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And here it is! My 2017 Christmas Special. :heart:

 

Title: The Sound of Christmas

Drama: "Nae Il's Cantabile"

Characters: Cha Yoo Jin, Seol Nae Il

Premise: It's the first Christmas since Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il have moved together to Salzburg, Austria. As he rediscovers his childhood memories of living there with his parents, Yoo Jin also wants to make new ones with Nae Il.

 

Note: This story is my first attempt at a sequel for a drama, so everything here is based off my own imagination of how the characters might have grown and evolved since the final episode. There will inevitably be spoilers, then, for those who have not watched the show.

 

Note on Language: You know me; usually, when characters are speaking a language other than Korean, I try to give at least some nod to that through the use of various words and phrases. In this case, that language would be German. However, I also do this considerably less than in other fanfics I have written, because 1) I am of the mind that Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il would still speak Korean with each other, and 2) German is a rather complex language with significant differences between how it is spoken in Germany and in Austria - and I don't think I'm quite knowledgeable enough to get it right.

 

Still, there are a few words/phrases here and there, so as usual, here are the translations:

 

Christkindlmarkt - The name of the main Christmas market in Salzburg that is located in the Residenzplatz (a town square) in the old city

Auf Wiedersehen - Goodbye

Glühwein - Mulled wine; in other words: wine (usually red, but sometimes white is used) that is simmered together with citrus fruit peels and a blend of spices before being served warm

Stille nacht, heilige nacht; alles schläft, einsam wacht - The first line of the German version of "Silent Night" (see "Author's Note" for more info)

 

Note on Timeline: I just wanted to say this really quickly, or else the references to time, how long it's been, etc., can get confusing.

 

Long story short: South Korea and Austria have completely opposite school terms. So, while in South Korea, a university student starts classes in March and ends in December, in Austria, they would actually start in October and end in June. Both countries, though, have a similar way of dividing the year into two four-month-long semesters with a two-month-long break in between.

 

So what does this mean for Korean transfer students like Cha Yoo Jin or Seol Nae Il? It means that they must either start their studies abroad halfway through the Austrian term OR end up having a long gap between when their term ends in Korea and the next one begins in Austria.

 

For reasons that will be explained in the story itself (:wink:), I have gone with the latter option. So just a quick heads-up as to how I imagined this story would mesh with the events in "Nae Il's Cantabile" (using 2014 as the hypothetical year in which the drama is set):

 

September to December 2014 - The events in the drama up until Nae Il's competition in Salzburg 

January to February 2015 - Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il make arrangements to move to Austria

Spring 2015 - The final scene of the drama (i.e. the lobby concert), Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il move

Summer 2015 - Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il settle down in Salzburg, and make whatever arrangements need to be done before school starts

October 2015 - Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il officially start their studies

December 2015 - This new story takes place

 

Just one last FYI before the story starts: The Mozarteum is the real-life music university in Salzburg, and, among other things, has both piano and conducting programs (the latter of which, by the way, is a five-year diploma - I'll leave you to make of that what you will) :wink: 

 

Once again, please do not repost this on any other website without my permission! If you want to share it, just share the URL - thanks!

 

Spoiler

The Sound of Christmas

 

“Orabang! Look – it’s snowing outside!”

 

How many times have I told Nae Il not to yell like that? I know that she gets excited sometimes and tends to forget how thin the walls are – but we’re not neighbours anymore. We haven’t been for a while.

 

Rather than in the unit next door, I’m just down the hall from her: in the music room of our apartment.

 

Yes, our apartment.

 

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already been together here in Salzburg for almost a year, both of us having successfully transferred from Haneum to the prestigious Mozarteum University. It wasn’t all that long ago that I had thought it impossible: that I’d believed that I would never be able to fly away from Seoul, and that Nae Il would never be able to overcome her fear of playing in front of others.

 

But we had both managed: first her, and then me.

 

It seems like my constant reminders have actually done some work, though, because within seconds of hearing her call out to me from down the hall, my phone chimes with an incoming message. Still not taking my eyes off the score I was studying, I reach out for the phone and unlock its screen: sure enough, she had repeated herself via text message, this time including a selca she had just taken on our balcony.

 

Now who wouldn’t smile at a sight like that? And who could resist such an invitation?

 

Slowly, I get up from my desk, taking a moment to stretch before stepping out into the hallway, past my bedroom, and then hers – we may be sharing an apartment, but I draw the line at that – through the entryway into the living room. As I open the sliding door and step out into the cold winter air, I take in the sight of Nae Il leaning out against the railing, a throw blanket draped over her shoulders, her hands cradling a steaming mug.

 

I sidle beside her, my posture mirroring hers, and glance down at the cup she is holding. “Hot chocolate?”

 

She nods, then gestures back towards the door. “Yours is in the kitchen, if you want it.”

 

“Later.” I glance up at the evening sky and take in a deep breath. The mountain air here is so much cleaner and fresher than what there is in Seoul; I could never get tired of it.

 

Nae Il must have slipped inside to set down her drink, because before I know it, I feel her arms wrapping around me as she hugs me from behind.

 

Maybe it’s because we are now always in each other’s company, but in the past few months, I have found myself slowly opening up to her affectionate ways. For now, it is still mostly her giving and I receiving, and I am still adamant that she not take things too far or too fast, but I no longer tense up in resistance when she tries to touch me. This gesture – her backhug – is my favourite; whenever I feel her arms around me, her chin resting on my shoulder if I am sitting, or her cheek pressed against my back if I am standing, it is like a weight is lifted off of me. I feel myself relax, my mind drifting away from whatever stresses were pressing upon it, as I open up my heart and take her in.

 

I lay one of my hands on hers. “Komawo,” I say, the warmth in my smile travelling into my voice. “How did you know that I needed a break?”

 

“Mm….” She tightens her hold on me. “Because I started to miss you, Orabang. Sometimes it feels like you’re either out working or inside that room all day.”

 

I swear: I could almost hear the pout on her face when she says it.

 

Unable to hold back a short laugh, I reach out and unclasp her hands. “I was not!” I turn around so that we are now facing each other. Gently, I brush back a lock of hair that has fallen in front of her eyes. “Mianhae, Nae Il-ah; I know that I have been busy lately. But it’s almost Christmas; you know how it is.”

 

I imagine that it is the same the world over. In the realm of classical music, the weeks leading up to Christmas are among the busiest times of the year. Even people who wouldn’t otherwise give us the time of day, who would scoff at us for being pretentious or old-fashioned, seem to change their minds when December comes around. Then it’s The Nutcracker-this or The Messiah-that; it’s rich people holding posh parties where they want live musical entertainment in the background; it’s ordinary folk deciding that attending a concert would be a cultured way to spend an evening; it’s carolers and young music students who are still fresh and new playing in the streets for passersby.

 

That’s how it was in Seoul. But this isn’t Seoul; this is Salzburg, the city known for just two things, one of which is classical music.

 

So, yes, I have been busy; all of us students at the Mozarteum have been, Nae Il included. Not only is there the usual flurry of Christmas activities, but we have already started to prepare for our next set of performances in January.

 

But that’s clearly not going to appease her now.

 

“So…how do you want me to make it up to you?” Her eyes dance playfully as she thinks, and I could see from the mischievous set of her smile where this is going. Playing along, I venture a guess: “The usual?”

 

Nae Il beams in excitement. “Ne!” she answers brightly. Taking one of my hands in hers, she fumbles open the sliding door before dashing eagerly inside, pulling me along with her. Laughing softly in anticipation, we quickly shut the door and then hurry back down the hallway into the music room.

 

In reality, according to the landlord, this was supposed to be the master bedroom, with the other two smaller bedrooms meant for children, guests, or extra space. But as soon as Nae Il and I had laid eyes on it, we had known that we wanted to do things differently. With this room being the farthest away from both the entrance and the balcony facing outside, it was the quietest spot in the entire apartment. It was also the largest out of the three bedrooms, and both of us knew we needed that space for work rather than for our own rest.

 

With the addition of soundproof padding on the wall separating this room from mine next door, bookshelves, a small desk for each of us, sound equipment, and an upright piano, our music room was born.

 

We head straight for the piano in its corner now, Nae Il only letting go to head towards the bookshelf where we keep our sheet music. As I set up the piano – opening the lid, turning on the lamp so it shines down on the keys, adjusting the bench – she calls out, “Which one do you want?”

 

With a smile, I call back, “You decide.”

 

She beams at that, and turns her attention to the bookshelf. I love the way she purses her lips in thought as she slowly runs a finger across the spines of the music books before finally settling on one. Whipping it out with a flourish, she firmly plants it on the piano’s music rack.

 

Schubert’s Fantasie in F-minor.

 

A piece he had composed towards the end of his life, dedicated to a woman for whom he had felt unrequited love.

 

Well, someone’s in a mood today.

 

Stepping back from the bench, I gesture toward it in invitation. Nae Il grins and sits down on the right side, claiming the treble part for herself, as is her habit. I then move to sit on her left side, and gently place my hands on the keys in preparation. Once she is ready as well, our eyes meet and, together, we start playing.

 

Since we moved into this apartment, Nae Il and I have had this ritual of playing four-handed pieces with each other. They are not part of her school repertoire, but are pieces that we have found and practiced entirely for ourselves.

 

Is it because I had first felt myself soften for her while playing a Mozart duet that I now hunger to feel my heart swell with emotion the same way it had that first time?

 

Or, is it because I had promised both my father and hers to always preserve Nae Il’s honour that I choose to seduce her with music instead?

 

Myself in bass, Nae Il in treble, we play in perfect sync, our hands brushing as the melody flows from her hands down to mine and back up again. Always ready for each other. Always supporting each other. A meeting not between two bodies, but between two hearts and minds. The feeling that can only come from making something beautiful together.

 

Harmony.

 

Each piece we have in our collection is imbued with different emotions, and moves us in slightly different ways. But no matter which one it is, we always end with exhilaration: gasping with exertion, laughing in sheer delight as our hearts race. I usually do a better job reining myself in, but oftentimes, by the end, Nae Il is so ecstatic that as soon as we finish, even as the last notes still echo in the room, she swivels and throws herself onto me in a tight embrace. Once, she even hugged me with so much force that I was pushed off the bench entirely, taking her down with me to the floor as I fell.

 

This time is no different. Once the piece has come to its conclusion and we have played its last chords, she pounces on me with an excited whoop. Barely able to keep my balance, I gently but firmly pry her off of me and push her back upright.

 

Our eyes meet. Together, my hands still clasped firmly on her shoulders, we sit there, our breaths and heartbeats matching, trapped in a silence that resonates in contrast with the burst of sound from before. And by the time we get up, simultaneously remembering our unfinished cups of hot chocolate, they have become so cold that we have to reheat them in the microwave.

 

It is a small price to pay for the joy we have just experienced.

 

~~~~~

 

As I begin to prepare the ingredients for today’s lunch, I can’t help keeping my ears focused on the entryway into the kitchen. Any moment now, Nae Il will pop her head inside and tell me that everything has been set up. Then, quickly finishing whatever task I am on, I will stop for a time and join her in the living room.

 

Saturday mornings for Nae Il and I, after all, are always about the video call.

 

The whole arrangement was actually Lee Yoon Hoo’s idea. There are few things I am willing to concede him the victory for, but computer skills would be one of them. Taking his inspiration from his American classmates at Juilliard, who used a program called Skype to make video calls with family in their hometowns, he had suggested shortly before my flight to Austria that the two of us – he and I – could do something similar to stay in touch with Professor Stresseman. After all, we were both still his “pupils”, even though we were officially tethered down in our various institutions – I in the Mozarteum and he in Haneum, in an ironic reversal of fate – and could not physically follow him on his touring schedule.

 

Skype, however, proved expensive; nor was I interested in juggling a new social media account. Fortunately for all of us, then, just in time, we discovered that we could use our existing Line accounts in the same way, so long as we installed it on our computers. The three of us – Professor Stresseman, Yoon Hoo and I – did just that, and this new system was born.

 

The maestro seldom contacted either of us, preferring his usual teaching method of just letting us figure things out on our own unless we were seriously off the mark. But it wasn’t long after Nae Il and I settled down in Salzburg that Yoon Hoo and I began to use this technology for something else: something just for us students.

 

Every Saturday morning – Saturday evening in Seoul – we would all gather for a mass video chat. Nae Il would set up my laptop on the coffee table in our living room, Yoon Hoo would set his up in a reserved room at Yoo Il Rak’s father’s restaurant, and we would take this brief moment once a week to catch up. Officially, on the Seoul end of things, anyone who knew Nae Il and I from Haneum was free to join; however, it was usually just a small core group: Choi Min Hee, Ma Su Min, Il Rak and, of course, Yoon Hoo himself.

 

This time, when Nae Il finally calls me over, I am just about finished getting the soup started. Hurriedly, I turn the bubbling pot down to a slow simmer, set the kitchen timer, and make my way to the living room. Once we are both settled on the couch, Nae Il turns on the webcam and clicks the call button.

 

Within seconds, we get a response, and a window opens up to reveal the others.

 

Wordlessly, I wave as Nae Il greets everyone enthusiastically, wishing them all a happy Christmas in advance, today being the last Saturday before the holiday.

 

“How are things?” she asks.

 

Usually, I let her do most of the talking and updates, unless there is something I really want to say.

 

“You know; the usual,” Yoon Hoo replies. “By the way, have you heard from Il Rak yet?”

 

This time, I cut in. “His flight arrived in Vienna last night; he called us as soon as he reached Jung Si Won’s place.”

 

The two of them are the envy of Haneum right now for being able to maintain their long-distance relationship for so long: she spending the final year of her studies in Vienna, and he taking her place as the new concertmaster for the Rising Star Orchestra. This Christmas, during the brief school break, Il Rak has made arrangements to visit his girlfriend and spend the holidays with her.

 

“We’ll be heading over to visit them soon,” Nae Il butts in over me. “Two days and one night: New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.” She tries but fails to suppress an excited squeal as she claps her hands in glee. “It’ll be so much fun seeing them again! I’ve never been on a double date before!”

 

Yoon Hoo and Su Min both smile, but I have to smother a laugh with one hand when I see Min Hee roll her eyes instead. For a moment, unnoticed by the others, our eyes meet, and we both shrug at each other, in utter confusion at Nae Il’s antics.

 

“Oh, by the way, Mini Min Hee,” Nae Il starts again, “I saw the new designs you posted on Instagram – they’re so pretty!”

 

Min Hee has kept up her job as a barista at my mother’s coffee shop, and has recently begun experimenting with latte art designs for customers who order their drinks for here rather than to go. She’s proven to be quite skilled at it, oftentimes creating seasonally-inspired designs or small drawings that match with the café’s musical theming.

 

“I know you did,” Min Hee retorts bluntly. “You always ‘Like’ everything I post, remember?”

 

We all laugh at that.

 

“What plans do you all have for the holidays?” I ask once the laughter has passed.

 

They all answer with their respective plans – mostly centred on spending time with their families – before Yoon Hoo fires the question back at us.

 

I cough as my voice catches in my throat. “Well, you already know about our plans to go to Vienna….”

 

“Are you going to go to the Christmas market?” Su Min cuts in eagerly. When the other two glance over at him in curiosity, he continues, “Come on – everyone’s heard of the Christmas markets; they have those all over Europe!”

 

Nae Il gasps, then rounds on me, her eyes wide and gleaming. “Can we? I’ve heard so much about it: the stands and the food, and the absolutely gorgeous lights, and –”

 

I turn to look at her. “Nae Il-ah…”

 

“Can we, juseyo? It’ll be so much fun!” She clasps her hands in front of her face in a begging gesture and tilts her head back to look up at me with a pout. “Come on, Orabang…” she whines, wriggling in her seat like a small child.

 

“Ya, Seollebal!” I dart my eyes sideways at the computer screen where the others are still watching us, wide eyes twinkling with mirth and barely holding back their laughter at my predicament. “Cut it out; this is embarrassing.”

 

When she doesn’t stop whining, I turn to look helplessly at the other three on the computer screen. Silently, so Nae Il couldn’t hear, I mouth, “Give us five minutes. I’ll call you back.”

 

Without saying a word, Yoon Hoo nods and winks knowingly at me. He gestures “Okay” with one hand, and then disconnects the call. In a flash, the window on my computer screen disappears.

 

I’d hated how easily he could see my thoughts and get under my skin before, but I must admit that his ability comes in handy sometimes. Like now.

 

By this point, Nae Il has noticed that something is wrong. Her eyes dart back and forth accusingly between the computer screen and me.

 

“What’d you do? Orabang!”

 

Quickly, I put a finger to her lips to shush her. “Gwenchana – they’re still there. I just need to talk to you alone for a second. We’ll call them back later, arasseo?”

 

She nods glumly, but crosses her arms and huffs at me with a pout.

 

Thank goodness the others can’t see me like this. Gesturing helplessly in the air, I fumble for a way to smooth things over. “Look, Nae Il-ah…you can’t just put me on the spot like that.”

 

She gives a small whine in displeasure. “But…”

 

“Don’t you hate it when other people do that to you?”

 

That stops whatever retort she had in its tracks. As my words sink in, she takes a few deep breaths, then slowly relaxes. “You’re right,” she says with a nod. “Mianhaeyo, Orabang. I’ll try not to do it again.”

 

I look closely at her expression for a moment, just long enough to see that she really has calmed down. Then, smiling gently in reassurance, I stretch out one arm towards her. “Come here.”

 

She doesn’t need any further invitation. Immediately, Nae Il scoots closer and I pull her sideways into a hug, my arm wrapped around her shoulders. I give her a little squeeze as she lowers her head onto my shoulder. Gently, I brush my free hand against her cheek and she snuggles closer.

 

I know that time’s running out before I have to reconnect the call, so I try to make this quick.

 

“You know, Nae Il-ah, I was going to hold off on telling you this.”

 

Her eyes flicker up at me in curiosity. “Mm?”

 

I breathe out a sigh. “But since we’re already on the subject…I was planning on taking you to the Christkindlmarkt tonight,” I say firmly, calling the market by its German name. “But I couldn’t well bring that up to the others; that would have ruined the surprise. And I know you like surprises.”

 

It takes Nae Il a moment to process what I had just said, but once she does, her entire demeanour transforms. Yelping in delight, she gives me a fierce hug, and I once again have to fight to pull her off of me. Fortunately, just then, the timer in the kitchen goes off, and I use that as my excuse to convince her to let go. As she pulls back, I scramble to my feet and dash off to the kitchen, telling her over my shoulder to call the others back and continue without me.

 

Maybe letting Nae Il in on the surprise early wasn’t such a bad idea after all. As I check on the soup, I hear her gush excitedly about it to the others. And her joy is clearly infectious, because I hear them all chattering happily in the background.

 

Unfortunately, though, the thing about Nae Il is that when left on her own, she has a tendency to go a bit too far as her imagination runs wild. One of the others, I’m not sure who, must have asked her whether anything else happened during those five minutes we had to ourselves.

 

All I know is that I freeze in my tracks, my eyes widening, as Nae Il’s voice carries over into the kitchen.

 

We...we most certainly did not do that!

 

Still holding the ladle in my hand, I dash into the living room as quickly as I can.

 

“Ya! Seollebal! I – I did not – get your mind out of the gutter!”

 

Startled by my interruption, Nae Il freezes and glances up at me, adopting her most innocent expression, but looking sheepishly guilty because of it. As for me, I feel the blood rushing up to my face when I hear Su Min and Yoon Hoo burst out laughing on the other end.

 

Just on the edge of my awareness, I hear Min Hee’s voice ring out, “Called it. Seol Nae Il, when will you ever learn?”

 

If only the floor could just swallow me up now.

 

~~~~~

 

Although it is Nae Il’s first time going to the Christkindlmarkt, it has also been many years since I have been here.

 

After walking down the winding streets strung with Christmas lights, taking that first step into the Residenzplatz is like entering a fairy tale world. The entire perimeter of the square is lined with brightly lit stalls selling local handmade crafts, Christmas decorations, souvenirs, and a vast array of traditional winter drinks and snacks, their warm glow beckoning out into the darkness to attract customers. The stands, too, are topped with evergreen garlands and strings of lights stretching out to a second cluster of stalls in the centre like the points of a star. Music fills the air as brass ensembles take turns playing carols from the watchtowers overlooking the square. And in the middle of it all, an enormous Christmas tree proudly stands guard over everything, its twinkling lights a beacon to all who enter.

 

My parents used to bring me here every Christmas during the years we had lived together in Salzburg. I was still small then, and am much older and wiser now, but the familiar sights and sounds bring me back.

 

I had loved this place once.

 

I had thought, because of the accident, that I would never see it again.

 

But now, thanks to Nae Il’s help, I can.

 

And here we are.

 

Walking together now, hand in hand so we could not be separated in the crowd, I wonder if this was how abeoji had felt all those years ago: young, the woman he loved by his side, and a bright future ahead. I wonder, too, if eomma was ever as excited or as giddy as Nae Il is now: weaving her way through the crowd, pulling me along beside her, just trying to take everything in.

 

We’re not just wandering around aimlessly, though. Tonight, we’ve come here with a goal: to stock up on decorations.

 

Nae Il had been surprised a few days ago when, after we had bought a Christmas tree and brought it home, I had asked her to wait before decorating it. I’d told her then about how my parents and I had celebrated Christmas here when I was younger, including the Austrian tradition of waiting until Christmas Eve to decorate the tree. “My parents used to surprise me like that,” I’d said. “Most of my friends’ parents did it in the evening, but not them. Instead, they would wake up early in the morning to set it up, and it would be the first thing I saw when I came out of my room.”

 

Before leaving the apartment, lest we became overwhelmed by the array of choices available at the Christkindlmarkt, we had brainstormed for ideas. We’d settled on a traditional colour scheme of red, white, and gold, and knew that we wanted something that would reflect the love for music that had brought us together.

 

As we make our way through the market now, it isn’t long before we find items that match what we are looking for: red glass baubles, a spool of white ribbon shot through with silver thread that Nae Il offered to make into bows, a variety of rustic-looking wooden ornaments carved to look like angels and snowmen, and – our favourite – an assortment of brass ornaments made to look like musical instruments. With the addition of a silver star topper to crown the tree, and the box of small clip-on electric candles that we had already purchased in advance, our shopping was done.

 

Most of the time, I let Nae Il do the talking, calling for the attention of the stall keepers when we find something that catches our eye, thanking them after I have handed them the money, and wishing them a happy holiday.

 

It is, after all, good practice for her.

 

While I had grown up speaking both Korean and German fluently, that was not the case with Nae Il. In fact, before coming here to Salzburg, the only German phrase she had known was “Auf Wiedersehen,” courtesy of The Sound of Music. And while students at Haneum were encouraged to study a foreign language – either German, Italian, French or English – as an elective, she hadn’t done so, since her earlier dream of teaching music had not required it.

 

But the Mozarteum required its students to be able to understand German, as that was the language the professors spoke; and Nae Il’s admission to the piano performance program here, the position she had won in the competition, depended on her ability to pass a German proficiency test first. That was why we had come over so early in advance in the first place: both of our placements only officially began this October, with the beginning of the school year, but I had suggested that we come in the spring to give Nae Il a chance to pick up the language in time.

 

And she did not disappoint me.

 

Her ability to learn music perfectly by ear extended to language as well. Filled with a determination to pass the test, lest she be sent back to Korea while I remain here, she immersed herself fully into the task. Whenever she wasn’t practicing the piano, she kept the television on in the background, or worked her way through online language courses. Her extroversion also helped here; unlike me, Nae Il was never shy about making a mistake, and she would try to speak German at every opportunity, even if it meant using the wrong grammar or fumbling to find the right words.

 

By now, although she still struggles with the local dialect – media and learning materials usually used a more standardized version of the language – she can get by: not only able to pass the test, but to communicate in everyday life as well.

 

As we continue walking, each of us lugging one of Nae Il’s signature canvas tote bags filled with our purchases, she moves from holding my hand to linking arms with me, pulling me close.

 

I stop and glance down at her. “Are you cold?”

