Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Miracle on the Han

If you find the Korean phrases awkward, my apologies. I am learning Korean little by little so any errors in the language used here in my blog is mine and mine alone. 

The Miracle on the Han

Shin Hye takes a deep breath as she closes her eyes for a moment, taking in the sweet scent of the warm evening air. Pedaling at a slow, leisurely pace, she lets the soft wind sweeps away the cobwebs in her mind brought about by the stress of the day. For now, she wants to purge her character in the movie from her psyche, erase all the lines she recited, cut herself off from the crazy world that she calls her calling, her passion, her vocation, and just be Shin Hye, the ordinary girl who craves solitary moments like this.

She parks her bike after a few meters, her eyes momentarily distracted by the water’s sparkling façade. The twinkling lights from the buildings across the river dance on the Han’s calm surface as she stares in wonderment at their reflection. She has always been fascinated by reflections since she was young.  She still remembers how she loved to stare at herself in the mirror endlessly, making faces, trying on her omma’s pearls and make-up, her appa’s hats, or her oppa’s baseball caps. She wanted to see different sides of her in the mirror so she would often be found acting in front of it, faking a laugh, shedding a tear, making crazy faces, or singing a song. Her affair with mirrors led to her love of the camera which of course, eventually brought her to show business.

She smiles at the thought of how far she has come from those childhood memories. She is now 21. She has come of age and she now acts in front of real cameras, takes directions from PDs and film directors, interacts with real actors, memorize real scripts and gets paid for shedding tears, impersonating a boy, and, she giggles to herself, kissing flower boys.

Shin Hye checks her watch. The fan meet should have been over by now, she muses. She misses him everyday, especially during moments like this when the world seems to be at a standstill, where the chaotic world of showbusiness seems lightyears away, when the only sounds she can hear is the beating of her own heart and that of the flowing river before her. She thinks of his boisterous laugh and feels goosebumps on her skin. She never told him this but his laugh always makes her feel secure that everything will be alright in her world and his. His laugh gives her confidence that she can face whatever the world has to offer, as long as he is by her side. She pouts at her last thought, finding it a little too dependent of him. Of course I can face the world’s challenges with or without him. It will just be a more fun and lovelier ride if he is in it.

She allows herself a little shriek of giddiness at the memory of him making fun of her every chance he gets, enjoying her annoyance at his petty jokes, his penchance for stroking her ears to tickle her, his acquired habit of absently stroking her hair every time she gets near him, and yes, his endearing inclination to buy something for her wherever he goes, here or abroad. Ah, she never thought it was possible to love someone like this, or to be loved like this. Especially not in the world they live in. She and Keun Suk have always been grounded about their relationship from day one. They knew it would be a relationship that would be tested again and again by circumstances and people close and dear to them. “But wouldn’t it be great to prove us wrong, Shin Hye?” he had asked her, daring her to take the plunge with him by offering only his hand for her to hold, an indirect promise that he would be with her throughout the ride.

The sudden sound of her phone ringing jolts her from her reverie. Her heart does its usual cartwheels when she sees the ID of the caller. “Oppa,” she answers, not bothering to conceal her excitement.

Keun Suk yawns on the other line, then laughs. “Mianhe, Shin Hye-ah. I can barely open my eyes now. I am so tired from the fan meet. But I just want to talk to you before we both retire for the night.”

“Did you enjoy yourself, oppa? What about your parents, were they mobbed by the fans as well?”

Keun Suk laughs. “My eels were great as usual. They prepared a lot for me. Omma is used to them by now. She can even practice a good wave now, right, omma?” he asks then proceed to laugh at his omma in the background.

“Shin Hye-ah,” he comes back on the line after a few seconds.

Ne, oppa?

“Where are you now? On your way home?”

Ani, ani. I’m standing along the Han River right now, as we speak, with my bike.”

Sinchia? Who’s with you? Isn’t it a little late now to go biking?” Concern is evident in his voice.

“I’m with my manager, oppa. And don’t worry, we will be going home in a while. I just wanted to bike and feel the wind on my face. It’s a beautiful night out here, you know. Perfect for biking.”

