After finishing the variety show, we were busy preparing for our comeback.
“Hey, let’s have a trivia quiz showdown!”
“Just pack your stuff.”
“Ichae, what are you bringing now?”
“My video game console… No, I’ll leave it behind! Yes!”
“Hey, hurry up! Our manager must be waiting.”
…Our morning was chaotic from the start.
[It’s the same as usual!]
After finishing all the preparations by myself, I laid down on the sofa and checked YouTube reactions.
It was as expected.
[Unexpected Quest Complete!
Appear on a variety show alone and receive a positive response.
You gain 3,000 points.]
“Seo Hoyun, let’s go!”
“Ah, are you done?”
Kim Seonghyeon tapped me.
I grabbed the packed suitcase and went outside.
The spring breeze was subtly giving way to early summer scents.
I loaded the suitcase into the van and took a deep breath as I sat down.
“Are you guys ready? Got your passports?”
“Eh?! I don’t have mine!”
“Gosh, I totally forgot!”
Kang Ichae looked back and forth between the flustered members and the manager.
“Why would we need passports to go to Jeju Island?”
While everyone was being noisy, even Kim Seonghyeon looked out the window with an excited face.
Well, it’s understandable – it was our first location shoot.
We were going to shoot the MV for our new song.
“I’ve never been to Jeju Island before!”
“Have you ever been there, Hoyun?”
I think I visited a couple of times to help with some filming.
As I nonchalantly answered, Seong Jiwon got excited and spoke up.
“Don’t worry, Hoyun!!”
Suddenly, Seong Jiwon stuck his face in-between the seats with a grave expression.
He then pulled out a worn-out Jeju Island guidebook.
“Jeju Island is famous for its black pork.
Ah! And we should definitely try the abalone noodle soup.
I’d like to visit Mount Halla too, but with our MV shooting schedule, who knows…”
“Black pork… I wonder if it’s delicious.”
…He’s really excited.
Kang Ichae playfully teased Seong Jiwon, who seemed determined to show the opposite attitude.
Jeong Dajun discreetly spoke to the manager.
“Manager, is senior Min Jiheon also filming in Jeju Island?!”
“Huh, how did you know? The schedules coincidentally overlapped.”
“I heard it through the grapevine at the company.
Ah~ I really want to meet him! We haven’t seen him lately because he’s been filming abroad.”
“Min Jiheon? Why?”
Everyone’s attention was drawn to Jeong Dajun’s words.
Kim Seonghyeon asked, and Jeong Dajun excitedly slapped his knees.
“He’s filming Please, Cider! in Jeju Island! Ah, I’ve been a fan since the beginning~.
I watched it recently and it’s so much fun.”
“Ah, the weekend drama? He’s really good at acting.”
I heard it’s really popular in Asia these days.
They’re filming in Jeju Island for promotional purposes.”
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about Min Jiheon.
That also meant that the CEO was pushing only Min Jiheon.
He should be rowing while the water’s flowing, but he never seemed to have a clue.
I need to try to persuade him soon…
“Guys! We’ve arrived.”
Before we knew it, we arrived at the airport entrance.
The manager parked the car but couldn’t hide his concern for us.
“Absolutely, don’t panic! Smile and don’t get too close to the fans’ faces! Follow the security guards!”
“Manager, we’re not that popular.”
Jeong Dajun answered innocently.
The manager looked worriedly at each member through the rearview mirror before opening the door.
“Ah, they’re over there!”
A journalist holding a camera pointed his finger at our van from the entrance.
While Jeong Dajun was caught off guard, journalists swarmed in.
“Jeong Dajun! Look over here, please!”
I quickly caught Jeong Dajun as he stuttered and pulled the members closer.
“Ah, I’m… I’m so touched…! It’s like… like a drama…! But you shouldn’t hold my wrists like this.
These days, dramas don’t even have wrist-grabbing scenes…”
I roughly anticipated it, but I didn’t expect this many people to gather.
The other members also had awkward expressions as they waved their hands and nodded their heads.
A loud voice rang out as we entered the airport.