 

“Gwenchanayo, Orabang,” she says, snuggling even closer. “I feel warmer when I’m beside you like this.”

 

But still. That just won’t do. I scan over the area around us, trying to see if there is anything that could warm her. Just then, I spot the perfect solution: a stall selling roasted chestnuts. Pointing it out to Nae Il, we both head over towards it; after I have bought some, I place the paper bag into her hands. She smiles in thanks, then hugs the bag close to her chest.

 

“Remember to eat them while they’re still hot,” I remind her. “The warmth lasts longer that way.”

 

“Ne.” Shifting the bag to rest in the crook of her arm so that her hands are free, she immediately fishes one morsel out of the bag. Deftly peeling off the shell, she pops it into her mouth. For a moment, the chestnut is so hot that she keeps her mouth open to cool it, but she soon manages, chewing and swallowing with a contented smile.

 

Meanwhile, something else has caught my eye: a stand selling glühwein, the classic Christmas drink made from red wine that has been simmered with a mixture of citrus fruits and spices.

 

Another childhood memory floats in my mind. I remember that my parents used to love glühwein – or at least I think they did. They would each buy a cup whenever we came to the Christkindlmarkt, and although they would let me smell its heady aroma, they always refused to let me try any. “When you’re older, Yoo Jin-ah,” eomma used to say.

 

Well, I am older now, and I am still curious. I head towards the stand, Nae Il following just a step behind. Before placing an order, I ask her if she wants any, but she declines.

 

No surprise, there. I have always liked the taste of red wine more than her. And on the few occasions when I would indulge in a glass after dinner, she would brew herself a cup of tea instead.

 

So I order just one cup for now, watching in anticipation as the woman running the stand spoons a ladleful into one of the market’s signature blue mugs. When she finally hands it to me, I cannot resist doing what I had done many times as a child. I bring the mug up to my nose and let the steam wash over me. It is just like I remember it: heavily scented with cinnamon and cloves, with the tartness that could only come from cooking fruit.

 

Cautiously, I take a sip.

 

To be honest, I am not quite sure what to make of the taste. I think this is one of those times when being Korean really helps: the warmed wine is sourer than I had anticipated, but not in a way that is unpleasant. There is also a strong sweet undertone from the added sugar, and the faint bitterness that only alcohol could bring. The glühwein, served straight from the pot, is comfortingly warm as I swallow, and the spices leave a lingering trail of heat down my throat.

 

All this time, Nae Il is watching me in wide-eyed curiosity. Chuckling at the sight, wondering if that was how I had looked watching my parents as a child, I hold the mug out to her. Just like I had done all those years ago, she instinctively steps closer and sniffs.

 

“Wa…” she gasps, looking up at me in wonder. “Orabang, it…it smells like Christmas!” After a pause, she adds, “That is, if Christmas had a smell.”

 

“Would you like to try it, then?”

 

She nods and I hold the mug steady as she takes a sip. I can tell immediately that she doesn’t like it, although she is careful not to let it show too much on her face. Flicking her tongue between her teeth, as though trying to get the taste out of her mouth, she takes a step back.

 

“You can have the rest.”

 

Fair enough, then.

 

We move together to a spot several feet away so as not to get in the way of others passing by. There, tucked away into a corner to ourselves, I continue sipping the glühwein as Nae Il munches on her chestnuts.

 

We stay like that for a while in companionable silence before I feel her nudging me. Turning to look at her, I see that she is holding out one of her peeled chestnuts. “You let me try some of yours, Orabang, so it’s only fair.”

 

But when I reach out to take it, she snatches her hand back. “Ah, ah, ah…” she says in a sing-song voice, wagging a finger like a schoolteacher. “Just open your mouth.”

 

I scoff and roll my eyes. “Really, Nae Il? That’s so childish.”

 

“Come on, Orabang – just this once! It’s not like anyone can see us – and even if they do, we don’t know them, nor do they know us. So what does it matter?”

 

“Alright, then. But only because it’s you.” Closing my eyes, I lean towards her and let her pop the chestnut into my mouth. As I chew and swallow it, I open my eyes again to find Nae Il glancing at me expectantly.

 

“It’s good, isn’t it?”

 

“Ne,” I answer with a nod, shielding my mouth with one hand.

 

Good food and drink to warm the body; good company to warm the heart and soul.

 

What could be better than this?