Keun Suk sighs. “Maybe when I get back, we can find time to bike together somewhere in the country. Or, no. We will definitely make the time to have that trip. Then we can go fishing after. What do you think?”

Shin Hye warms at the thought and she feels touched at Keun Suk’s gesture. She knows how frustrated he gets whenever he can not do the things she loves doing with him, like biking. He knows how the activity calms her nerves and soothes her tired soul. And he wants her to do it with him, as a couple.

“Sounds like a plan, oppa,” she says, feeling excited herself.

“You bet it is. We’re on the road right now to Osaka. Before long I will be home. And before you know it, you will be bickering non-stop with me again,” he jokes, obviously trying to mask the longing in his voice.

Shin Hye knows him well enough to pick it up, though. “Ya, oppa. You are missing me too soon,” she jokes, but a slight quiver in her voice belies her own feelings. They have not seen each other in two weeks and she is now feeling the void.

“Look who’s talking,” is the expected reply, “I can hear you crying even from a thousand miles away.”

“Of course not! My eyes are dry, oppa.”

Noreul bogoshipo,” Keun Suk says, his tone changing. I miss you.

“Nado nomu bogo shipo, oppa,” Shin Hye replies back, her heart aching. I miss you so much, too.

“Go home now, Shin Hye. It’s getting late. And I will be more at ease knowing you are safely home.”

Ahrasso, oppa. I’m going home now.”

“I will be home soon. I will see you then,” he says before hanging up.

Turning her bike towards the direction of her van, Shin Hye turns to look one more time at the Han River. The world regards the rise of South Korea from the ashes of the Korean War as the Miracle on the Han, a feat every Korean is proud of. But to ordinary residents of Seoul such as herself, the Han River offers simple miracles everyday. Miracles such as finding a momentary respite after a busy day, getting in touched with your inner self on solitary walks by the river banks, and, getting into intimate conversations with someone special from far away, creating a happiness you never thought you could find this early in your life.

Ah, but the Han River weaves miracles, right? And it just created one just for her tonight.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ice Cream

Just a short fic to satisfy my craving on a hot, humid day. :P

Ice Cream

You look at her, discreetly, while your fingers deftly peel off the paper wrapping on the ice cream cone and sigh. What did I do? You want to ask but her silence for the past fifteen minutes has been scaring you that you just don’t want to utter a word for now lest you might send her off the edge. Heaven knows how your tactless tongue can have a mind of its own sometimes.

But didn’t she arrange for this spur-of-the-moment meeting just now? From out of the blue, she said “Oppa, I’m on my way home from shooting. Do you want to grab some ice cream with me at the corner store? The heat is getting to me.”

And you readily agreed. Pissed off as you were from some unscrupulous comments you saw online about your friends, you thought an ice cream break and an unexpected meet-up with your favourite girl would be a breather from all the chaotic hoopla. You were simmering a bit and have been posting cheerful messages for your fans and chatting with them when she called. Ah, the unexpected freebies of dating someone, you mused while getting dressed. A silly smile plastered on your face. Suddenly, the world was beginning to be a better place once again, all because of her spontaneous call.

But you didn’t expect this silence. Or that frown, and certainly, not the little dagger looks she throws your way every now and then. Is she PMS-ing?

“How did the shoot go? Have seen some of the photos you uploaded on your site. In the last one you posted, you seemed a little tired,” you say very carefully. Going the concerned route is always the safest way to make a conversation when you don’t know what direction the wind is blowing.

She grunts in response, the ice cream on her hand seems more interesting than your face right now.

The interior of your khan seems to close on you as you wait for her to finish eating her ice cream. Yours is melting fast in your hands and you quickly lick it off. Maybe you both can talk later when all the ice cream is gone. You hope so.

Another ten minutes passed, the ice creams are gone from both of your hands and she is still not talking. She has just been staring ahead. And…okay, that’s it. You are not taking all this crap now. She has to talk to you.

“Shin Hye, what’s wrong? You haven’t talked to me since you arrived.”

She turns to you, her eyes conveying the words she is trying so hard to suppress. She is annoyed…and, you panic, mad?

“What did I do? Tell me.” If there is something you cannot stand, it is Shin Hye getting angry at you without knowing why exactly.

