’t stopped cheering him on. While he was still locked up, every inch of his fibre itched to get out but now that the time has come, he wants to savour it.
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Jang Jae Yul found himself dancing to the deafening music that blared in celebration for his thirtieth birthday. He was enjoying the party despite himself, despite not liking parties, and despite feeling lonely in the sea of faces that were all too familiar and yet so distant. A plain white shirt and a pair of jeans in his favorite shade of blue felt like the perfect clothing for a day like this. He felt oddly comforted by his attire and he had guessed beforehand that he would need a lot of comforting if he were to make it through the night. He figured he might as well be the DJ, give everyone else a good time and maybe that way he could enjoy a bit himself. .
Women in expensive swimsuits, holding wine glasses above their heads, stood waist deep in the chlorinated water of the the swimming pool, moving their slender bodies to the music in pure ecstasy. They were joined by men of similar tastes in food, music, and well, parties. Everyone was carefree and sufficiently inebriated. Little did Jae Yul know what having a good time would cost him.
Jae Yul took two long gulps of champagne as he watched Tae Yong bring in a two tier Birthday cake towards the platform that he stood on. He didn’t quite like birthday cakes, or birthdays for that matter, but Tae Yong had obviously put in a lot of effort into the whole thing and it was the least he could do to make a childhood friend happy. He wiped the grimace off his face before Tae Yong could catch a glimpse of it. Even though the party was getting exceedingly tiring, Jae Yul figured he might as well endure it if he didn’t want to be a buzz kill. After all, everyone was gathered here to celebrate him. Everyone had started to cheer for him as they saw the cake roll in and in the spirit of celebration he threw his hands up in the air and a pyrotechnics explosion lit up the stage and his now gleaming face. Everyone cheered louder at the sight. Tae Yong had done a wonderful job in his stead. Tae Yong danced in with the cake and placed it on a table as everyone applauded for Jae Yul. He blew out the candles and a roar of excitement went through the crowd but everything fell silent when Pul lp, Jae Yul’s friend, wrapped her arms around him and gave him a kiss. Jae Yul allowed himself the pleasure. But as soon as he let go the crowd yelled for them to kiss again. “One more time, one more time”, chanted everyone. Jae Yul wasn’t the one to disappoint. He held Pul lp in his hands and gave her and the crowd a spectacle to admire. “One more time, one more time”, he heard a lone voice yell from behind him as he eased his grip on Pul lp. Everyone had stopped everything they were doing. Just one single voice booming in the air. The voice was familiar and in no time Jae Yul had placed it to the one it belonged to. “Hyung”, he thought to himself as he turned to come face to face with his elder brother, Jae Bum. He hadn’t even fully grasped the situation yet when Jae Bum jabbed a fork straight into the back of his shoulder. The pain made him forget everything and he fell to the ground as he took another blow in the same spot. People had gathered around and were tackling Jae Bum, trying to contain him. He attacked a few more people in the process but they finally took him away.
The sharp pain gave Jae Yul an unprecedented moment of calm. He was surely about to lose consciousness. He could feel Pul lp’s soft hands caressing his face and he could hear another voice. It sounded like a school boy. Jae Yul opened his eyes just a crack to find a boy in a school uniform yell, “Sir. Author, Sir.” He must’ve been a fan who had somehow slipped inside the party but at his worst moment, Jae Yul found his voice to be as soft as a lullabye, sending him off into a deep sleep. “Hyung”, he thought, as he looked at his brother being held under the grip of four men. His eyes were still fixed on Jae Yul and they screamed unmistakably of vengeance. But that was hardly a surprise. Jae Yul smiled to himself through his blood stained teeth, “that idiot brother o mine”, he thought, as he finally lost consciousness with a final glimpse of his brother’s grey hair.
⧭ ⧭ ⧭ ⧭
Ji Hae Soo entered the house only to find the drawing room empty. She put her suitcase aside and walked to the fridge as she heard her stomach grumble for food. Efficient as she was, she put on the news on TV, dawned a comfortable tank top and shorts, and put some frozen food into the microwave, virtually wasting no time. She took the food out and gave a sidelong glance to the pile of dishes in the sink. Not her problem, she thought as she washed a glass bowl and poured some milk and cereal in it. With her impromptu meal, she went and sat on the couch, finally following the news and digging her spoon into the bowl. Her stomach seemed to be thanking her profusely.