 

~~~~~

 

As I step into the living room, wearing my coat and carrying Nae Il’s in my arms, I find her sprawled on the couch. Lying on her stomach, her chin resting on her arms folded upon the armrest, she is staring intently at our Christmas tree.

 

Today is Christmas Eve, and we had just spent the morning making and sharing a special brunch, then decorating the tree with everything we had bought at the Christkindlmarkt several nights ago. It is now midday, and although it is still light outside, I reach over and press the remote to turn on the electric candles scattered among the tree’s branches. Just to see what it might look like. As we expected, the twinkling lights glint off the red glass and brass ornaments, and catch the silver patterns on the white bows Nae Il had made.

 

From her place on the couch, Nae Il sighs in content. “It’s beautiful!”

 

“Indeed,” I reply, switching off the lights. Best not to waste the electricity now; we will definitely turn them on again tonight, after all.

 

I walk over to her and place a hand on her shoulder. “Come on, Nae Il-ah,” I say gently. “Let’s go out for a while.”

 

She turns her face towards me, then, noticing for the first time how I am dressed. Languidly, she sits up. “Wae? Are we going somewhere?”

 

I feel a smile tugging on my lips. “It’s a secret.”

 

That piques her curiosity. Immediately, she scrambles up and takes the coat from me. As she puts it on, I remind her, “We’ll be walking for a while, so make sure you’re dressed warmly.”

 

She stays just long enough to nod at me, then dashes off to her room to get her scarf, and gloves.

 

Once Nae Il is ready, we both set out. The streets of Salzburg are, for once, almost entirely deserted. Most people spend Christmas Eve attending mass or at home with their families, and many of the shops and businesses are closing up now in order to allow their employees the time to celebrate. But the streets and storefronts are still decorated with garlands, and snowflakes are slowly drifting down from the sky. With only a handful of tourists still out and about, it is as though we have the entire city to ourselves.

 

Just enjoying each other’s company, we walk up to the old fortress overlooking the city centre. We make it just in time to be among the last people allowed in before it, too, closes early. And by the time I lead Nae Il to the terrace on its north side, we are, once again, alone.

 

When we step out onto the large stone balcony, Nae Il seems to understand where we are. Slowly, then with quickening steps, she makes her way to a familiar spot on the ramparts, just a short distance away from the watchtower on the corner.

 

Leaning forward against the wall, she peers out at the city laid out below. As I come up behind her, she turns to look at me in wonder.

 

“This…this is the spot where you gave me my ring, isn’t it.”

 

I give a nod in reply, then, just as I had done the last time, I give her a boost up so she can sit facing me on the stone wall.

 

Together, we gaze out over the place that we have called home for months. For a long moment, I try to think up the words to express what I want to say, but I can’t. So, instead, I simply reach into my coat pocket and take out a small hinged box.

 

Nae Il’s eyes light up as soon as she sees it. “Or- Orabang…”

 

“Don’t get the wrong idea,” I quickly blurt out. “This isn’t a proposal or anything. It’s just that…well, this is the first Christmas we’re spending together like this, so I wanted to make it something special.” Taking one of her hands in mine, I press the box into her palm. “Merry Christmas, Nae Il-ah.”

 

Peering up at her, I watch as she slowly opens the box, and the look of sheer delight that crosses her features tells me I had made the right choice.

 

Inside the box is a simple gold necklace, with a hanging pendant in the shape of a treble and bass clef intertwined into a heart. At its centre, a small crystal sparkles in the sunlight.

 

Seeing that Nae Il is still speechless with wonder, I carefully take the box out of her hands. Lifting the necklace off of its bed, I reach behind her and fasten it around her neck. The pendant sits oddly on the knot of her scarf, but neither of us is willing to properly tuck it in just yet. Instead, she takes it in her hand and turns it around to look at it right-side-up.

 

Usually, she would hug me at a time like this, or even try – and fail – to kiss me, but she does neither. Rather, after a long moment, Nae Il turns once again to look out over the city. “Komapsumnida, Orabang,” she says wistfully. “This – this gift, this Christmas, everything we have done these past few days – it’s beautiful.

 

“But you know what would make this even more magical?” she adds, turning to look at me once again, a mischievous twinkle starting to form in her eyes.

 

I think I know where this is going. Nae Il is Nae Il, after all.

 

“What?” I ask cautiously.

 

“Music,” she says firmly. “Sing me something, Orabang.”

 

All right – I had certainly not been expecting that.

 

I raise an eyebrow at her. “What? Now?

 

“Why not? I like hearing the sound of your voice; it’s far better than mine, after all.” She glances around behind my shoulder. “And besides, there’s no-one else here.”

 

I sigh in defeat; this girl simply knows me too well. “Arasseo,” I reply, lifting up a finger. “But just this once. I won’t be doing this again.”

 

I take my eyes off her, gazing out over the wall as I try to think: what song should I sing?

 

An answer comes to me in the form of yet another memory from my childhood. Closing my eyes, I see in my mind an image of eomma and me sitting at the foot of our Christmas tree in our old home in this very city. She, too, had once asked me to sing for her like this: the song that I had just learned at school.

 

From deep inside my memory, my own childhood choirboy’s voice rings high and clear in my head. Matching it with my own deeper voice now, I begin.

 

“Stille nacht, heilige nacht; alles schläft, einsam wacht…”

 

As I continue through the old Christmas carol, I cannot help but reflect. Traditionally, this is a song that is reserved for the evening of Christmas Eve. I know that I am early by several hours right now, yet…yet nothing feels more fitting.

 

Because this is Austria. Because this song, “Stille Nacht,” is the sound of Christmas here. Because this is home: first for me, and now for both of us.

 

My voice trails off into silence as I finish the first stanza of the song. I’m not sure if I should continue or end it here. But before I could decide, I feel a hand brush the hair back from my forehead, and then someone kisses it from above, just as Eomma had done all those years ago.

 

For a split second, I wonder if, somehow, my childhood memory has come to life. But I know that’s impossible.

 

Cautiously, I open my eyes. There is Nae Il, just pulling back from the kiss now. In the soft winter sunlight, her eyes sparkling and her hair lightly dusted with snow, she looks almost like an angel come down from heaven.

 

She’s beautiful.

 

I don’t know how I must look right now, but Nae Il breaks eye contact first. Hurriedly, she glances down bashfully, fidgeting with the ends of her scarf.

 

“Mianhaeyo, Orabang,” she murmurs. “I know you don’t like it when I do that, but I just couldn’t help myself.”

 

I know what I should do. I know what, under normal circumstances, I would do. I know that I should reprimand her, remind her once again of the promise I had made, tell her that hugs are fine, but that I don’t want to go any further than that.

 

And yet…and yet….

 

It is like I am not fully in control of myself. Because instead of dong any of that, I find myself reaching out with one hand and lifting Nae Il’s face back up so she is once again looking directly at me. Then, that same hand moving to the nape of her neck, I lean forward, standing on tiptoe, and press my lips up against hers.

 

Our kiss is pure, chaste.

 

Both of us know it to be an act of love rather than lust.

 

So although our eyes close in contentment and our lips part slightly as we take each other in, and although she places her hands on either side of my head to pull me deeper, I do not use my tongue, nor does she use hers. Yet, perhaps because it is our first time, even just that little bit is electrifying. The hand that had been placed on her neck now slides down to her waist as she leans in close enough that our bodies touch.

 

Time seems to stand still. I do not want to move. I do not want to breathe.

 

We both linger a beat longer than we should before we drift apart. As I hear my pulse racing in my ears and feel the blood coursing hot through my veins, my mind seems to return to me.

 

In a flash, I tear my eyes away from Nae Il and gaze down towards the ground. Slowly, wordlessly, swallowing in disbelief, I run a finger along my bottom lip.

 

What have I done? We are playing with fire, Nae Il and I. This was the most that either of us had ever done with each other. Any further, and we would both have come undone.

 

I shoot Nae Il a guilty glance, wondering if she feels the same way as I. She is swaying in her seat, mouth slightly open in surprise, her hands stretched out on either side to brace herself against the stones.

 

For a moment, she seems to struggle to form words. Then, finally, she gasps out, “Or- Orabang, that was…that was….”

 

But then, to my surprise, she beams in the same delight that I see whenever we play the piano together.

 

“That was amazing!

 

Before I could stop her, she throws herself at me: her arms wrapped around my neck, and her legs around my waist. Quickly, I move to support her so she doesn’t fall, even lifting her up higher until she is seated comfortably in my arms.

 

Tilting my head back to look her in the eye, I reach out and give her a light tap on the nose with one finger. “Now, don’t get ahead of yourself, Seollebal,” I chide her. “That’s the most that you’re ever going to get from me until your father says otherwise.”

 

She smiles in response, a devilish twinkle in her eye. “I know. So I’ll just take what I can get.”

 

With that, she leans down for yet another kiss. And this time, for the first time ever, I let her.

 

Author's Note (in "Hidden Contents" because of Spoilers)

 

Spoiler

Personally, I think I've taken a huge step in my fanfic writing, because in all my years of writing fanfiction (both here and the stuff I'd done and since deleted years ago), I have never done anything like this before.

 

My first sequel. My first romance. My first kiss.

 

So writing something like this has definitely come with its own unique set of challenges, but it has also been a lot of fun and extremely rewarding.

 

In this behind-the-scenes Author's Note, there are two main things I want to give you guys a glimpse into:

 

1. Setting the story in Salzburg, Austria

 

This part, in all honesty, was a dream come true for me. I've mentioned before that I absolutely love classical music, so Salzburg is one of those places that I have wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. It hasn't happened yet, but that means that I spent a lot of time looking into what there is there in hopes to make the characters' world that much more realistic and believable.

 

So that included things like, as previously mentioned, placing Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il in real-life locations. The Mozarteum is real, the Christkindlmarkt in the Residenzplatz is real, the fortress (which I don't mention by name, but is called the Hohensalzburg Fortress) is real.

 

I think that now's a good time to point out that, in writing the last scene, I was heavily inspired by this particular behind-the-scenes photo from the filming of "Nae Il's Cantabile":

 

 

That last scene, though, is also a really good example of how, sometimes, real life gets in the way of imagination. What you see in this version is a re-write; I had initially started writing it to take place at night, both because I thought it would be more romantic (the Hohensalzburg Fortress, too, is lit up with Christmas lights), and to tie in with the reference to "Stille Nacht" as the traditional carol sung on the night of Christmas Eve. However, I discovered during my research (as I write, I search online for things I need to know on the side), that the fortress actually closes in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, as do many of the other attractions in the city. So, although some of the ambiance had to be sacrificed, I moved it up to take place in the early afternoon instead; the events, however, remain the same as in the earlier version.

 

One last thing that is sort of real, but not really: the apartment. I wanted to have some sort of layout in my head that I could work with in visualizing Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il together at home, so I did a bit of pseudo-real-estate hunting. And, after searching around for a while, I settled on this particular listing (the site's in German, but Google Translate works decently well): http://www.planreal.at/immobilien-planreal/moderne-4-zimmer-mietwohnung-im-salzburger-stadtteil-nonntal.html

 

Let me clarify: I don't think that they would have been in this literal apartment. I felt its location was a bit too far out from the city centre, nor did I think its interior design/decoration would match the characters' style. However, what I did end up using was the floorplan:

 

Grundriss.jpg

 

For those who can't read the German text: "Schlafzimmer 1" is the master bedroom, which I have made the "music room"; "Schlafzimmer 2" and "Schlafzimmer 3" would be Yoo Jin and Nae Il's rooms respectively; "Wohnzimmer" is the living room with the balcony (which I changed to have a sliding door); and "Küche" is the kitchen.

 

Okay, moving on to the second behind the scenes feature for today:

 

2. The Music

 

Although "Nae Il's Cantabile" already focuses a lot on classical music, and characters' love for it, I actually borrowed a lot from "Secret Love Affair" in writing this story.

 

Both dramas are among my favourites, and both deal a lot with the emotional effects that both listening to and playing music can have. We see it in "Nae Il's Cantabile" in both cartoonish and surprisingly poignant ways: the former in the way that Nae Il decides she's completely in love with Yoo Jin after playing the first Mozart duet with him, as well as how Il Rak decides he's best friends with Yoo Jin after their own duet; but also the latter in the magnetism of Yoo Jin's piano performance, which is echoed in Nae Il's attempts to replicate it, and the pain and unrequited love reflected in Yoon Hoo's duet with Nae Il.

 

I had mentioned in the "Author's Notes" from my other fanfics for "Nae Il's Cantabile" that I believe music has a very sensual quality to it. And whereas I had held back and reined that in a little in my writing in the past, this time, given that Yoo Jin and Nae Il are a couple, I went all the way and tried to express that level of intense emotion and intimacy in full. :wink: 

 

To do that, I needed some help from "Secret Love Affair", which, in comparison with "Nae Il's Cantabile", really emphasized this component of music-making. Most notably, that's where I took the piece that I have Yoo Jin and Nae Il play in the piano-playing scene: Schubert's Fantasie in F-minor. In "Secret Love Affair", this piece is the first duet played by the two leads - and although they are not yet in love, it being their first real meeting, there is an immediate connection of minds and souls that shows through in the music.

 

I guess that I can't really put into words what that would look or feel like, so what I suggest is for you guys to see for yourselves.

 

(EDIT): Found a clip of the actual scene! It's from Episode 2 of "Secret Love Affair"

 

 

The piano-playing scene is done in a montage, so you don't see or hear the whole thing, but the producers did a good job of showing what I have tried to describe in this story: the close proximity between the two pianists, their intense absorption in the music, both the exhaustion and the thrill that comes as a result - and, ultimately, its erotic potential.

 

(By the way, if you have the time, I also strongly recommend the first ten minutes or so of that episode of "Secret Love Affair" as well, because that's when you first see the characters creating that emotional bond, as one listens to the other playing.)

 

And, for anyone who is interested, here is the recording of the full piece that I listened to as I was writing. There's no picture here, so you can just play it in the background while doing something else.

 

 

The other major piece of music I featured here is "Stille Nacht", or "Silent Night" in English. I don't think I need to say much more about it, save that it is a really big deal in Austria. That's because that's where the song originated from: it was composed and first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 in the small town of Oberndorf, just north of Salzburg. Because of that, despite its international popularity, it holds a special place of honour in Austria - to the point where no-one sings or plays it publicly prior to Christmas Eve.

 

(There is, by the way, a superstition in Germany and Austria that extending good wishes too soon in advance can bring bad luck - so, for instance, you never wish someone "Happy birthday" before the actual birthday or "Merry Christmas" before Christmas Eve. I don't know if the tradition surrounding holding off on singing "Stille Nacht" until then is related. Maybe, but I'm not sure.)

 

And, for those of you who are wondering, yes, I just included that bit to "make JW sing", even if just in our imaginations :wink: 

 

A few more behind the scenes tidbits that didn't fit anyplace else

 

1. The Christmas decorations - minus the electric candles - are based off my own Christmas tree at home. What can I say? I am one in a family of classical music lovers; I might as well make the most of it :wink:

 

2. The necklace that Yoo Jin gives Nae Il was inspired by this one here, although you can probably tell from my description that the one in the story would be more expensive and ornate. But at least you could see what I meant about the intertwined treble and bass clefs here.

 

il_570xN.457135052_9hh5.jpg

 

Finally, once again, if you want to access my other fanfics as well as various other Hallyu-related writings, a master list is in the "About Me" tab of my profile page. Enjoy!

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23 hours ago, kittyna said:

Found a whole collage of photos of JW with kids, including the one we'd shared earlier that looks to feature Baby Moon (i.e. his nephew)

Its so cute... looks like joo won will be a good father in the future. I also found this post on instagram. The caption is so true.!! He hold the baby like that is a precious things in the world. He embrace the baby carefully... 

 

 

This one too... its from his chinese drama love express.. so lovely

 

Talking about baby moon.. we can forget this post tho. Its from joo won's instagram. The comment is so funny. The fans said its her baby with joo won. But actually, its his nephew from his older brother. The picture is so beautiful...

 

I also have seen some people comment in 2011 when ojakgyo is airing and the fans are shipping joo won with uee said that joo won and uee will make beautiful moon baby. Lots of them... if they married. Makes me giggle while read it. Here is the photo:

 

 

 

By the way, it makes me want to meet him even more. I want to hear his voice for real not with my speaker and want to see his face with my own eyes and not from my handphone screen. I also already heard from fan diary or another fans that said joo won is more handsome in person rather that in the tv. If you see he is chubby, in real life he is slim and has the right weight. And you know that his waist is so small too.

 

 

23 hours ago, kittyna said:

The Nongshim CF is so cute - although it's funny that we're watching this in the middle of winter. :tongue: It reminds me of when I was little, and I tried to hypnotize my friends and I into being warmer by thinking of hot things (like a hot summer's day, or the burning sun, or fire). Not that that ever actually worked, but it was worth a shot. :D 

It makes me craving for a cup of noodle too... while i'm here sitting with empty stomach watching joo won slurping the noodle with that cute face...

 

23 hours ago, kittyna said:

 

lol - Watching the "Niko" clips feels so weird to me, because I just cannot get into the character. I just keep going, "OMG, that's JW's voice!" and then I get distracted and don't pay attention to the video :tongue: 

Yeah... everytime niko start talking, i will just paying attention to the voice. I feel that the voice and the animation is something different while they should unite to make the audience feel and understand the story but i just can't do that. 

 

And hearing joo won talking with his aegyo voice or his baby voice while act as niko is exciting. We can imagine him act something with that voice.

23 hours ago, kittyna said:

I don't remember where, but I saw a news article about that story before. It's so sweet to know that JW is there for his friends like that :) 

I envy him tho. Having friends like joo won beside him is like a blessing.

 

Its amazing and i proud of him that even shin dong yeob, person that always find a way to make the show interesting by talking freely and not giving attention to the person he talk, acknowledge joo won as being a good and kind person. Person in comment section is amazed that shin dong yeob is talk like that. That means joo won is really a great person that even makes shin dong yeob acknowledge him.

 

23 hours ago, kittyna said:

I know we've talked about JW resembling a bunny once, but before then, when I'd first joined this forum, I thought of a kitty cat, like in this pic

Owhh... so cute. The pout is really similiar tho.. hahaha. By the way, i found this too: joo won that has same expression as animal...

https://s.amsu.ng/Am3TxmTWL4kN

And this

https://s.amsu.ng/caQTohbWirJN

 

23 hours ago, kittyna said:

Another laughing pic

His laugh make my day alot more happy.

 

16 hours ago, kittyna said:

Title: The Sound of Christmas

Drama: "Nae Il's Cantabile"

Characters: Cha Yoo Jin, Seol Nae Il

Premise: It's the first Christmas since Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il have moved together to Salzburg, Austria. As he rediscovers his childhood memories of living there with his parents, Yoo Jin also wants to make new ones with Nae Il.

Finally!!! Your first romantic fanfic. Its really good. You portray the scene really detailed.. and it makes me imagining what will cha yoo jin and naeil do after this??? 

 

The romantic scene is really cute. The hugs, holding hands, looking at starry night and stare at each other. 

 

Actually i never expect that will be a kiss scene is this fanfic, since you said that its not your style. But i think you have a talent to make this kind of story. Story that has cute romantic scene and also warm conversation. Kind of kissing that you portray in the fanfic is kiss that have pure feelings that makes the reader feel what is inside the character's heart. 

 

I'm hoping that you can make this kind of story again. Its great!!! You can try different character like park shi on (this character is really fit the cute romance like your fanfic) or even lee kang to (you can make the character more intense but still has some happy stuff in it). Good Luck!!!

 

My picture time!!!

 

Ugghh... so cute!!!

 

This photoshoot is really great. Joo won with glasses!

 

Look at his height!!! Not kidding!! He is so tall.. the person that upload this said that joo won is so handsome..

 

Kind joo won... waving his hands and giving sign to his fans even though he is in hurry. And he smile while looking at the camera!! Like he is looking at me now.! By the way, he looks more handsome after months being in the army. 

 

Comparing his height again!! He still look SO tall even though the girl is wearing high heels.

 

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1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Its so cute... looks like joo won will be a good father in the future.

 

More pics of JW with kids, this time from what looks to be an event related to "Ghost":

 

Spoiler

137a6d86f9367c9c97c7c8e661b3ee04.jpg

 

7fac416ed6d3624fec7e9170e6cdbcb6.jpg

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

By the way, it makes me want to meet him even more. I want to hear his voice for real not with my speaker and want to see his face with my own eyes and not from my handphone screen. I also already heard from fan diary or another fans that said joo won is more handsome in person rather that in the tv. If you see he is chubby, in real life he is slim and has the right weight. And you know that his waist is so small too.

 

I've noticed a lot of people saying that about JW, even other celebrities who have watched him on TV say so when they meet him at a drama set or on a variety show.

 

I think that JW's just one of those people whom you have to see in 3D in order to really get a good sense of how they look. We can tell from different photographs, even from the same drama, for instance, where JW's features, face shape, etc. can look drastically different based on lighting, camera angle, etc. That means that there's something about, say, the contour of his features that just cannot be captured in 2D.

 

So, for instance, in a collage like this, you can see how JW's face can go from looking chubby to looking really sharp just due to the lighting and camera angle - there's no way he could have actually changed his appearance, since they're all from the same event:

 

114057e34e1fc3adc4df6a6790183cc1.jpg

 

It's funny, because I do see the occasional comment where someone's wondering if he's gotten plastic surgery partway through his career, because they found a recent photo that doesn't look like how he did in the past; but I'd say no, because then an even more recent photo surfaces where his face matches the really old one :tongue: 

 

I agree about the narrow waist as well. My observation of JW so far is that his skeletal structure isn't actually all that broad - so, for instance, his shoulder blades are not as wide as a number of other actors', and a small waist suggests, to me, a narrower pelvis as well. But when JW does bulk up, it's mostly in his arms and legs - and those arms of his can definitely make his entire upper body look broader by comparison.

 

It's why there was that time I posted several photos from filming "Nae Il's Cantabile" where he looked really slim in a blazer, but really buff when just wearing a T-shirt: the blazer would really show where his shoulders are while visually slimming down his arms, but once his arms are exposed...dang!

 

(In case anyone has forgotten, here are the pics)

 

Spoiler

With the blazer:

 

d6983aa58acfd466963a18454852216d.jpg

 

Without the blazer:

 

afd6668b95337f7ae669ed63f5340ec4.jpg

 

And this photo, which I've never shared before, really shows what I mean about JW's build: his shoulders and torso are quite narrow for someone with limbs as muscular as his. I've also noticed that his shoulders slope down a bit rather than being really square like a number of other actors', and that also creates a slimmer line, visually.

 

57b8ce01008898d5c1f7f93ec0be0fac.jpg

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Finally!!! Your first romantic fanfic. Its really good. You portray the scene really detailed.. and it makes me imagining what will cha yoo jin and naeil do after this??? 

 

The romantic scene is really cute. The hugs, holding hands, looking at starry night and stare at each other. 

 

Actually i never expect that will be a kiss scene is this fanfic, since you said that its not your style. But i think you have a talent to make this kind of story. Story that has cute romantic scene and also warm conversation. Kind of kissing that you portray in the fanfic is kiss that have pure feelings that makes the reader feel what is inside the character's heart. 

 

Thanks! I wasn't really sure how this story would be received, since it is, after all, my first shot at this sort of thing. :tongue: 

 

For the most part, I'm okay with writing skinship in general, as well as cute and fluffy stuff. And that was, at first, my intention. I'd had a couple of sillier moments planned that ultimately didn't make it into this story, and that's because, more than any other fic I've posted on the forum so far, this one evolved the most as I was writing it.

 

I think I first realized this story was going to be different when I wrote the piano-playing scene, read it again, and wound up blushing. I mean, it's not explicit, it's not a bed scene, it's not any of that, but when I realized how much into detail I was going with the physical elements of that scene (e.g. the hands touching, the way they were moving and breathing in sync, the heart racing, etc.), I knew that things were going to get...interesting from here on out.

 

The kiss scene came into my mind soon after that. To be honest, I still don't really know where it came from, and I'm still surprised that I'd ended up with one at all. But as soon as that whole sequence of events (the forehead kiss to the first real kiss to the second one at the end) appeared in my mind...I don't know how to put it, but it just felt perfect. And I have enough experience as a writer to know that if my imagination gives me as complete a picture as that, then I should go with it :wink: The only challenging part was figuring out how to write it, then. I know that many kiss scenes in fanfic are the lead-up to bed scenes, but that wasn't where I wanted to go with that - but that also meant that I didn't have much to go by in terms of reference (i.e. how to describe a kiss that isn't meant to be steamy). Ultimately, I thought of the first kisses we tend see in the K-dramas themselves - the ones that are romantic, but that aren't necessarily very passionate. So, I'm talking about the slow, tender, camera-stays-still-for-several-seconds sort of kiss. And that helped a lot :)

 

By the way, a little Easter Egg about that scene, although I imagine you noticed it already: the position that Yoo Jin and Nae Il are in the end (i.e. him holding her in his arms as she bends down to kiss him) was this story's throwaway reference to the real-life actors. In this case, it's an homage to all the times that JW has said he liked scenes like that in movies (e.g. "The Notebook") :wink: Again, since it hasn't happened yet, let's let him have that in our imaginations, at least. 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

I'm hoping that you can make this kind of story again. Its great!!! You can try different character like park shi on (this character is really fit the cute romance like your fanfic) or even lee kang to (you can make the character more intense but still has some happy stuff in it). Good Luck!!!

 

I do have some vague ideas for both of those characters as well - it's just that the Cha Yoo Jin-Seol Nae Il pairing's version was the first to reach a complete enough state in my imagination that I could actually write it out.

 

And now, for my new pics:

 

Spoiler

This one's just really cute

 

86b914168239f0f8ae4f2a801452f9e5.jpg

 

Since we're on the subject of kissing scenes, here's a great one from "Ghost"

 

a49e221ff8cd001af2b03f3e2c6034db.jpg

 

Love this shot from "Nae Il's Cantabile" - From this Instagram slideshow by Huayi Brothers: https://www.instagram.com/p/BbOL8ZbF_-j/?taken-by=huayibrothers

 

 

a1b03d665fba7778cf36dcf53572e9e4.jpg

 

JW in a taekwondo(?) uniform - does anyone know the story behind this one?

 

 

This one's so cute, too!

 

 

Finally, I love the slightly grittier and edgier atmosphere in this photo

 

b6667255a30203aaec75a44632c56a7d.jpg

 

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Understandably, a lot of people are probably busy with Christmas stuff right now, so I'm just popping by quickly to add a few more photos before going off to do that myself :) 

 

These aren't actually Christmas-related - I think I've temporarily exhausted my creative juices on that front with the recent fic - but are just various random photos that I've recently come across and liked.

 

Spoiler

I really like the double exposure in this pic:

 

 

Cutie bubble gum

 

 

I like this collage of character portraits from "Nae Il's Cantabile"

 

5e1418b8c83b95e04c426fd0c87cdf4c.jpg

 

Well, I should at least have some nod to the winter season here :wink: 

 

 

 

I also have a brief announcement regarding fic writing - my most recent story (i.e. the "Nae Il's Cantabile" Christmas Special) will be continued to include the New Year's trip to Vienna that the characters hint at :)  There are a few reasons for that: one, to have a chance to write a few more of the supporting characters from the drama (I really enjoyed writing Il Rak's bit roles in these fics, and want to do more with him; and the Il Rak-Si Won couple is also just totally cute), and two, to explore further where Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il may go post-first-kiss :wub:

 

So I hope to have that done in time to, again, be released a bit before the holiday itself.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! ^___^

 

To you, my dear Soompi Friends, and  to our Joo Won!!! :heart:

 

Thanks for all the news, photo, video and your beautiful words!

 

Special thanks to you, Kittyna! ^_^

 

*many hugs from Italy* :wub:

 

201312241135159610_1.jpg

 

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Hello...!! I found something funny yet interesting on instagram.. 

 

If joo won has a son or he back to kids again, will his kid have this kind of cute face? Same like him.... its so cute!!! I can hold my face straight while looking at this!

 

Or he has a daughter that have this beautiful face? (By the way, wondering joo won as a girl while looking at this photo is so funny too)

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

I've noticed a lot of people saying that about JW, even other celebrities who have watched him on TV say so when they meet him at a drama set or on a variety show.

Me too... i remember in 1N2D when joo won racing with the member and meet a group of ahjumma (episode where kim seung woo is leaving 1N2D a.k.a last episode of bird PD) the ahjumma said that joo won looks chubby on screen or tv but looking at him in person is different. He looks slim and more handsome. 

 

I also remember when he do the festival in October (his latest event) many fans and people said that he is more handsome in person. Even girls said that he is prettier than her.

 

In fanmeet, many fans write a fan diary so other fans that can't come to the event can feel the happy that joo won give to his fans in the fanmeet. From all fan diary that i read said that he is more handsome in person. They said its unfair that photos can't show his awesomeness.

 

Reading and hearing this often makes me believe it even more. And makes me want to meet him even more. How awesome is he and how amazing is he. Because they said that joo won has different aura. Aura that makes you know that he is in the room when he come in. Cool and calm kind of aura but makes you feel that he is near you.

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

 

I think that JW's just one of those people whom you have to see in 3D in order to really get a good sense of how they look. We can tell from different photographs, even from the same drama, for instance, where JW's features, face shape, etc. can look drastically different based on lighting, camera angle, etc. That means that there's something about, say, the contour of his features that just cannot be captured in 2D.

Yeah. I have many experience where i feel that joo won is become chubbier in one scene but become slim again in the next scene. Even though there is some interval between the scene, but it can't make someone face become different so drastically. I believe that is camera angle or lighting that makes his face become more chubbier than real life. 

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

It's funny, because I do see the occasional comment where someone's wondering if he's gotten plastic surgery partway through his career, because they found a recent photo that doesn't look like how he did in the past; but I'd say no, because then an even more recent photo surfaces where his face matches the really old one :tongue: 

Its funny... we know that joo won is not that kind of person but if he does, how can his face now become more like when he debut? I feel that his appearance (his face shape and body) is become more like when he start debut in drama or when he do spring awakening. (#Justmyoppinion but we know that is true he is not getting any plastic on his face)

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

It's why there was that time I posted several photos from filming "Nae Il's Cantabile" where he looked really slim in a blazer, but really buff when just wearing a T-shirt: the blazer would really show where his shoulders are while visually slimming down his arms, but once his arms are exposed...dang!

Yeah.. i also feel that when he wears a blazer or suit when he go to award ceremony. I feel like he become slimmer in that clothes but when he go back wearing sweater or t-shirt again i feel that he become chubbier. A fan said that she will looking to joo won's thigh when she want to know if joo won become slimmer or chubbier. 

 

By the way, you make me remember that he is doing weight lifting to make his arm bigger and the shoulders become more wider. He has been doing that for a long time (i think its start in 2014). And i feel he is success!!!

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

The kiss scene came into my mind soon after that. To be honest, I still don't really know where it came from, and I'm still surprised that I'd ended up with one at all. But as soon as that whole sequence of events (the forehead kiss to the first real kiss to the second one at the end) appeared in my mind...I don't know how to put it, but it just felt perfect. And I have enough experience as a writer to know that if my imagination gives me as complete a picture as that, then I should go with it :wink: The only challenging part was figuring out how to write it, then.

Actually me too! When i first saw that you update a fanfic, i immediately read it. First i enjoy the fluffy and cute momment between the character but when i almost finish the fanfic, i kinda surprised and excited that i found out that the fanfic will have a kiss! (Btw..It makes me happy because i like this kind of story. Story that has cute, fluffy, and romantic momment that makes you smile. I still tolerate story that has bed scene but i prefer it to not too detailed and exposed. it makes myself embarrassed and blushed when reading it if the bed scene is too detail.)

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

JW has said he liked scenes like that in movies (e.g. "The Notebook") :wink: Again, since it hasn't happened yet, let's let him have that in our imaginations, at least. 

Yeah..  joo won has a dream that he wants to have a love story like in Notebook movie. He also said that he wants to act in drama that the character is fall in love to each other very deeply that they can do anything to be together. But since joo won has never act in this kind of drama or movie, we just can imagine it in our head while reading fanfics. So i hope you can write more beautiful fanfics and share it with us!

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

I do have some vague ideas for both of those characters as well - it's just that the Cha Yoo Jin-Seol Nae Il pairing's version was the first to reach a complete enough state in my imagination that I could actually write it out

Will wait for it!!! I'm curious about your next fanfic especially in that different character because since you stepped to another level, i really hope and expected that the story will be more interesting and has more cute fluffy romance in it! :D

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

Since we're on the subject of kissing scenes, here's a great one from "Ghost"

Kissing scenes in ghost!! I found the video! 

 

 

The one with ivy..

 