You hear her sigh heavily. “I knew you were upset over things posted against you and your friends online. I saw it this morning while I was online during my break. So I thought of inviting you out to talk and get some ice cream tonight. So I did, oppa,” she says finally, her voice strained.

You nod, trying to hide the little smile you want to give her for the thought. You know there is more for her to rant.

“But on my way here, I went online again, stalking your site like a certified Eel,” she scoffs at the words. “And what did I see, oppa?” Her voice is rising a little higher now. Oh, she is really irritated now, you can see that.

“Your messages were cheerful again and I was glad. But…” she pauses, inhaling deeply. “But…did you really have to post that topless photo?!”

You blink, once, twice. Incredulously, you ask, phrasing the question carefully, “So, you mean all this silent treatment is about that photo?”

You see her cheeks flush then her eyes darting from your face. “I haven’t even seen that photo yet! I didn’t know you have that…and, don’t you think that’s a little too revealing to post for your fans?!”

You shake your head. “It’s just fan service, Shin Hye,” you purse your lips to suppress the laughter threatening to spill off.  “And you haven’t seen that one? Are you sure?”

She pouts. “If I have seen that do you think I will be this surprised?”

You give her an evil grin, feeling naughty all of a sudden. “Well, I can show you that pose now, if you want?” you tell her with a wink.

She locks gaze with yours, her pupils dilating with shock, then, alarm. “Ya, oppa! Don’t you dare!” Her face is now as red as the shawl she wears.

You break into a guffaw. Ah, this is why you love this girl. She has your heart in her silver palm but you…you can turn her into a pile of incoherent mush anytime you want.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just Like the Movies

A plot that has been lurking in my mind since early this year when Mama Jang and her fortune teller started making the headlines. Meeting the parents is always a moment worthy of a fanfic, right? This is for Dorothy, my friend from the Land of Oz (kidding!), who writes kick-ass song lyrics and fanfics about KS2H. She celebrates her birthday on the 25th of May. Maligayang Kaarawan, Dot!

Just Like the Movies

Shin Hye scans the interior of the restaurant nervously, fidgeting her dainty Tiffany necklace. She strains her neck towards the entrance everytime a customer is ushered by one of the kimono-clad staff. She checks her watch. Five minutes to seven in the evening. She arrived fifteen minutes early and deliberately so. She did not want to make the person she is about to meet to wait that’s why. And she desperately wants to make a good impression.

She has acted out this scene a couple of times in her career. But in real life, this is the first time she will be doing this and suddenly she wishes she has a ready script at hand so she could just blurt out her memorized lines because God knows she cannot do any adlibs now even if she wants to. She is too nervous to even think coherently now. Oppa, you should be here with me at this moment. I need you here.

Although Keun Suk has agreed to join them for dinner, he said he would only come an hour later to give them time to talk and get to know each other better. She initially balked at the idea but Keun Suk insisted. “It is omma’s request, Shin Hye,” he said, his eyes sparkling with unabashed mirth. He was obviously enjoying her uneasiness.

“Park Shin Hye-ssi?” a gentle voice calls out to her, cutting her reverie. The lyrical voice comes from the beautiful face smiling at her just now and Shin Hye abruptly stands up to give her greeting.  

“Anyeong haseyo,” Shin hye shyly bows before the elegantly coiffed woman standing in front of her.

“Anyeong haseyo,” the older woman replies back with a smile and takes her seat across Shin Hye.


Jang Keun Suk’s omma smiles inwardly, amused and pleased, at the young woman in front of her. This is not the first time she is meeting Park Shin Hye, the actress. They have been introduced before and have met her twice when she used to visit her son at the set of the drama. But this is the first time she is meeting Shin Hye as Keun Suk’s girlfriend and although her son has practically informed the whole world that his omma is very fond of Shin Hye, still she wants to personally convey her blessings on the relationship and maybe hear for herself how Shin Hye really feels about her only son. Hence, she asked to meet the pretty young lady, who is currently busy getting nervous before her presence.

“How have you been, Shin Hye-ssi? I heard from my Keun Suk you have been busy with projects lately,” she asks before taking a sip of tea.

Shin Hye smiles politely, keeping her gaze slightly low. “Ne, eom—eomoni,” she stammers. “I am currently filming a new film.”