On the news, she saw the same case of the two brothers, Jang Jae Bum and Jang Jae Yul. Apparently, the one who had served time in jail had got out and stabbed the other one. Talk about desperate, thought Hye Soo. But that didn’t concern her. What concerned her was the fact that Jae Yul was supposed to be a writer and not some celebrity appearing on TV, let alone on breaking news. As the broadcast showed a close up of the author, Hye Soo couldn’t help but remark at his good looks. “He has such a pretty face. He’s got to be a total player”, she smirked at the image of the man, “Jang Jae Bum would face 30 months of further imprisonment. And as for author, Jang Jae Yul, he would be working on his new book shortly” chimed the TV but Hye Soo didn’t really care until she heard the next bit. “Author Jae Yul regrets to inform his readers about his hiatus and hopes he would be back to work in no time”, that didn’t settle well with Hye Soo. “I waited months for his new book, does this mean it’s going to be delayed?”, she spat in anger, the question was rhetorical. She turned the TV off, almost throwing the remote on the table. “He has no manners when it comes to his readers” thought Hye Soo as she gulped the final spoonful of her strawberry flavored cereal, frowning the whole time at the unfortunate news.
Hye Soo had taken the first bite of an apple when a hand snatched it away. “Who are you”, said Dong Min as he took a bite himself, “why are you moving in at the break of dawn?” His hair were dishevelled which meant that he had just woke up, possibly from all the noises that Hye Soo made. And even though Dong Min was practically yelling at her, she couldn’t help but smile faintly “You turned on the TV so loud it woke me up, What kind of a person are you?” he said as he munched on the apple. Her smile turned to a loud giggle, “I know”, she said standing up from the couch. “That’s just me”, she took the apple from Dong Min’s hand and left. She had only reached the staircase at the end of the hall when she heard Dong Min yell again, “Why are you leaving your cereal bowl there? You want me to clean it up?” but she didn’t really care, so she turned to give him a smirk and went upstairs. “I’m your senior and roommate. Not your errand boy!” he said through gritted teeth. “I’ll kill you if you make a mess like you did when you lived alone”, but Dong Min’s words only echoed in the empty room. He picked up the bowl to take a sip from the barely eaten contents when came in Hye Soo’s voice from the stairs “This house is already a huge mess.” She finally thought she could take her leave, “Soo Kwang, your noona is here. Help me unpack”, she went looking for their third roommate upstairs. Dong Min spat the mouthful of milk he had gulped in, “Just leave him alone, he’s been crying for three days because he was dumped”, cried Dong Min, trying his best to sound authoritative. “Soo Kwang:, Hye Soo shouted almost over Dong Min’s words. “Don’t go in, you brat!” he made all futile attempts to stop her. “Hye Soo”, she could hear his footsteps following her. “Soo Kwang, can’t you hear me”, she called for him again as she ate the apple. “Hey”, she said with her biggest smile, barging into Soo Kwang’s room. Doors didn’t mean much in this house.
Soo Kwang was sprawled on his bed in nothing but his underwear and a vest with a blanket haphazardly draped on him. His bed had a pile of tissues and the bedsheet was a mess. Hye Soo looked around the room and it was in no better shape. A tablet placed on his study desk showed wallpapers of Soo Kwang and his girlfriend, sometimes holding hands and sometimes embracing each other. “Leave him alone”. Dong Min said rushing into the room. When he looked at the sea of crumpled tissues on the floor and on Soo Kwang’s bed he couldn’t help but get into defensive mode. “He blew his nose:, he said clearing his throat and putting his hands inside the pockets of his shorts. “That’s what it was”, he adjusted his glass while he stared at the mess and then looked at Hye Soo, “really. He blew his nose.” Hye Soo hardly looked convinced if she was interested at all. She scanned the room once more and smiled to herself. “Let’s live quietly and happily. Even love each other if we can” Dong Min said gesturing with his hands to show a close family. His expression was sincere and so were his words but Hye Soo only rolled her eyes at him in disbelief and left the room, closing the door behind her. Dong Min expelled an exaggerated sigh when he glanced at Soo Kwang. He walked up to him and carefully took the tissue out of his hand that lay in a loose fist, making as little contact with it as possible. He then cleaned the rest of the tissues from his bed, throwing them on the floor. He saw the book that lay on the bed which Soo Kwang was probably reading. He lifted it and read the title, “The silence of Love by Jang Jae Yul.” “Hey” he said tapping Soo Kwang’s shoulder to wake him up. He opened his eyes at once. “Did you need so many tissues to read this?” Soo Kwang gave him the widest grin, “You’ll know when you read it.” Dong Min retorted with an equally mischievous grin. “Jeez…”, he leaned in and rested his elbow above Soo Kwang’s head. “Was it good?” he asked holding the grin the entire time. Soo Kwang replied with a thumbs up, smiling just as madly as Dong Min. “Let me borrow it after you’re done.”