Through the gaps between the journalists, I saw people eagerly squeezing through and taking pictures with their huge cameras.
They were definitely our fans.
“Jiwon! Have a safe trip!”
“Hoyun! Be careful on the plane!”
Not only the reporters but also the flock of fans that gathered, with some of the more skillful ones managing to squeeze into the tight spaces in between the journalists, taking photos of us was truly at the height of artistry.
I was also impressed by how good our security guards were at their job.
It was really nice and also apologetic.
We showed only a mechanical smile to the reporters, but seeing the fans brought out a genuine smile.
“Hoyun! You must have a safe trip!”
They must have had a hard time getting here, so the photos have to turn out well.
Making sure to look good, I quickly approached the camera and waved my hand in front of it.
“I’ll be back.”
The fans screamed while not missing a beat to press the shutter.
Leaving the strange feeling behind, I barely made it into the gate with a bow.
Everyone clenched their tickets and didn’t even open their mouths until we got inside the gate; only when the fans were out of sight could we finally talk in low voices.
“Wow, I was really surprised.”
“Right… I thought such things only happened to others.”
Jiwon scratched his cheek bashfully.
Ichae, who was walking next to me, chuckled and whispered to me.
“Hyung, did you know?”
“When Woosung-sunbae came to the airport, it was paralyzed.
From there to there, it was all filled with people.”
Well, that’s Woosung-sunbae after all…”
Not only in Korea but also overseas, he was one of the representative idols leading the Hallyu wave.
So even more, seeing the fans earlier was amazing.
There are such guys around…
Why did they bother to come to take pictures of me?
“Hoyun, what are you thinking?”
“…You’ll be fine.”
Jiwon tilted his head and smiled.
Jiwon, who had almost cheat-like abilities from the beginning…
We entered the gate.
It was an hour-long flight, but I was ready to sleep with my arms crossed.
I left the members, who were still excited about the fans, alone.
“Wow! Black pork! Black pork~!”
After barely getting an hour of sleep, we arrived and it was already evening.
We were told to rest at our accommodations.
Filming would start tomorrow morning, so we had free time tonight.
They suggested we play by the ocean later, making it feel like a school trip.
I don’t want to go.
‘…Fine, I’ll go.’
I only said one thing, but it was as if I had committed a terrible crime… I couldn’t not go.
I was planning to sleep more.
I sighed deeply and put a piece of well-grilled black pork belly in my mouth.
“Wasn’t I born to eat this?”
I thought I might as well have a drink of soju since I was eating anyway…
[Typical rice friend… He rarely takes care of himself]
“Why are you saying that?”
I was about to ask our manager if I could drink alcohol when, perhaps fearing the aftermath, the system window disappeared more urgently.
At that moment, the restaurant door swung open.
A group of people wearing black-padded jackets poured in through the opened restaurant door.
No matter how I looked at them, they were people armed with padded jackets in preparation for filming.
As soon as our manager spotted one of them, he suddenly stood up, and one person in the group of padded jackets looked surprised.
“Ah, why is manager Kim here?”
“We came to shoot The Dawn’s music video.”
“Ah! Oh, my goodness, look at me.
The man from the other party bowed his head with a bright smile.
We also got up and bent our backs deeply to greet him, and Jeong Dajun’s eyes sparkled with anticipation.
Who is he?
“I’m Kim Seongcheol, Min Jiheon’s road manager.”
Kim Seongcheol, a manager from the same agency, offered his hand first with a friendly and pleasant impression.
After shaking hands with each member of The Dawn, he turned his head back to our manager.
“Wow! It’s not like there’s only one black pork restaurant in Jeju Island, but we happened to meet at a place like this.”
“I know, right? What brings you here?”
“We came to unwind a bit after finishing our shoot.”
The managers seemed to know each other and were chatting away.
Then, a man who could be identified as an actor by anyone walked in, yawning.
The guy who our CEO admired so much has appeared.
“Hyung, where is our table…?”
When Jeong Dajun screamed, Min Jiheon’s gaze turned this way.
