Life, Once Again! is a web novel produced by Wise Dragon, 어진용.
This lightnovel is currently Ongoing.
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Read WebNovel Life, Once Again! Chapter 303
What Maru saw first after leaving the building were the staff that were standing on the opposite side of director Lee. There was no commotion though, since both sides seem to understand that nothing good would come out of causing a commotion within school grounds.
“I said we should shoot for now. Only if the episode goes on air do we get more budget to work with.”
“I heard those words two months ago. You said the exact same thing word for word back then, too. Producer Lee, isn’t this going too far? Is everything okay as long as you receive your pay? You’ve changed too much.”
“Hey, I didn’t change at all. I’m also on your side. I’m eating out of the same pot as you.”
“You say we’re eating out of the same pot, so why do we get to starve to death while you get to have your fill? Look at our kids.”
The man who was standing opposite to director Lee grabbed a pair of two young men behind him.
“These two are our youngest members. They’re really hard-working, good kids. They come early in the morning to move equipment around, go on errands that your people give them, and clean up until the very end even after the shoot ends. But you know? This guy has a part-time job right afterward at a convenience store, while this one has another job at a bar. You know why, don’t you?”
“…Bro Kim. Let’s talk inside.”
“Who the h.e.l.l is your bro! Producer Lee, no YOU. You promised us two months ago, didn’t you? That you’d pay us properly for the full amount that we didn’t get paid; that you’d talk to the CEO of the company and have the pay transferred to our bank accounts. h.e.l.lo? Producer Lee? Am I, no, are we asking for money that doesn’t exist? We’re asking for the amount we worked for. A few of us can still cope with daily life since we have other work elsewhere, but these youngsters are putting their entire lives into this, yet you have the heart to not pay them? I know that TV broadcast runs on money, but aren’t humans supposed to be more important? No, even if humans are less important, you should at least allow them to have a proper life at least!”
“I know, I really do. That’s why I said we should talk inside. Things will get complicated if we cause a scene here. You should remember that we barely got permission to do the shoot here.”
“And who got that permission? It was one of ours that was stuck to the phone all the time, getting the permission, and coming here with boxes of drinks to hand out to the people here, wasn’t it? Don’t say it like you did the work.”
Director Lee raised both of his hands in an attempt to calm the other party down. It seemed that this was a payment problem. It seemed that they didn’t get paid for two months, or even more. It had to be quite serious considering that they were rioting during the shoot.
You should at least allow them to have a proper life at least – while the middle-aged man’s words provoked both the emotional and legal issues, it wasn’t enough to change the situation. Maru had never seen a financial problem that was solved verbally. Money-related problems were always solved through visible power, whether it was violence or an effective law.
“Doesn’t this mean that we have a problem as well?”
Word got out amongst the supplementary actors as well. Where did the supplementary actor’s pay come from? The production company, of course. Even official staff that signed a contract with the production company had their salary delayed, so would the supplementary actors, who were considered like temporary employees, get paid in time? Probably not.
After realizing that this had something to do with them, people quickly walked over to the middle-aged man’s side. They started glaring at director Lee from behind the staff.
Director Lee became visibly more nervous. It seemed that he felt very agitated because the shoot was halted. The middle-aged staff member, surnamed Kim, kept asking him to call the president and get a clear answer. Director Lee had no choice but to make the call.
“Yes, yes. I’ll hand you to him. Here, take it.”
The middle-aged staff raised his voice as soon as he received the phone.
“h.e.l.lo? Yes, we met once, didn’t we? I’m Kim Jangsoo. You do know why I called you, right? What? I should continue shooting for now? Are you f.u.c.k.i.n.g kidding me? You’ll pay me after shooting the next episode? Do you take me for a fool? Your sugar-coating won’t get you anywhere this time. Do you even know what we’re going through right now? There’s a kid that’s staying at a friend’s house because he can’t pay rent, and there’s a person who can’t even pay for food for his baby, you c.u.n.t!”
Mr. Kim widened his eyes before taking the phone off of his ears. He laughed once before handing the phone back to director Lee.
“So you’re hanging up on me, huh. Let’s pull out. We’re not getting paid for our work anyway. We aren’t playing around here.”
The staff members behind him all nodded. It seemed that they were prepared for this. At that moment, people not standing on either director Lee nor Mr. Kim’s side started speaking. They were the staff members that were standing with the people with the TV station employee cards.