⧭ ⧭ ⧭ ⧭
Jang Jae Yul’s room was a combination of Blacks, Reds, Yellows, Whites, Blues and Greys. Everything was in its designated place. Pul lp was sleeping on the mattress as Jazz music blared on the speakers. It wasn’t too loud but it was certainly loud for when someone is sleeping.
Jae Yul looked himself in the mirror as he wiped his face and shoulders. He had just come out of the shower. The bathroom was a similar extension of his apartment with the same color scheme as the rest of the house and everything being in its designated place. He threw the towel that he had used into the towel bin and took another one out from his cupboard that had neat stacks of red, white, blue, and yellow towels. He donned a bathrobe over the vest and wiped his hair because he was still dripping. He finally left his bathroom after he draped the curtains to his bathtub, the door clicked with the electric lock and notified “The door is locked”, in a robotic woman’s voice.
He was welcomed by the sweet Jazz music that filled his apartment and there was no sign of Pul lp on the bed. He rubbed the back of his neck with the towel in his hand and walked towards the other side of the room. Pul lp was dressed and ready to leave. “Tae Yong called. He is looking for a place”, she said fastening a wrist watch. “I told him. I was going to barge in if he didn’t find a place by the end of the week.” Jae Yul stared outside the window and listened to everything she said but said nothing in reply. “Next time when you wake me up, use your hands. Don’t open the windows and turn the music on so loud.” Jae Yul only smiled, “okay.” “ I guess you want me to leave. Your responses are getting shorter.” He couldn’t argue with that but he also wasn’t as rude as it sounded. He walked up to Pul lp and hugged her from the back, he did appreciate everything she did. She made things easier. He held her in place for a good thirty seconds as the music went on in the background. “ I have to go to the talk show”, he said turning her so she now faced him. He planted a soft kiss on her forehead and then went to get ready. “Hello”, Pul lp replied to the phone call as she watched him leave so non-chalantly. “What about my book?” she said slightly puzzled, her attention now turned to the call. “What happened?”
⧭ ⧭ ⧭ ⧭
Hye Soo stared at the patient in mock disbelief. She was sedated and lying calmly on the hospital bed now but her black and blue bruises made it obvious that her situation was much serious than it looked. Hye Soo’s interns and a few other doctors from other departments discussed her case as if the woman wasn’t present in the room. One of her relative was also among the crowd that surrounded her patient’s bed. A fracture in the right foot, pale black eye, a torn lip were among a few of her injuries. Just who exactly had she been fighting with or worse, if she had been fighting at all. Hye Soo held her breath as she gauged the patient’s injuries. This was not too uncommon for a psyche case and Hye Soo was the best psychiatrist in the room. She looked at the patient deciding on the next course of action as she had trainer her doctor brain to do. She was about to say something when the relative suddenly kicked the patient and started yelling at her. “Hey Bastard! Get up..” When she didn’t move, he slapped her hard across the face, “Get up! What are you trying to do.” The man now turned to the doctor, “He’s a crazy bastard putting on a show, acting like he’s asleep. He’s a disgrace to the family. Cutting off his manhood when he’s a man.” He rushed to the patient in anger again but everyone held him back this time. “Bastard”, he didn’t stop shouting. “He doesn’t belong here. He’s a man. But he cut off his dick saying he’s a woman” he looked at the doctor again. “He’s a man. But he liked other men. Bring in the psychiatrist”, he proposed. “I want him locked up in a mental institution. Bring the psychiatrist!” “I’m right here”, Hye Soo interjected in disgust and mild annoyance. “What?” he turned to face her. “How dare you speak so informally?” she exclaimed. That shut him up. “After the patient receives surgery, request a mental evaluation”, that was Hye Soo’s professional opinion and having made it clear, she proceeded to leave. “What evaluation”, she heard the man yell back in the room. “Lock him up immediately.”
