Helo welcom 2 my websight
A few days later, I was on my way to meet the team of young artists I'd be leading for the foreseeable future. Mr. Choi had told me it would be alright to postpone the meeting for a week or two considering my recent episode, but I told him I was quite alright and ready to go back to work. I wasn't lying either. Now that I didn't have to lie to Soo-Min about the nightmares (since I wasn't having any) and I felt more love for her than ever before, I felt like a man reborn. I felt as if I had been given a fresh start to do everything right that I had neglected before. I treated Soo-Min so well it would be unlikely that Manny would like to stop by anytime soon, and I started to take pleasure in the little things in life such as the children playing on the streets who woke me early in the afternoon and the warmth of the sun's rays when I was sitting at the dinner table. I even tried to eat with Soo-Min this morning since we both had to get up early, but as usual the meal didn't agree with me.
The studio I was visiting was located in the outskirts of Seoul, far away from the busy roads and throngs of people. I had worked in a studio before, when I was still a translator, and had always longed to be able to separate work from private life as easily as I could back then. Working at a studio had the benefit of not having to bring your work home with you, although I was sure that would still happen more often than not. My work day was rather short though, and I would mostly be making sure my team members would be working properly and in an organized fashion instead of going off like loose cannons like they had before. I was looking forward to it. Park Sunbaenim..
While I was zoning out, I almost slammed into the green Prius driving in front of me. I started wondering how I could still be alive after the zillionth near-accident that was caused by my constant absentmindedness, but managed to drag myself back to reality. Only a few more kilometers.
The sun had slowly risen during my time on the road, and it was now bathing the Seoul countryside in a shower of orange glow. I passed fields, meadows and rice paddies, farms and forests. The light was so beautiful, shining through fresh leaves that had only recently started growing. What a perfect day for a new beginning. I turned the wheel and drove into a dusty country road. It had a sign saying 'KHK' with a little blue monkey-like guy holding a large arrow pointing in the direction I was heading. The name of the studio complex was a joke only people with at least a passing familiarity with the anime and manga scene would get. Usually the coin wouldn't drop until they saw the sign above the entrance saying 'Welcome to the KHK' though.
The complex was quite big, a huge concrete building block dropped from the heavens into a flat landscape dominated by farm land. Many famous manga-ka and writers worked here, gaining inspiration from the quiet surroundings. I had the privilege of working with Nekojiru here, once, before she killed herself. I was working on translating her manga into Korean and she came to check up on my progress just that one time. She didn't say much, and in the end the project was abandoned because she had a disagreement with the Korean publisher.
The KHK was even bigger than I remembered; the wide concrete walls blocking off the sun, cooling the car down instantly. I snickered when I saw the sign.
'Welcome to the KHK
Korea Hikkikomori Kyoukai'
I parked my car on the meadow that doubled as a parking lot and went inside.
"Ahn-nyeong hasehyo," the peppy girl at the reception desk greeted me in a high pitched voice.
"Ahn-nyeong hasehyo." I took a small bow. "Could you please tell me where studio G3-34 is?"
"Of course." She smiled, it looked genuine. I have to admit I was a little surprised. Somewhere in the back of my head I was wondering if maybe everyone was having a great day today. "G means it's in the 'green' section, the 3 means the third floor and 34 is the studio number. Please take the elevator up and the signs there will show you right to your studio."
I nodded and smiled. "Thank you, have a nice day."
"You too, sir!"
They should give that girl a medal for being this perky this early in the morning. Her eyes were pretty too…
But I digress.
I rode the elevator up to the third floor and followed the signs to studio 34. They weren't kidding when they named this 'the green section'. Or maybe they were. The walls were covered in wallpaper depicting lush green forests and babbling brooks and sculptures of frogs, flowers and rotting eggs adorned the hallway. Okay, there was only one sculpture of a rotting green egg, but it made me laugh when I saw it. It made me wonder what the red section would look like. Or worse, what about yellow?
While I was coming up with any number of disgusting things they could've put in the halls, I reached a door with the number 34 etched into it. I knocked.
"We didn't order any food!" a young voice called from behind it, followed by a short "Auch! Okay, okay, I'm going."
The door opened, and I was greeted by a familiar face.
"Donjok!? I can't believe it!" I exclaimed with a huge grin on my face, "When the president said my artists would be unfocussed I didn't know he meant they wouldn't even be able to finish going to the toilet before getting distracted!"
Donjok laughed. "That was just that one time, jeez, let it go already."
"Of course not. So, you're gonna be our chaperone, huh?"
I had worked with Donjok in the past, when he was still a young cleaner and not an artist. I had actually told him to dream bigger when I saw the sketches he had made when he was bored. We worked on translating the One Piece manga from Japanese into Korean, so we had quite a while to get to know each other and his youthful enthusiasm had always charmed me. I was saddened when they replaced him by someone else who'd work for lower wages, but it never occurred to either of us to ask for each other's phone number or e-mail address.
"Looks like it," I answered, "although I was told I'd be leading two youn
g talents, not one young talent and a delinquent."
"Your words hurt me so," Donjok replied, and he opened the door further so I could step inside. "The young talent is this way."
A young man with messed up hair and scruffy looking stubble sat behind a large white desk covered in liners, pens and pencils. Every now and then his gaze would shift from the desk to the PC monitor next to him as his hands frantically moved across the paper.
I looked at Donjok.
"He's been like this all night. Said he wanted to catch up before the new boss arrived. Guess he didn't make it. He's not much different most of the time though."
"What do you mean, 'didn't make it'?" the boy said hoarsely,
"I am…." he lifted the paper he was working on from the desk and put it under the scanner behind him.
"just about…." the scanner started rumbling and an image slowly appeared on the screen.
"done!" He slammed his index finger unto the keyboard triumphantly, like some mad scientist.
He started turning his chair in my direction, only to drop his head on his desk
about half way there and slumping down. Shocked, I moved to support him.
"Don't worry about that," Donjok said when he saw the concern in my features, "He always does that. Works like the first of the North Star for a few hours and then collapses for at least as many."
I looked down at the collapsed heap of man, his short khaki pants stained with ink and his shirt covered in smudges.
"And I thought this job would be easy," I joked.
"Nothing ever is, my friend, nothing ever is."