Keun Suk’s omma smiles, noting how Shin Hye almost choked when she addressed her as ‘mother’.

“Omma, be nice to her, please. Don’t make her squirm too much, ahrasso?” Keun Suk had begged before he dropped her off at the restaurant earlier.

“My Keun Suk is a handful, don’t you think so?” she lays down the bait. “He is stubborn and very, very strong-willed. Has he not given you any headaches yet?”

Shin Hye’s eyes lit up at the question which make her anticipate for the answer. “Aniyo, eomoni,” she says. “I am strong-willed myself so I often understand where he is coming from. He is just full of ideas and passion that he always wants to act on them instantly. I often ask him to slow down and just enjoy what he is doing. There’s no need to rush and do everything simultaneously. He is young and has a plenty of time to do everything, one at a time.”

The older woman nods her head in agreement. That’s what she has always been telling Keun Suk. Do not rush. You have the advantage of youth. Do not overwork yourself. Do not keep running. No one is chasing after you. And it seems that she shares the same sentiments with Shin Hye.

“Shin Hye-ssi, don’t you find it a burden that he is an actor?” Keun Suk’s omma knows she must ask this question. She knew his son’s romantic history. Although she has not always been privy to all his relationships, she does know that the last time Keun Suk’s heart was broken, it has been because he had to choose between his career and his girlfriend. She knows her son like she knows the lines on her palm. And it would really hurt her if this budding relationship with Shin Hye would end to nothing again just because of busy schedules and work. She likes this girl and she wants her son to be happy for real. So she has to know Shin Hye’s heart.

Shin Hye’s eyes grow solemn at the question, as if understanding the reason behind it. “I am an actress, too, eomoni. And yes, the most ideal thing for me to do is to not date someone from the business if I want a boyfriend who would be there for me every time I want to go to the movies or go fishing in the countryside, or to just openly date like normal couples do.”

“But,” Shin Hye continues, “The Jang Keun Suk I like is not an ordinary guy, eomoni. He is an actor. His schedule is more hectic than mine. He will never be there right away whenever I want him. And yes, sometimes he even has to check his manager if he is free on a certain day just so we can date. But I don’t really mind, eomoni. Because I, too, belong in his world. I know how things work and I understand.”

Keun Suk’s omma smiles warmly at Shin Hye’s explanation. “You must really like my Keun Suk,” she quips. It was not a question, she was just stating a fact she now considers to be true.

Shin Hye’s cheeks turn into deep crimson at the remark. She meekly bows her head and smiles.

“Keun Suk likes you, too. And he is very proud of you, you know that? He says you are far wiser than your age. And I can see that, now. I agree. Your parents raised you well, Shin Hye.”

Kamsahamnida, eomoni. You have raised Oppa well, too. And he loves you so,” Shin Hye answers.

Keun Suk’s omma gives out a hearty laugh. “Oh, he should. He doesn’t have much choice, does he? He’s my only child, after all.”

 Just then, as if on cue, like in the movies, a distinctively manly voice interjects from out of nowhere. “Sillaehamnida, omma, Shin Hye, but I think I heard my name just now.”

Shin Hye beams at the smiling face of Keun Suk, her heart bursting with relief that he has finally arrived, and pride, that she has managed to make his omma laugh.

The fortune teller must have been right, after all. She and her oppa might just have been a match approved by the heavens.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


This one was written for my friend who is celebrating her birthday today, the 23rd of May. This is for you, Maizey. :)


The minute she sees the black Range Rover skirts through the parking lot, Shin Hye’s pulse starts to race. She laughs at herself, as she smooths her skirt, licking her suddenly parched lips and smile radiantly at the direction of the car. He does really make her heart race without much effort, doesn’t he? So effortlessly that just the sight of his car awakens the butterflies in her stomach this late at night. Two successive honks let her know that he already spotted her from where she sits on a bench in the park where Shin Hye and her co-stars have been filming since early that afternoon. The shoot had wrapped up half an hour ago and all that has been left at the park are a few filming crew, her manager who is dozing off in the van and her stylist who is busily scouring online sites for fashion finds. Shin Hye just bargained to wait for Keun Suk and meet him even for awhile before she heads home. Manager Jun just couldn’t say no to her.