“She’s a transgender who received surgery three years ago. I started seeing her two years ago”, said doctor Kim, the head of Orthopedics department, as we strolled down the main hallway. “Her family thought she was insane and had her beaten by a shaman to rid her of demons”, he mentioned nonchalantly. I couldn’t find anything nonchalant about the situation myself. “Then she was beaten again during an exorcism. This time twenty members of her family took turns beating her”, he pointed to a group of men who stood in the hospital lobby that we were about to enter. The men looked worried and were discussing something among themselves. All of them looked like middle aged salarymen, nothing unusual about them. Nothing except the fact that they were beating a daughter of the house to death. “She might die at this rate”, sighed doctor Kim breaking me out of my blank stare. “Let’s move her to a single room in psychiatry as soon as you get a consult order from the orthopedics department”, said Hye Soo to one of her interns who were following them the entire time. “She’ll get beaten to death if she stays here”, she agreed turning to doctor Kim. “Alright. Let’s do that” he gave Hye Soo a curt tap on the shoulder and left. The interns bowed slightly as doctor Kim excused himself. Hye Soo now faced her naive group of interns. There were three of them, all boys, straight out of medical school and into the experienced hands of Hye Soo. She had taken a liking to them already but she knew well enough the position she needed to maintain so she never went easy on them. Not unreasonably. “What do you do when you receive a patient?” she asked facing them, her hands inside the pocket of her lab coat. When no reply came, she snapped her finger at the intern standing in the middle and he suddenly looked up from the ground, clearly caught by surprise. He stammered before finally speaking, “Take the patient’s history”, he cleared his throat, inhibition laced his voice. “Particularly regarding gender roles in their youth.” Hye Soo’s eyes narrowed to a slit as she glared into the intern’s eyes. “Are you trying to make it obvious that you’re an intern?” She turned to the one on the left and gave him a questioning nod. “Just discharge her. What did she do wrong?”, he blurted in disagreement, “When she had her gender reassignment, she didn’t have any mental problems. She must’ve been okay with the whole process”, The one standing on the right cut him in between, “That’s right. Being gay is a matter of choice not a mental disorder. That has been acknowledged by psychiatrists across the world. It’s been a long time since being gay was eliminated as a disorder.” Hye Soo was facing him as he spoke but he finished she looked at all three of them with a blank expression. “Give me that”, she pointed to the clipboard that one of the interns was holding. “Don’t you think I know that much?”, she hit the ones standing on either side with the clipboard. Not too hard. Just enough to emphasise that they had completely overlooked the problem. .The one in the middle lowered his head in anticipation of a blow that never came, “If a person was beaten to death, they would run away. But that woman keeps getting beaten, is that a problem or not?”, she tried to break down the analysis into simple terms, “She’s lying there like a corpse with no reason, will, or hope. Is there a possibility of depression or not?” “There is”, said the three of them in a chorus as they lowered their heads in embarrassment. “Then is there a need for evaluation?” “There is”, they chimed again. “Then get out of here”, she hit the one in the middle on the head with the clipboard and handed it to the one on the right. “Go”, she said dismissing them and took out her phone from the pocket. As soon as the interns left she called Sunbae Jo Dong Min. There had been an unusual text from him. “Sunbae? What was that text earlier? Why would I go on a talk show?” she was trying hard not to sound annoyed. “I had a house call all of a sudden”, he said in his matter of fact voice but Hye Soo knew better. “Sunbae, do you make house calls lying in bed with your patients?” she giggled victoriously. “You little…”, began Dong Min. He had always known Hye Soo was extremely intuitive, nothing slipped past her. So, he had stopped trying a long time ago. Now, he just asked straight up. “Why would you say I make house calls lying in bed with patients?” he said. He was lying in bed with his wife. She had come all the way from America, he wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity to go on the talk show. “I sit in the doctor’s chair”, he said with utmost sincerity, still playing the card. “Which phone are you calling from?” Damn it, thought Dong Min. In excitement, he had called from the landline in his room. He took a deep breathe, distancing the receiver. “Hye Soo, do me a favor this once”, he looked at his pretty wife. She had gotten a new haircut. She kept her hair long for most of her life but now they were down to only her neck. He liked the new haircut, “I’ve been living as a single man and my wife has returned after two years. And she’s getting on a plane in two hours. How can I just send her off?”, he was almost begging now. His wife nudged him in the chest, a mischievous grin came to her face. “I have to give her something first”, said Dong Min with a smirk, staring into his wife’s eyes. But Hye Soo wasn’t that easy to convince. “Go on your talk show yourself” she said from the other side and hung up. “Hye Soo”, yelled Dong Min, “HYE SOO”, but it was pointless.