This is quite special because they kissing in the dark with such a beautiful lighting. And this is funny too! They has to kiss with such a romantic situation but after they kiss the PD is want to joke and play a wedding song that makes joo won and park ji yeon (the girl) laugh. And then joo won jokingly ask the PD "is this wedding ceremony?" (In my head i scream yesss!!! And hope its true that joo won will have this kind of wedding... :wub:)

 

And this is touching... because this is their last performance, park ji yeon is crying so you can see that joo won is strokes her head and hugs her with affection to make her calm and then kiss her! Such a lovely and romantic man!

 

And this is video that fans made because they ship joo won with park ji yeon. The picture is lovely and beautiful tho!

 

On 12/24/2017 at 2:21 AM, kittyna said:

JW in a taekwondo(?) uniform - does anyone know the story behind this one?

I think its joo won when he learn to do martial art for drama or when he shoots drama 7 grade civil servant. i'm not sure either. By the way, he looks good with that uniform. In fact, he looks good with any uniform! In chef uniform, in police uniform, in army uniform, in taekwondo uniform, and many more!

 

My photo time!!!

 

This is so cute!!!

 

Joo won's selfie! 

 

He looks so happy!! And i love his eye smile!!

 

He looks awesome and he is not change at all..!

 

Last one, joo won wearing glasses zoom in! He is great with this glasses and his legendary round glasses too.!

 

 

 

Remember when i said that the third MC in win win is rude. This is what other people thinking.. even though he doing his job as an MC but he can't make fun of joo won like that! He said what? He said joo won is girly? Good that joo won is really patient and pure so he just sit there fanning himself from embarrassment while smiling. Its not like other celebrities that will be mad and talk back to him if he make fun of his guest. Actually i was really annoyed when i watch that video! You can find it in comment section...

https://soulsrebel.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/win-win-joowon/

 

AND FINALLY ITS TIME FOR ME TO SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY FRIENDS HERE!!! I HOPE YOU GUYS AND JOO WON HAVE A HAPPY CHRISTMAS THERE!!!

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Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

First of all, just thought I'd share this - it's part of the multi-entry collage posted by Mind Bridge (so, the entire horizontal row would have spelled out "Merry Christmas", but that's kind of impossible to see with any one post):

 

 

And now, replies first - then more pics later :) 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Or he has a daughter that have this beautiful face? (By the way, wondering joo won as a girl while looking at this photo is so funny too)

 

That reminds me: didn't JW say that he took more after his mom (whereas his hyung took more after their dad)? 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Yeah. I have many experience where i feel that joo won is become chubbier in one scene but become slim again in the next scene. Even though there is some interval between the scene, but it can't make someone face become different so drastically. I believe that is camera angle or lighting that makes his face become more chubbier than real life. 

 

My guess is that there's a bit of an optical illusion going on based on camera angle, lighting, clothes, hairstyle, makeup...the whole shebang. You see it in other actors while watching dramas, too - but I do think the actual range of difference is more pronounced for JW than a lot of others.

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Its funny... we know that joo won is not that kind of person but if he does, how can his face now become more like when he debut? I feel that his appearance (his face shape and body) is become more like when he start debut in drama or when he do spring awakening. (#Justmyoppinion but we know that is true he is not getting any plastic on his face)

 

I can definitely notice how his features have changed over time - so I don't think he's going back to what he looked like before, exactly. But I think that what we're seeing is natural maturation/aging, not something more drastic than that.

 

It can also be a change in style rather than in terms of actual physical features as well - people change up how they want to present themselves over time, and maybe a look that you thought worked for you a few years ago isn't what you want to convey now.

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Yeah.. i also feel that when he wears a blazer or suit when he go to award ceremony. I feel like he become slimmer in that clothes but when he go back wearing sweater or t-shirt again i feel that he become chubbier. A fan said that she will looking to joo won's thigh when she want to know if joo won become slimmer or chubbier. 

 

By the way, you make me remember that he is doing weight lifting to make his arm bigger and the shoulders become more wider. He has been doing that for a long time (i think its start in 2014). And i feel he is success!!!

 

[continuing from my reply before this quote]

 

Which ties into what you'd said about the weight training, actually, because that's definitely something that I noticed JW changed his mind about partway through his career. Again, I don't expect him to end up, say, with shoulders as broad as someone who may have been doing weight training while he was still growing (as opposed to starting as an adult), but there should be a difference over time, and I started noticing it from 2015 onward, with images from "Fatal Intuition" and "Yong Pal". He really bulked up for "Fatal Intuition", but even though he lost some weight afterwards for "Yong Pal", he never quite goes back to how slim he was several years ago. And that's perfectly fine by me; he's said he wanted to present a more grown-up image from now on, so I like that he's actively taking steps towards that goal.

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Btw..It makes me happy because i like this kind of story. Story that has cute, fluffy, and romantic momment that makes you smile. I still tolerate story that has bed scene but i prefer it to not too detailed and exposed. it makes myself embarrassed and blushed when reading it if the bed scene is too detail.

 

I don't want to write that sort of bed scene either. I'm not someone who's afraid to be upfront about more risqué stuff (for instance, I've commented several times on how I think the entertainment/fan industry sexually objectifies both male and female celebrities way too much), but I'm also not someone who gets excited reading steamy stuff, so that's why I don't write it. I actually end up feeling more turned off than turned on, which sometimes makes me feel like a bit of a freak within any fandom culture....

 

Besides, it's love I want to explore further, not lust. Not that something like a bed scene can't take place within a purely love-focused context, but to make sure that the story stays with the atmosphere I'm trying to create, I have to be more subtle about it than that.

 

Not to mention that I know that there are probably people of a variety of ages and backgrounds reading this thread, so I would prefer to err on the side of caution. Hugs, kisses, cutesy skinship, I think, are pretty widely accepted - but something steamy may not be.

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Will wait for it!!! I'm curious about your next fanfic especially in that different character because since you stepped to another level, i really hope and expected that the story will be more interesting and has more cute fluffy romance in it! :D

 

Not quite yet - they're still fuzzy, and I go where my imagination takes me, not the other way around :wink: - but starting in January, yes.

 

As of right now, my next one will be, as I'd said before, a follow-up to my Christmas fanfic - I'm expanding it to include a New Year's Special as well :wink: I'm still trying to figure out if I want to make it more friendship-focused (Cha Yoo Jin and Yoo Il Rak) or romance-focused (Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il), although I already know there'll be both elements there.

 

Spoiler

For those who haven't figured it out already, yes, I do always give JW's character either first or second male lead in these things. It's what keeps the stories relevant to this thread, after all!

 

And I think it's safe to say in advance that it will have yet another Easter Egg based on JW's own comments about romance :wink: 

 

I actually find I love including these little Easter Eggs in my fics now - i.e. working in small details based on the real-life actors. So things like making Lee Yoon Hoo a Christian because Park Bo Gum is very openly devout - to the point of including "God Bless You" in his autographs, which is just cute - or giving Cha Yoon Seo an oppa because Moon Chae Won has one, or, in this most recent example, giving Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il a "Notebook"-style kiss because JW himself likes it. It adds a fun extra layer of challenge, and also helps flesh out the characters and make them more three-dimensional. :) 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

I think its joo won when he learn to do martial art for drama or when he shoots drama 7 grade civil servant. i'm not sure either.

 

Maybe...? I know he learned martial arts for "Gaksital", but it was a different form (taekkyeon, which uses a uniform similar to the actual Gaksital costume). So maybe it's for "Level 7 Civil Servant"? Your guess is as good as mine :tongue: 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Remember when i said that the third MC in win win is rude. This is what other people thinking.. even though he doing his job as an MC but he can't make fun of joo won like that! He said what? He said joo won is girly? Good that joo won is really patient and pure so he just sit there fanning himself from embarrassment while smiling. Its not like other celebrities that will be mad and talk back to him if he make fun of his guest.

 

Remember what I'd said about there being a generation gap between these hosts and JW in regards to gender roles? This is what I was referring to - the things that JW thinks are fine make some older guys think he's girly. Or his way of expressing his close friendships with other guys by using aegyo make some people think he's gay (I remember such comments regarding his relationship with Uhm Tae Woong from Dramabeans readers, for instance).

 

Personally, I think that that's something JW knew already about how he differed from other people. But he sees himself as a straight man, and as far as I'm concerned, his self-identification should be what counts most.

 

More photos!

 

Spoiler

JW offering presents (No, this wasn't for Christmas, but I don't care. Presents are presents!)

 

 

Christmas-themed pic

 

 

I love when JW's just having fun

 

 

Aegyo hearts greeting (cameo by Shim Eun Kyung)

 

 

This behind the scenes shot from "Level 7 Civil Servant" is cute, too. It's like JW's just going, "Who, me?"

 

7898c423472920fdfedba80cf92ae35b.jpg

 

This one from the same set is also adorable

 

0391bb398310d5318449b08a60adb4df.jpg

 

"Harry Potter glasses" pic - This was from the "My Sassy Girl" auditions

 

 

This shot looks to be candid, but is so well-taken anyway!

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, kittyna said:

That reminds me: didn't JW say that he took more after his mom (whereas his hyung took more after their dad)? 

Yeah... i remember that too. I always remember his hyung features when he appeared in 1N2D episode. My first impression is his hyung looks so manly and calm. I also already seen his father, his father is kinda handsome actually. Same like his sons.

 

But i never see his mother except in his family picture when 1N2D team came to his home. I'm very curious about his mother. What kind of person is his mom that make a perfect son like him? And what kind of person is his father that makes joo won polite and kind like him? Joo won already said in some interview that his father is his role model. He said his father is so polite and kind so he wants to become like his father and imitate his father's behavior. We can see the result now. He is known for his kind and pure honest heart in korean industry. :D

 

Joo won is really private about his family because he doesn't want his family uncomfortable and be cautious because of him. 

 

And because i have a trip tomorrow, i will just make it quick and skip it to picture time!!! Enjoy...

 

In just a few days we will live in 2018... so it means that award ceremony will be hold just like some years ago. I hope joo won win some award even though he is in the army. Big or small award doesn't matter for me.

 

Our handsome prince!!! Hwang tae hee..

 

He looks so cool and more handsome when he is in serious mode..

 

I like this video! So beautiful...

 

Another picture of joo won wearing glasses.... he looks so good with it and i want to see more picture like this.

 

His meong face... hahaha. So cute!!

 

Smiling Gu Ma Jun!! The rarest thing we saw in the drama... but once he smile, it will make your heart melt like ice cream. So you might be forget about all of his evil deeds after you saw his smile...

 

 

And last, i found an interview that talking about joo won. The one that interviewed is joo won and the PD, the writer, and other actors that work him him in baker king kim tak gu. 

 

Its good that even the writer, the staff, and the PD is amazed by joo won. Especially the writer, i think she was saw something in joo won's heart and believe in him. And she is right for choosing joo won to be gu majun. She can see that joo won is really doing his best to show and perform as gu majun so he will not disappoint the viewers. Even joo won's honesty and sincerity makes the PD's heart that against him to cast as gu majun like him after seeing him working in the drama. His heart is always makes other people heart melts and love him..

Here is the link:

https://joowoncutie.wordpress.com/interviews/baker-king-guide-book/

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3 hours ago, moonstrike said:

But i never see his mother except in his family picture when 1N2D team came to his home. I'm very curious about his mother. What kind of person is his mom that make a perfect son like him? And what kind of person is his father that makes joo won polite and kind like him? Joo won already said in some interview that his father is his role model. He said his father is so polite and kind so he wants to become like his father and imitate his father's behavior. We can see the result now. He is known for his kind and pure honest heart in korean industry. :D

 

Yeah, I remember reading in one of JW's really early interviews that he'd described himself as taking after his mom in terms of appearance, and his dad in terms of personality.

 

Other things that JW's shared about his relationship with his dad that I just think are adorable:

  • His dad either coming up with or at least being involved in creating his stage name, especially when you consider just how much thought must have gone into it and its meaning. I know that Chinese families oftentimes choose names for their kids that reflect the parents' hopes for them, and I imagine it's similar for Korean families as well
  • The time on "Healing Camp" that JW mentioned how he used to go running with his dad every morning when he was growing up - since he talks so much about chatting with his mom in other interviews, I liked seeing that he had a lot of one-on-one time with his dad, too
  • The time the 1N2D hyungs stopped by JW's place and Lee Su Geun pretended to be JW's dad to get him to show the kind of aegyo he did for his dad specifically.
3 hours ago, moonstrike said:

Yeah... i remember that too. I always remember his hyung features when he appeared in 1N2D episode. My first impression is his hyung looks so manly and calm. I also already seen his father, his father is kinda handsome actually. Same like his sons.

 

JW's hyung was a lot of fun to watch in that episode - it's funny that both brothers were a bit on the quieter side, though, so neither of them spoke much in the massive group chat that resulted. :tongue: The 1N2D hyungs said that JW got even quieter than usual when his real hyung was around, which is saying something, since he was already quiet to begin with.

 

I think the moment that cracks me the up the most was when they were leaving and the staff had, just to film the closing, rigged JW's hyung's car full of cameras. His hyung looked a bit surprised at that, and JW then started pointing out all the places the staff would put cameras during a shoot (e.g. on the dashboard, the backs of seats, etc.). And then JW asked his hyung if he was nervous because it was his "first time meeting celebrities", his hyung said "Yes." 

 

And I started laughing when I watched that, because I was just like, "I guess little brother doesn't count as a celebrity, huh?" :tongue: 

 

3 hours ago, moonstrike said:

In just a few days we will live in 2018... so it means that award ceremony will be hold just like some years ago. I hope joo won win some award even though he is in the army. Big or small award doesn't matter for me.

 

Personally...I doubt there will be one. Not because I don't think JW did a good job in "My Sassy Girl", because I do think he did, but it was not the ratings juggernaut his other award-winning dramas have been. Yes, awards should be based in merit, but they're oftentimes just as strongly based on popularity and profitability - and as of right now, "My Sassy Girl" isn't offering either to SBS. It was neither a big hit in terms of ratings, which would lead to popular pressure for the network to grant it awards regardless of its actual quality, nor, to put it crassly, do I think a television network would give an award to someone they can't earn money off of in the following year because he physically won't be around until 2019.

 

If "My Sassy Girl" had strong ratings, then an award, I think, would have been possible - but without that, I doubt it. Let us as JW's fans honour and respect his achievements, but I'm not putting any hopes on there being any official recognition this time around.

 

3 hours ago, moonstrike said:

And because i have a trip tomorrow, i will just make it quick and skip it to picture time!!! Enjoy...

 

@moonstrike Have fun on your trip! I'll just keeping doing my usual daily dose of pics until you get back - and in the event that I do end up posting a fic while you're away, I'll make sure to let you know when you return so you don't miss it :) 

 

And now, time for pics!

 

This time, I'm doing something a bit different, inspired by one of the JW fans I follow on Pinterest. Recently, they've posted a number of photos from the summer of 2014 - which we know to be that time in between when JW did "Ghost" and "Nae Il's Cantabile". What's different this time around is that all the photos were time-stamped, so I could actually see when exactly they were taken.

 

That summer, since it was a relatively "slow" one for JW - okay, in reality, it was still super-busy, with photo shoots and Mandarin classes and all the prep work for "Nae Il's Cantabile", as we can see in "Life Log" - but because of that, it's probably one of the most gradual transitions/transformations between roles we get a chance to see. Usually, if JW takes on two projects back to back, which he usually does, he has to change his appearance (e.g. hairstyle, how he dresses, etc.) just as quickly in order to play both roles. But this time around, we get to see a slower transformation from Sam Wheat to Cha Yoo Jin :wink: 

 

Spoiler

JW as Sam Wheat in "Ghost" - Photo from March 26, 2014

 

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JW at a fan-signing for his McCol endorsement - Photo from June 18, 2014

 

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JW at Yuk Hyun Wook's wedding - Photo from June 30, 2014

 

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JW returning to Korea from a function in Japan - Photos from July 27, 2014

 

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JW at the premiere of the film "Sea Fog" - Photos from July 28, 2014

 

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(At this point, the Pinterest user who was doing this stopped for today - but I was able to find some more from other places)

 

JW at the "Tazza 2" film premiere - Photos from August 8, 2014

 

Honestly, by this point, I think the transformation's complete - JW already had the hairstyle down in the previous bunch of photos, but not the overall "look". In these photos...you could have told me it was a promo event for "Nae Il's Cantabile", and I would have believed you :wink: 

 

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And filming for "Nae Il's Cantabile", to the best of my knowledge, started soon afterwards:

 

cantabile18.jpg

 

By the way, Dramabeans did something similar to what I'm doing here, with a collage of the violin and conducting practice photos in particular:

 

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For some reason, making a point of popping by with more pictures every day makes me feel like I'm running a podcast :tongue: Or hosting a show with regulars like @moonstrike

 

But, to the best of my knowledge, it's just me today.

 

So here are, once again, some more miscellaneous photos

 

Spoiler

Just came across this photo for the first time today, and in my opinion, it's gorgeous. There's something so private and intimate about this shot, where JW looks to be so deep in the "zone" that it's almost like he's slipped into a trance.

 

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Really cute expression in this shot! It's like the "meong" face, but not quite.

 

 

Interesting photo editing here

 

 

Note the photo on the right. Is that a Cha Yoo Jin "meong" face, or just the real Moon Jun Won coming through? You decide :tongue: 

 

 

He looks so suave and debonair here

 

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And this photo from the 2014 KBS Drama Awards is just adorable

 

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On the one hand, I get why a number of East Asians gesture with their middle fingers as opposed to their index fingers (e.g. pointing with the middle finger, because using the index finger is rude), but sometimes things take an unexpectedly hilarious turn when that happens :tongue: 

 

(I wonder if anyone told him what that ended up looking like afterwards....)

 

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From a concert in Thailand - I'm not sure about the year, though

 

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Cute screenshot from an ad JW did with Kim Young Kwang for GGIO2

 

 

 

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It's Throwback Thursday time!

 

Today, it's miscellaneous old photos again - enjoy!

 

Spoiler

Most of these appear to be from prior to his television debut

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next one's so cute!

 

 

Finally, a few post-debut throwback pictures I want to share:

 

First, this collage from the filming of "King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu"

 

 

And secondly, this cute duck face on 1N2D - he's still one of the handful of people I can actually stand this expression on. :tongue: 

 

 

 

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Hey... i'm back! Thanks for keeping this thread alive while i'm gone, @kittyna!

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

Yeah, I remember reading in one of JW's really early interviews that he'd described himself as taking after his mom in terms of appearance, and his dad in terms of personality.

Yeah.. he said that when he first interviewed by media. He said his brother and him is different. He said his hyung is like Fedora (is it right?), big and muscular, but he is thin and doesn't have any muscles at all. But i think if you look at their face, you can tell that they are brothers. 

 

I'm very amazed and impressed with their brotherhood. they never fight and play together. They always seem to get along well together. Joo won said that they always play basketball, badminton, and other sports play. They also helping their mother's course at home together. 

 

And I've heard Joo Won said that his mom is short. I wonder where he got that unusual height? I think because he lives a healthy life and always working (since he is making his own stage and helping the sunbaes if he doesn't work) or maybe because of his father's gene.

 

I was always curious about his family but joo won rarely or even never talked about his family, i mean their features because some celebrities is having their parent's photos in public. We just saw his brother in one of 1N2D episode. And that's it! We don't see him again after that. 

 

Seems that he really does not want to make his family exposed to the outside world. because he once said that he didn't want to make his family uncomfortable.

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

His dad either coming up with or at least being involved in creating his stage name, especially when you consider just how much thought must have gone into it and its meaning. I know that Chinese families oftentimes choose names for their kids that reflect the parents' hopes for them, and I imagine it's similar for Korean families as well

Very happy to hear that his father gave a stage name that is very full of meaning. There's hope of his parents and also the name is mentioning god. it's not like they pick a name by any chance or a name that just makes people feel cool.

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

The time on "Healing Camp" that JW mentioned how he used to go running with his dad every morning when he was growing up - since he talks so much about chatting with his mom in other interviews, I liked seeing that he had a lot of one-on-one time with his dad, too

Yeah... he is close with all of his family and even his friends and colleagues. His mother, his father, and his brother. All of his fans is acknowledge that he has a great and harmonious family and never get into fight. 

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

The 1N2D hyungs said that JW got even quieter than usual when his real hyung was around, which is saying something, since he was already quiet to begin with.

Maybe because he was embarrassed that his hyung is there and watching him live. I think i can relate to that. Its a bit embarrassing that your family or your close friend (who is not a celebrity) watching you talking if you have personality like joo won. 

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

I think the moment that cracks me the up the most was when they were leaving and the staff had, just to film the closing, rigged JW's hyung's car full of cameras. His hyung looked a bit surprised at that, and JW then started pointing out all the places the staff would put cameras during a shoot (e.g. on the dashboard, the backs of seats, etc.). And then JW asked his hyung if he was nervous because it was his "first time meeting celebrities", his hyung said "Yes." 

Me too.. I laughed very loud that his hyung was surprised when suddenly there was a camera on his car dashboard. And The experienced joo won told him that when they were filming, more cameras were installed than that. While joo won explain it, his hyung just like "oohhh"..

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

And I started laughing when I watched that, because I was just like, "I guess little brother doesn't count as a celebrity, huh?"

Because joo won will always be his cute little brother in his eyes. Even though Joo won become a big star like now, his family will always see joo won as cute maknae. That is how harmonious his family. 

 

Joo won's friend and colleagues that already work with him in the past is always say that joo won is never change. Even though he become more popular than when they work together, his behavior is still the same. They said he doesn't get star-syndrome. 

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

If "My Sassy Girl" had strong ratings, then an award, I think, would have been possible - but without that, I doubt it. Let us as JW's fans honour and respect his achievements, but I'm not putting any hopes on there being any official recognition this time around.

Yeah.. i'm just hoping that he will get an award while he in the army. But if he doesn't get any, it's okay because we know that he put a lot of efforts in this project, that is worthy, and always there in our heart. 

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

JW at the premiere of the film "Sea Fog" - Photos from July 28, 2014

His style is always simple and neat! He always wear shirt, long pants, or just t-shirt and long jeans. 

 

On 12/27/2017 at 3:29 AM, kittyna said:

 

Honestly, by this point, I think the transformation's complete - JW already had the hairstyle down in the previous bunch of photos, but not the overall "look". In these photos...you could have told me it was a promo event for "Nae Il's Cantabile", and I would have believed you :wink: 

 

Looks like its not joo won but Cha yoo jin that attend the premiere of a movie. The hair and the clothes have the same style as yoo jin.

 

On 12/28/2017 at 1:25 AM, kittyna said:

Just came across this photo for the first time today, and in my opinion, it's gorgeous. There's something so private and intimate about this shot, where JW looks to be so deep in the "zone" that it's almost like he's slipped into a trance.

He looks so serious when he doing his work especially when he memorize the script. Its like he is in the different world.

 

On 12/28/2017 at 1:25 AM, kittyna said:

 

And this photo from the 2014 KBS Drama Awards is just adorable

His smile is so cute. Its like a kid is smiling at me and not a 27 years old man! 

 

Finally my picture time!

 

Joo won when he's startled... its so funny.

 

This is cute too. My baby!

 

And his expression will be suddenly change in just a blink of an eye. 

 

And back again to his real cute face!

 

How do I describe this photo. this is just so lovely.

 

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@moonstrike - Welcome back! I hope you had fun on your trip :) 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

I'm very amazed and impressed with their brotherhood. they never fight and play together. They always seem to get along well together. Joo won said that they always play basketball, badminton, and other sports play. They also helping their mother's course at home together. 

 

I remember the 1N2D hyungs asking JW's real hyung about that - they'd asked him what JW was like as a brother and if they ever fought, and his hyung said no. It's like that time on Win Win", when the hosts grilled Park Ki Woong for anything bad about JW, but he couldn't give any.

 

Another moment from that bit on 1N2D that just came to mind: that JW's hyung said he watched everything JW was in. JW himself has mentioned in a number of interviews how supportive his family has been of what he's doing and that they always watch his dramas, films, and musicals - I can't remember where I saw it, but in one such interview, he even said that his grandmother, while watching "Level 7 Civil Servant", started worrying about him because she was afraid he was actually getting kicked in the balls whenever his character was. :tongue: (Of course, it's actually faked - and the show chooses to be really obvious about how they fake it - but I thought that was cute that his grandma got concerned.) Or, there was the time he'd said, in reference to "Ojakgyo Brothers", that when the scene in the first episode appeared where Hwang Tae Hee was doing aegyo to his grandma over the phone, his family who watched it were all like, "Yeah, you do that all the time!"

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Maybe because he was embarrassed that his hyung is there and watching him live. I think i can relate to that. Its a bit embarrassing that your family or your close friend (who is not a celebrity) watching you talking if you have personality like joo won. 

 

As I'd said earlier, I also think that both brothers are a bit shy as well - not to mention that, at the moment, both JW and his hyung were the maknaes of the entire group (Kim Jong Min is the second-youngest in the 1N2D cast, but he's actually older than JW's hyung).

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Because joo won will always be his cute little brother in his eyes. Even though Joo won become a big star like now, his family will always see joo won as cute maknae. That is how harmonious his family. 

 

That does make me wonder how his family felt watching JW in his dramas, especially in cases where his character is not a good son or brother - so, like Gu Ma Jun, for instance. Just a thought.

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Yeah.. i'm just hoping that he will get an award while he in the army. But if he doesn't get any, it's okay because we know that he put a lot of efforts in this project, that is worthy, and always there in our heart. 

 

That would, of course, be nice :)

 

But right now, I'm more than satisfied that JW has become the army's poster child :tongue: It's more than I could have expected, given just how many celebrities have enlisted so far this year. The stuff he's featured in and recognized for isn't talked much in English K-ent news sites like allkpopDramafever, or even Soompi, but at the same time, there's so much meaning to that particular form of recognition.

 

I remember seeing one person comment in regards to his decision to withdraw his application to the military police in favour of active duty as a soldier that as long as JW doesn't get into a scandal later on, his success has been set for life and the Korean public will always love him because of his patriotic choice - and I can see that coming true as we speak :) 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Looks like its not joo won but Cha yoo jin that attend the premiere of a movie. The hair and the clothes have the same style as yoo jin.

 

LOL! Okay, if Cha Yoo Jin were to go to a movie premiere, I think he would be more dressed up than that B) But JW's look there does match Yoo Jin's casual style from the drama :wink: 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

Joo won when he's startled... its so funny.

 

Does anyone know why he startled awake like that, actually? I know that he startled again because he was surprised to find the toad right next to him, but the waking up bit was before that.

 

By the way, the caption right when he sits up describes him as being "meong" :wink: 

 

I'll save pics for tomorrow - just wanted to get the actual chatting part started up again as soon as possible :) 

 

But what I will do, @moonstrike, as a "welcome back" gift, is a fic preview. Again, just to set the stage a little bit, this is a continuation of the Christmas story I posted:

 

Spoiler

I turn away from her then, rubbing my own lips as I swallow instinctively. That’s right. It was just a week ago that Nae Il and I had kissed for the first time. I still don’t know how it had happened, what had come over me then to make me do something so rash, to let go of my reason so completely.

 

And yet, despite all of that, I don’t regret it one bit.

 

Still, that doesn’t mean that that kiss had not been a point of no return for Nae Il and I. It was a progression in our relationship. I had already come to accept other forms of affection in the year we have been together, but redrawing our limits to include kisses has made all those other thresholds we’d reached thus far – holding hands, backhugs – seem like child’s play by comparison.

 

It’s why I don’t resist now when Nae Il suddenly leans forward and gives me a light peck on one cheek.

 

“Komapsumnida, Orabang.” She wraps her arms around me in a warm hug. “I shall cherish your gift forever.”

 

At that moment, our train pulls into the station and, as though for the first time, I notice where we are and the glances we are attracting from other passengers. While many of the young people don’t pay us any heed, and I catch a teenager rolling her eyes at Nae Il’s display, I also see kind smiles from some of the more elderly passengers.

 

Perhaps we remind them of what they had been like in their youth.

 

[...]

 

Heading over to my luggage, I take out the two scarves that I had brought with me from Salzburg: one white, and the other black. I weigh them for a moment in my hands before passing the black one to Il Rak, keeping the white for myself.

 

“Here. You might need this.”

 

Il Rak looks back and forth between the scarf and me in confusion. “Wae? Are you worried that we’d be cold?”

 

“Ani.” Draping my own scarf over my shoulders so that the ends hang down in the front, I take his scarf and do the same for him. “It’s not for you; it’s for Si Won. Offer this to her when she takes her coat off, so she’ll have something to cover up with if she needs it.”

 

“I see,” he replies, absentmindedly feeling the silken fabric with the fingers on his right hand. “By the way, where did you learn all of this? You know: the bowties and fancy scarves and all that stuff.”

 

For an instant, I feel myself tense involuntarily. Then, before Il Rak could notice that something is amiss, I respond with a casual shrug. “I just looked it up online,” I say in as nonchalant a tone as I could manage. “It’s not that hard once you’ve read up on the subject.”

 

But that’s a lie.

 

In truth, I had learned it from my parents.

 

[...]

 

The spell is broken by the sudden click of a camera shutter. Startled, I tear my eyes away from Nae Il and scan the room for the culprit.

 

It was Il Rak.

 

Somehow, while I had stood there spellbound, he had left Si Won and snuck behind Nae Il. And the phone he is holding at the perfect height just over her shoulder tells me exactly what had just happened.

 

In an instant, Nae Il is beside him, peering at the phone. Whatever she sees there makes her burst out laughing, one hand pressed firmly over her mouth, no longer an angel but the girl I know once more.

 

“Orabang,” she gasps out between her giggles. “Your face!”

 

“Huh? Let me see,” Si Won says, moving to join the others. Sure enough, one look at whatever is on that screen, and she starts laughing as well.

 

Finally, my voice comes back to me. I take an urgent step forward towards them. “Ya, Yoo Il Rak – what did you do?”

 

He peers up at me, a mischievous grin on his face. “Do you want to see?”

 

I shake my head vigorously with a shudder. Then, with as much dignity as I could muster, I stretch out one hand at him. “Give me the phone.”

 

“Wae?” Il Rak asks. He darts a few steps away, holding the phone just out of my reach, when I lunge for it. “You’re just going to delete the photo anyway – what’s the fun in that?”  He peers closely at the screen once again, before saying to himself, “Now, who should I send this to?”

 

“Ya!”

 

So that's three separate not-too-spoilery excerpts that I hope give a good hint at the overall tone of this story. It'll be a pretty even split between friendship and romance, but possibly leaning more towards the latter...?

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12 hours ago, kittyna said:

 

I remember the 1N2D hyungs asking JW's real hyung about that - they'd asked him what JW was like as a brother and if they ever fought, and his hyung said no. It's like that time on Win Win", when the hosts grilled Park Ki Woong for anything bad about JW, but he couldn't give any

Yeah.. When the host asked what was the worst thing you saw that joo won did, I was wondering what he would say. but after seeing that park ki woong think very hard to find it. And what he found just when joo won who only slept during the filming. Which I think it's not naughty at all. so we can conclude that joo won rarely do naughty things and maybe the most naughty thing that park ki woong can see joo won did just teasing his staff in set and talk banmal with the PD (but i still think that his behavior is not naughty enough if you compare it with other people).

 

And joo won also once said in win win that when his brother was cleaning but he just relax, his brother will scold him and it makes him immediately jump and help clean the house with his brother. this proves that they always cooperate and help each other. So, of course they are never quarrel.

 

When I heard this, I compare him to myself which when my sister is cleaning the house sometimes I do not help her at all. :tongue:

 