Our youngest member, who was also a celebrity, shamelessly approached Min Jiheon with raised eyebrows.
You’re getting too close.
“Min Jiheon-sunbae! I’m a huuuuge fan!!!”
It was rare to see the face of an actor famous for his mystique in everyday life, but the CEO was such a miserable guy that I already disliked Min Jiheon even before I met him.
Min Jiheon stared at Jeong Dajun for a while and then clapped his hands.
“Jeong Dajun, hello.”
“Wow, you even know my name…!!”
But Min Jiheon wasn’t as cool and intellectual as the image he had on TV.
He seemed a bit dim-witted and slow.
As Jeong Dajun covered his mouth with both hands, seemingly touched, his face turned red as he stuttered, excited by himself.
“Please, I’m a big fan of your work! I-I want your autograph, but I don’t have any paper… Can you sign the back of my T-shirt?”
Is that okay?”
“Then, could you sign on my forehead?”
“Hey, what do you mean ‘should I’!?”
As Min Jiheon obediently nodded, his manager, Kim Seongcheol, put him in a headlock and ruffled his hair.
It seemed like the manager quite adored him as he pinched his cheek while saying “You rascal, you rascal.”
Contrastingly, Min Jiheon’s face slowly turned into a sad expression.
“Hey, give Jeong Dajun a proper autograph on paper later.”
What’s wrong with this guy?
‘Hey, when are we going to sit down?’
‘Just wait a bit longer.’
While Jeong Dajun was going crazy, the rest of the members couldn’t sit down or join the conversation, and just watched the situation unfold.
Of course, I was busy calculating.
Is there anything I could gain from getting closer to them, or not?
I got the traits, but I probably won’t have to act either.
As I finished my calculations and was about to turn my attention back to the freshly cooked pork belly, my gaze met Min Jiheon’s.
The previously dim-witted Min Jiheon suddenly frowned as he scanned me up and down.
“…I’ve never seen something like this before.”
Was he picking a fight right now? If he said one more thing, I’ll rev up my thug persona to strike back, but Min Jiheon’s manager pulled his arm.
“Hey, Jiheon, let’s not bother them while they’re eating.”
“Yeah… Seongcheol-hyung, I’m hungry.”
I know you’re a big eater, so let’s eat quickly.”
“Can I eat enough for ten people?”
“Sigh, do whatever you want.”
Min Jiheon grinned and said goodbye to us without any lingering attachment.
“I’ll be going now…”
“Sunbae! Next time, I’ll definitely get your autograph!”
He blended in with the staff effortlessly, and soon we could hear laughter coming from the other room.
“Hoyun, what’s wrong?”
After that, while eating, I couldn’t tell if it was my overactive imagination or the thug persona I had developed over 30 years.
I felt an odd sensation on the back of my head.
As I stuffed a piece of pork belly into my mouth, Jeong Dajun returned to his seat with a sullen expression and started chewing on lettuce.
“I wanted to get his autograph on my forehead…”
“Dajun… Please, snap out of it.”
“If Jiwon says that, you really need to reflect on yourself.
Following Seong Jiwon, Kim Seonghyeon also tried to calm down Jeong Dajun (which could be interpreted as scolding).
Kang Ichae, who seemed to have taken a liking to the director role, shoved the camera in Jeong Dajun’s face and conducted an interview about his feelings on not getting the autograph on his forehead.
“Please, Take Care of My Dad is the drama of my life, and Min Jiheon-sunbae is just… radiant…”
“Who’s your favorite character, Dajun?”
“That would obviously be our own ‘The Dawn’!”
Nobody seems to have noticed anything.
Excluding Jeong Dajun, the other members’ ability to pick up on things was outstanding.
Even Today, those guys could exchange glances and understand each other just by looking at each other’s faces.
But nobody, not even Kang Ichae, mentioned anything…
Was it just my imagination?
And that guess was shattered exactly one hour later when we stepped outside the restaurant.
Min Jiheon was there.
 It means that the CEO should take advantage of The Dawn’s current popularity.
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