I Will Live as an Actor
A small wooden boat left Namhang, bobbing gently as it cut through the waves.
Under the warm sunlight, the sea gleamed like a jewel.
The gentle rocking might have been nothing more than a newborn baby’s wobble compared to the torrential currents boatmen usually faced, but it seemed that the film crew wasn’t so used to it.
The AD had already lost his breakfast several times and could barely stand on deck.
In contrast, camera director Kim Deukhyeong’s eyes sparkled with excitement more than ever.
“PD Yoo, this is an amazing shot! How did you find such a place?”
“Sunbae, how would I know about these waters? It’s all thanks to the boat owner.
When the production assistant mentioned Yeongguk’s name at Namhang Market, everyone offered to help us find the way.
If it weren’t for Yeongguk, we would’ve had difficulty finding a good location.”
“Ah, that boy is quite a lucky charm!”
At the bow of the boat, a young boy stood unfazed by the swaying of the waves as if his feet were magnetic.
Seagulls soared around him, and a heron flew past though they were far from the shore.
The scene was so magical that it could have been plucked straight out of a movie.
“Scene number 57, a brief life on the ocean—!”
The crew of around ten people hurriedly began filming.
As the clapperboard snapped, the wooden boat momentarily came to a halt.
A teary-eyed mother wearing worn-out shoes approached her son.
“Jin, pay your respects to your father.”
“What father? Mom, you can’t even see what’s right before you! These are just disgusting, fishy ocean waves!”
The gaunt mother painfully made her way to the deck and poured soju onto the blue waters.
Her son watched her with a look of pure dissatisfaction.
What was so great about the ocean that had robbed them of his father and her husband? Yet, the mother fought back her emotions, her voice strained.
“My dear husband, we’re here.
You must have been so lonely all by yourself.
I wanted to come more often, but life got in the way.
Our Jin has grown up so much.
He’s really a good boy, just like you.
It would have been wonderful if you could see him…”
Unable to contain her emotions any longer, tears streamed down his mother’s face.
Her hand holding the soju bottle shook violently, and tears welled under her hollow cheeks.
At that moment, her son Jin grabbed her shoulder.
“Are you going to spill it? What’s with this display?”
“Give it to me.
I’ll do it!”
Snatching the soju bottle from his mother’s wrinkled hands and splashing it into the sea, Jin’s eyes were also filled with unending tears.
On the outside, he resented his father, but deep down, he longed for him more than anyone else.
Seagulls cried at the sight of their tears.
As his mother leaned against the rails for a break, Jin stood alone at the bow, looking down at sea.
Unchangingly blue, the ocean seemed to know his feelings.
He silently took a small apple from his pocket and threw it with all his might.
“I miss you,” he whispered.
At that moment, a seagull changed course, as if responding to his call.
* * *
The filming was just wrapping up when the boat owner, his face tanned dark, came over.
It was their first time getting a good look at him.
They only heard that they’d hired a boat owner who knew the waters well, but he had kept his hat pulled low and stayed in the wheelhouse the entire time—until now.
“Yeongguk! You don’t even pretend to be happy to see me!”
“Old man, I can’t stand fake laughter! I didn’t know you changed the boat’s name to Silver.
Anyway, I heard you’ve been driving the boat without going fishing.
Don’t tell me you missed the right tide?”
“No way! I injured my finger while pulling up a fishing net, so I took a break.
Right around that time, someone from Seoul came by looking for help navigating on a filming gig and mentioned your name.
So, I said I’d do it.
It’s all thanks to you, Yeongguk!”
“You’re not charging them for just taking people out on the sea, right?”
“Tsk, so quick-witted! Anyway, now that the shoot is over, go to the net and bring me a live fish! After all, these city folks from Seoul should taste fresh fish before leaving.
They should at least be able to say they saw the sea!”
“Who’s going to prepare the fish? Boss, didn’t you say you hurt your hand?”
“You’re pretty good at it too, kid! I’ve seen you help your mother clean fish at Namhang Market!”
Well, he did have a knack for it from his past life.
He was already an expert in cleaning fish and had done it several times, even filling in for his mother at Namhang Market.
His mother first stopped him, saying it was dangerous, but she couldn’t help but be impressed by his skill.
He caught a fish in the net and immediately began preparing the sashimi.
The film crew’s eyes widened at the sight.
“Yeongguk, you know how to fillet fish too?”
“PD, what can a kid who grew up in Namhang not do regarding sea-related tasks? Don’t just swallow your saliva, have a bite! Everyone else, come and try it too! As the captain said, you should have some while it’s still fresh to really experience the sea!”
Fortunately, the small boat could only accommodate a limited number of crew members.
The PD tasted a piece of sashimi and couldn’t help but exclaim.
“Wow, this is amazing!”
His face showed that he was craving some soju.
The other crew members also felt the same way.