12 hours ago, kittyna said:

there was the time he'd said, in reference to "Ojakgyo Brothers", that when the scene in the first episode appeared where Hwang Tae Hee was doing aegyo to his grandma over the phone, his family who watched it were all like, "Yeah, you do that all the time"

Yeah! I remember that. Maybe when his family watch that episode on tv, they feel its joo won and not hwang tae hee. Its like joo won is looking and talk to them with his cute aegyo voice. 

 

But can you send me the link of that interview? I don't remember which interview is that.

 

12 hours ago, kittyna said:

 

That does make me wonder how his family felt watching JW in his dramas, especially in cases where his character is not a good son or brother - so, like Gu Ma Jun, for instance. Just a thought.

I also sometimes think like that. but I once read one of his interviews saying that his family said that Joo Won looks weird when he is act as gu majun. hihi seems the family is not used to see joo won play as a bad guy that time.

 

12 hours ago, kittyna said:

remember seeing one person comment in regards to his decision to withdraw his application to the military police in favour of active duty as a soldier that as long as JW doesn't get into a scandal later on, his success has been set for life and the Korean public will always love him because of his patriotic choice - and I can see that coming true as we speak :)

I also remeber that. i also have seen some comments that say joo won will be everyone's favorite hyung and he will be love by korean audience after he comeback from military. His carrier will become more success after he come out. I can feel it. Because he will work again like when he debut a.k.a like he usually do a.k.a he will put a lot of efforts and do all his best to work harder than ever. His patriotic label might be also help him in the future.

 

12 hours ago, kittyna said:

 

Does anyone know why he startled awake like that, actually? I know that he startled again because he was surprised to find the toad right next to him, but the waking up bit was before that

There is a scientific explanation about it. I often like that. it's like when you dream of falling from a high place like a building, a ravine or even from your own bed even though you're in the middle of it and not on the side of the bed. So it will shocks you and then wakes you up so suddenly. but the scientific explanation is that because your body is asleep but your brain is still working and still not ready to sleep so you will feel such a shocking thing. 

 

By the way, he is cute when he is in shock. And his "meong" face tho. :lol:

 

12 hours ago, kittyna said:

But what I will do, @moonstrike, as a "welcome back" gift, is a fic preview. Again, just to set the stage a little bit, this is a continuation of the Christmas story I poste

Woo... i'm waiting for that sequel since I finished reading your previous story. Its going to be good. You better finish it quick because i'm waiting here like i'm waiting for my Christmas gift. So excited!

 

And my picture time!

 

Feel the cuteness again! Cutie in his army uniform.

 

When joo won is cooking, he will concentrate fully on it!

 

Another photo of dreamy cha yoo jin 

 

His gaze is so evil yet hot!

 

And you see different gaze again here. 

 

Who is this hot guy?! ❤❤

 

This is the english version. So happy that joo won become the one of the nominees for daesang (grand prize award).

 

 

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4 hours ago, moonstrike said:

Yeah.. When the host asked what was the worst thing you saw that joo won did, I was wondering what he would say. but after seeing that park ki woong think very hard to find it. And what he found just when joo won who only slept during the filming. Which I think it's not naughty at all. so we can conclude that joo won rarely do naughty things and maybe the most naughty thing that park ki woong can see joo won did just teasing his staff in set and talk banmal with the PD (but i still think that his behavior is not naughty enough if you compare it with other people).

 

Yeah, falling asleep on set isn't all that bad, and it sounds like something that happens to all Korean actors at some point or other. So, for instance, if you see a character in a show is asleep or unconscious, chances are the actual actor is asleep, too :wink: It comes from the super-busy schedule and not having much time to rest.

 

Talking in banmal could be really naughty, depending on the situation and the person who's doing it. Like, if it's done out of disrespect for authority. But JW's not like that, and his sunbaes know that he's not like that - so they don't mind his using banmal once they get to know him. However, that's not a behaviour that's generally excusable in Korean culture, so I'd say it could actually be really bad.

 

lol - The bit about teasing the staff was funny. I remember JW saying on "Win Win" that he would sneak coffee from the audio director's cup, sometimes to the point of drinking all of it. And, yes, he teases his own staff, too; I remember some examples from "Life Log", such as when he jokingly argued with his make-up artist about how much she was putting on him (i.e. "That's a lot." "It'll wear off." "No, it won't." "Yes, it will," etc. :tongue:), or the time he mentioned sneaking photos of his stylists when they were sleeping. Then again, his staff tease him right back, so I just think it's a very friendly environment all around.

 

5 hours ago, moonstrike said:

And joo won also once said in win win that when his brother was cleaning but he just relax, his brother will scold him and it makes him immediately jump and help clean the house with his brother. this proves that they always cooperate and help each other. So, of course they are never quarrel.

 

lol - I remember that! And I, too, just went, "Well, JW's a better maknae than me, then!"

 

JW did say, while telling his story, that his hyung was scary when he's mad, though. :wink: 

 

5 hours ago, moonstrike said:

Yeah! I remember that. Maybe when his family watch that episode on tv, they feel its joo won and not hwang tae hee. Its like joo won is looking and talk to them with his cute aegyo voice. 

 

But can you send me the link of that interview? I don't remember which interview is that.

 

I...don't remember where I saw it, either. Sorry! :tongue: 

 

5 hours ago, moonstrike said:

I also sometimes think like that. but I once read one of his interviews saying that his family said that Joo Won looks weird when he is act as gu majun. hihi seems the family is not used to see joo won play as a bad guy that time.

 

Yeah. Gu Ma Jun was the bad guy, and he was also a very rude maknae to his noonas and hyung. 

 

But apparently, JW did a good job playing that character, so he's said on a number of occasions that even though he was just acting, fans or even the other cast members would get mad at him for real. I remember, for instance, that he said on the episode of "Happy Together" he did for "King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu" that when they filmed the scene where Ma Jun blames Tak Gu for making a big mess in the bakery when it was actually him, that as soon as the filming ended, the other actors hit him because his performance made them so mad - but I don't have a link to the video right now.

 

5 hours ago, moonstrike said:

There is a scientific explanation about it. I often like that. it's like when you dream of falling from a high place like a building, a ravine or even from your own bed even though you're in the middle of it and not on the side of the bed. So it will shocks you and then wakes you up so suddenly. but the scientific explanation is that because your body is asleep but your brain is still working and still not ready to sleep so you will feel such a shocking thing. 

 

Thanks for clearing that up :) 

 

And now...pictures!

 

Spoiler

He looks so happy to see his fans here

 

 

Cute bunny face from the same event:

 

 

I really like how these turned out, especially the shot on the right:

 

2b32f08975240e3aa19cbe1f2d375ed7.jpg

 

Nice shot as Han Gil Ro in "Level 7 Civil Servant"

 

27a71fcced46720f0c6ba9ffd4fa7f8c.jpg

 

"Nae Il's Cantabile" Behind the Scenes - The secret to Cha Yoo Jin's hair :tongue: 

 

e2b562526c2e12f979ac4a2bd3181552.jpg

 

Another mask shot that I like

 

 

I don't know when or where this photo was from, but it's cute

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, kittyna said:

Talking in banmal could be really naughty, depending on the situation and the person who's doing it. Like, if it's done out of disrespect for authority. But JW's not like that, and his sunbaes know that he's not like that - so they don't mind his using banmal once they get to know him. However, that's not a behaviour that's generally excusable in Korean culture, so I'd say it could actually be really bad.

Sometimes talking banmal is naughty but in joo won case it's different. You can feel that he talk like that not to "humiliating" his senior but to show his affection towards them. So that is what i mean that his behaviour to talk banmal to his senior is not naughty at all. even his friends that older than him, his senior and staff on set is feel that he is doing that to show his love or even showing that he is comfortable with them.

 

Even yoo hae jin, asking joo won to talk casual with him because he feel upset that joo won doesn't talk like that with . Maybe he feel different that joo won not talk banmal with him like he talk with others. And thinks joo won doesn't do that because he doesn't feel comfortable around him. 

 

But actually joo won don't talk banmal because he think that his behaviour is not good and will makes people that don't know him misunderstand. So he deliberately wanted to change his habit. But what makes him happy is yoo hae jin wants joo won to talk banmal with him. Even yoo hae jin is asking on his own which means that he is also want to be close with joo won.

 

If you open the link that i gave, you might be already read this.. there is a fan that confused about joo won's habit of talking banmal (casual) to person that older than him and this is the answer:

 

First of all, JW is not contradicting himself at all when it comes to the importance he places on respecting his elders. how you speak to your elders is just a little part, how you behave towards them is the most important part of all. his manners towards elders is what makes him a polite and respectful person. he bows almost half way. like 90 degrees. hardly anyone bows like that anymore. Uee does that too. even within her group, she makes sure the new younger members show respect to the older members even when they eat or sit. JW is the same way. I bet money when he goes around with his grandparents, he is very attentive to them and their needs. probably even with his own mom. even on 1n2d, he might speak banmal to the hyungs, but watch his manners. when he hands something to them, he uses both hands like polite younger people should do. aside from when it’s part of the games, if giving up a seat means someone older can sit, he will stand. that sort of thing. so the part about showing respect in actions, no one can disagree that JW has manners. now to clear up the way he speaks.

From what I know about hangul, there are degrees of banmal and jondae. For jondae the polite speech, there’s the way JW speaks to someone who is way older like a grandma or grandpa. it’s pure jondae and very respectful with no cute aegyo short cuts. Then there is the way he probably speaks to his dad’s friends on that soccer team. I bet he mixes in some jondae with some casual wording at the end sometimes cuz he has known these guys for years. by now he must think of them as his own father so I have a hard time believing he would use straight jondae every single time. then there is the way he addresses the hyungs on this show. on camera, he does use jondae at times, but when it’s their relax time you hear him slip into his casual speech – mixed banmal jondae. He knows how far to take it so it doesnt offend. even when he asks someone off camera about the food, you can hear him using mixed banmal and jondae speech. sometimes when he is hungry, he forgets himself and just pouts like a kid using banmal, but I doubt anyone is offended by it. I still remember on the first episode, he used mixed banmal jondae with that PD who seemed to be crushing on him. but when he was eating ramen at that stranger’s home, that elderly couple, JW only spoke jondae from start to finish. he never mixed in banmal to them. that’s when I realized just how super polite he is with strangers. on the gakistal set, with one of the camera guys during JW’s kiss scene in the forest, JW spoke banmal to him, but the guy was young – like early 30s so I think they got close during filming by then. Se Yeon never once spoke banmal to anyone, but that’s cuz the girl is only 19 or something. if she mixed in banmal it would make her look bad. she did mix in banmal with JW towards the end though, but he didnt seem to mind at all.

if you hear enough Korean from the dramas, you get a sense of when the characters are speaking straight jondae or mixed in with some banmal. like half the sentence is jondae and the rest banmal. that sort of thing is common. that’s why on dramas when a character is mad at the other person and doesnt want to use jondae, they reluctantly add the “yo” at the end which makes what they say jondae. even on 1n2d, JW might speak banmal with all the hyungs, but he still speaks jondae with Bird PD. if the camera guy is young, JW calls him hyung and speaks mixed banmal too. but if the camera guy is older than SW, then JW speaks only jondae. I think that must be his cut off age or something cuz older than 50 he usually wont dare to speak any sort of mixed jondae if the other party is male. like he said on this interview he is close with the woman who played his mom on Kim Tak Gu and he texted her using mixed jondae, but some banmal like the way he would speak to his own mom. I sort of have a feeling his mom might get jealous of that woman a little. he speaks so well of her all the time and texting her often and stuff. wouldnt you want your son to text you instead and share that great view with you and not another mom? let’s hope his mom is not petty about stuff like that. in my view she did a great job raising both of her sons.

So in essence, JW is every bit the polite person he claims to be – the one we all know and love. his reputation speaks for itself and everyone who works with him loves him. just watch how he interacts with the film crew and staff. if he was rude no one would be smiling at him. Older Koreans take manners in speech seriously. that’s why guys like KSW and UTW were so surprised at first to hear JW speak like that to them, but they quickly got over it cuz they realized JW never meant any disrespect. if anything he is showing how much he respects and adores them by talking like that. if he doesnt like them he would probably speak straight jondae like he does on interviews. he never mixes it up there cuz those people are strangers to him. even the younger ones he speaks to with formal speech. LMH is like JW as well. as soon as he arrives on set, he goes around speaking mixed banmal/jondae as often as he can to make everyone feel close and chummy. he has the same mentality about it as JW in a sense. but the other 86 or 87 guys like KSH, KHJ, and LSG hold off using mixed banmal/jondae pretty much all the way till the end of the drama. I have never heard LSG address his director using banmal yet. he only spoke some mixed banmal with his costars. LSG is old school – he would never dare to address anyone that old with anything less than straight up jondae. that’s why it was so funny hearing him speak banmal once to kang ho dong when KHD made him get his shoes wet again in a pond.

part of the reason why I like JW is cuz he is like this. he has a way of putting people at ease right off the bat. I still remember how he shared his coffee with the woman who played his grandma on OB. the way she spoke about him with so much love, you just know they got really chummy and how much you wanna bet he mixed up his jondae with her too cuz I swear I think he thought he was her real son or something the way he treated her. I never heard how JW speaks on the phone with his dad, but normally if he speaks banmal with his mom, he might not with his dad. you can usually tell just from what he calls them. if he calls his father “dad” then he speaks banmal but if he says “father” then he speaks jondae. for some reason, most guys grow up doing that. at least one parent – normally the dad -they speak to with jondae esp after they are grown like JW’s age. Uee’s case is the opposite. I heard her refer to her dad as “father” so I dont know if it was cuz of the camera or what, but she spoke jondae to her dad. but with her mom she spoke banmal like all girls tend to do. I dont know a single woman who speaks jondae with her mom.

 

19 hours ago, kittyna said:

lol - The bit about teasing the staff was funny. I remember JW saying on "Win Win" that he would sneak coffee from the audio director's cup, sometimes to the point of drinking all of it. And, yes, he teases his own staff, too; I remember some examples from "Life Log", such as when he jokingly argued with his make-up artist about how much she was putting on him (i.e. "That's a lot." "It'll wear off." "No, it won't." "Yes, it will," etc. :tongue:), or the time he mentioned sneaking photos of his stylists when they were sleeping. Then again, his staff tease him right back, so I just think it's a very friendly environment all around.

Yeah.. i think his style of teasing is like a dad teasing his children or like kid playing with his friends. I was giggling while watching him teasing his staff and makes her embarrassing. Even though she is asking him to lowing his voice because the camera is shooting them but joo won is still doing his action. I think its very funny and cute. I remember that the staff and the actor is said that joo won is always making the atmosphere on set feels more happier when he appear.

 

19 hours ago, kittyna said:

lol - I remember that! And I, too, just went, "Well, JW's a better maknae than me, then!"

I always have that though when i watch joo won.. :tongue: He is too good and kind. because of that he was called the nation maknae. I'm proud of him that he has "nicknames" that has "nation" in it.

 

19 hours ago, kittyna said:

But apparently, JW did a good job playing that character, so he's said on a number of occasions that even though he was just acting, fans or even the other cast members would get mad at him for real. I remember, for instance, that he said on the episode of "Happy Together" he did for "King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu" that when they filmed the scene where Ma Jun blames Tak Gu for making a big mess in the bakery when it was actually him, that as soon as the filming ended, the other actors hit him because his performance made them so mad - but I don't have a link to the video right now.

Yeah. He was doing a great job playing as a cold-hearted and lonely man that even actor and staff in there want to hit him. He doing it when he first debut on tv, by the way. 

 

He deserves to be called a good actor for performing extraordinary acting on his first drama. Even he is considered really bad by people because of his unbelievable acting. joo won once said that he was often hit on the back while walking and also often not given service when visiting restaurant. Poor cutie...

 

By the way, i was impressed and touched that joo won is crying while watching yoon shibyoon receive an award. He said he is crying because he know his hyung suffers while working the drama. So sweet and kind of him...

 

 

My photo time!

 

Beautiful!

 

This photo is taken yesterday.. he is doing well! 

 

The difference between drama and real life. But i think you can't see the difference. The two of it is very cool especially the real one. He's indeed really cool and has a unique aura.

 

 

This is cute.. look at his smile and his up-close face..hahaha.

 

His child-like expression! And don't forget his meong face is is also there too!

A fans write this and i think its relate to all of joo won's fans so i want to share it.! :lol:

 

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22 minutes ago, moonstrike said:

Sometimes talking banmal is naughty but in joo won case it's different. You can feel that he talk like that not to "humiliating" his senior but to show his affection towards them. So that is what i mean that his behaviour to talk banmal to his senior is not naughty at all. even his friends that older than him, his senior and staff on set is feel that he is doing that to show his love or even showing that he is comfortable with them.

 

30 minutes ago, moonstrike said:

If you open the link that i gave, you might be already read this.. there is a fan that confused about joo won's habit of talking banmal (casual) to person that older than him and this is the answer:

 

I hadn't read that comment - so thanks for sharing! It explained some things about the language that I didn't know myself

 

Spoiler

Since I mostly watch K-dramas in Cantonese dub and only occasionally in their original Korean, I have picked up enough to catch the difference between jondae and banmal, but only when they're being used exclusively - the mixed version still escapes me. However, if you look at my fic writing, you can probably tell that I have sensed enough to know when to use either jondae or banmal :wink: As a tourist in Korea, though, I probably used more banmal than I should have, because I could only use the words and phrases I knew - and my knowledge is far from complete. I've learned more jondae since then, and hope to get to use it properly next time.

 

I think the thing that I've noted the most in JW's speech is the fact that it's natural and unconscious. So, yes, he is aware of the boundaries (when to use jondae or banmal or - most often - a mixture of both, and to what degree) that are dictated by etiquette, but which specific form he uses isn't something he puts much thought into. It'll just come out depending on how he feels about the other person: whether he likes them or not, whether he respects them or not, etc.

 

That's why a number of his hyungs have been surprised by both how quickly he switched to a jondae-banmal mix, but also at the fact that he's almost completely oblivious to the fact that he's doing that. I remember that from "Win Win": Lee Su Geun said that he scolded JW privately about using banmal too soon when they first started working together on 1N2D, and that JW had nodded and agreed with everything he said...then accidentally used banmal again immediately afterwards. Or that time in the same show that Park Ki Woong had told JW that it was okay for him to use banmal since they were now friends, but that JW had then said that he wasn't comfortable with doing that yet - again, as though he had no idea he had already been using banmal and that PKW had just wanted to officially give him permission.

 

JW has said as much himself on "Healing Camp": that if he likes someone who isn't, like way older than him (so 15 years older or less, is what I've observed so far of the age gap with which he'd do this), he'll unconsciously change to using a mix between jondae and banmal.

 

And while I know, @moonstrike, that you were quoting someone else, there are a few points in that comment I want to respond to directly.

 

36 minutes ago, moonstrike said:

how you speak to your elders is just a little part, how you behave towards them is the most important part of all. his manners towards elders is what makes him a polite and respectful person. he bows almost half way. like 90 degrees. hardly anyone bows like that anymore. Uee does that too. even within her group, she makes sure the new younger members show respect to the older members even when they eat or sit. JW is the same way. I bet money when he goes around with his grandparents, he is very attentive to them and their needs. probably even with his own mom. even on 1n2d, he might speak banmal to the hyungs, but watch his manners. when he hands something to them, he uses both hands like polite younger people should do. aside from when it’s part of the games, if giving up a seat means someone older can sit, he will stand. that sort of thing. so the part about showing respect in actions, no one can disagree that JW has manners.

 

I've noticed a few of those mannerisms. Another one that I've picked up on that wasn't mentioned here is how he sits when he eats with his hyungs on 1N2D. When they're eating together, he'll sit - but when he's serving them (e.g. handing out the rice bowls), he kneels. It's hard to spot sometimes because of how low the table is, but you can usually tell when you see JW suddenly being noticeably taller than his hyungs when they're all supposed to be sitting :wink: 

 

Of course, sometimes games are the exception, and I've seen JW slip up there a few times before. For example, there was one time on 1N2D when the guys were in two separate teams, and Lee Su Geun had started teasing the other team by calling them things like idiot or stupid or dummy. JW had joined in alongside him, but then accidentally let out what, from its context, seems to have been a bad word (the subtitles put it as "stupid guy", but I think that's just KBS trying to censor it). LSG immediately stopped him, saying in that gently chiding tone that an appa would use with his little kids, "No, Joo Won-ah, you don't say that to your elders," while the hyungs on the other team got all mock-angry like, "He said WHAT?" and threatened to beat him with their cushions. It was an accident and everyone knew it, so no-one was actually offended, but that's one of the few times when JW, just being himself, wasn't perfectly polite. He is human, after all.

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

that’s why on dramas when a character is mad at the other person and doesnt want to use jondae, they reluctantly add the “yo” at the end which makes what they say jondae.

 

Another thing that comes to my mind is that one's tone of voice likely matters just as much - if not more - than the actual content of what is being said. So, for instance, just like someone could use banmal to a senior in a very kind and childlike tone like JW does, I imagine that the opposite can also apply: jondae is not guaranteed to be respectful, such as when someone uses it with a cold and disdainful "We're strangers, so why should I care about you?" sort of tone. So examples would be when people have already become close enough to speak to each other in banmal, but then switch to jondae if they become enemies.

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

I never heard how JW speaks on the phone with his dad, but normally if he speaks banmal with his mom, he might not with his dad. you can usually tell just from what he calls them. if he calls his father “dad” then he speaks banmal but if he says “father” then he speaks jondae. for some reason, most guys grow up doing that. at least one parent – normally the dad -they speak to with jondae esp after they are grown like JW’s age. Uee’s case is the opposite. I heard her refer to her dad as “father” so I dont know if it was cuz of the camera or what, but she spoke jondae to her dad. but with her mom she spoke banmal like all girls tend to do. I dont know a single woman who speaks jondae with her mom.

 

I noticed that in dramas, although I don't know what JW does in real life. So, for instance, a lot of adult characters call their fathers "Abeoji" (jondae) and their mothers "Eomma" (banmal) - and JW's character in "Level 7 Civil Servant" actually made a comment about that, saying something along the lines of the first time a child calling his father "Abeoji" instead of "Appa" means that there is now a hierarchical gap between them and less affection.

 

You can see me using that pattern in my own fics, too. :wink: 

 

1 hour ago, moonstrike said:

By the way, i was impressed and touched that joo won is crying while watching yoon shibyoon receive an award. He said he is crying because he know his hyung suffers while working the drama. So sweet and kind of him...

 

I hadn't watched that rewards show or known JW's comments about that, but I did know about the crying. And at first I was like, "Why are you crying? He's the one that got the award!", but now I get it :) 

 

A quick status update on my story before moving on to pictures: It's coming along, and I hope to have it posted sometime in the next few days (preferably either on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, my time). So I do hope that people will be checking in then, but I completely understand if real-life holiday and family commitments prevent that. Those things are more important than this thread, after all. :) 

 

And now for photos!

 

Spoiler

We don't often see him laughing this hard, but it's cute

 

 

JW in an all-white textured suit for a promotional event for the Chinese film "Sweet Sixteen"

 

 

@moonstrike In regards to your earlier comment about "Cha Yoo Jin at a movie premiere", I think this shot comes closer to the mark. It's from the premiere of the movie "The Pirates", which happened on July 29, 2014, according to the date-stamp

 

22f322af8b564bd4bcabeb46a14952b7.jpg

 

Another photo from the same event, because his expression here is really funny

 

67966cd763f8183a61f456dee41031a8.jpg

 

A really nice black-and-white shot

 

And, finally, because awards season is once again upon us (this shot is from the 2014 KBS Drama Awards):

 

584f10147ce0b794d6abf915d1c92b94.jpg

 

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Because my internet is not working well and my phone is having a problem now, i just can write short reply.

 

By the way, i'm waiting about joo won's update in my phone right now. Maybe i can see it after i wake up tomorrow morning. And i'm still waiting your fanfic update :D

 

I found this on youtube! I'm very proud of him and happy because he has that personality inside of him. And i'm waiting for his comeback on 2019! The most charming man in South Korea!

https://youtu.be/wHnPoHu0jEc

 

P.s: actually there is more video that has joo won in it like that, but i want to share this one first.

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3 hours ago, moonstrike said:

Because my internet is not working well and my phone is having a problem now, i just can write short reply.

 

That's okay; I had thought at first that people would be really busy right now anyway.

 

3 hours ago, moonstrike said:

By the way, i'm waiting about joo won's update in my phone right now. Maybe i can see it after i wake up tomorrow morning.

 

I'm presuming that you mean updates from the SBS Drama Awards - I have them here!

 

Okay, let's get this out of the way first: JW didn't win anything this time around. However, looking at which dramas did do well, it looks like there was some really stiff competition.

 

So while this may no longer be JW-related anymore, here's the list of winners:

 

Spoiler

Grand Prize (Daesang): Ji Sung (“Defendant”)

Top Excellence in Acting (Mon-Tues Drama), Female: Lee Bo Young (“Whisper”)

Top Excellence in Acting (Mon-Tues Drama), Male: Namgoong Min (“Distorted“) (not present)

Top Excellence in Acting (Wed-Thurs Drama), Female: Suzy (“While You Were Sleeping”)

Top Excellence in Acting (Wed-Thurs Drama), Male: Lee Jong Suk (“While You Were Sleeping”)

Top Excellence in Acting (Daily and Weekend Drama), Female: Jang Seo Hee (“Sister Is Alive”)

Top Excellence in Acting (Daily and Weekend Drama), Male: Son Chang Min (“Sister Is Alive”)

Best Character: Uhm Ki Joon (“Defendant”)

Excellence in Acting (Mon-Tues Drama), Female: Park Se Young (“Whisper”)

Excellence in Acting (Mon-Tues Drama), Male: Kwon Yool (“Whisper”)

Excellence in Acting (Wed-Thurs Drama), Female: Nam Ji Hyun (“Suspicious Partner”)

Excellence in Acting (Wed-Thurs Drama), Male: Lee Sang Yeob (“While You Were Sleeping”)

Excellence in Acting (Daily and Weekend Drama), Female: Son Yeo Eun (“Sister Is Alive”)

Excellence in Acting (Daily and Weekend Drama), Male: Ahn Nae Sang (“Sister Is Alive”)

Best Picture: “Defendant”

Best Couple: Suzy and Lee Jong Suk (“While You Were Sleeping”)

Best New Actress: Kim Dasom (“Sister Is Alive”)

Best New Actor: Yang Se Jong (“Degree of Love”)

Best Supporting Actress: Park Jin Joo (“Into the World Again”)

Best Supporting Actor: Kim Won Hae (“While You Were Sleeping”)

Best Child Actor: Kim Ji Min (“Super Family 2017”)

 

As for the story, that's almost done - I hope to have it ready and posted soon.

 

But in the meantime...pics!

 

Spoiler

I think these were from some time ago, so I doubt they're available anymore now. But they're so cute - can you imagine being able to chat on your phone with JW emojis?

 

 

Since I know you like glasses pics, @moonstrike

 

 

I really like how these shots turned out:

 

9027d221e3317245bfdc316fea4038eb.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, finally, one of my favourite JW screenshots from "Nae Il's Cantabile", like, ever:

 

bf3174412bf85d0d528ebc4ae21ace6d.jpg

 

One last thing before I go: since I know it's past midnight in Asia already...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

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Thanks for the patience, guys - this new fic took me a bit longer than I thought it would.

 

But, it's finally ready, and I'm still more-or-less on time (it's still the night of December 31 here where I am), so here goes!

 

Title: Angel of Music, Come Down from Above

Drama: "Nae Il's Cantabile"

Characters: Cha Yoo Jin, Seol Nae Il, Yoo Il Rak, Jung Si Won

Premise: Although being able to live and study in Austria is, for Cha Yoo Jin, a return to the childhood he had once loved, not all the memories it brings up are pleasant ones. Fortunately, though, he no longer has to face them alone.

 

Note: This story is a continuation of my previous story, "The Sound of Christmas", and you do need to read that story first in order to fully understand this one (both are sequels to the original drama, so have more original content than most of my other fics).

 

I won't repeat the details of the two pre-story notes that appeared alongside my previous story, but here are some new things to keep in mind:

 

Note on Language: Again, although the characters are speaking Korean to each other for the most part, to everyone else, you can safely assume the language is Austrian German.

 

So, once again, here's a quick glossary of the words/terms I use:

 

Mozartkugeln - Mozart chocolates; they're chocolate truffles that can be found all over Austria, but especially in Salzburg, with a filling of pistachio-flavoured marzipan (a sweet paste made out of almonds)

Ja - Yes

Kaiserschmarrn - Lit. "The Emperor's mess", it's a large pancake that is scrambled and broken up into little pieces while it's cooking. Usually, when found in restaurants, it's served as a dessert, but can be eaten as a meal in its own right, too.

 

One last note on language: you may already know "Bravo", but when referring to a girl's performance, the proper term is "Brava", and that's what I use here where appropriate.

 

Note on Timeline: Most of what I would need to say here has already been said in the note for my previous story, so I advise you to check there. But, once again, there's an additional detail I want to add.

 

In this story, I try to imagine a bit more about Cha Yoo Jin's backstory - in particular, his parents' story. A lot of what I have imagined for Cha Dong Woo (Yoo Jin's father) and Yang Sun Young (Yoo Jin's mother) comes from a particular detail I noticed from the Chinese Wikipedia page about "Nae Il's Cantabile".

 

Chinese Wikipedia pages about Korean dramas often include characters' ages, even when said ages are never explicitly mentioned in the show itself. I don't know if the information is coming from an official Korean source, or if they're simply meant to be estimates, but in the case of "Nae Il's Cantabile", I noticed something interesting:

 

Cha Yoo Jin, at the time of the drama's events, is 23 years old - and his mother is 45.

 

If you do the math, that means that he was born when she was 22 years old, possibly even 21 if she hadn't had her birthday yet. Point is: she had a child at an age when, in reality, she would have been in university. So that got me wondering: what happened, and what sort of impact did this have on her life? On Yoo Jin's life?

 

Some hints at what I imagined in response made it into this story as a result :wink: 

 

So that's it for the pre-story stuff - on with the story!

 

Once again, please do not repost this fic on any other website without my permission. Sharing is fine, so long as you are just sharing the URL and not any text from the story itself. Thanks!

 

Spoiler

Angel of Music, Come Down from Above

 

This trip to Vienna had been months in the making.

 

Ever since we realized that Jung Si Won, Nae Il and I would all be studying abroad in Austria at the same time, the three of us along with Yoo Il Rak had known that we wanted to spend some time together as a group. It didn’t matter when nor what we were doing: the point was just for the four of us to do something fun together as friends.

 

Or, as Nae Il put it, go on a “double date”.

 

Trust her to try to squeeze romance into this somehow.

 

For most of our train ride to Vienna from Salzburg, neither of us has said much of anything. Instead, we have been sitting in companionable silence watching the Austrian countryside flow past us in the window. At some point, I’m not sure when, Nae Il’s hand had worked its way into mine, and the two of us have just stayed there, fingers intertwined, neither of us willing to let go.

 

As we approach the outskirts of the city, however, Nae Il’s calm mask starts to crack. She starts to wriggle in her seat, her eyes darting back and forth as she tries to take in the entire view all at once.

 

I give her hand a light squeeze. “Are you that excited for tonight?”

 

“Ne.” She touches her fingers to the window and leans even closer to it so that her face is just inches away from the glass. “I feel like all of my dreams have just come true.”

 

I let out a small chuckle. “All of them?”

 

Nae Il nods firmly, then turns away from the window to look straight at me. She starts to count on her fingers. “There’s just being able to always stay by your side, there’s the fact that we live in a place that’s filled with music everywhere, there’s the chance to see Rak-kun and Si Won-eonnie again, there’s the fact that we actually won the draw for tickets to the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve concert tonight…

 

“And finally,” she adds, puckering her lips and tapping on them coyly with one finger, “there’s this.”

 

I turn away from her then, rubbing my own lips as I swallow instinctively. That’s right. It was just a week ago that Nae Il and I had kissed for the first time. I still don’t know how it had happened, what had come over me then to make me do something so rash, to let go of my reason so completely.

 

And yet, despite all of that, I don’t regret it one bit.

 

Still, that doesn’t mean that that kiss had not been a point of no return for Nae Il and I. It was, after all, a progression in our relationship. I had already come to accept other forms of affection in the year we have been together, but redrawing our limits to include kisses has made all those other thresholds we’d reached thus far – holding hands, backhugs – seem like child’s play by comparison.

 

It’s why I don’t resist now when Nae Il suddenly leans forward and gives me a light peck on one cheek.

 

“Komapsumnida, Orabang.” She wraps her arms around me in a warm hug. “I shall cherish your gift forever.”

 

At that moment, our train pulls into the station and, as though for the first time, I notice where we are and the glances we are attracting from other passengers. While many of the young people don’t pay us any heed, and I catch a teenager rolling her eyes at Nae Il’s display, I also see kind smiles from some of the more elderly passengers.

 

Perhaps we remind them of what they had been like in their youth.

 

But they shall have to reminisce some other time. Pulse quickening in embarrassment, I hurriedly pry Nae Il off of me and distract her by pointing out that we had finally arrived.

 