“Yong Soo Min”, shouted someone from the first floor lobby. Hye Soo looked up to find the source of the voice. “Yong Soo Min”, shouted multiple voices now. Hye Soo located the commotion and they were pointing at a woman running towards the exit. She was with another person but their face was covered with a hoodie. Hye Soo looked at the trousers that were part of the hospital attire and she knew at once. It was her patient Yong Soo Min, the woman was probably her mother and they were trying to escape. Well, the woman was, Yong Soo Min only followed without putting up a fight. She followed the woman but she was already out the exit. She ran as fast as she could, when she finally got out the exit doorway, she saw the woman get into a car and Yong Soo Min was already in it. “Yong Soo Min”, shouted Hye Soo, hoping she could convince her to stay by just yelling her name. “We’ll be alright”, replied the woman. She had no conviction in her voice but only concern. Maybe for her daughter. “Yong Soo Min, stop”, she yelled for the last time before the woman got into the car and left with her patient. Hae Soo stopped running as she watched the car drive away.
Dong Min put the receiver down and gave his full attention to his wife now. “Honey”, he said, smiling. “Aren’t you going on the talk show?” she asked with a slight disappointment. “Hae Soo is going” he lied and they both laughed in celebration. “It’s our first time in broad daylight” he said pulling the blanket over them. “I’m going to kill you today”, he said. That was his version of dirty talk. He had just pulled the blanket over their heads when he heard a noise. It was Soo Kwang. He stood four feet away from the bed and Dong Min realized soon enough that he was having a seizure. His wife removed the covers to take a look at the source of the sound and her face scrunched with concern when she saw Soo Kwang having a seizure. She seemed genuinely concerned and hugged Dong Min tighter. “He has Tourette’s syndrome. He has severe tics every so often. Just wait a minute. It’ll pass”, he said through warm glances at his roommate who still struggled to calm down. Soo Kwang tapped his forehead with the palm of his hand, it was part of his ritual to calm down. Whenever he had a seizure, his head shook violently and his mouth moved of its own accord. Even after having seizures all those years, he always felt ashamed when he got one. He went to great pains to cover his mouth, to hide his embarrassment. Soo Kwang was used to barging into everyone’s room, especially Dong Min’s because nobody had a personal life in the house. It had slipped his mind that his wife was in town and he had accidentally walked in on them. As soon as he saw them under covers, his head started twisting to one side, like it did when his seizures started and in no time his whole head was convulsing.
Hae Soo was walking back to the hospital, disappointed she couldn’t stop Yong Soo Min. It wasn’t a part of her job but people that came to her department’s doorstep needed help in more ways than one. She was adjusting her bangs that were flowing in the wind when she got her boyfriend’s phone call. His timing was impeccable. “Hi, honey”, she said, breathless. “Save me, will you?” said Choi Ho in his salesperson voice. The man was passionate about his job and would do anything to do a hit show. “It’s a live broadcast, the stage is set and we have a full audience”, Hae Soo was now at the entrance of the hospital. “Ji Hae Soo”, said the voice on the other side. She sighed thinking of excuses she could give to him but there weren’t really there any. “Hey, Ji Hae Soo. Please?” She fidgeted with her bangs as a silence fell on the phone call. “Okay.” Relationships weren’t easy and Hae Soo was aware of that. Painfully aware. “I’ll do it because I love you. Where do I need to go?” she asked her boyfriend. “Alright. I’ll be there.”