“Let’s shoot for now. He did say he’ll pay you after shooting the next episode, didn’t he? Also, if you quit like that, the TV station might claim damage. So let’s talk about it after we finish shooting the episode. They should have their own circ.u.mstances, shouldn’t they?” One person, who had an employee card on his neck, spoke.
Maru scratched his eyebrows as he looked at the three groups. Director Lee and the production company’s side, Mr. Kim and his staff members, and lastly, the staff members employed by the TV station. The sides that had stable salaries were saying that they should shoot for now, and the other side was saying that they will not budge unless they got paid first. Common sense dictated that whatever company that was paying them should pay them to get them going, but from the looks of it, it seemed that this company had no intentions of paying them right now.
“Hey, you can’t do this to us. You can say that because you get monthly salaries. How desperate do you think we are to the point that we are taking our hands off everything? You know what it’s like, so you can’t do this to us. Also, damage claims? Stop kidding. You want to discuss who did bad things first?”
“That doesn’t mean you can just dump your work like that. You should be responsible for your work. Don’t you have any love for the work you’re doing?”
“Love? LOOOVE!? Try living in a run-down single room and eat ramyun for three meals a day. Any love you have will be gone. If you want to shoot it so much, then you can shoot by yourselves for all I care. Or else, you can pay us with your own money, considering it as sharing your so-called love.”
“Are you s.h.i.+tting me?”
“You know better if I’m s.h.i.+tting you or not.”
Maru nodded his head and inwardly applauded. The one called Mr. Kim had awesome verbal skills. Even the TV station staff started glaring at the man that talked to him. They were indirectly telling him to read the mood a little.
The staff members on Mr. Kim’s side started turning around with cold eyes. It seemed that they were set on leaving.
“Bro Kim! You can’t leave like that!”
Director Lee grabbed Mr. Kim.
“Bro Kim, yes. I already got the money. I did. I also know how hard your lives are. But if you leave like this, you’ll have an even worse time. Do you think the production company will try to prevent you from leaving at all costs? You know they won’t. They’ll just hire new people.”
Hearing those words, the people that were leaving all stopped in their tracks as though they hit an invisible wall.
This was the worst ace-in-the-sleeve – Maru thought. Mr. Kim’s ‘right words’ could not win against director Lee’s ‘realistic words’. Director Lee’s words were a snare trap. No matter how hard Mr. Kim wanted to ignore it and shake it off, it was already around his neck. The moment he started walking, it would end up strangling his neck. Everyone here knew that. The hostile atmosphere died down in an instant.
Director Lee’s words contained rotten hope. Although they were working without pay, just the fact that they were working gave them a sense of stability. Director Lee touched on that. If they left now, even that ‘work’ would disappear.
Most of the staff members were in their early to mid twenties. Those young people turned around slightly and looked at director Lee. While they needed money, an opportunity to gain career experience was also important to them. This might be no different from a part-time job in terms of environment, but it was also a job that got better treatment the more experience you had. Working part-time at a petrol station or a PC bang was never a ‘career experience’, but experiencing the TV broadcasting scene raised them to ‘immediate usable manpower’ status.
Mr. Kim and a few others were still showing their frustration, but the majority was alternating between director Lee and Mr. Kim with unease.
It was over now. The G.o.ddess of victory took director Lee’s side. Overdue wages versus unemployment. Faced with a choice, even Maru would choose overdue wages over being unemployed, even if it meant that his payment was getting delayed indefinitely. Without the confidence to get another form of employment immediately, it would be extremely difficult to let go of one job.
‘While that’s true, it still feels….’
Bitter. It was no longer a world where the offender had uneasy and sleepless nights and the victim could rest at ease. It was a world where the victim became tragic and sleepless, and the offender proudly walked out in the open.
Maru did want to help them. However, he couldn’t because he had no realistic solution in his mind. Telling them to cheer up in consolement was no different from making fools out of them.
The meaningless dispute was nearing its end. Mr. Kim had a look at the expression of his team members before sighing.
“Can’t we get one month’s worth of payment at least? Let us pay our bills at least.”
“I’ll ask the president again. If they had the money, they would’ve paid you already. But the fact that they don’t means that they have their own circ.u.mstances. We are colleagues in this business, there’s no way they’re doing this on purpose, right? Also… the students are watching us, so let’s not make a big deal out of this any further.”