~~~~~

 

“Ya, Yoo Jin-ah – am I doing this right?”

 

I glance away from the mirror in the guest room of Si Won’s apartment to look at Il Rak’s handiwork: his first attempt at tying a bow-tie.

 

To be fair, he’s not bad for a beginner, but could still use some help.

 

I shake my head slightly in amusement and beckon for him to join me by the mirror. Then, undoing my own tie and making sure he could see my actions clearly, I demonstrate each step, waiting until he follows suit before moving on to the next one.

 

As I work, I can’t help musing, “I thought you already knew how to do this. If I recall correctly, didn’t you wear a bowtie that time the S Orchestra performed Mambo?”

 

“Oh, that? That was one of those fake ones you get in a costume shop. This? This is the real deal, and I want to get it right,” he replies breezily. It takes him a moment, however, to realize the rest of what I had said. In an instant, he rounds on me, eyes wide. “Wait…what? You were there for that?” His jaw drops. “Daebak….”

 

One corner of my mouth twitches up in a playful smirk. “Of course. Just because I had been banned from playing with you guys didn’t mean I’d stopped caring about how you did.” I shift my gaze from my own reflection to his. “Besides, how many of you secretly watched my performance afterward?”

 

Realizing he has been caught, Il Rak doesn’t say anything to that. Instead, still shaking his head in disbelief, he steps over to retrieve his jacket from where he had draped it across the bed.

 

“You know, you don’t have to dress up like this if you don’t want to,” I point out to him as he puts it on, wanting to change the subject. “The suit you usually wear when you’re performing would have been fine.”

 

“Eh…” He makes a face at me. “And what if I want to do something extra? It’s been months since Si Won and I have been able to do something together. Besides, this is the Vienna Philharmonic we’re talking about!” He places his right hand over his heart. “As the Rising Star Orchestra’s concertmaster, I should at least give them some respect.

 

“Also, you’re one to talk, Cha Yoo Jin: you’re wearing a tux, too!”

 

Touché.

 

I suppose none of the four of us – Il Rak and I, Si Won and Nae Il – can help it. After all, it’s not every day that an opportunity like this comes along. Tickets to the Vienna Philharmonic’s series of New Year’s concerts are hard to come by: so hard, in fact, that it’s impossible to purchase them directly. Instead, when sales open up in January, interested buyers are only allowed to claim raffle tickets for up to four seats; these all are entered into a draw that takes place in March.

 

If you’re lucky, you get the spots you entered the draw for and can start planning your trip to Vienna. And if not, then not.

 

To be honest, I’m still reeling at the fact that we actually succeeded on our first try.

 

True, we had tried to rig the system somewhat. First of all, to increase our chances, we all individually entered the draw for four places each. We had also opted not for the most desirable seats in the centre of the concert hall or the balcony but for the less expensive seats right in the first few rows in the front. Those spots reportedly offered a more obscured view of the musicians, being too close to the raised stage to allow a decent look at the orchestra as a whole. But we didn’t mind. After all, if we wanted to watch an orchestra play, we only needed to look at ourselves. What mattered was the sound. The music. And that could be accessed just as well anywhere in the hall.

 

But still, despite all our efforts, we had known that the result would come down to pure, simple luck. Our plans to meet this New Year’s here in Vienna had not been at stake – whatever the result, we would all have been here now anyway – but receiving the e-mail saying that my bid had actually won had still felt like a miracle.

 

It is not just Nae Il who feels like a lifelong dream has come true.

 

So it’s little wonder that all four of us are trying to make the most of it. The concert venue, the Musikverein, has no specific dress code, but that hasn’t stopped us from wanting to dress up.

 

In this sense, I have been lucky: my experiences both as a pianist and a conductor at Haneum had already required me to invest in buying a formal tuxedo and an even more formal tailcoat. I am neither royal nor an aristocrat who would be invited to a white tie event, so the tailcoat is only for work, it being the standard dress for an orchestral conductor. So it is the former, the tuxedo, that I have brought with me from Salzburg for tonight.

 

Il Rak, on the other hand, had only made the splurge to acquire a tuxedo of his own after we knew that our bid for the concert tickets had actually gone through. He told me afterwards that he had considered simply renting one, but that his father had convinced him otherwise: that it would be a good investment for the future to actually have one of his own. Of course, Il Rak being Il Rak, he has decided to put his own touch to it: choosing a subtly patterned tie as well as a dark red pocket square, and capping the entire ensemble – literally – with a fedora.

 

It’s hardly traditional, but when has he ever been? And unlike in the past, I wouldn’t have him change a thing now.

 

As for the girls….

 

“Did you get anything out of Si Won?” I call out.

 

Il Rak shakes his head. “Ani – all she said was that it was a secret. How about you? Has Nae Il said anything about what she’s picked for tonight?”

 

I shake my head in turn. “Just that I should be prepared to be completely blown away.” I frown as I think it over. “It’s not like her: being able to keep secrets like that.”

 

“Must be a girl thing.”

 

Speaking of the girls, something comes to my mind. Heading over to my luggage, I take out the two scarves that I had brought with me from Salzburg: one white, and the other black. I weigh them for a moment in my hands before passing the black one to Il Rak, keeping the white for myself.

 

“Here. You might need this.”

 

Il Rak looks back and forth between the scarf and me in confusion. “Wae? Are you worried that I’d be cold?”

 

“Ani.” Draping my own scarf over my shoulders so that the ends hang down in the front, I take his scarf and do the same for him. “It’s not for you; it’s for Si Won. Offer this to her when she takes her coat off, so she’ll have something to cover up with if she needs it.”

 

“I see,” he replies, absentmindedly feeling the silken fabric with the fingers on his right hand. “By the way, where did you learn all of this? You know: the bow-ties and fancy scarves and all that stuff.”

 

For an instant, I feel myself tense involuntarily. Then, before Il Rak could notice that something is amiss, I respond with a casual shrug. “I just looked it up online,” I say in as nonchalant a tone as I could manage. “It’s not that hard once you’ve read up on the subject.”

 

But that’s a lie.

 

In truth, I had learned it from my parents.

 

Countless times in my childhood, I had watched Abeoji getting ready either to attend or to perform in a concert just like this: Eomma tying his tie for him, he offering her his scarf whenever they were indoors, both of them whispering and laughing to each other in some sort of secret jest that my innocently unformed mind could not understand.

 

How sweet and loving they had been back then. How badly I had yearned to someday be let in on their secret: to one day have a loving wife of my own to whom I could whisper sweet nothings like they did.

 

But that had all been before the accident. Before I knew the unhappy truth that lay beneath the surface. Before I knew the kind of man that Abeoji really was.

 

In the ensuing years, that sweet memory has since turned to bitterness in my mouth.

 

And the last thing I want to do tonight is taste it once again.

 

~~~~~

 

Unable to stand still, Il Rak paces back and forth across Si Won’s living room, eyes never leaving the short corridor leading to her closed bedroom door.

 

“Ya! What’s taking you two so long? We’ve been waiting here forever!”

 

Si Won’s voice comes ringing back out. “Just another minute!”

 

He rolls his eyes and lets out an exaggeratedly loud gasp. “Again? You said that last time!”

 

I bite back a laugh at their antics as I glance at the clock on the wall. We actually still have plenty of time before we need to head out to our dinner reservation, but I don’t fault Il Rak for getting antsy. To be honest, I am on tenterhooks myself, wondering when Nae Il will come out.

 

Do girls do this on purpose? Do they know that keeping the men waiting makes the reward of being with them that much sweeter?

 

Finding that pacing isn’t working as a distraction, Il Rak stops and glances at me. “Yoo Jin-ah, do you want to make a bet?”

 

I raise an eyebrow quizzically. “About what?”

 

A devilish glint appears in his eyes. “I’ll bet you a drink tonight that Si Won looks prettier than Nae Il.”

 

I let out an incredulous laugh. “Seriously?” I shake my head, declining the offer. “There’s simply no way either of us would judge fairly, and you know it. You’ll just have eyes for Jung Si Won, and I’ll just have eyes for Seol Nae Il. And that’s how it should be.”

 

Il Rak steps closer and punches me lightly in the arm. “Ya, you’re no fun! Who said I was being serious?”

 

Just then, Si Won calls out to us again from inside.

 

“We’re ready now! Which one of us do you want to see first?”

 

I open my mouth to respond, but my answer dies before it can actually come out. Instead, after an awkward silence, Il Rak and I exchange glances, at which point he calls out in reply, “You decide!”

 

Yes. It’s better that way.

 

“Ne, arasseo,” Si Won’s voice rings out. Then, seconds later, the bedroom door opens and she steps out.

 

Naturally, Il Rak gapes in open-mouthed admiration when she emerges, but I surprise myself by doing the same.

 

She is dressed simply, in a close-fitting black dress that reaches down to her knees, the rest of her legs covered by black tights. The only decorations keeping her ensemble from being too austere for tonight’s celebration are the lace on the dress’s sleeves and hem, and the silver jeweled chain she has loosely slung around her hips.

 

The last girl I had seen in as fitted a dress as that was Chae Do Kyung – but where Do Kyung had looked like a seductress, Jung Si Won instead looks poised and elegant. “Chic,” I believe, is the word a woman would use.

 

The dangling loose end of the chain now swings in time with her steps as, wearing high-heeled black boots, she strides confidently towards Il Rak. Gently, jaw still dropped in surprise, he takes hold of her arms just below her shoulders and looks her over from head to toe. Then, as though they have both forgotten that I’m still there, he bends down to give her a kiss on the lips.

 

Tearing my eyes away from them to give them some privacy, I try to cover my cough of embarrassment by turning it into a disdainful-sounding scoff. It must not have been all that convincing, though, because when I glance back at the two of them, Il Rak is smirking mischievously at me.

 

To my dismay, my voice catches tellingly in my throat and I am forced to cough once again. “Could you two get a room next time?” I sputter out eventually.

 

Il Rak and Si Won exchange knowing glances and smiles. He then looks me pointedly in the eye. “Don’t be so quick to say that, Cha Yoo Jin – it’s your turn now,” he says, punctuating his statement with a wink.

 

Likewise, Si Won looks back over her shoulder towards her bedroom door. “You can come out now, Nae Il-ah.”

 

Cautiously, wondering just what on earth I should expect, I turn to look at the door just as Nae Il steps out into the corridor.

 

There are absolutely no words that could describe what I am seeing.

 

If Jung Si Won is the picture of minimalist sophistication, then Seol Nae Il is the ingénue: the innocent young girl who remains oblivious to the effect she is having on those who look upon her.

 

The bodice of her sleeveless dress is completely covered with silver sequins, twinkling and shimmering under the light shining down from the ceiling. Her skirt is black, flaring out like the petals of a flower to end just above her knees in the front, and just below them in the back. Like Si Won, Nae Il, too, is wearing black tights in anticipation of the winter’s chill, but her shoes are different and are definitely something she would pick: low-heeled pumps instead of stilettos, they are similar to the shoes she wears while performing, but these are covered with glitter in the front and capped with black velvet bows.

 

And, around her neck, the jewel in its centre sparkling in the light, is the necklace I had given her for Christmas.

 

Already, I can feel myself swallowing compulsively, my breath shaking and catching in my throat, my heart beginning to race.

 

But then, flashing me a knowingly coquettish smile, she turns around.

 

Omo.

 

This time, my jaw drops involuntarily, and I can only stare in wonder.

 

The back of Nae Il’s dress is just simple black, but what really catches my eye is the large teardrop-shaped opening spreading out from just beneath the nape of her neck to a fine tapered point at her waist.

 

The sight of the exposed skin of her back is enticing, captivating, just begging for me to touch it.

 

Indeed, there is nothing more that I want in that moment than to place my hand there, resting firmly at the small of her back, in order to pull her into an embrace.

 

But instead I find myself frozen in place, suspended in time, unable to do or say anything. Like a mortal man who has just been struck dumb by an angelic being from above.

 

And Seol Nae Il is my angel. My inspiration, my muse. My angel of music, come down from above.

 

The spell is broken by the sudden click of a camera shutter. Startled, I tear my eyes away from Nae Il and scan the room for the culprit.

 

It was Il Rak.

 

Somehow, while I had stood there spellbound, he had left Si Won and snuck behind Nae Il. And the phone he is holding at the perfect height just over her shoulder tells me exactly what had just happened.

 

In an instant, Nae Il is beside him, peering at the phone. Whatever she sees there makes her burst out laughing, one hand pressed firmly over her mouth, no longer an angel but the girl I know once more.

 

“Orabang,” she gasps out between her giggles. “Your face!”

 

“Huh? Let me see,” Si Won says, moving to join the others. Sure enough, one look at whatever is on that screen, and she starts laughing as well.

 

Finally, my voice comes back to me. I take an urgent step forward towards them. “Ya, Yoo Il Rak – what did you do?”

 

He peers up at me, a mischievous grin on his face. “Do you want to see?”

 

I shake my head vigorously with a shudder. Then, with as much dignity as I could muster, I stretch out one hand at him. “Give me the phone.”

 

“Wae?” Il Rak asks. He darts a few steps away, holding the phone just out of my reach, when I lunge for it. “You’re just going to delete the photo anyway – what’s the fun in that?”  He peers closely at the screen once again, before saying to himself, “Now, who should I send this to?”

 

“Ya!”

 

That’s enough to send me chasing after him across the living room again, the two of us darting this way and that around the two girls trapped in the middle. And by the time Si Won finally stops laughing long enough to cut in and suggest that we replace that first photo with a better group selca, I have started laughing as well.

 

~~~~~

 

I must say that Seol Nae Il’s innocence is infectious.

 

Or perhaps there is still a bit of a child inside of each of the four of us.

 

It started with our dinner, which we had at the aptly-named Café Mozart just several blocks away from the Musikverein. To be fair, our reservation was at an awkward time: the concert was set to begin around the usual supper hour, so choosing to eat earlier meant that our meal overlapped significantly with the customary mid-afternoon coffee break, something that Si Won, Nae Il and I had already adopted into our routines. So it is little wonder that, through some strange combination between the timing, Nae Il’s infamous sweet tooth, and Il Rak’s curiosity about this particular Austrian custom, we wound up ordering just two entrées for the four of us to share, and stuffing ourselves with coffee and pastries instead.

 

Then there had been the short walk from the café to the concert hall. Our route cut through a veritable pilgrimage site for classical music enthusiasts, passing right in front of the famous opera house. And none of us had been more affected by this than Nae Il. High with excitement, high on a heady mix of caffeine and sugar, she moved in short bursts, dashing several feet ahead before doubling back to join us like a puppy on its leash. With a bright spring in their steps, Il Rak and Si Won walked arm-in-arm a few steps behind Nae Il; they made a picture-perfect couple as Si Won pointed out various sights and landmarks along the way. Finally, as the rearguard, while I would prefer to think that I had been a bit more sedate than the others, I know that I had been unable to stop myself from smiling fondly at them, taking advantage of the fact that I could see them more clearly than they could see me.

 

In the end, the one thing that ends up reining Nae Il in is her first look at the Musikverein itself. Bursting out from the side road into the large plaza in front of the building, she stops in her tracks and stares in open-mouthed wonder at the sight. It looms over us, a red building adorned with white columns and arches, glowing in the darkness with the aid of strategically placed stage lights.

 

It is only because Nae Il has thus frozen in place that I am finally able to catch up with her. Then, linking my arm with hers, I guide her inside.

 

The first thing all four of us do once we have entered the main foyer is find the coat check and leave our thick, woolen coats there. Then, just as I had told Il Rak I would do, I take off my scarf and gently drape it over Nae Il’s shoulders, taking a moment to adjust it so that it lies beautifully smooth. She, in turn, chooses not to leave the ends of the scarf dangling, instead tying them in a bow behind her back. The scarf complements her dress well, adding an extra hint of elegance to her look; it also covers almost all of the opening in the back of her dress, but still leaves enough exposed to hint at what lies beneath.

 

As we make our way through the corridors towards the main auditorium where the concert is set to take place, Nae Il, her hand placed in the crook of my elbow, casts curious sideways glances at the people around us. After doing this several times, she peers up at me worriedly.

 

“Orabang,” she asks, “is it just me, or are people looking at us?”

 

I follow her gaze throughout the crowd and, sure enough, I end up making eye contact with several other patrons. Those moments never last long, with both of us – myself and the other – averting our eyes once they meet. Yet I cannot help how many of the sneaking glances, oftentimes accompanied by warm smiles, are aimed at Nae Il specifically.

 

I pat her hand in reassurance. “Don’t mind them,” I whisper, just loudly enough for her to hear but not so much that we could be overheard. “They’re just marvelling at how beautiful you look tonight.”

 

Nae Il relaxes and flashes me a relieved smile. “Is that so?” Suddenly, I feel her pull me towards her, almost causing me to stumble in the process. Leaning in closer, she rests her cheek against my arm with a contented sigh. “Well, then, you must be the luckiest guy here: to be able to say that I’m yours.”

 

By this time, the four of us have reached the Großer Saal, the grand auditorium – and once again, Nae Il is struck speechless and I have to guide her to our seats.

 

It is a long, narrow room ringed with a balcony and filled with folding wooden chairs for the patrons. The walls and ceiling are covered with gold, and the latter is also brightly painted with the figures of Apollo, the ancient Greek god of music, and the muses, his attendants. Large crystal chandeliers hang down from above, perfectly framing the enormous pipe organ sitting at the front of the room. The Großer Saal is regal in and of itself, but this is the New Year’s series of concerts, and the walls as well as the front edge of the stage are covered with floral bouquets and garlands.

 

Even after we have been seated, Nae Il could not stay still. She turns this way and that, craning her neck to try to take everything in. I know that I should stop her, that her behaviour is hardly dignified, but I don’t. Instead, I only intervene and rein her in when she tries to turn her entire body around and not just her head. Reaching out a hand to her shoulder and giving it a slight squeeze, I prompt her to turn back around towards me. When our eyes meet, I give her a small smile as I shake my head.

 

“I know it’s beautiful, Nae Il-ah, but you’ll disturb the people sitting behind us if you do that.”

 

She nods in understanding and shifts to sit facing forward once more.