Choi Ho had just got off the phone with Hae Soo when Min Young ran up to him. “What happened?” she asked and he knew she meant about Hae Soo. “She’s coming”, he said and her face lit up. It meant all of their efforts weren’t going to go down the drain. “Thank goodness”, she said ecstatically., holding onto Choi Ho’s arm. When he thought the conversation was over and he was about to leave, she took him by the hand and lead him towards the end of the corridor. He wanted to act surprised but he knew where she would take him. To the prop room. The store room was dark with only faint light flooding in from the corridors, only enough to see each other’s faces. The room was dusty and had stacks of random items they had used on the show over the years kept haphazardly yet organized enough to be able to find them. Min Young wrapped her arms around Choi Ho’s neck and pecked him on the lips, wasting no time at all. “We can’t”, he said but he didn’t particularly stop her. “So do it quickly”, said Min Young and in no time she was kissing Choi Ho on the mouth. It had been a total of ten seconds of them making out when someone flashed a light in their faces. They both looked to their right and into the distance from where they thought the light was coming. They could see a smartphone and its flashlight pointed directly at them. “Who’s there?” asked Choi Ho covering his eyes with his hand. Min Young clung to him and did the same. “Oops”, came the reply from the anonymous source of light. “What do we do”, whispered Min Young and started shuffling towards the exit door.
Jae Yul had accidentally run into two people kissing on the set when he had entered a room which he thought was the bathroom. He lowered the flashlight he had been flashing right into their eyes and watched the female skedaddle out of the storeroom. He flashed the light at the man once again to get a better look because he was feeling particularly mischievous at the time. “I’m sorry”, he finally replied, “I came the wrong way” and turned the other way trying to find the door he had entered from. “What’s everyone doing? They should screen everyone”, Jae Yul could hear the man yell at the staff outside. He just lifted his shoulders defensively and left with quiet footsteps, not wanting to cause any more trouble.
Ten minutes later, Jae Yul was sitting in the green room as a stylist fixed his hair and touched up his minimal make up. “I don’t have a nickname”, he replied, giggling when the stylist asked him if he had one. In the thirty minutes he sat there, a couple of his fans showed up with bouquet, wishing him good luck for his next book. He signed a bunch of posters and book covers as well. The show was yet to start and it helped him pass time. Meanwhile, Choi Ho was busy directing everyone around the set, the camera crew, lighting crew, the live audience, etc. Being chief direction of a reality TV show wasn’t a job one could slack at. “Camera 3, focus on this area”, he said pointing with the script he had in his hand. He was about to head off stage to care of something when Min Young called out his name. “Hae Soo is right outside”, she said, “I’ll go get her” and she excused herself. “Hi, unni”, she said on the phone. She called Hae Soo, unni. It was the appropriate way to address someone of her status. Min Young was heading towards the entry gate and she saw Hae Soo coming in. She ran up to her excitedly and hugged her. “Do you know author Jang Jae Yul?” she asked Hae Soo, the wide grin never left her face. “I used to be a fan but I’m not anymore.” “Why not?” asked Min Young, confusion was evident on her face. “How can you call his recent writing decent? He started writing thrillers 3 years ago. People get eaten, buried, and hacked with axes. I’m sure he’s gone slightly insane”, Hae Soo explained as they walked towards the green room. She was wearing the same white shirt with green and black printed spots but she kept her hair open, she wanted to look good on TV after all. “Sunbae said you have an aversion to sex, but I guess you have aversion to men, too”, she said, flashing a smile at her. Hae Soo laughed as well, despite herself. She looked at Min Young and explained how her problem his anxiety disorder and a fear of commitment. “But it’ll be different when you really see him, he’s really good looking”, said Min Young clinging to Hae Soo as if just the thought of Jae Yul made her knees go weak. “Don’t cling”, she said laughing at Min Young’s remark. “Is he really that good looking?” “You’re interested, aren’t you?” They both laughed and entered the green room where Jae Yul was supposed to me. Min Young put a finger on her lips and gestured to Hae Soo. They entered the and room and there he was. Jang Jae Yul himself, sitting in front of a mirror as the two stylists danced around him, fixing his hair or something else of that nature. “Hello, I’m Lee Min Young, the assistant professor of the show. This is the psychiatrist, Dr. Ji Hae Soo, who will be on the