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Comeback: No Choice But: Chapter 11

11.

The audition for “Cream Mansion” lasted for almost a month. Over 1,000 people applied for the role of Hwang Ji-woo, which Choi Hong-seo had previously played, creating quite a buzz. The applicants were narrowed down to nine, who were grouped into three for the final audition. Choi Hong-seo was assigned to the last day.

The final audition location was uniquely in a suite room of a luxury hotel.

Choi Hong-seo had attended a fair number of auditions in the past, but it was his first time auditioning in such a place. Even the works of famous directors didn’t use such expensive production costs for the audition venue.

The applicants waited in the living room while the audition was held in the inner study. The space was so spacious that the three applicants could prepare for their auditions separately without interfering with each other. Choi Hong-seo was assigned to the area with a round table.

Autumn sunlight streamed warmly through a large window overlooking the Han River and Seoul beyond. Summer had completely passed by.

His companion, Yong-jae, admired the view while pacing around the window, while Choi Hong-seo kept repeating the lines he had memorized to the point of attachment.

“The film’s scale is different because it’s being invested in by Lee Hae-sung. I’ve never been to such a nice room before.”

“……”

The name Lee Hae-sung, which suddenly reached his ears, felt like a surprise attack to Choi Hong-seo. With no wrongdoing, his fingers tightened, crumpling the corner of the script.

“The CEO said this room costs 20 million won a night. Did they really rent it for 20 million won just for the audition?”

“Who knows…”

Unable to look directly at Yong-jae as he sat down in the opposite chair, Choi Hong-seo unnecessarily picked up and set down the coffee cup in front of him.

“Oh, you need to prepare for the audition, but I’ve been talking too much, haven’t I? I’ll be quiet so you can focus.”

The first applicant was in the middle of their audition, and Choi Hong-seo was up next. While passing through the third round, he had been scarily focused with the determination that “I absolutely have to get this no matter what,” but now that the final audition was here, he could not help but be nervous.

Setting the script down, Choi Hong-seo quietly pushed back his chair and got up. Yong-jae’s gaze followed him.

“Where are you going?”

“Bathroom.”

“Again? You went 10 minutes ago.”

“Just one more time.”

“It’s your turn next, so be quick.”

The guest bathroom was prepared beside the kitchenette at the end of a labyrinthine hallway, in the opposite direction of the study where the audition was taking place.

After washing his hands thoroughly with soap and taking deep breaths, he practiced his lines once more while staring at the unfamiliar face in the mirror he still hadn’t gotten used to.

“What’s with Yoon Hae-an?”

It was then that he heard signs of people outside the door.

“Being here means he passed the third round. Is it possible with that shitty acting?”

“He’s recently been quite a sensation after narrowly escaping death. Could that be why?”

“Not even Director Kang would pick him. If he chose actors based on their buzz, his own work would’ve been a hit already.”

The voices of the two people laughing mockingly sounded happy. They seemed to have come to the kitchenette for the snacks prepared by the production company, as their conversation mixed with the sound of chewing.

“Sure, our Actor Park got recognition for his traditional acting skills, but why would Executive Director Shim make his child go through this for a director whose works don’t even get hits?”

“Even if they don’t hit the box office, they get awards abroad. Try winning something at Cannes or the Berlin Film Festival. It elevates your status, and the kid’s value spikes.”

It seemed that they were company employees of two actors auditioning today.

One was a young, highly regarded talented actor, and the other had already risen to the ranks of top stars. Perhaps because they were managers of successful actors, they showed no signs of nervousness despite the important audition.

“Then why on earth did Yoon Hae-an make it? He can’t act, his character is trash, and everyone knows he ruins the atmosphere on set.”

“If you look at how he immediately left the team thinking he could become an actor, it’s clear. Have you ever seen someone last long in this field without loyalty? Can you work alone? Someone has to hire you for work. Now, even his fans have all left him.”

“Do you think Yoon Hae-an will really get chosen?”

The anxious voice was followed by a self-assured snicker.

“If they don’t want to ruin the film, would they pick Yoon Hae-an?”

Instead of shedding the label of X-boy, he ventured out on his own only to end up as an unsuccessful “washed-up actor betrayer.” Choi Hong-seo didn’t even feel wronged. Rather, he felt it was his own fault.

With a wry smile, Choi Hong-seo left the bathroom. As he tried to pass by the open kitchen door, a voice mixed with laughter deliberately stopped him.

“Oh? Hae-an, were you there?”

Even though they must have known he overheard everything, they acted like it didn’t matter. They seemed rather pleased, hoping he had heard everything. The other person there wasn’t any less brazen.

“You’re up next, right? Let’s both do our best.”

“Yes, I’ll do my best. Unlike other actors, I’m genuinely desperate, so I really hope I get this role. Well then.”

Nodding briefly, he quickly exited the hallway.

“He’s still as rude as ever.”

It wasn’t difficult to ignore the sarcasm that followed. Their cheap talk didn’t even deserve a snicker. Maybe they should reflect on their own rudeness while gleefully bad-mouthing others.

He had a vague idea that Yoon Hae-an’s reputation wasn’t good in the industry. Given their lack of personal connection, he hadn’t bothered to find out more. Yet, it seemed his reputation was worse than he thought.