 

After the entire orchestra has made its way onto the stage, and we have greeted both the concertmaster and the conductor with the proper standing ovation, we settle into our seats as the music starts.

 

It’s true that, where we are, we cannot see the entire orchestra: our view is partially obstructed by the floral decorations, and those members in front loom large enough to hide those behind. But what does it matter? Those we could most relate to – the violinists and the conductor – are readily visible, and I’m sure that each of us, either deliberately or by instinct, closely watched our respective senior within the orchestra.

 

Of course, as a pianist with no direct counterpart to look to, Nae Il is the exception to that. Instead, whenever I glance at her, she is looking at the orchestra as a whole. Eyes wide and sparkling, lips slightly parted in an “o” of surprise, she is entirely absorbed in the music itself.

 

Every year, the program of the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s series of concerts changes, but there are a few foundational principles that link them all together. It primarily focuses on the works of the Strauss family, famous for their dance music. Waltzes and polkas, mazurkas and marches, the music is always bright, always festive: a way to celebrate the year that has passed and welcome the one to come.

 

I know that most of this escapes Nae Il’s notice; her knowledge of musical pieces still does not extend far beyond either her own personal repertoire or piano music more generally. But there are within the programme some classic works that even the greenest listener of classic music would recognize, and these traditionally are played at the end of the concert: the Blue Danube Waltz and the Radetzky March. As these last two pieces are played, I can see Nae Il start to move in time with the melody. The hand resting in her lap pats along with the beat, and she gleefully claps along with everyone else at the conductor’s prompting during the final number.

 

So absorbed has Nae Il been in the music of tonight’s concert that I would not be surprised if I were to discover her composing a piano transcription of any of it once we arrive home in Salzburg.

 

From her, imitation is the highest form of praise.

 

~~~~~

 

Although the concert has now come to an end, none of us want to head home.

 

It is New Year’s Eve, and we are still young. We have no intention of returning until at least midnight has passed.

 

But that does not mean we want to go clubbing like many others our age would. Out of our group of four, only Il Rak shows any interest in that, and even he has his limits on how much he could tolerate. I, on the other hand, can never bring myself to even go inside, much less enjoy the experience: the flashing lights, the cacophonous and booming excuse for music that drowns out any chance for conversation, the free-flowing alcohol, the gyrating bodies of the so-called dancers…it is simply too much for me.

 

Besides, having prepared for and just come out from a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic, we would probably stand out like sore thumbs in a nightclub anyway.

 

Instead, we have decided to continue the celebration in the Imperial, a luxury hotel just next door to the Musikverein. We have no intentions of staying a night there, the rooms being far out of our reach; but the plan is to while away the final hour or so before midnight just relaxing and catching up over drinks.

 

Once again, Nae Il dashes on ahead of us in her excitement, bursting through the hotel’s revolving doors into the marble-floored foyer. Coming to a stop just underneath the grand crystal chandelier, she twirls around in an improvised waltz, the music from the concert clearly still ringing in her head.

 

Watching her dance like this from afar, I find myself once again enchanted at the sight. Although her dress is hidden underneath her long black coat, that, too, has movement, flaring out as she turns like a blooming flower. And although Nae Il is not a skilled dancer, meandering aimlessly around the centre of the foyer, her joy is genuine, contagious, and lends her a special sort of grace.

 

Finally, after a short moment that feels much longer, she notices our presence, and prances eagerly towards us. Stopping just in front of me, she takes my hands into her own and gasps out, “Isn’t this beautiful, Orabang? I feel like I am a movie star – no, a princess in a fairy tale!”

 

Aware that we are most likely being watched by Il Rak, Si Won and whatever strangers are around, I restrict my response to a fond smile. Then, moving to place one arm around Nae Il’s shoulders, I guide her straight through the lobby into the hotel’s lounge.

 

For all its grand décor, the lounge feels comfortably warm and welcoming. The gold covered walls trimmed with white marble and twinkling crystal chandeliers are brought back down to earth by plush upholstered armchairs clustered around small dark wood tables. Bookshelves of the same dark wood are scattered at regular intervals around the perimeter, filled with leather-bound tomes just begging to be read. Along one wall is the bar, its side panels made of frosted glass painted with gold music notes. A tall Christmas tree stands in one back corner, a reminder that we are still in the middle of the holiday season. And opposing it, continuing the musical theming, is a grand piano. As we enter, there is a man sitting there, softly playing light jazz, Christmas carols and popular love songs from our parents’ time: music that is subtle, easy, and soothing to the soul.

 

We find an empty spot near the piano and sit down: Si Won and I across from each other, Nae Il on my right and Il Rak on my left. As the waiter comes to take our orders, Si Won beckons him closer and whispers something to him. Swiftly, he turns and leaves without a word, but then returns just moments later with a cart, upon which rest a bottle of champagne and four individually sized servings of the hotel’s signature chocolate cake: a surprise gift Si Won had ordered for us in advance.

 

“These are all the original flavour,” she says as she divides the plates up among us. “Except for yours,” she adds, pointing at Nae Il’s portion. Sure enough, while our three pieces had all been decorated the same way – topped with a piece of chocolate with an ornate coat of arms painted upon it – Nae Il’s is different. There is, instead a man’s silhouette, along with the words “Mozart Edition”.

 

“Komapsumnida,” she murmurs, “but why do I get a different one, Eonnie?”

 

Si Won smiles encouragingly in response. “Just try it and you’ll see.”

 

Cautiously, Nae Il takes a small bite. Immediately, her expression transforms from confusion to delight. Her eyes widen and she places one hand over her mouth to hold in the squeal of excitement that threatens to burst out from her.

 

“Omo…” she finally manages to gasp out. “It’s Mozart-flavoured! Eonnie – how did you know that that’s my favourite?”

 

Il Rak stares at her in confusion. “‘Mozart-flavoured’?”

 

Fully aware of how incoherent Nae Il can get when she’s excited about food, I quickly explain. “What she means is the combination between chocolate, pistachio and marzipan. That’s the same flavour as the Mozartkugeln – you know, the chocolates we’d brought back for you from Salzburg the first time.”

 

As Il Rak nods in understanding, Si Won joins in. “Anything made with that flavour combination has been labeled ‘Mozart’ ever since. But how it came to be associated with Mozart in the first place is anyone’s guess.”

 

She then turns to Nae Il. “But to answer your question…” She nods in my direction. “Yoo Jin told me.”

 

I feel my face flush and cough uncomfortably when the others turn to stare at me. “Ya, Jung Si Won,” I sputter, “you only asked me what Nae Il’s favourite dessert was and I answered the Mozartkugeln. I did not have anything to do with this!”

 

That still does not deter Nae Il, though, as she turns to thanks me anyway. Then, to my astonishment and the others’ amusement, she suddenly darts forward and gives me a chocolate-smeared kiss on the cheek.

 

Immediately, my hand flies up to wipe it off. “Ya, Seollebal!”

 

“Mianhaeyo, Orabang,” she says in reply. But the coyly dancing look in her eyes tells me that she is, in fact, not sorry at all. In fact, I’m willing to bet that were we not in public, she would have kissed me someplace else instead.

 

Seemingly satisfied at having made her point, Nae Il deftly cuts her special piece of cake into quarters and gives each of us a piece; to balance things out, we each give her a quarter of ours. Il Rak then, rather redundantly, offers a bite of his cake to Si Won; and although she rolls her eyes at first, she eventually gives in and lets him feed her.

 

We eat and drink together like this for a while, chatting naturally about various nothings. At one point, Il Rak listens raptly as Si Won explains more of what she knows of the hotel’s history, including that it has been frequented by such illustrious composers as Brahms, Wagner, and Mahler. Upon hearing this, he gushes excitedly at the thought of being in the same space of such greats of the past, but then starts fidgeting uncomfortably, tugging on his jacket to straighten it.

 

It is at this point that we notice that Nae Il has disappeared.

 

Worriedly, I lift myself partway out of my seat, scanning over the other patrons in the bar. Her curiosity and eagerness to learn and discover are among her greatest strengths, but in her excitement, she could easily get lost or wander off to places where she shouldn’t.

 

Where on earth could that girl be?

 

Moments later, I spot her. Unbeknownst to us, the piano player had left the room, most likely just away on a short break, and Nae Il had taken the opportunity to approach the instrument herself.

 

I stand up and walk briskly towards her, reaching her side just before she could put out a hand to stroke the piano’s keys. In an instant, I move to stop her, taking her hand in mine.

 

Startled, she looks up at me. “Orabang!”

 

“Andwae, Nae Il-ah,” I say, using as gentle and soothing a tone as I can manage.

 

She pouts at me in response. “But it’s so beautiful!”

 

And it most certainly is. This piano is a Bösendorfer. Native to Austria, this is one of the most prestigious brands out there on the market; many pianists dream of owning a Bösendorfer instrument, or at least having the opportunity to play one. It is no wonder that Nae Il has become so enchanted by the one in front of us now.

 

But still, there is only so much that we can do. “I know you want to, but not this time. We don’t have permission – and besides, the pianist might come back at any moment.”

 

“May I help you two with something?”

 

Jumping in surprise, we both turn to look behind us. It is the lounge’s pianist, standing there as though my words had conjured him up.

 

Feeling a rush of embarrassment at being caught red-handed, I find myself unable to keep eye contact for long. Instead, I glance guiltily behind me at the piano itself, wracking my brain for something to say that could get us out with our pride still intact.

 

Nae Il, however, has no such qualms. Instead, to my astonishment, she gets straight to the point:

 

“This is a beautiful piano you have here. I’m just wondering: may I try it, please?”

 

My grip on her hand tightens as I round on her in astonishment. I give her a little shake to warn her to stay quiet, then, murmuring a quick apology, I turn to take her back to our seats.

 

“Are you any good, young lady?”

 

The pianist’s reply makes me stop in my tracks. Slowly, I turn back around to face him, Nae Il following suit.

 

Could it be that he’s actually interested in hearing Nae Il play?

 

The man seems to have noticed my expression, because he moves to clarify. “Not many people would be so bold as this young lady here; and I can see by the look in her eyes just as how much she is filled with music.”

 

“Ja, that’s true enough,” I reply. Hearing his comments now give me something to stand on, and the direction that this conversation is going is a temptation that I cannot resist.

 

There is nothing I desire more than to show my angel’s talents to the world, to give her the full recognition she deserves.

 

“Seol Nae Il is a piano student from the Mozarteum University in Salzburg,” I offer. “If you do not mind letting her play just once, I can assure you that she will do both your instrument and this establishment justice.”

 

~~~~~

 

Within minutes, everything is ready. The pianist put in a quick word with the rest of the staff and asked the other patrons for their patience. By this time, Il Rak and Si Won, too, have noticed what is happening, and have gotten up from their places to join me beside the piano. As for Nae Il, she has seated herself on the bench and is all set to begin.

 

Except that for a long moment, she doesn’t. Instead, she sits there, frozen in silence, her hands seemingly unable to move from her lap.

 

In an instant, I recognize what is going on. Waving a quick hand in apology to the others, I step over to her side and place a hand on her shoulder.

 

“Gwenchana?” I ask quietly.

 

She nods shakily.

 

“You know, Nae Il-ah,” I begin, “you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I know that you were the one to ask first, but it’s perfectly fine if you have changed your mind.”

 

“Gwenchanayo, Orabang,” she says. “I can do this. Just…could you stand behind me, juseyo?”

 

Blinking in confusion, I move behind her as asked, and once I do, realization clicks. Standing here, my face appears behind hers on the polished surface of the piano’s music rack, watching over her like some sort of guardian angel.

 

Now that she is able to see me, to focus upon my reflection rather than all the others in the room, I feel Nae Il begin to relax. Taking a deep breath to steady herself, she glances up at the ceiling for a moment, then, her eyes returning to the piano, she begins to play.

 

The piece she has chosen is Liszt’s La Campanella, the same one she should have won with in the competition in Seoul last year had she not lost on a technicality.

 

Clearly, Nae Il has taken her inspiration from the lounge itself. The tinkling high notes, ringing out from the piano like the bells they are meant to evoke, are a representation in sound of the twinkling lights of the crystal chandelier hanging above our heads. Other images come to my mind as I hear her play: the jingling of sleigh bells, the sunlight glinting off of freshly fallen snow, the joyous sound of laughter.

 

Whatever image Liszt had intended in his composition, Nae Il has made her performance about this moment, this season.

 

Once the music has reached its exuberant clanging climax and the piece has finally come to an end, yet another sound replaces it: applause. All around us, the other patrons in the bar are clapping; and clearly the sound of her playing has echoed out into the lobby, as the doorway separating that space from ours is now also filled with people who have been attracted by her music. I can even see that a few people have their phones out, clearly having just filmed Nae Il’s performance.

 

Closer to us, Il Rak is unable to hold in his excitement, jumping up in the air with an excited whoop.

 

“Brava, Nae Il-ah! That was awesome!”

 

Meanwhile the bar’s pianist also compliments her on her playing, thanking her for the experience and wishing her the best in her studies to come.

 

Had things gone according to my intentions, this would have been the end of it.

 

But then, to my astonishment, Nae Il suddenly gets up and grabs me by the hand before pulling me to join her in front of the keyboard. Then, before I could react, she shoves me down into the seat she had just vacated.

 

“Ya, Seollebal,” I whisper urgently. “What do you think you’re doing?”

 

She shoots me a mischievous smirk. “What? Do you think that you’re the only one who wants to show someone off?”

 

“Ani, but I never said –”

 

I don’t get any further than that, though, because already, Nae Il is speaking quietly to the bar’s pianist, telling him that I, too, am a student at the Mozarteum, as well as having once been the star pupil in Haneum’s piano department.

 

Desperately, I try to find some way to escape graciously, but am left stuck without an answer – especially since by this time, not only has the pianist announced that I, too, would be playing something but Il Rak and Si Won have also joined Nae Il in egging me on.

 

Maybe there is something about the absurdity of this situation – my being pushed to perform when it is Nae Il who I believe better deserves the attention – that makes me more irritable than is wise. Because when I finally concede and search my memory for something to play, the image that comes to my mind instead is Abeoji.

 

How he had scorned me for my fears. How he had belittled my work with the Rising Star orchestra. How he had said that he would only accept me if he could see me perform here.

 

In Europe. In Austria. In the heart and soul of classical music.

 

Well, then, let me show him what I am capable of. Let him see that I am not the boy I used to be, that I am no longer afraid.

 

Almost by instinct, I begin playing the final movement of Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy. It is a highly virtuosic piece: bold and strident, powerful in its dissonance. As the tension between the march-like chords builds up to a rolling climax, I feel my emotions connect with the music, my passionate anger and its intertwining into an explosion of sound.

 

Are you happy now, Abeoji? Are you, just this once, proud of your son?

 

A stunned silence fills the room after the pieces comes to its end, the last chords echoing out around me.

 

And then…I hear it.

 

Applause.

 

Not just any applause, either.

 

Thunderous, exuberant applause, filled with clapping and cheers.

 

These people loved my performance – they loved me.

 

Under any other circumstances, I might have welcomed the recognition, even enjoyed it. But this time, as realization sets in, I am struck by a sudden gripping sense of alarm.

 

What have I done?

 

This is wrong. This is so completely wrong.

 

This was supposed to be Nae Il’s night, not mine!

 

Gasping for breath, my pulse pounding in my ears, I brace my hands against my knees in an attempt to steady myself, to keep the rising wave of guilt and anxiety at bay. But it is only when Nae Il comes forward and wraps her arms around me, genuinely happy and proud for me, that I finally feel myself begin to relax.

 

As long as she accepts me, as long as she continues to hold on to me, I can overcome anything.

 

Even myself.

 

Slowly, I return her embrace, placing my arms around hers and pulling her close. Glancing over her shoulder, I spy Il Rak and Si Won’s looks of questioning concern. Trying to reassure them, I give them a small smile and shake my head.

 

Everything will be all right, because my angels – all of my friends, but especially Nae Il – are there for me.

 

Finally, I push Nae Il off of me and we stand up together, holding hands. Turning to thank the bar pianist once more for the opportunity, all four of us head back to our seats, I still stumbling in shock and leaning against her for support.

 

On the way back to our table, we are met by a portly middle-aged man and a woman who looks to be his wife. Coming up to us, he claps slowly in applause.

 

“Bravo, young man – bravo!” he says to me. “It looks like the devil has finally come to us at last.”

 

Nae Il shoots the man a glare, her lips pressed into a thin line. Placing her hands on the inside of my elbow, she pulls me protectively to her side. “My boyfriend is not a devil!”

 

Cringing at her heated reaction, I move to apologize to the man on her behalf. Then, patting her reassuringly on the hand, I explain, using German for the benefit of the man and his wife. “It’s all right; it’s just a joke,” I say, as Si Won quietly translates my words for Il Rak. “Schubert was known for composing music that exceeded his own abilities as a pianist, and when he tried to play the Wanderer Fantasy, the piece you had just heard, legend has it that he gave up partway through, saying in frustration that only the devil would be able to play what he had written.”

 

“Ah…” Nae Il murmurs in realization. Slowly, she lets go of my arm and returns to holding my hand instead. Then she, too, turns and apologizes to the couple for her mistake.

 

Ruffled feathers thus smoothed over, we chat cordially with them for a few minutes about the various merits of the pieces we had played. They also ask us whether we are students from the conservatory here in Vienna, at which point I explain that Nae Il and I are actually from Salzburg and that Il Rak is visiting us from Seoul.

 

“Seoul?” the woman asks. “So you kids are Korean, then?”

 

“Ja.” I nod slowly and cautiously, not sure where this is going. “Why do you ask?”

 

Instead of answering me right away, she turns to her husband, clasping her hands in delight. “I knew it,” she babbles excitedly, “I simply just knew it.”

 

She then turns her attention back to me. “My apologies if I’m confusing you, young man, but you and this young lady here remind me of two others my husband and I met here once ages ago. It’s probably just coincidence, but they really were just like you: two young pianists who were visiting from Korea.” She peers questioningly at her husband. “How long ago would you say it was, dear? About twenty years…?”

 

He nods in response, then moves to place an arm around his wife’s shoulders. “Twenty years, at least – but we’ll never forget the performance that they put on. It was beautiful, sublime…much like what you two just did.”

 

“And they were a couple, too,” she adds with a light, tinkling laugh. “We – my husband and I – were still newlyweds then, but not even he could dote on me the way that that young gentleman had treated his partner then. Of course it might have helped that – pardon the expression – she had been starting to show a bit as well.” As she says this last bit, the woman sketches out a discreet curve over her stomach in a universally recognized mime for pregnancy.

 

She then lets out a blissful sigh at the memory that has clearly come to her mind. “Such a sweet young couple they were…I wonder what happened to them.”

 

“Now, now, dear,” her husband chides her. “How would they know?”

 

At this point, Si Won, who had been discreetly translating everything for Il Rak, steps in.

 

“Do you happen to know their names, by any chance?” She gestures to encompass our entire group. “My friends and I are somewhat familiar with the classical music scene in Korea, so if either one of them is well-known, we might be able to help.”

 

As I watch the woman and her husband try to think back to see what they remember, I am doing some mental calculations of my own. Something about her comments thus far just simply isn’t sitting well with me.

 

But what?

 

Two pianists. From Korea. A bit more than twenty years ago. Presumably married. A pregnant girl and her doting husband.

 

Damn.

 

The answer comes to me just a split second before it comes to the woman and, incidentally, we both say it aloud at the same time:

 

“Cha Dong Woo.”

 

“Cha Dong Woo?” Il Rak echoes. He looks back and forth between the woman and me in surprise. “The Cha Dong Woo?”

 

She nods, reacting sooner than I can. “We did not know it at the time, since we were not familiar with classical music in Asia, but we recognized his picture in a magazine article soon after running into him here. And he’s become world famous ever since, hasn’t he?” Her eyes scan to take all of us as she smiles warmly. “You must all be proud to have a countryman like him, am I right?”

 

Instinctively, against my better judgment, I feel myself tense up. I try my best to hide it, to keep my expression unchanging from the cordial smile it had been just moments before, but I could feel my teeth grit together, my jaw harden, my eyes narrow – imperceptibly, I hope, but shifting all the same. The hand that is still intertwined with Nae Il’s tightens its grip, while the other, which had been resting idly by my side, now shifts slowly behind my back, balling up into a fist.

 

I’m not an idiot. None of us had introduced ourselves by name, thinking that we were just in a casual conversation with no consequence. So it’s not like this woman could have known just in whose presence she was praising Abeoji. It’s not like she could have known the truth.

 

Nae Il clearly notices that something is wrong; I can tell by the way she gives my hand a slight reassuring squeeze. But otherwise, there is little even she can do to help.

 

However it is that this conversation will end, I have to handle it on my own.

 

Oblivious to the dark cloud that has come over me, the woman continues on. “I’m not sure about the girl, though. I do wish I knew, since she played the piano so beautifully that night. But I just can’t remember seeing or hearing any mention of her after that; it’s as though she disappeared –”

 

“Yang Sun Young.”

 

Startled at my interruption, the woman glances at me in surprise. “Pardon?”

 

“Her name,” I bite out in as calm a voice as I can muster, “is Yang Sun Young.”

 

Nae Il pats my arm lightly with her free hand. “Orabang…”

 

But I can’t stop.

 

Trying my hardest to keep my voice from shaking, I continue, “You’re right, Madame. She was Cha Dong Woo’s wife, and she was a promising concert pianist in her own right. But you were lucky to see her, because what you saw must have been one of her last performances. She retired soon after that, when she gave birth to a son, and has been all but forgotten since.”

 

“I see…” the woman says with a nod. “But how did you come by all of this? Did you know her?”

 

I’m not sure if any of the others would have jumped in at this point to explain our connection, but I beat them to it.

 

“Ja, I do know her. She now owns a coffee shop near the conservatory where I had studied in Seoul, and I used to go there quite often.”

 

I sense rather than see Il Rak turn to look at me, startled at my omission. “Ya, Yoo Jin-ah...” he says in concern.

 

But by this point, I am beyond caring about niceties or etiquette. I just want to get out. I have had enough of this.

 

Feigning the need to make a phone call as an excuse, I make my exit, pausing by our table just long enough to grab my glass of champagne and down what was left in it in a single shot. Then, after slamming it hard onto the table, I storm out of the lounge without a backward glance.

