pretty well, but Se-Ah being singled out as the weak link in the whole thing.

“Mm, the opening credits look pretty great, doesn ’t it?”

“That director has a good eye for great visual storytelling, after all.”

While listening to the hushed whispers of his colleagues, Jeong Seok-Su nervously stared at the TV screen.
The rest of the PR team was also glued in front of the same screen like a group of high school seniors anxiously waiting for their end-of-the-year academic report cards.
They usually made similar faces whenever a TV show starring a talent signed to their agency aired its first episode, but things were different this time.
This time, the office was enveloped in tension far tauter and graver than ever before.

’Please, I beg of you.
Please don ’t disappoint us…! ’

The atmosphere in Code ’s corridors lately wasn’t that great.
The cause of this icy mood was a four-piece girl group the agency had placed high hopes on, yet it was going down the drain with the speed of a runaway freight train.

On the surface, the group was packaged to look pretty successful through all kinds of media manipulation.
The group even ’won ’ some awards through the intense lobbying efforts of the agency.
Unfortunately, this group of girls enjoyed no internal stability.
Actually, that was putting things mildly—the red graph line on the popularity chart was falling so precipitously that it might as well be a steep cliff at this point!

Even worse, there was another crisis of two of the girls transferring out of the group.
Those two just so happened to be the ’main characters ’ of the group, too! No wonder everyone thought entering the agency president ’s office was like stepping inside the mouth of Hell itself.
Only a huge win for the agency could lift everyone’s mood.

’And Se-Ah has to be that huge win for us… ’

The agency ’s position was one thing, but this opportunity would greatly affect Kang Eun-Yeong ’s life as well, completely changing it for the better.
Besides, just how much trouble did she go through while filming this production? Not only was this her first acting gig, she even got kidnapped by some thugs recently as well!

She had gone through so much, so at the very least, she deserved positive results for her troubles.

there ’s still the second half of filming left, too! ’

It can be hard to make great work when its stolen from

Half of the show ’s season was shot and produced earlier, leaving eight more episodes to be shot later on.
If the rating for the first half ended up being in the pits, the atmosphere in the studio would be in the pits, too.[1]

Jeong Seok-Su ardently prayed while all sorts of anxiety-inducing imaginations swirled around in his mind.
However, he still persevered and watched the TV—only for a confused gasp to escape his mouth.

Min So-Yeong glanced at him.
“What ’s the matter?”

It ’s, uh, nothing.” Jeong Seok-Su tilted his head in confusion.

’Hang on a minute.
Wasn ’t that…
Mister Jin-Ho? ’

To think the director would choose to plaster the face of an ’actor ’ showing up only in the first episode in the opening credits like that? Wasn ’t Kang Jin-Ho ’s role basically a cameo? Jeong Seok-Su had to wonder what that was all about.

Although that was weird, he didn ’t want to be the center of attention by bringing up something unrelated to the reason for everyone ’s nervousness.
Jeong Seok-Su swallowed nervously, then waited for the opening commercials to end.

“It ’s starting!”

Someone gasped, and heavy silence quickly descended in the office.

Whenever the team was ’evaluating ’ a new product, the atmosphere in the office would often resemble a cinema in the middle of its feature presentation.
No one sat back comfortably in their chairs to enjoy a new TV show, as they preferred to sit upright to study each and every scene.
The office was in that kind of atmosphere right now.

Whenever things were like this, even swallowing one ’s saliva was tough.
Unable to withstand this tension, Jeong Seok-Su quietly got up to leave.

’I can ’t bear to watch it… ’

Watching and evaluating a show starring one of the talents affiliated with the agency was obviously one of his jobs, but Jeong Seok-Su found this moment incredibly difficult to endure.
He knew how much hardship the actors involved in this production had to go through, so staying objective seemed impossible for the current him.

Jeong Seok-Su carefully and silently moved not to block anyone ’s view of the TV and escaped from the office.
He headed to the first floor, found a vending machine, and got himself a soda.


He immediately popped open the lid and took a large gulp of the fizzy drink.

Only then did he realize that his mouth was dry like a desert.
Probably from the nervousness.
Jeong Seok-Su headed outside the agency ’s building and stared at the dark night sky of Seoul as a sigh slowly leaked out of his lips.
“It ’ll work out well.
I ’m sure of it.”

Kang Eun-Yeong had gone through so much to film this show.
She even temporarily put a brake on her music career to make this happen.
Working hard didn ’t guarantee a good result, but Jeong Seok-Su still wanted her to taste at least the minimum level of success.

Jeong Seok-Su anxiously paced outside the building and its lobby until the end of the episode.

’…It should be over by now, right? ’

He was scared about going back to the office upstairs.
Stepping foot in there would instantly tell him whether Kang Eun-Yeong ’s show had been a hit or miss after all.
A cold mood would mean the show was bad.
If everyone in the office was energetic, then it could mean the show had something going for it.

Some shows enjoyed a rise in ratings through word-of-mouth as they progressed through the season, but the rest weren ’t as lucky.
Usually, a show ’s future popularity was decided by the first episode ’s rating.
In other words, how good the first episode was would be determined by the fluctuation in the overall viewer ratings.

And the evaluation for the crucial first episode should be out by now.
Jeon Seok-Su gripped the door handle of the PR team office entrance and sucked in a deep, deep breath before pushing the door open.

’…Ah. ’

He thought his vision had darkened as soon as he clapped his eyes on the mood of the office.
The episode was already finished, and commercials were playing, yet the folks inside the office were still seated in their chairs in a daze, without saying a single word.

’Oh, no.
This is bad… ’

Indeed, this was terrible.
Such a reaction was typically reserved for a crappy show.
No one was good enough to guess whether a show would be a hit or not during its production, but failing to do the same thing after watching the finished article? One might as well stop believing that they were fit to work as a PR specialist in the fierce world of celebrities.

’No, it ’s fine.
Yes, it should still be fine. ’

This was merely Kang Eun-Yeong ’s first stab at acting, anyway.
And it would be a good lesson for her.
She could simply have her smash hit the next time around.

While Jeong Seok-Su was comforting himself inwardly with such thoughts, Min So-Yeong quietly turned her head and spotted him still standing there.
Her eyes quickly opened super-wide, and she urgently called out to him.
“Mister Jeong Seok-Su?”

“Ah, yes?”

“Who was that man?”

“…That man?”

Who was she talking about? Jeong Seok-Su tilted his head after failing to understand her question.

Min So-Yeong grew even more urgent.
“You know, that actor playing Choi Yeon-Ha ’s ex! Who is he?”

“Choi Yeon-Ha ’s ex…? Ah!” Jeong Seok-Su blinked his eyes before replying as if there was nothing to worry about here.
“That man you ’re talking about must be Se-Ah ’s oppa.”

“Oppa? Is he her real brother?”

“Yes, he is.”

When you say Se-Ah ’s oppa, do you mean that oppa who crashed her live broadcast the last time?”

Jeong Seok-Su nodded, getting confused once more.
“Yes, him.”

Min So-Yeong ’s eyes powerfully quaked just then.
“Everyone, did you hear that?”

“Yes, Chief!”

“Prepare our press release.
And the moment we start sending it out, reporters will figure out that it was our agency and descend on us like a pack of vultures! So, all of you, prepare yourselves!”

“Yes, Ma ’am!”

Jeong Seok-Su tilted his head in confusion while watching the PR team members hurriedly dashing toward their desks with expressions of determination and valor.
“…Uhm, excuse me.
What about the TV show?”

He could tell that the atmosphere here was way too strange.

Most Korean dramas are a single-season affair with sixteen episodes each.

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