An Art Student Who Lives Twice - Chapter 4
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‘I didn’t expect this.’
Beyond the table in front of me, Professor Lee Jong and Seo Ji-won sat side by side.
The sight was very suspicious.
‘Why is an undergraduate sitting next to the professor?’
Usually, freshmen don’t get bored even if the professor was simply taking a breath.
Maybe they’re close friends.
As I looked at them with questioning eyes, Professor Lee Jong explained with a smile as if he had noticed the look in my eyes.
“Student Seo Ji-won is like a niece to me.”
“Yes, I’ve taught her since she was a child.”
So that was the kind of relationship you two have.
After hearing the words of Professor Lee Jong, I understood the relationship between the two.
There were often times where this occurred.
Even among art college students, there were inevitably classes divided by birth, and there were three main ones.
Those who came to college on their own, and those who attend private academies.
While these two were the majority, the third was rather special.
The kind of person who learns directly from a professor at an early age.
It was a class commonly referred to as the elite class.
‘I heard that the monthly tuition fee alone is hundreds of dollars, and during a special lecture, it rises up to thousands… Was she the daughter of a family wealthier than I thought?’
While I was immersed in various thoughts, Professor Lee Jong continued with a smile, “No, rather than teaching her, I guess it’s more accurate to say that I just watched Seo Ji-won draw on her own.”
Seo Ji-won shook her head and muttered in a low voice.
Suddenly, I thought that her voice felt strange.
In her previous life, she was always quiet, and because she did everything on her own, no one was really ever interested in what she did.
Anyway, I don’t know if he thought the atmosphere was settled, but Professor Lee Jong said with interlocking hands, “I invited Lee Jae-ha and Seo Ji-won to my studio to make a suggestion.”
It was the moment I heard it.
All five senses of my entire body focused on his next words.
“As you may know, I scout one freshman to my studio every year.”
“Are you talking about Scouts?”
The moment I had been waiting for was finally happening.
I listened to him with my ears perked up, and he continued to speak calmly.
“For any young person, college life is important, but for designers, it’s even more special. Do you happen to know the reason, Lee Jae-ha?”
I thought about it briefly and said, “Because the next four years will determine the life of a designer.”
“…Yes. That’s the correct answer.”
At my answer, Professor Lee Jong seemed to be a little startled, but he continued.
“Many designers build portfolios in their early 20s and live their lives based on that portfolio. So, if you want to survive in this industry, how you spend this limited time is key”
It wasn’t something that would resonate with an immature 20-year-old freshman.
However, I was not an ordinary 20-year-old, so I could fully relate to what he was trying to say.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a designer’s first debut determines half of the price of their ransom. In my previous life, I’ve seen countless people who made good use of their college life and became successful.
That’s what Seo Ji-won did.
However, I unfortunately did not.
I simply graduated and got a job.
And everything I did failed.
Therefore, I decided to try something a little different this time.
“Everyone is given the same amount of time. However, the density of that time isn’t equal. I want talented students to be able to make the most of their limited time.”
I’ve got a rough idea of who the talented students he’s talking about are.
‘You mean Seo Ji-won and me.’
“That’s why I called two students here. Allow me to be blunt.”
“I’d like to hire one of the two students for my studio.”
Now the main point has come out.
But the content was a little surprising.
“You’re going to call two people and pick just one?”
My curiosity took a hold of me.
Is it right to choose only one person?
Professor Lee Jong nodded without hesitation.
“Can’t you just pick both of them?”
“That’s difficult. There’s only one seat left in my studio.”
There is only one seat left. It was a pretty plausible excuse. However, it was also too subtle to be accepted right away.
‘You’re using an entire building.’
It was clear that there was an underlying intention.
Perhaps Professor Lee is trying to provoke some competition between me and her.
While my mind was cluttered with various thoughts, he said, “I’m ashamed to say it myself, but if you move into my studio, you will be able to enjoy many opportunities. Helping me with my work will not only make a good career, but it will also open up occasional competitions and academic opportunities. There will also be exchange events with other studios and companies. This place will be the best environment for you to do anything.”
He continued in a confident voice.
“With my name on it, I promise that this will be a choice that you won’t regret.”
It was tedious, as if this studio was a shortcut to success.
However, it didn’t sound like a lie. I had already confirmed it with my own two eyes and ears, so his words sounded quite convincing.
After the explanation, Professor Lee Jong said in a voice as if he wouldn’t be disappointed at all.
“I’m thinking of having you take a recruitment test. If you are going to reject my offer, I would appreciate it if you could tell me now.”
The moment he finished, Seo Ji-won opened her mouth.
“I’ll do it.”
As she said that, her eyes turned to me.
They seemed to say, ‘no matter what choice you make, I don’t care’.
I wonder why.
The moment I saw those eyes, a strong desire arose within me.
“I’ll do it, too.”
This is an opportunity.
From the beginning, there was never a thought about rejecting it.
After a short interview, I had to go on a business trip to Hongdae.
[TL/N : Hongdae is a large neighborhood in South Korea, and it’s known for a lot of things, but mainly things on the cultural side]
It was to take the recruitment test that Professor Lee Jong talked about.
[My former junior is running a small art academy over there, and he earnestly asked me to introduce him to a good student]
It’s an art school…
I wasn’t too pleased.
In my previous life, I worked as an academy instructor for the entire time I was in school, but I had no good memories from it because I struggled to make a living.
All the money I earned was sucked into my student loans.
