‘You got to call this much to make money.’ Ujin fixed his glasses and lightly laughed inside as he faced Jinho.
Arts are money. There were cases where the talented could shine without investment, but that was only limited to the selected few, and for most people the investment cost was inevitable to ‘create’ that kind of talent. And Ujin was the director of the academy. In the end, it was a business for money.
‘He’s hesitating.’ Reading the look in Jinho’s eyes, Ujin stealthily placed the academy’s pamphlet on the table between the two.
If he was hesitating but wasn’t moving, that meant he still had a lingering hope. And it was Ujin’s job to turn that hope into certainty and stimulate the imagination to make Jinho sign the contract.
“For now, please take a look at this pamphlet. You recognize it, right? It’s the pamphlet we distribute when we’re advertising.
“Ah, yes. I did call after seeing it.”
“Then you must have read this part too. Our academy’s portfolio preparation course is a six month long course. Normally it’s four grand per month, but we’re doing a special discount at three grand per month.”
“Three grand per month for six months comes out at eighteen grand. This is the regular price. But for Mr. Jinho’s case, there’s only two months left… so we’re taking a huge loss too if we go with the discount price. Of course, finishing the portfolio within two months is a pretty tight schedule, but if it’s with us, it’s definitely possible.”
“In Mr. Jinho’s case, thankfully the basics are there. Well, seeing the pictures you sent us, there does seem to be several elementary parts and faults we need to fix…” Ujin briefly stopped his sentence to look at Jinho’s eyes and smile.
“There’s certainly a talent. Although it hasn’t bloomed yet, but with us, you can certainly blossom your talent. The image of Mr. Jinho taking lectures in the best art college out there, can you imagine? Just thinking about it is making me excited.”
When Ujin said the word ‘talent’, Jinho felt like throwing up. Didn’t Migyeong who guided Jinho also called the students who were working ‘talented’?
Even though in reality, the teachers were drawing everything instead.
‘Talent… Is it something that needed money to be seen?’
Jinho lightly put strength into his hands. Like the wrinkled pants in his hands, Jinho’s eyebrows creased.
Seeing this, Ujin believed that Jinho was still deliberating and decided to coax him further.
“Let’s take a look at the pictures you sent us. See this part? The coloring was only partially done. This kind of phenomena where the coloring is faint occurs when the ratio between the paint and water isn’t properly maintained. There is an opposite case to this where too much paint clumps together into a lump… it seems that’s happening in that part.”
Ujin continued to look at Jinho’s pictures and point out the problems.
As expected, the director seemed to have good eyes and correctly interpreted the faults. But there was something that he overlooked, and it’s that the pictures he’s looking at are the ones before Jinho edited.
“Director.” Jinho softly called out.
“Yes? Do you perhaps have a question?”
Although Ujin felt disgruntled from having his explanation interrupted, he didn’t made a mistake of letting it show. He was a pro after all.
Jinho looked into Ujin’s eyes and slowly said his mind.
“It doesn’t seem like it’ll work. I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think this academy fits me.”
“What do you mean? You haven’t even tried us yet. To improve your skill, you have to come to us. Don’t you want to go to an art college?”
“That is, there’s also the problem with money…”
“Ah, you’re worried about the bill. You don’t need to pay it up front. If you just sign the contract for monthly payment plan, at most for twelve months…”
Ujin kept trying to entice Jinho, but Jinho firmly shook his head.
“Of course, the bill is part of it, but this academy’s methods don’t appeal to me.”
“… What do you mean?”
The light in Ujin’s eyes changed. Although his eyes were cheerful before, now his face was full of hostility.
For a second, Jinho was repressed by the pressure, but spoke his mind with a clear voice.
“I saw while coming to this office, of how the students drew and the teachers looked from the side…”
“Yes. That’s how we lead the students. We tell them what they are lacking, and how to fix them. That is what a teacher’s role should be.”
“But I also saw how the teachers drew in place of the students.”
“Sometimes the students learn more from watching the teachers draw from the side.”
Was it really just ‘sometimes’?
Jinho stopped himself from asking so. The scene Jinho saw at the time didn’t didn’t seems to be something that only happens once or twice.
Instead, it looked like a factory designed only to achieve the goal of getting students accepted using whatever means. Whether it was by student’s own ability, or not. The kind of a factory that disregards students’ own skills and uses any means to press out students on a cookie-cutter called acceptance.
Jinho resolutely shook his head and stood up.
“Thank you for making time, anyhow.”
“…” Ujin didn’t have anything to say back to Jinho. He simply looked at Jinho without any expression. Then, he quietly spoke.
“You’ll never get in.”
“With your skill, you won’t get into any college. To wish to get accepted in New York while only drawing that level of artwork, aren’t you looking down on New York’s standards?
“I can guarantee it. There’s only two months left, right? You said you’ll finish the portfolio within that time and get accepted into an art college? I only said it’s possible because of me. It’s impossible for current Mr. Jinho. No, it’ll be impossible for any other academies in Manhattan.”
At the director’s words, Jinho seethed. He wasn’t wrong.