Students had come to watch from some time onward. It wasn’t just the students. People that seemed to be their parents were also here. Perhaps today was parent’s day after all? Seeing that they had attracted a lot of attention, Mr. Kim frowned.
Just as he was about to give the final decision, one person stepped out from behind the students.
“Excuse me, what is going on here?”
“It’s nothing much.”
“It doesn’t look like ‘nothing much’. That man’s voice is so loud that I’m worried that it might disturb the students in cla.s.s.”
A middle-aged woman dressed in a suit frowned as she spoke. Director Lee quickly apologized.
“Don’t ruin the student’s study environment and work quietly. From the gist of it, this seems to be a problem stemming from a small amount of money. You shouldn’t do that as grown men. What would the students think about you?”
“Yes, yes. You’re entirely right. We’ve managed to come to a conclusion for now, so you need not worry.”
“You look like you reached a conclusion all by yourself though. That man still looks like he’s about to shout. Am I wrong?”
The woman in the suit stood in front of Mr. Kim. She then stared at Mr. Kim with disdain. Just as Mr. Kim twitched his lips and was about to shout at her, a man who seemed to be similar in age to him quickly held him back. Mr. Kim sighed as he spoke.
“Fine, I’ll be quiet. But also, you can’t just say that because it’s not related to you.”
Mr. Kim spat on the ground before turning around. When he did, the woman growled in a low voice.
“What is up with you? Who told you you can act like that here? You should listen if people are speaking to you nicely. Where do you think this is? Do you think you can act as you wish here? Are you some thug? Or the mafia?”
“And why the heck are you sticking your nose in other people’s businesses, huh?”
“My, dear. Excuse me. h.e.l.lo? This is a school. This is the place where they teach youngsters not to become people like you. Hah, geez, how absurd you are.”
“People like me? Hey, woman. Let’s get that straight. You mean people like you.”
“What was that? Are you sure this man isn’t the mafia? h.e.l.lo? Who told you that you could be here? On whose permission?”
The woman spoke to director Lee. Director Lee calmly replied to her that they were shooting a drama.
“Aah, drama, huh. Hey, you. Where do you work? Name your company. Do you think I will stay still when dealing with people like you? Thugs like you need some reprimanding.”
“And why do I need to tell you who I work for, ahjumma?”
“Hah, ahjumma? Hey, what TV station does he belong to? I have people I know over at UBS.”
“He has no relations.h.i.+p with a TV station though,” director Lee spoke stiffly.
The woman snorted when she heard those words.
“Then what, is he a part-time worker then?”
“He does belong to a company but… ma’am. I’ll take care of things here. So, haha, please let us go here.”
Director Lee lowered his head. The middle-aged woman frowned.
“Are you the producer?”
“Eh? Oh, yes, I am.”
“You must be having a hard time thanks to strange people like them. I’m the chairwoman of the Parents a.s.sociation at this school. Tell me if any problem arises due to people like him. I’ll go talk to the director of the school immediately.”
“Oh, no. Not at all. You must be busy, so you don’t need to use your precious time for us. I’ll take care of it myself.”
“Geez. There are so many uneducated people these days. How dare they shout in front of my babies like that. What does he think this school is? Hey, apologize to me right now.”
The middle-aged woman glared at Mr. Kim.
This was probably what it meant by ‘there are always people above you’. Maru looked at Mr. Kim, whose face was turning red due to anger and frustration. If he really fought that parent here, he would cross the line of no return. Maru looked at Woojoo who was standing behind Mr. Kim and signaled him to hold Mr. Kim back. However, he ignored Maru’s gesture due to being angry himself.
Mr. Kim’s lips twitched. Maru scratched his eyebrows. It seemed that he was about to fight big time here.
He decided to interrupt and act as the ‘good boy’. Maru immediately stood in front of Mr. Kim. When Mr. Kim glared at him as well, he smiled back at him.
“What is it?”
Just as Maru was about to put an end to the situation by bringing up the students,
“What is going on here?”
A man walked up to them from afar and spoke to them. He was a man in his early 50s. He was also someone that Maru knew very well.
“Oh, I didn’t think I’d see you here.”
“You’re right. It’s been a long time. I hear news about you from Junmin from time to time.”
The man approached and offered him a handshake. Maru smiled back as he shook that hand.
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