 

~~~~~

 

Part of me wants to act like the heroes that appear in films, who shout their frustrations up to the sky, oblivious to whether or not they are heard.

 

But I am not like that. I never will be like that.

 

Instead, I find myself walking briskly, my strides growing longer and faster, out of the hotel. Seeing the busy line of traffic on the street before me, I make a sharp left, heading for the corner of the building before turning left yet again. I continue heading in that direction, back the way we had come, until I stop once more at the plaza in front of the Musikverein.

 

There, my breath coming in ragged, shuddering gasps, my pulse still pounding hot in my head, my fists still clenched tightly at my sides, I look up at the building before me as though it, not my own ambition, had betrayed me.

 

Why?

 

Why must tonight of all nights turn into such a damned mess?

 

Perhaps, had it not been for the guilt I had already been feeling about my performance earlier, I would not be so agitated now. But I am.

 

When I was younger, I had feared Abeoji’s disapproval.

 

But now? Now things are different. Instead of fearing Abeoji…I fear becoming like him.

 

Nae Il’s parents were not the only ones who had urged me to be cautious in our relationship. Shortly before we moved here to Austria for good, Eomma had told me the same.

 

It was not Nae Il’s virtue she was worried about, however; it was her spirit.

 

For as long as I could remember, I had sensed that Eomma was younger than my friends’ mothers, but I had not questioned or thought much about it. Nor did she see fit to tell me more: not even after the accident, or after she and Abeoji had divorced.

 

So it was only at this last meeting that she told me her story: the full story, not just the parts that I had lived alongside her.

 

She had been twenty years old, just starting her university studies in piano performance, when she first met Abeoji. He had been her sunbae: a graduate student five years her elder, and already starting to make a name for himself as an accomplished concert pianist.

 

Eomma told me that her experience was the same as Nae Il’s: that she had fallen head over heels in love as soon as she had heard Abeoji’s music. That she had stuck closely by his side ever since. That slowly, he had come to reciprocate her feelings, promising her that he would support her talent in the years to come.

 

They had married about a year after they had first met, and I had been born a year after that, when Eomma was just twenty-two years old and still in school. She had struggled for a time trying to keep it all together: trying to be pianist and a student, a wife and a mother, all at once. But it had been too much, especially once Abeoji had started performing abroad more and more. So finally, when he had received a long-term position as a pianist in Salzburg, she gave in: dropping out of university so that we could all go to Austria together as a family.

 

In telling me all of this, Eomma made it clear that she had made the choice of her own free will, and that she certainly had never regretted having me.

 

But that had not stopped her from growing to resent Abeoji for it. Ever since the accident, when he had told her on the phone that he could not come to us because he was still needed at work, she had hated him. Abeoji had never cheated on her, but he had been unfaithful nevertheless: his work, his own ambition, had been his mistress.

 

When Eomma told me her story, urged me to make sure that neither Nae Il nor I would make the same mistakes, I had reassured her that I would not. That I was not like Abeoji. That I cared deeply for Nae Il and that my only intention was to help her to grow as a pianist of her own.

 

But now, tonight, I am not so sure anymore.

 

Nae Il’s impromptu performance, mine afterwards…all it takes is a single moment, a single misplaced thought, a single slippage away from perfection.

 

Did I intend to outshine Nae Il tonight? No.

 

But did it happen anyway? Yes.

 

That couple whom I had spoken to earlier, they did not know it, but they were like my own guilty conscience: forcing me to face what Abeoji had done all those years ago, forcing me to face what I had just done now.

 

I had tried to make up for it.

 

With Eomma, it had been easy. All I had needed to do was to say her name to restore her to her rightful place.

 

But what about Nae Il? How do I do that?

 

Just then, I hear running footsteps behind me and then, seconds later, a pair of arms urgently wrap around my waist. They pull me backwards, and I can feel someone’s face pressed into my back.

 

Nae Il.

 

Once again, just like at the piano inside, I feel myself start to calm within her embrace. And she must sense it, too, because we stay silently like this for a long moment before, finally, I find myself able to speak.

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“I thought you would come here, Orabang.”

 

“What about the others?”

 

“They’re still waiting for us inside. Don’t worry; I took care of them. Rak-kun had wanted to run out after you right away, but I stopped him. I knew you wanted some time alone.”

 

“And that couple?”

 

“They’re fine. They were a bit offended that you had just left like that, but I set them straight. I told them that you didn’t like talking about other people’s personal business and that we really shouldn’t pry any longer. But I didn’t give anything else away, I promise.”

 

“Komawo.”

 

Then, turning around to face her, I add, “It looks like our Nae Il has grown up and now knows how to handle sticky situations like that.”

 

She nods in thanks and then pulls out of the hug, taking one of my hands. “If you’re feeling better now, we should head back. It’ll be midnight soon, and we shouldn’t leave the others hanging.”

 

So I let her guide me back inside the hotel, through the lobby into the lounge, straight towards our table.

 

Once we arrive, and I have mumbled out an apology for my behaviour, Il Rak gets up from his seat and moves to stand beside me, patting me kindly on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it,” he says. “Nae Il already told us what we needed to know.”

 

I glance sideways at him. “What did she say?”

 

“Not much. Just that you and your mom are still on bad terms with your dad, so you don’t like talking about it.”

 

“Well, don’t start now, then,” I shoot back.

 

Smiling gently, Si Won hands me my glass, newly filled with champagne. “It wasn’t just you,” she says. “We all thought those two were annoying, too. But you’ve gotten better at it, Cha Yoo Jin; you put up with the likes of them longer tonight than you ever have in the past.”

 

Finally, realizing that I have been forgiven, I feel myself being able to smile in return.

 

As midnight strikes and the four of us toast to the New Year, I remind myself that this is a turning point, a time of new beginnings. That no matter what has happened, our fates are not set in stone.

 

~~~~~

 

“Yoo Jin-ah.”

 

I crack open my eyes to look up at Il Rak from my place in the pull-out next to his bed. “What?”

 

“You know, about what happened tonight at the bar…I’m actually a little bit glad that it did.”

 

That surprises me enough that I sit up to stare at him, frowning incredulously.

 

“All right, so maybe I put it wrong.”

 

“No wonder, Yoo Il Rak – you’re drunk.”

 

He chuckles. “I know. But I mean it, though.”

 

“Mean…what?”

 

He tries to fumble for an answer. “Do you remember how we first became friends? That time we had to play a duet together?”

 

I nod.

 

“I still remember that time you just grabbed my violin without asking and played my part right back at me.”

 

I bite back a laugh at the memory. “Well, that’s because you sucked that much then.”

 

“I know that now, but I remember that I was so mad when you did that. I didn’t know that you were trying to help, then; I just thought you were a show-off.

 

“But here’s the thing,” he continues. “By the time I got home, I’d changed my mind.”

 

This part I have not heard before. “You did?”

 

“It was your playing. Just one line – just one simple melodic line – and it got stuck in my head. No matter what I tried to do to drown it out, I couldn’t. Because it was perfect. Just completely perfect. And so was your performance with the A Orchestra – funny how I don’t mind that anymore now that Si Won and I are together – and so was your playing tonight. Nae Il’s, too, but she doesn’t have the same vibe that you do: she’s fun and quirky and makes mistakes. Point is, she’s human and I can relate to her. But you, Cha Yoo Jin…sometimes it feels like I’m looking at something that’s not of this world. I don’t mean an alien – I mean something more like an angel or a god.”

 

I scoff incredulously. “Now you’re starting to sound like Ma Su Min.” On impulse, I grab my pillow and throw it up into his face. “Go to bed, Yoo Il Rak. You’re not making any sense.”

 

He tosses it right back down at me with a laugh. After we have both settled back down in our places, he continues, “I know I’m not making any sense, but it’s true.

 

“So something like what happened tonight…I know it must have sucked for you, and I can’t say that I wanted you to go through that, but I can’t help feeling relieved that you are just a person after all.”

 

~~~~~

 

The first thing I am aware of is Il Rak nudging me awake. Opening my eyes just a sliver, I glare up at him. “What now? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

 

“Mianhae,” he says with a sheepish look on his face. “It’s not that I want to disturb you, but I need to get up – and it’s either this or stepping on you, and I’m sure you’d like that even less. And to answer your second question, it is already morning, so we need to get up now anyway.”

 

Well, I do want to sleep a bit longer, but there’s really not much I can say to that.

 

“Oh, all right,” I grumble, getting up so he could climb past me off the bed and make his way outside. Then, once I am alone, I start to tidy up: folding the blankets and pushing the pull-out bed I had slept in back to its original spot underneath Il Rak’s bed.

 

In all fairness, this whole concept of the pull-out bed is a clever idea. Si Won’s apartment is typical of Vienna’s expensive real estate market with its small size, and the landlord had tried to divide what by rights should be one comfortably-sized bedroom into two very narrow ones. Si Won’s bedroom is the larger of the two, and can fit a bed large enough for two people to share – that’s where Nae Il is now, the two girls having decided to bunk together. But this means that there simply is not enough space in this guest room for much more than a desk, a wardrobe, and a single-person bed placed all in a row along the wall. Adding the pull-out bed underneath means that there is room for at a fourth person – in this case, me – to stay the night should the need arise.

 

It’s a good idea, but at this rate, I think, rubbing the sleep from my eyes and feeling the beginnings of a headache that suggests a mild hangover, that I’d prefer the couch outside.

 

Still tired and reluctant to move, I sit down on the bed to wait for Il Rak to return from using the bathroom. Sure enough, just a few minutes later, he comes back, looking far more relieved than he should at the tidied space.

 

“It’s a good thing this is just one night,” I growl in greeting, “or I’d make you do all this tomorrow morning.”

 

He takes one look at me and winces in sympathy, shutting his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

“You, too?” I ask.

 

The silent nod he gives in response is answer enough.

 

I tilt my head towards the wall dividing our room from the girls’. “Are they up yet?”

 

He shakes his head. “Not that I know of.”

 

“Well then, how about this.” Slowly, I push myself up off of the bed and make my way toward the door. “You go on ahead to the kitchen. See if there’s anything you can get started for breakfast. The girls will probably also be feeling pretty bad this morning, so we shouldn’t make them do it. I’ll join you once I’m done washing up.”

 

I note with surprise how reluctantly Il Rak agrees to my idea, but it is only a few minutes later, after I quietly open the sliding door separating the kitchen from the living room, that I see why.

 

“Ya…” I gasp as soon as I have stepped inside the room and closed the door again. “Didn’t you get anything done?”

 

To his credit, Il Rak does know his way around Si Won’s kitchen, having already been staying here for almost two weeks now. So he has managed to find a bunch of ingredients: eggs, milk, flour, sugar, things like that. But that’s it. Nothing’s actually been started yet.

 

“Let me guess: you don’t know how to cook.”

 

Il Rak laughs sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. “I do know some things, like how to make toast and stuff. But it’s New Year’s Day, and it’s for the girls, so I want to make something special, and – problem is, Abeoji’s always been the one in charge of that at home, so….”

 

I lift up a hand to stop him. “All right, I get it. Give me a moment: I’ll figure something out.”

 

As I look over the ingredients that Il Rak has laid out on the kitchen counter, an idea comes to me.

 

Yes, this could work. I know Nae Il likes it, so maybe Si Won will as well….

 

Quickly, I explain my plan to Il Rak, and once he nods in agreement, throwing in a cheery, “Ne, chef!” for good measure, we begin.

 

I set him to mixing the flour and milk together before I then separate the eggs, dumping the yolks into his bowl and the whites into a separate one. I then tell Il Rak to add the rest of the ingredients into his bowl and mix it all together.

 

Now, the real work begins, as I start beating the egg whites. Normally, I would use an electric mixer for this, but since neither of us want to risk making any noise and waking up the girls, it’ll have to be done by hand. Once Il Rak finishes his task, he takes over for me for a few minutes, allowing me to find a frying pan and place it on the stove before we then switch back. Although both of us have strong arms and hands – playing the instruments we do, they have to be – whisking egg whites by hand is still tiring work, so having two people do it is definitely helpful.

 

Finally, when the egg whites have reached the consistency I am looking for, I tell Il Rak to turn on the stove and get the pan warmed up. Then, after combining the contents of our respective bowls, I pour in the resulting batter to form a large circle in the centre of the pan.

 

Shortly after the pancake has started cooking but before it is ready for me to flip, I hear the dividing door quietly slide open. Then, before I can turn to see who has just come in, I feel someone hugging me from behind.

 

“Guess who!”

 

I laugh softly in response. “Nae Il-ah, annyeong.” After a brief pause, I add, “Mianhae – did we wake you?”

 

I feel her shake her head against my back. “Aniyo – not unless making something that smells really, really good counts.” She tightens her grip on me, and then I suppose she must have turned to look at Il Rak, because the next thing she says is directed at him: “You should learn a thing or two, Rak-kun – Eonnie was telling me that you’re hopeless in the kitchen.”

 

I laugh far harder than I should at that, given that I am now trying to flip the pancake while Nae Il is still holding onto me like a koala bear. “Don’t tease him, Seollebal – Il Rak actually helped a lot.” I glance at him out of the corner of my eye. “I think he’ll know this dish at least by the time I’m done with him.”

 

That prompts Nae Il’s curiosity enough for her to finally let go and move to stand beside me. She leans forward to peer into the pan, where I am now breaking up the pancake into smaller pieces.

 

“Is…is that Kaiserschmarrn?” She gasps and claps her hands in delight when I nod. “I love that! Orabang, you’re the best!”

 

It’s a testament to how well Nae Il and I know each other by now that I don’t even have to look at her to know that she’s about to pounce on me. Also, that I can instinctively reach out with my free hand and push her back without even missing a beat.

 

“Ya, Seollebal – be careful! You’ll burn yourself.”

 

Thank goodness Il Rak is quick to react; he chooses this moment to call out to Nae Il, “Is Si Won up yet?”

 

Just as predicted, Nae Il turns her attention to him, finally giving me a moment’s peace to finish up.

 

“Ne, Rak-kun – Eonnie’s already awake. I’m just waiting my turn to use the bathroom.”

 

Il Rak laughs in response. “Then you’ll have to wait for a while, Nae Il-ah – she can stay in there for ages, especially if she has to wash her hair.”

 

Hearing that gives me an idea. Since the rather disastrous turn of events at the bar last night, I had wanted a moment to speak with Nae Il alone; yet, our time outside had been far too brief, and I had not had the opportunity since.

 

Not to mention that the Kaiserschmarrn is ready now.

 

Perhaps now would be a good time.

 

I take the pan off the heat, dust some sugar on top, then stick four forks inside.

 

“Il Rak-ah, you can take this out now.” I give him a wink. “Make sure that Si Won knows that you had a hand in making it.”

 

He clearly notes something in my expression, because after glancing between Nae Il and me for a moment, he nods and winks back at me. Then, he takes the pan and slips out into the living room, which doubles as the dining room, making sure to close the door behind him.

 

Once we are alone, Nae Il turns to look at me.

 

“What is it, Orabang? Is something wrong?”

 

Where do I begin?

 

For a moment, I struggle to find the right words to say. Then, I decide that I might as well just get straight to the point. It may be embarrassing, but she deserves my honesty right now.

 

“Nae Il-ah, about last night…mianhae.”

 

She blinks several times in surprise.

 

“What are you talking about, Orabang? What do you need to apologize for?”

 

“I…”

 

“Ne?”

 

Why is this so damned difficult?

 

Gulping nervously, I turn my face away from her and stare instead at a random spot on the floor.

 

“I never got around to telling you how well you played the Liszt last night. And on top of that, there was the whole mess afterwards with my own playing. I know that I should have picked something else, something that would have made your performance stand out by comparison, so –”

 

“Babo.”

 

Raising my eyebrow in surprise yet fearing the worst, I slowly raise my head to look up at her.

 

She is smiling.

 

Not her giddy smile or her excited smile, or the one she uses when she is content or wants to flirt. This is a very different smile from all of those.

 

It’s a warm, nurturing smile: the one that a mother would use when trying to comfort her child.

 

“I’d told you already, Orabang – what if I was the one who wanted to show you off? Listening to you play made me feel so proud, you wouldn’t even believe it.”

 

“I get that. But I wanted people to talk about you – not me!”

 

Nae Il lets out an exasperated sigh. “Don’t you get it?”

 

No, I don’t.

 

“Why does it have to be either-or, Orabang? Why must it be a matter of which one of us is better? Why can’t be about us – both of us?

 

“I’ve been doing some thinking of my own last night. Hearing how those people spoke about your parents, and then how you stood up for Eomeonim…I can’t say I know all the details, but I can guess what you were afraid of. But you know what, Orabang? You don’t have to be – because you are not Abeonim. You may have some things in common, but you are not him.”

 

Her last comment gives me pause.

 

How did she know?

 

Something in my expression must have given me away, because Nae Il nods and even dares to give me an impish smirk. “Did you think that Eomeonim only met with you before we flew here from Seoul?”

 

My jaw drops in surprise. “So you knew all along.”

 

“Ne.”

 

“Then how come…?”

 

“How come I don’t mind about last night? Because I’m not Eomeonim, either. You and your parents, you live in a world where competition is everything. Where if you’re not the best, then you’re not good enough. Or where your loved ones become your greatest rivals, or – in Eomeonim’s case – where the only way to prove that you love someone is to give up your own dream.

 

“I know that you don’t believe in any of that stuff, Orabang, but the point is that that doesn’t automatically mean you need to swing so far the other way that you end up feeling bad for getting the applause that you deserve.

 

“If you ask me, a perfect musical world would be one where ambition, competition, who’s better than whom, who gets more applause than whom wouldn’t matter. Not so much a world where it doesn’t matter which one of us is better, but a world where that whole idea doesn’t even exist. A world where, instead, we can simply enjoy music for its own sake – where everyone is good. Not better, not best – only equally good.”

 

She takes a step closer and places a hand over my heart.

 

“And I’ve seen you with the S Orchestra, the Rising Star Orchestra, and with me. I know that you feel the same way that I do – and that’s why I think we can make this work, Orabang.”

 

I had told her as much last night, but I sense it even more now: Nae Il has grown up. A lot.

 

While she is still childishly exuberant and able to be pleased at the simplest of things, there is a lot more to her than meets the eye, and she is far more mature and understanding than what one might think.

 

Now she is able to support me as much as I have supported her.

 

Gently, I grasp onto the hand that rests against my chest and raise it to my lips. As I kiss her palm in thanks, she giggles in excitement, slowly pulling me along with her as she edges backwards.

 

It is only when she has backed up all the way to the kitchen counter that I realize what she is about to do – and by then, it’s already too late.

 

Too quickly for me to dodge, she wipes her free hand along the inside edge of the mixing bowl and smears some of the leftover batter on my face.

 

Startled, I let go of her hand and stumble backwards. Immediately, I search for a towel with which to wipe up the mess.

 

Nae Il, for her part, bursts out laughing, shaking so much that she stumbles in turn and has to grip onto the counter for support.

 

I flash her a mock-glare from over the towel’s edge. “Ya, Seollebal, you little – get over here!”

 

With that, I lunge for her, but she’s too fast. Just managing to squeeze past me, she makes for the door, slipping through it to the room beyond, still shrieking with laughter.

 

The sound of her mirth is music to my ears.

 

Author's Note (in "Hidden Content" because of spoilers)

 

Spoiler

If the prequel to this story was difficult for its being my first attempt at romance, then this one is challenging for the number of different moods and genres I'm fitting into it: friendship, romance, cute fluffy stuff, angst...loads of stuff.

 

Still, it was a lot of fun to write about this one, so here are the behind-the-scenes features I want to show you:

 

1. Planning the Event - Locations

 

Most of the first half of this story is centred upon a real-life annual tradition in Vienna: the New Year's concerts held every year by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on Dec. 30, Dec. 31, and Jan. 1. This story in particular, involves the second concert in the series, which is held on the night of New Year's Eve.

 

It is, as suggested in this story, notoriously hard to get tickets to attend any of the three, but especially the last one. So the process I have described here is exactly how it would work in reality: interested buyers have to submit an online application, stating which concert they want tickets for, the number of seats they want (four maximum for the first two concerts, then just two for the third), and the price/seating category they want. And, yes, the first few rows are actually cheaper than the majority of ones further back. The Großer Saal does not have the terraced seating we're used to seeing in theatres today. Instead, all the seats are placed on the same horizontal plane, and it is the stage that is terraced.

 

800px-Musikverein_Wien3.JPG

 

So, yes, it's hard to see everything if you're right up at the front - but that doesn't affect the sound quality all that much :wink: 

 

And, for the sake of completion, here are some of the other locations that show up in this story - because some of these really have to be seen to be believed:

 

The exterior of the Musikverein

 

Musikverein-DSC_0213.jpg

 

The Café Mozart

 

p-cafemozart-restaurant-vienna-interior_

 

The lobby of the Hotel Imperial

 

35087925.jpg

 

The 1873 Hallensalon (i.e. the bar/lounge in the Hotel Imperial)

 

1873-HalleNsalon-at-Hotel-Imperial-Luxur

 

As with my previous fic, where I used the lay-out of a real apartment in Salzburg to help me visualize Cha Yoo Jin and Seol Nae Il's place, I also did a fake real-estate search for Jung Si Won's apartment. Ultimately, I settled on this listing here: https://www.spotahome.com/vienna/for-rent:apartments/124348

 

And here's the floorplan, which is really what I ended up using (FYI: "Bedroom 1" in this case is Si Won's bedroom, and "Bedroom 2" is the guest bedroom)

 

59823e7271841ff3860ab865cdd2c8362b528fef

2. Planning the Event - The Girls' Looks

 

This was arguably one of the most fun parts of the entire writing process this time around, but it's also proved to be one of the most challenging. To put it simply: Cha Yoo Jin's a guy, and I'm a girl. So while I know that I want to be able to visualize everything about both Jung Si Won and Seol Nae Il's outfits while writing this story, I was unsure about just how much I could describe it using Yoo Jin's voice without it sounding way too elaborate.

 

Turns out, I could actually get away with a lot.

 

However, for those who, like me, want some sort of visual, I'll include pictures of the items I actually had in mind anyway.

 

Jung Si Won's Outfit

 

The Dress

76e41f9a7c9fa723ca7cd02823607c00.jpg

The Belt

8fd115a2a707b0191590382b72820cc3.jpg

 

The Shoes

92009b7965ea7a2d3b3b18b3833cc409.jpg

 

The Coat

7b633eeedb64bd0f78895795e10fcfab.jpg

 

The Hairstyle (the video features several, so it's the one that I've started the playback from)

 

 

Seol Nae Il's Outfit

 

The Dress (including a close-up of the open back detail)

768dd01194a3a970c9c8a4e596e68d9f.jpg

 

1b0031e37ef832bcdbd8d84e23742acd.jpg

 

The Shoes

2cd36b1efb83cebc2174ee1ba7a635f8.jpg

 

The Coat

882997c706cef41bd21e5b8f40878a64.jpg

 

The Hairstyle (again, I've set the video to start at the specific style I used)

 

 

Also, this is also where I decided to hide my little Easter Egg: a nod to the real-life actors behind the characters. JW has commented before about finding girls in backless dresses attractive, and that's a detail I transferred to Cha Yoo Jin as well :wink:  Writing that bit was interesting, though - how do I write physical attraction without getting explicit?

 

3. The Music

 

Because I can't write a "Nae Il's Cantabile" fanfic and not include this somehow.

 

Once again, there are two main pieces that are featured in this fic, and most of what you'd need to know about them is already mentioned in the story itself.

 

So, instead of going into any further detail, I'll just share the recordings that I used:

 

Liszt's La Campanella

 

 

Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy

 

Note that while this video features the entire 20-odd-minute-long piece, I have set the playback to begin at the beginning of the fourth and final movement, which is what Cha Yoo Jin plays. The entire piece is really crazily difficult, though, so I imagine Schubert's comment about only the devil being able to play it is not just a reference to the finale, but to the accumulated exhaustion of playing everything before it as well.

 

I also got the idea for using this piece from "Secret Love Affair" - it's not heavily featured and just shows up in passing, but is definitely one of those pieces that sticks with you in a "Damn...that's impressive!" sort of way.

 

Which I thought was perfect for someone like Cha Yoo Jin, who 1) is actually really good at playing the piano, and 2) on some subconscious level, feels like he has something to prove and someone to impress (i.e. his father)

 

 

4. Miscellaneous Tidbits

 

There are a few more details that I would like to elaborate on - again, just to help you guys get a clearer picture.

 

First of all, the chocolate cakes that are mentioned in this story are the signature dessert of the Hotel Imperial: the Imperial Torte. It's made out of chocolate and marzipan, and actually looks quite pretty. They're available for purchase in a variety of sizes, either in the hotel's restaurants or packaged to take home from the specialty gift shop devoted just to them.

 

This picture shows what the individually-sized cakes look like. The "Mozart" version is the cluster on the left, and the original version is the cluster on the right; in the middle is an orange-flavoured version.

 

Lotel-Hotel-review-Hotel-Imperial-Vienna

 

The other main food item mentioned in the story, the Kaiserschmarrn, should be fairly self-explanatory from the story. However, there are a lot of different ways to make it, it seems - it's one of those foods that can have the fancy restaurant version, but where each household also might have their own take on it. So, if anyone's curious, I wrote the cooking scene using this particular recipe for reference: Kaiserschmarrn - The Emperor's Breakfast

 

Finally, if anyone's thinking that I've made a lot of allusions to "Phantom of the Opera" as well, you'd be correct :wink: 

 

So, that's it for now - midnight struck in the middle of my writing this, so here's wishing you all a happy new year!

 

If you want to access my other fics, as well as additional Hallyu-related writings, you can find a master list under the "About Me" tab on my profile page. Enjoy!

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