talk show today”, she pointed at Hae Soo and she took a bow in greeting. Jae Yul remembered immediately, the woman who he had seen making out with a man in the storeroom was the assistant director Min Young herself. He decided to keep quiet about it but only laughed to himself. “Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Ji Hae Soo”, chimed Hae Soo, giggling like a schoolgirl. The man in front of her was indeed a celebrity. “The pleasure is mine”, he replied more as a formality. “Author, Jae Yul” a woman called barging inside the door where they all stood. “Please sign an autograph”, said the woman, clearly not gauging the situation. She just wanted the autograph. “You can’t be in here, Mam”, said Min Young in her most polite voice as she escorted the woman out of the room. “I’m sorry, I’m in the middle of something. I’ll sign it after the program is over”, said Jae Yul placating the fan. Min Young took the woman out of the room and left closing the door behind her. “But, I heard the doctor would be a man”, said Jae Yul. “Yes, are you disappointed that I’m a woman?” she asked nervously. “A little”, he replied. She didn’t think he would be so upfront about it. “I looked forward to a heated debate. But, you’re too pretty. I think it will be distracting” he said in a voice that was used to getting his way. “We’ll see you on stage in thirty minutes, said Min Young, she had come to get Hae Soo. “See you later”, said Hae Soo, bowing to take her leave. “Not too much gel”, said Jae Yul to the stylist who was about to fix his hair for the hundredth time. Hae Soo turned to close shut the door and she saw Jae Yul staring in the mirror and smiling. He was checking out the stylist’s cleavage which she had generously made visible in the low neckline top she was wearing. Hae Soo couldn’t help but laugh at the man. She shut the door and left.
At the control room, Choi Ho was directing the camera crew and Min Young was directing the anchor and the audience. “A loud applause at 1 and she started counting down from 5.” Choi Ho announced the commencement of the show to his crew and gave them command one after the other. “Camera 1 standby, camera 3 cut”, he said staring at his monitor that displayed the front of the stage. “My name is Kim Hwan and I’ll be your host for the night”, said the anchor, to the camera more than the audience. “We’ll engage in a themed talk for the next hour, Today’s topic is human psychology as presented in pop culture”, he continued. Hae Soo stood backstage with Jae Yul, waiting for her cue. “Are you nervous”, he asked looking at her face which was pale from anxiety, “It helps if you take deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth” he said as he demonstrated the process to her. “Worry about yourself” said Hae Soo, maybe he was forgetting that she was the doctor. “Did I do something wrong?” he asked. “I want to apologize if so. You’re so prickly” he said teasing her. “Please welcome author Jang Jae Yul and Doctor Ji Hae Soo, everybody” came the voice from the stage. That was their cue. Both of them walked to the stage. The three chairs were set on an elevated platform and Min Young directed them from behind the camera. The audience burst into an applause when they walked up to the stage. There were three steps to the platform and as soon as Hae Soo came to the stairs she tripped on the first one. Jae Yul caught her before she could fall but she felt embarrassed. She tripped on national TV. As soon as she regained her composure, they both got up to the stage and took their places. The audience gave them an encouraging applause. And Jae Yul winked at her while he was facing away from the camera and finally took his seat. “He’s totally messing around with me” thought Hae Soo as she stared at the man who had slipped into his stage persona as soon as he was on camera. The anchor had introduced the topic to the audience in the meantime.
“Sexual obsession is a mental illness” said Hae Soo, answering the anchor’s question but Jae Yul cut her in between “it’s a crime based on mental illness.” He paused before continuing, “in my books, the perpetrator of a sexual assault is killed by the same method that he used. As the woman was ripped to shreds because of him, so was he” he rested his case. “Isn’t that just another crime?” she retorted. “Whether it’s a crime or retribution, it’s up to the prosecutor to decide. As an author, I don’t think that retribution is excessive at all” he turned to her now and began, “Doctor Ji Hae Soo, before you extend understanding to the perpetrators of the sexual assault, it would be better to extend the generosity to the victims instead. What do you think?” he asked the audience and they replied with an approving applause. Jang Jae Yul was scanning the audience and he saw Kang Woo sitting at the very back. He winked at him ever so slightly. Kang Woo was the same kid who was calling out his name the night Jae Bum stabbed him, they have been in touch ever since.