It is a warm spring night. And the eternal summer of her life is just a few feet away, walking towards her as he eases out of his new toy - his Khan.

“Hey you,” he calls out, his smile bright, belying the tired knots on his temples and the fatigue on his eyes. She knows that he didn’t have a decent sleep for days.

“Oppa,” she softly calls out, stretching out her hands for him to hold. “Is the party over?”

“Not yet,” he says, squeezing her hands tight as he pulls her close to him, enveloping her tiny frame in a warm, tight embrace. “I missed you, today,” he mumbles through her hair.

She feels the goosebumps attacking her with a vengeance. “I missed you, too, Oppa.”

She peers over his shoulder at the Range Rover parked a few feet away and asks, “Did you drive here by yourself?”

He lets go of her and ushers her to sit on the bench. “I did. The party’s a success but I needed to get out of there quick before I lose my wits over some people’s utter disregard for privacy.”

Shin Hye stares at him, her brows furrowing in curiosity. “Why? What happened?”

He shakes his head dismissively. “Nothing. Some people just couldn’t help themselves to take pictures even when I repeatedly begged them not to. But that’s fine. I can let go of that on better days, I suppose. But not today. I’m just tired and my patience is wearing thin.”

She purses her lips, perfectly understanding his sentiment. Between the two of them, Keun Suk has always been the more outgoing, giving and accommodating to his fans. While she shuns public attention behind the cameras, Keun Suk does not. She values her privacy the most and she retreats to her secluded private life whenever she gets the chance. Keun Suk, on the other hand, thrives in the public eye. He shares his life, public or private, to his fans and yes, unknowingly, even to the anti-fans. So seeing him exasperated like this over a trespass on his privacy is something new to her, albeit not uncommon.

“Did they take pictures of you at the party? At the Lounge?”

He nods, absently playing with her hand, tracing circles on her palm. “It’s not a showbiz event, Shin Hye. It’s a school event. It’s within Hanyang premises, for god’s sake. And in there, I am not Jang Geun Suk the actor-slash-celebrity. In there, I am just plain Jang Keun Suk the Theater and Film student. Why can’t some people respect that? Is that asking too much? To not film the private me? That is my sacred ground.” He speaks calmly but she detects the edginess in his voice.

“Oppa,” she speaks to him tenderly, caressing his face with her palm, smoothing his hair away from his face. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don’t know the thin line that separates our public selves from our private personas. And sadly, these are also the very same people who love us as fans, who buy tickets to our shows, line up for our autographs, shout our names from the crowd…I know how you feel. I understand your frustration. But this is all part of the package of being a celebrity, right?”

Keun Suk heaves a sigh. “I know. But sometimes I also get fed up. I just don’t want to have everything I do to be broadcasted online, documented with photos and video clips. Actually, I am a little disappointed that no photos of us sitting so close together like this ever circulated yet. This could have been the icing on any paparazzo’s cake. Jang Keun Suk sitting with Park Shin Hye in the dark – what a scoop, right?” he jokes, his words lace with sarcasm.

Shin Hye’s hand automatically covers his mouth, shutting him up. “Oppa! That’s not a nice joke. We’ve just been especially discreet, that’s all. There’s no need to alert the moles and scare the fans!”

Keun Suk laughs. “Who’s scared? My fans? Ah, you think so little of my fans, Shin Hye-ssi. I am deeply offended,” he mockingly clutches his heart.

Shin Hye scoffs. “So you think they will like me if they know you are seeing me like this during ungodly hours?”

He casually drapes his arm around her shoulders. “First, I am meeting you at this hour because it’s the only free time our crazy schedule permits us to have. Second, I am not an idol, Shin Hye. I am an actor. My fans love me for the characters I breathe to life in the movies and dramas. My career is not and will never be gauged by a single song or performance alone. Even if I will just play the smallest part in the script, I will still be called an actor. So, no, I am not worried that I will be out of job if and when my fans learn that I am dating someone. To think otherwise will be like insulting them, actually.”

“So will it be alright if we just go public about our relationship, then?” Shin Hye asks, daring him.