Jinho himself admitted that he lacked in many placed. But accepting that and trying to improve, or being content with the faults and borrowing someone else’s hands to wish for acceptance was a completely different problem.
At least, Jinho thought so.
Cold air filled the office. And for a moment, the two wordlessly stared at each other. This time, Jinho opened his mouth and broke the silence.
“…Would you please take a look at these?”
“What is it? Paintings? What, did you paint a new picture and brought it with you?” The director took the pictures Jinho passed while mocking him. Ujin’s ears didn’t listen to Jinho’s voice anymore.
In his eyes, Jinho was downgraded from “possible candidate” to “arrogant dropout”. The director didn’t believe that anything of interest would come from someone without talent or ability.
To that director’s words, Jinho simply nodded.
“It’s not something new, but what I edited from the pictures you just saw.”
“Edits? Even if you edit that, it won’t change…”
Suddenly, the director’s expression hardened. Although he didn’t look deeply, from a simply sweeping glance, the director’s instincts rang out.
That the artworks in his hands aren’t ordinary.
The director, whose eyes widened until he couldn’t even speak, slowly gazed at Jinho’s pictures. At the same time, Jinho spoke with small, but self-assured voice.
“Yes, it did change. I didn’t expect them to either, but after painting with death in mind and bleeding from the nose several times, something did come out. Although I couldn’t get into art college just yet.”
Finished with all he wanted to say, Jinho bit his lips.
Jinho opened the building’s door from the inside, and after glancing at the building’s interior for the last time, slowly walked outside. His eyes, rather than looking disappointed, seemed faint as if waking up from a dream.
When Jinho walked out of the building, the slowly reddening sky came into his view. The time seemed to have passed more than expected.
Jinho looked to the sky, and deeply breathed out.
“Puuh!” As his chest fell, his insides finally felt better.
“I did well.” Jinho said to himself as if in assurance.
Although he wouldn’t be looking for academies after this… no, he couldn’t be doing so, but he had no regret.
Since he had seen the truth of the ninety five percent acceptance facade.
Although there were other academies that should be different from the one he visited just now, since he knew that the bill wouldn’t be easy for any of them, Jinho dropped any thoughts of academies.
He decided to do it alone from the beginning, and he had done so until now. He will go to the end alone too.
“Although I was excited since I thought I found a place to talk about pictures and other artworks together… I guess not.”
Jinho slowly walked to the subway. He felt like not doing anything else today. He decided to simply go home quickly and end the day by finishing the painting after a short rest.
Even though the distance felt so short when he was coming to the conference full of excitement, why did the way back feel so long.
Then suddenly noticing his hunger, Jinho grabbed his stomach.
“Come to think of it, I didn’t eat anything except breakfast.”
While thinking about the food back in the house, Jinho realized that his cans of tuna, the sole food he had left, had well passed the expiration date and changed his direction. Walking to the place that his body knew without even needing to think, Jinho faintly smiled.
Walking into the old bakery, Jinho could see the familiar face yawning at the counter.
“Hello, Mr. Laurong.”
“Oh, Jinho young man! Long time no see?”
“It hasn’t even been two days, what do you mean long time no see? If somebody else heard, they might think I work here everyday.”
“The young man who comes every other day took a two day break, so of course it’s long time no see! What have you been up to?”
“Just drawing pictures, and some other things I need to do.”
“Diligent, I see. That’s good, hm hm. Young men should be living like that.”
Having a familiar talk with the bakery owner Laurong, Jinho held a basket and placed breads inside. The bread he had not seen for only two days felt so delightful.
‘I should buy milk on the way back today for sure.’
“Are you perhaps going to eat bread for dinner again?”
“Ah, yes… well. If you think about it, there’s nothing that says you should only eat bread for breakfast, no? Sometimes it seems good for dinner too.”
“What sometimes, I know all about your situation.” At Jinho’s carefree words, Laurong clicked his tongue and continued.
“Do you have anything planned tonight? If not, why not come eat dinner at my place again? Since my wife’s hands are big, there will definitely be some leftovers even if we eat together again.”
“Nah, even I have a conscience. How could I come again just like that? I’ll come next time when I have a present ready.”
Jinho was grateful for the offer, but felt too sorry to intrude again so soon and tried to refuse. But Mr. Laurong shook his head.
“You don’t need to feel so self-conscious. It’s because Fei said that she had something to talk to you about.”
“Ms. Fei has something to tell me…?” As Jinho asked back while tilting his head, Laurong deeply yawned once again and nodded.
“Eh what was it, something about needing to talk about what happened in school? Ah why do I feel so sleepy today? Jinho young man, you done picking the bread? I should close early and go back today. I’m just too sleepy so I can’t do it. Anyway, you’re coming right?” Laurong gently stared at Jinho and asked.
It was a look as if really looking at a nephew with full of worry. To Jinho who spent the entire day hitting the wall of reality, Mr. Laurong’s stare truly felt warm and was thankful for it.
“Yes, I got it.”
And it was natural that he would nod.
< Miracle Drawing! 9. > End
Translator : CSV
Proofreader : Kerrigan
T/N: Tried a new format (basically put a space after every paragraph). What do you think? If this is easier to read, I’ll continue to use this format.