They each took a thick piece of sashimi, and their fatigue seemed to disappear as they enjoyed the fresh taste.
Of course, there was one exception.
“Mom, aren’t you going to have some? Oh, you’re not eating because you’re watching your weight, right? My mistake.”
“Hey, the shoot is over.
Stop calling me Mom! Just give me some.
I want to eat too!”
“I knew you’d say that, so I saved the best part for you.
Here, let me give you a piece.
No one could resist the charming kid’s offer.
Park Suyeong pretended to lose and opened her mouth wide for the sashimi.
Her eyes sparkled as soon as the fish entered her mouth, and she was clearly enjoying the fresh taste.
After all, it was the fish’s peak season.
Inland, one could never find such fresh sashimi.
And, of course, even the pickiest of eaters would crave more with just a piece of the fish at that time of the year.
“Try this too.
It’s sea urchin roe – you can’t just scoop it up with a spoon like this on land.”
“Kid, I know how to eat it.
You don’t need to feed me like that!”
“I’m only feeding you because you’re my mom.
Just eat it.”
He encouraged her again, and she pretended to give in as she took a spoonful of the sea urchin roe.
The sour taste of the sauce and the sweetness of the sea urchin roe filled her mouth, evoking the feeling of having the sea in her mouth.
“How is it?”
Park Suyeong nodded briefly.
* * *
The captain cooked a modest seafood ramen for the ten-member film crew.
The steaming soup and savory taste left everyone speechless.
The AD, who had suffered badly from seasickness, seemed to have fully recovered and finished a bowl immediately.
The PD still yearned for soju, but what could he do? He’d have to console himself at a seafood restaurant on land.
“Captain, have you known Yeongguk since a long time ago?”
As you know, PD Yoo, Yeongguk is quite famous at Namhang.
He’s quite a celebrity in Yeongdo.
But when I see Yeongguk, I just can’t help but feel bad, so I kept my distance.”
“Why do you feel bad?”
“Yeongguk’s father and I were very close.
We would go fishing together, rain or shine, and even drink and shout at Namhang.
But then his father got caught in a strong current and drowned.
After that, it felt like it was all my fault, so I couldn’t face Yeongguk properly for years.”
With a strong and dignified appearance, the tanned captain had a hunched posture.
It seemed his emotions were overwhelming as he thought of his old friend.
“I’m sorry for my poor manners,” he apologized.
“No, it’s fine.”
“Yeongguk is quite a good actor, isn’t he?”
“Of course, you saw it yourself.
I’ve seen many child actors at the broadcasting station, but no one like Yeongguk.”
It’s not just for show.
The child actor struggled with the demanding filming schedule because of the physical challenges.
And to make matters worse, he was the primary child actor.
Despite the difficult lines he had to memorize, he didn’t make a single mistake.
Far from looking exhausted as the shoot drew to a close, he actually boosted the energy of the staff and fellow actors.
He’s got a heart as big as his father’s, you know.
He might still be young, but he’s got an adult’s mind.
He works hard so his mother doesn’t have to suffer and tries to do all the tough tasks himself.
When I think about it now, my friend really raised a great son.
When she set up a stall at Namhang with the other guys we worked with, I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to handle such a big responsibility, but my worries were unfounded.
Just look at him, doing his role so well.
It’s really something.”
Sturdy, calloused hands clasped Yoo Myeonghan’s hand.
“Thank you so much for the ceremony earlier at the sea.”
Yoo Myeonghan recalled the event before the shoot.
It happened after they wrapped up the shooting sketch and the team loaded equipment onto a small boat.
“PD, can I scatter soju in this scene and throw an apple at the end?”
“I think it’s something Hajin’s father would have liked.”
The child had a clear vision of the world within the script, as if he saw it as his own living room.
Yoo Myeonghan felt the boy’s words were persuasive, and the visual actually matched perfectly once they filmed it.
As if they had found a lost puzzle piece.
It was then.
“His father, I mean, my friend, really loved ceremonies like that.
It was even more important back then because living without it was unbearable.
It’s a blessing to even find the body because if it didn’t wash away to the shore, it’d be lost forever.
Nowadays, going out to sea and scattering their favorite food like that is all we can do.
I’m really grateful.
My friend out there in the sea must be delighted too.
He finally got a delicious apple after so long.”
Tears welled up in the eyes of the middle-aged boatman, his cheeks reddening.
Unbeknownst to him, Yoo Myeonghan also felt warmth in his chest.
There were countless stories in Namhang, like a drawbridge opening and closing, just hidden away deep inside people’s hearts.
The child must be the same.
But the child wasn’t afraid of the sea, nor did he avoid it.
He knew that it’s better to let it out instead of hiding his sadness.
“He should be happy to see such a grown-up son.”
The boy was sitting alone at the bow of the boat.
The sea, scattering blue rays of light, gently swayed as if greeting the young boy.
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