Keun Suk looks at her with steady gaze, his eyes probing. “You know I can call off your bluff in a heart beat, Shin Hye,” he quips. “But you perfectly know too that when it comes to you, to us, I value my privacy above everything else.”

She bows her head, feeling chastised. “What I feel towards you will never ever be gossip fodder. I promised you that. And that promise still stands. I can give them a teaser of what is really happening but that will be all. I will never cross the line. I can give them all the fan service they want from me. But to subject you and this relationship to public scrutiny, that I will never do.”

He strokes her hair gently, pulling her close. “Because like Hanyang, like home, you are my sacred ground. No one steps here without my permission,” he recites solemnly, like a pledge, like a prayer.

Ahrasso?” he asks, planting a soft kiss on her forehead.

The chilly, spring breeze nips as the clock strikes midnight, seeping through the light cardigan she wears. But Shin Hye can only feel the warmth of the sun that is yet to rise from the horizon hours from now.

Summer has just paid her an early, surprise visit and she feels blessed. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Inspired by yet another magazine interview (I-Weekly Issue No. 653) Thank you Karen for the translation and Siti for the source. You can view it here . And oh, I'd like to dedicate this to Girlie Moore.


“Will you and Shin Hye be a real life couple?”

Jang Keun Suk looks at the interviewer, a smile playing on his lips as he digests the translated version of the question posed to him in Chinese.

Man, the media here is a lot more fun than in Korea, he silently muses as he laughs mischievously at the question. No Korean media would dare ask him this question back home. The entertainment reporters know the rules too well. No personal questions linking one actor to the other, please, unless if it has been agreed upon previously by both stars’ agencies to generate more scandal and attention to the drama/movie/project they are collaborating. Questions are even pre-approved by managers and talent agencies before the interviewer sits down with the actors. A lot of censorship goes into play in every interview, every TV guesting, every photoshoot that fans do not know about. Something which has always bothered actors like Keun Suk who want to hide nothing from the public, especially to the fans who love and support him. But the harsh realities of Korean entertainment dictate that he conforms to the system, especially with things that could potentially harm his career, like, questions about his personal life, for one.  People back home are very cautious about everything, Keun Suk complains, too cautious that they are missing all the fun.

But the international media is an entirely different story. As he embarks on his Asian Tour, from Taiwan, Beijing and now Singapore, he became aware that every entertainment industry has its own brand of censorship and norms. In some countries, asking straight-forward questions about an artist’s personal relationship with his co-actors seems to be as normal as asking about the weather, instead of being regarded as intruding. He is amused with the idea.

And man, this guy is persistent, he notes, referring to the over-enthusiastic reporter who fielded him the question. He thought he already dodged the question about him and Park Shin Hye the first time the reporter told him that a lot of fans seem to hope that he and Shin Hye could be a real life couple just like in the drama. Keun Suk had been taken aback by the question. He was not prepared to react to that. Of all the promotional interviews he did for the drama, in his fan meetings and in magazine interviews, no one had ever broached the concept of a “real-life couple” with Shin Hye in the same context as the interviewer was doing now.

He was caught off guard by the question but he quickly recovered from it and gave the safest answer he knew was appropriate for situations like that --- lavishing Shin Hye with all the great attributes he found attractive in her, hoping that the question about his pretty Go Mi Nam would stop there. But he was wrong.

The reporter rephrased the question but essentially asked the same thing over again. Is there a chance that he and Shin Hye can be a real-life couple?

He might have noticed that my answer was not responsive to his question, Keun Suk inwardly laughs at himself. Smart guy, this one.

The interpreter noona starts to repeat the question again but Keun Seuk stops her with his hand, smiling at her sheepishly, as he turns to his interviewer with eyes shining, giving a hearty laugh, before saying, “Who knows?”

In the corner of his eyes, Keun Suk could see Keunsama, his manager, shaking his head in resignation while mouthing the words “Punk” at his direction. He laughs. What did he do now, again? That’s the first thing that came to his mind. Or scrap that. That was the safest thing that came to his mind. So, could anyone blame him for being candid?