Yoon Hae-an was a year younger than Choi Hong-seo but had debuted a year earlier. Both had debuted as adults, with Yoon Hae-an as the eldest member of his team.

Yoon Hae-an debuted in the idol group “Titan,” which, like “Layered” where Choi Hong-seo belonged, spent several years in obscurity. “Titan” began to gain public awareness when Yoon Hae-an started to work as an actor. That much was clear.

The controversy over his acting skills had always been consistent. However, since the sitcom he participated in at the time didn’t demand particularly deep acting, his awkward and stiff acting was endearingly received by some fans. The show’s immense popularity also played a part.

How did Yoon Hae-an, with no recognition or acting experience, get cast in a sitcom by a famous writer and PD? There were many rumors online back then. Whatever the reason, it was clear that “Titan” started to shine thanks to the sitcom driven by Yoon Hae-an’s popularity.

But subsequently, Yoon Hae-an rapidly lost motivation for idol activities. For a while, “Titan” functioned as a five-member group without Yoon Hae-an, and shortly after, there was a press conference announcing Yoon Hae-an’s departure.

What sort of life Yoon Hae-an lived wasn’t much of Choi Hong-seo’s concern. He didn’t plan to live as if he were Yoon Hae-an by studying his life meticulously.

He was just recognizing the reality that he had to take responsibility for the life Yoon Hae-an had lived until now.

How long this state of inner and outer dissonance would last, he couldn’t say.

For the past month, relentlessly focused on the audition, he thought each night while closing his eyes.

Could I open my eyes tomorrow morning as Choi Hong-seo again?

Would Choi Hong-seo be entirely gone, replaced by Yoon Hae-an, or would both their spirits disappear?

Having experienced something impossible once, there was no guarantee it wouldn’t happen again. Living each day as an uncertain existence was a constant flow of anxiety.

Even so, he couldn’t help but come here.

Despite Choi Hong-seo’s disappearance, Lee Hae-sung hadn’t withdrawn his investment from the film. The paused film was stirring again, ready to be reborn. Like a stopped heart beating once more and interrupted breath inhaling again. Like a person rising from the dead.

If he thought he might disappear again at any moment, there was no time to hesitate or ponder. The sneers and jeers of others were trivial distractions.

During his time living as Choi Hong-seo, such things had felt like everything in the world… Even a single comment from someone unknown made him feel like he was being strangled…

“Hyung, why are you just coming now? We’re up next, they told us to be ready.”

He ran into Yong-jae, who came looking for him in his impatience. Thanks to their earlier derision, his tension seemed to evaporate, replaced by cold determination, making him feel almost grateful.

“Sorry. I was practicing a bit in front of the mirror…”

“Honestly, hyung, your acting has improved so much, it’s scary. I don’t know much, but getting that good in a month is impossible. You must have always had talent, and we just didn’t know. You’ll definitely pass.”

“Thank you. I’ll make sure to get cast.”

With Choi Hong-seo’s words, Yong-jae smiled brightly.

“These days, hyung, you really seem like a different person. In a good way!”

Even though on the surface, he was Yoon Hae-an, everything else was Choi Hong-seo. His memories, habits, preferences, and accumulated skills all remained.

Having been chosen once for the role of Hwang Ji-woo by Director Kang Woo-hyun, he felt a strange confidence from the start of this audition. Kang Woo-hyun had a consistent taste in his works, and no investor could break his stubbornness in his films.

No matter how many times he changed appearances and repeated the auditions, he had a strong conviction that Director Kang would undoubtedly choose “Choi Hong-seo” as Hwang Ji-woo each time with uncanny precision.

“Yoon Hae-an, please come in.”

We’ve Moved! If you notice any missing, empty, or incorrect chapters, please leave a comment below, and we’ll fix it as soon as possible. Regular updates will resume on June 10th. Thank you for your patience!
Comeback: No Choice But…

Comeback: No Choice But…

Status: Ongoing
※This novel contains materials such as reincarnation after jumping off a high-rise building and unwanted prostitution. It does not describe the subject matter in detail but mainly deals with the subsequent events caused by the subject matter. I jumped from the 32nd floor. There was no way I would have survived. Yet I was reincarnated. In the body of another person who has nothing to do with me. I am Choi Hong-seo, not Yoon Hye-an. No matter how hard I try, no one will believe me. Even if I were them, I wouldn’t believe it as well. Am I crazy? In reality, I am Yoon Hye-an, but I believe that I was Choi Hong-seo? The only hope that allows me to endure an unacceptable situation is the person I loved. The only person who treated me with respect. I wanted to see him up close. Since I had already died once, I had no other regrets. But he doesn’t love me, because I’m not Choi Hong-seo. “Did you know beforehand that the original owner of this role was Choi Hong-seo?” “Yes.” “So, did you use Choi Hong-seo as a reference?” “Yes?” “Simply put, I’m asking if you calculated that mimicry would give you an advantage.” “I don’t think Yoon Hye-an-ssi is suitable for the role, but if the director’s opinion is so, then I should follow it. But I want you to stop imitating him.” “…” “Just because a person isn’t in the world anymore doesn’t mean people like you can use him as you please. Do you understand?” If only I was Yoon Hye-an in reality rather than Choi Hong-seo as I thought I was. It shouldn’t hurt this much to see him treat me so coldly. This feeling and this pain couldn’t be fake.

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