So in this life, one of my minor goals was to not become a lecturer at a private academy again. Therefore, Professor Lee Jong’s words to go to the academy were not very pleasant to hear, but I had no choice but to accept the words that followed.
[I’ll bet a prize here. What would be good? Well, okay. It may seem snobbish, but there’s nothing like money to boost people’s motivation.]
He laughed softly and said,
[For the student entering into my studio this time, I’ll consider a professor-recommended scholarship.]
The moment I heard those words, my heart began to race.
A scholarship recommended by a professor.
It was like a de facto exemption from tuition if you could get it.
‘In my previous life, I wondered who would receive this, but I didn’t know that the opportunity would come to me this time.’
This money could replace hundreds of hours of work.
Thinking about it that way, the slightest displeasure about working at an academy was wiped out.
I think the academy job fits my vocation anyway.
We took a bus from the studio in Seokgwan-dong for a while.
Hongdae, which I’m visiting now, was clumsier from what I remembered.
Around this time, the feeling of Daehakro was oozing.
[TL/N – Daehakro is another street in Korea, and kind of like Hongdae, it’s essentially a really popular place for the people who enjoy/specialize in the arts. ]
There were countless people on the street claiming “I’m an artist”.
Rather than flashy people, there were a lot of people who were a little shabby and full of personality.
It felt fresh to have it be that way again.
Because the future Hongdae I know has long been eroded by a huge capital.
Small shops in every corner were replaced by franchises, and monthly rent skyrocketed, making it a commercial district that young, small business owners could not dream of joining.
‘I need to earn money and invest in real estate before it’s too late.’
I murmured as I walked along Hongdae Street, where I still had a fresh memory of.
“Isn’t this the neighborhood?”
Seo Ji-won nodded briefly.
She was short-spoken.
I don’t know if she’s just silent or if she’s drawing a line between us on purpose.
Today’s business trip to the academy was with her, and it was hard to have even a small conversation on the way here.
‘Well, it doesn’t matter because it’s more convenient for me.’
It’s a competitive relationship on the surface. There was no need to rush and make friends with people from the same department.
If you’re friendly with someone, you’ll eventually become close anyway.
Anyway, it wasn’t easy to find the right way in an era where you couldn’t find a map right away without a smartphone.
‘Still, it’s fun to walk.’
A few minutes to enjoy walking in the freshness of the Hongdae area.
I soon found a sign hanging from the second floor of the building.
It was a simple name.
However, that was not the case for the interior.
‘The professor said it was definitely small, but it’s actually very big.’
It was a large academy that used the second floor of a future commercial building.
I went up the stairs first, and Seo Ji-won followed me without saying a word.
It was the moment when I opened the doors of the academy and entered.
There was a familiar smell wafting through the air.
‘What is this smell?’
It smelled like a pencil.
And there was a familiar sound.
It was the sound of a pencil scribbling on a sheet of paper.
‘It’s been a while since I’ve seen this.’
About 20 students in a large space inside the academy were concentrating on their drawings. But they didn’t even spare a glance at me though they heard me coming in.
I knew the reason without saying it.
It was a practical mock test.
‘You’re working so hard.’
Professor Lee Jong said that it’s important to spend limited time efficiently.
I now understood what he meant.
It was a battlefield where you struggle to complete a single picture for three to four hours.
It was this kind of place.
It was safe to say it was a silent battlefield.
‘I don’t think the owner will say anything when he comes.’
I watched their struggles silently. Soon after, a handsome middle-aged man with a good presence approached me and asked.
“Are you Han Yewon’s students?”
It was the moment when that word came out.
The atmosphere in the room immediately changed.
The students, who were busy with their practice tests, visibly flinched.
It was obvious.
They responded to the words “Han Yewon’s student”.
Whether or not they are focusing on their practical skills, they have no choice but to be aware of the fact that successful applicants from the university, which can also be called their biggest goal on earth, have visited.
‘Well, college is just a preliminary round.’
I coughed in vain embarrassment and said, “Hmmmmm. I was introduced by Professor Lee Jong.”
“Oh, I knew it. It’s a good thing. Both of you are handsome and beautiful. Let’s go inside and talk about it.”
The academy director took us to the principal’s office.
When the heavy door was closed, the scribbling sounds from the pencils outside disappeared, and it became ghostly quiet.
A cup of coffee was set down on the table in front of me with a clink.
“Please have a drink.”
He sat down roughly on the sofa and said, “My name is Jung Gwang-chae, and I am the director. Lee Jong was a senior of mine when I was in school.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Make yourselves at home.”
“You can relax.”
He smiled and continued, “I’ve heard a lot about you. They bragged that you two were the best freshmen this year.”
“There’s nothing to be modest about. We’ve tried countless university student lecturers, but there’s no one like a student who was introduced to us by our seniors.”
A serious conversation ensued.
He also joked that he would like us to officially work here, and some formal remarks were exchanged that Han Yewon’s students should enjoy college life for a while.
By the time the atmosphere had ripened, Director Jeong Gwang-chae finally brought up the main topic.
“I heard that only one of you will enter the studio. Is that right?”
“You’re in a lot of trouble. If it were me, I would’ve hired both of you with open hands.”
He smiled kindly, then spoke in a serious tone, “But since I’ve already accepted this request, I’ll proceed with it.”
“The subject of the exam is as follows. I hope you two can set a great example for our students.”
This translation is presented by Nocturne Translations.