Keun Suk checks the clock at his hotel room’s bedside table. 8:00 P.M. It would be around 9 in the evening in Korea now, he calculates the time. Lying flat on his back at the king-size bed, he listens patiently at Snow Patrol’s husky and raspy voice on the other line as he waits for her to pick up.

“Finally…” comes the familiar lilting, soft voice on the other line, a little out of breath, he notices.

“Are you at the gym?” he asks, a little concerned. He waits patiently as she steadies her breath.

Ani, oppa. I was jumping rope here in my room while waiting for your call,” she confesses shyly.

He chuckles at the thought. “Still being productive even when waiting for me, huh? You’re too cute, you know that?”

He hears her pout over the phone. “I still have a lot of weight to lose, you know that. And the filming is about to start.”

Keun Suk knows that, of course. He pretty knows how Shin Hye can be so stubbornly dedicated to her projects that she would stop at nothing to perfect her craft. “Just don’t get too skinny like chopsticks, ahrasso?”

She laughs. “Even if I want to, you know I couldn’t.”

“You suit me just fine,” he assures her. “Guess what happened to me today?”

“What? Some guy asked you for a kiss again, oppa?” she jokes.

They laugh in unison. He had recounted to her in his last phone call about the weird guy who asked for a kiss in the press conference and obviously, they both haven’t recovered from the hilarity of it yet.

“No. Someone asked me today if Jang Geun Suk and Park Shin Hye have a chance to be a real-life couple.”

He hears her steady breathing as she digests what he just said. “A fan?”

Ani. A reporter,” he answers.

“What did you say?”

“I told him I have to ask you first,” he teases.

“Oppa! You didn’t!”

He ignores her protest. “So what’s the right answer to that, in your opinion?”

All he can hear from the other line is her breathing.

“Shin Hye!” he warns her, loving the way the conversation is going. Oh, how he loves to play a prank on Shin Hye and push her buttons.

“You probably answered something scandalous again, oppa,” she replies, gnashing her teeth.

“I did not!”

“Then why do I have the feeling that your answer in that interview would land on the top searches in Naver in the next few days, again?” she hisses.

“Just answer me, Shin Hye. Are Park Shin Hye and Jang Geun Suk going to be a real-life couple?” he repeats, mirth dripping in his voice.

“No!” Shin Hye plays along, “Because Jang Geun Suk always loves to make fun of Park Shin Hye. And so Park Shin Hye hates his guts!”

“Do you really mean that?” Keun Suk drawls, dropping his voice a little lower to make it appear that he becomes serious all of a sudden. “You hate me?”

He hears a dejected sigh at the other end. Then silence.

Keun Suk waits patiently, smiling. He knows Shin Hye is just deliberating whether to give in to him or not and he is enjoying her indecision.

Then his reward finally comes through from a thousand miles away. “Ahrasso, oppa. No, of course I don’t hate your guts. I was joking. Mianhe. You know how much I like you, right, Oppa?” she says, her voice tender, her tone sheepish. “I am just not comfortable talking about us in public, you know that. And when you keep dropping hints like that in your interviews, I always get a heart attack. You love to tease me so much I couldn’t outwit you. And I get frustrated every time,” she explains, her words sounding like a lullaby to his tired mind and body.

“Shin Hye…” he whispers to the receiver, missing her a lot now.

“And about the correct answer to that reporter’s question,” Shin Hye continues, “I hope you could have told them the truth, Oppa.”

Keun Suk smiles warmly at her words. “And what is the truth, Shin Hye?”

Her voice drops a few notches, “That Jang Keun Suk will have the chance to be with Park Shin Hye for real…if only…”

He sits up straight at her words. “If only?!” he asks, incredulous.

Ne, oppa. If only he learns when to stop pushing her buttons, once in a while. If only he tells her outright that he misses her instead of pulling pranks on her every chance he gets. If only he stops mentioning her name in fan meets because he very well knows that she is afraid of the backlash of getting too associated with him. If only he lets her have her way more often,” she sighs, “If only, oppa.”

“Ya! What are you saying? Hey, are we not a real-life couple yet?” Keun Suk asks, suddenly feeling a little insecure, his voice getting huskier as he tries to sweetly pacify an obviously irked Shin Hye.

He flinches at her sugar-coated reply, “Who knows, oppa?”