Eun-sang took a few minutes to set up the conference room to her liking: blinds closed, laptop connected to the projector, and copies of her notes neatly set on the table for everyone to review. It was in sharp contrast to the morning Writer Nam had pitched her change in topic that had led them to the Hongs—but Eun-sang hadn’t earned the right yet to take up that much space or display that kind of explosive thought and effort. She needed to look put together and professional so that they wouldn’t question her delivery and would instead look directly at the information she had.
And they would have questions about it, no doubt. Hard questions she might not be able to anticipate and others that she would have no good answers to. She needed to trust the work she had done so far on Ha-sun’s information and forge ahead.
PD Yoon and Writer Ji walked in first and took their seats; Writer Nam Yoo-mi came in a few seconds later, wearing an expression that Eun-sang hoped meant she was curious about what was going to be said. The Shark’s foul mood over the Ministry of Justice confiscating their research into the Hongs had very slowly dissipated over the course of the week, but some of it still lingered.
“Thank you for coming.” Eun-sang took a deep breath to steel herself for critical remarks and questions. Her coworkers valued efficiency, so she launched straight into her presentation. “On Tuesday evening, I met with a source that provided me with a great deal of compromising information about twenty-seven members of the National Assembly. I have spent my off-hours since then going through it; there is still a lot I haven’t been able to look at closely. However, every person named is a member of the Saenuri Party.”
PD Yoon’s eyebrows climbed over the top of his glasses, but he didn’t interrupt. Writer Nam immediately began flipping through her copy of Eun-sang’s notes, and Writer Ji quickly followed. Eun-sang opened her presentation to the first slide.
“Eighteen of them are connected in some way to Chairman Ahn Dae-shik of Ahn Health Services or one of their affiliated hospitals.”
“And the rest?” PD Yoon asked.
“So far, I haven’t found any connection in the provided materials between the remaining nine and Chairman Ahn. There may be some I missed, but my source did not indicate that this information was meant to target the chairman in particular.”
Yoo-mi looked up sharply at that, and Eun-sang decided she needed to skip ahead several slides in order to keep ahead of as many of her questions as she could.
“While my source insisted that they weren’t going to pressure me into a conclusion regarding the provided information, I believe they want to use me, this team, and YBS in order to disrupt the upcoming elections for the Saenuri Party. Eleven of these twenty-seven members are forecasted to have close races—” Eun-sang paused briefly on that slide before switching to the next “—while another nine are important members on various committees who either have forecasted easy wins or are high-listed members of the party and all but guaranteed proportionally allotted seats. The final seven don’t appear to be significant outside of the seats they hold, but they are either connected to Chairman Ahn or have some of the more salacious information attached to them.”
“So it’s a mix of low-hanging fruit and key players, then,” Yoo-mi said. She scribbled something in the margins of Eun-sang’s notes and then turned to another page. “What does your source stand to gain from knocking seats out from under the Saenuri?”
Of course the Shark would zero in on that question. Eun-sang didn’t shy away from it, even though her answer was lacking. “I don’t know yet. I don’t know why they chose me, either, but I do know that they want us to move quickly. My source promised an exclusive of one month, but if they didn’t see any progress by then, they were going to give all the information to someone else. They want us scrambling to keep the exclusive instead of asking why.”
That made Yoo-mi smile. It was a small, sharp thing, one that shouldn’t have made Eun-sang relax, but it did. “I have an idea on how to clear up as much white noise as possible so we can focus on the real stories: Chairman Ahn and whatever it is that my source really wants.”
Hyo-shin quickly fell into the rhythm on the set of My Undercover Romance, which he was grateful for. PD Jin and Assistant PD Jun had a well-organized crew, with a strong core of regulars who had worked together on several past productions and the rest having been picked up for this particular drama. So while he felt like the new guy on the team, Hyo-shin didn’t think it would take long for him to integrate with the other recent additions, like Yu-ri. Breaking into that inner core, though—that would be the challenge.
He spent all of Friday morning on set, babysitting one of the floodlights during an action sequence. Apart from a few position shifts between cuts, it didn’t need much of his attention. Hyo-shin spent his time watching what the other members of the light crew and the camera people were doing instead. He enjoyed trying to figure out what the finished scene would look like on tv, based on the positions of the cameras and the way the light fell.
There was nothing he wanted more than to work his way up the ranks to being a PD himself. To choose how to tell and frame a story, to collaborate with a writer to make their ideas come to life, to coax out heartfelt performances from actors, to work with a crew he trusted to make something that would capture people’s hearts.
To make something worthwhile. Something that he could be proud of leaving behind.
His parents had argued that the law had the potential to do far greater good and to reach far more people. They were probably right. He could admit that much to himself, if not to them. But neither of them understood what it felt like to create something. Helping to give something life was far different from a future of nothing but the confines of the law. He didn’t crave the kind of power or responsibility his father did, and they interpreted that as a lack of ambition and a waste of his intellect.
(They said he could do so much better, as if creating something that could distract people from the awful things in their lives and give them something to look forward to was somehow pointless. As if they didn’t know what had happened to him when he believed there was nothing worth looking forward to in his own future.)
After the lunch break and a second round of shooting, Hyo-shin had to leave the set and head back to campus. He offered Yu-ri a ride, which she accepted, and he spent the entire way back asking her questions about the other crew members and about the plot of the show so far. The latter was harder—non-chronological filming, her lack of access to the scripts, and her student schedule meant she didn’t have all the pieces. But so far it matched the synopsis and teasers Hyo-shin had seen online, and he had high hopes for this one. It was unlikely it would hit anywhere near the ratings for A Daughter’s Revenge, but PD Jin had a good track record for thrillers and Assistant PD Jun did a lot of moonlighting in comedy when she wasn’t attached to one of PD Jin’s projects.
When they got to campus, Yu-ri thanked him and hurried off to her class, but Hyo-shin took a moment to just decompress in his car. The building his classes were in was nearby, so he didn’t have rush like Yu-ri had. He turned his phone on again and quickly went through all the texts and emails that had built up while he was on set.
There was one from Moon Joon-young that had been sent about two hours ago:
Thank you for your help, sunbae, but everything’s taken care of now. Sorry to have bothered you. It was my mistake.
Hyo-shin swore under his breath and texted back. What happened? Are you okay?
Time eventually forced him out of his car and to class, but Hyo-shin kept checking his phone whenever his professors weren’t looking his way. He kept checking, for the rest of the night, but Joon-young never responded.