Chapter 5 - Ghost of the Recording Studio
The accident left Yeonseon’s face completely pulverized without a trace. The tire of the truck that crashed into Yeonseon’s car crushed his face. The corpse was only recognizable as “Yeonseon Ham” thanks to the clothes he was wearing. I couldn’t recognize him either.
“Huh?” Just as my cigarette was burning near the filter, someone came into the smoking room. Maybe it wasn’t accurate to describe their entrance with “came into,” since the smoking “room” was an outdoor space. Anyway, as he entered through the ivory-painted metal door, the person’s eyes opened wide when he saw me. I nodded to him in greeting. “Hello.”
I recognized him because he was filming with me until just a moment ago. It was Woorim Eun, the K-pop idol singer who told the urban legend of the mansion with 101 doors. Just like how he looked, he spoke to me amicably. “So this is where you went.”
Even if his group was unpopular and even if he was an adult, should an active idol singer smoke in the corner of a building? Despite my questions, Woorim adeptly pulled out a cigarette and placed it in his mouth. He gestured, asking to borrow a light, so I handed him my lighter.
After lighting his cigarette, he looked at me and grinned. “It’s all right, my group’s fans… most of them are gone, and the only ones remaining are very loyal to us. They just pass things like this off without a fuss. Even if we go to a club, they turn a blind eye. Some even call cabs for us when we leave.”
“Well, that’s… They’re good people then.”
“They’ve gotten stronger after going through all sorts of hardships.” Woorim snickered and then turned his eyes to the view below the terrace. Seeing as he smiled and waved his hands, he must have seen someone nearby who was probably his fan. Even though I wasn’t thinking of making a comeback to the entertainment world, I wanted to avoid any commotion in the short time that I was going to be active, so I stepped back.
No matter how unpopular, an idol singer was an idol singer. I didn’t want to get involved by getting a picture taken together. Fans weren’t the only ones who could sneakily snap pictures of currently active idols. Even if it was simply for the purpose of noise marketing, I didn’t want to be used by the management agencies.
“The ghost of the recording studio. I wish I saw it with my own eyes too, at least once,” Woorim, who was watching me back away into the corner, mumbled with his cigarette still stuck between his lips. His pronunciation was slightly slurred because of it, but it wasn’t to the point that I couldn’t understand. He smiled at me. It didn’t look like a smile out of joy, but just a habitual business smile. “Why did you quit after only recording? If you had just continued to pursue your career, you would have made it big.”
“If you see a real ghost as I have, I’m sure you’ll want to quit too.” My career in the industry was as lousy as that of a trainee at any agency. After being discovered at a singing competition for average people, I featured in a song for a singer with the agency, and since the reaction was positive, I was preparing for an official debut—that was all. I’d only stood on a proper stage three times. Moreover, I was only the guest, not the main event.
I did appear on television a few times since I was one of the few celebrities who had seen a ghost in a recording studio.
That wasn’t to say that I was frequently called to talk shows like today. The clip depicting my situation at the time was simply replayed on TV several times. From entertainment news shows to variety shows with a horror theme for the episode, they would repeatedly play that clip every summer.
The video was extremely short at around two to three minutes.
As the story went, the video would start with my face recording a song in the studio. After I had sung for a few seconds, I would suddenly stop. I looked shocked by something before letting out a short scream and throwing off my headphones. My face was pale and I stared at a certain spot.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
The bewildered faces of the people around me would briefly appear on the screen before they would walk to the spot at which I was staring. However, before the camera panned to that spot, the screen would distort into gray noise, like what one would see only in the early hours of the morning before the first broadcast. By that point, only the audio functioned properly, letting one hear the murmurs of the people surrounding me.
Then, one would hear a voice. “Why? Is my face strange?”
The words were clear amidst the noise.
It was Yeonseon’s voice.
At the time, Yeonseon and I were preparing to debut as a duo. Yeonseon couldn’t readily become close to strangers, yet I could get so close because of this. I was with Yeonseon all day every day for almost half a year, as colleagues.
The song I was recording was the only solo song in the album. So Yeonseon didn’t really need to come to watch… Did I mention that Yeonseon could only show his true feelings when he was with other people?
That was why we always followed each other when we were in public spaces. That was the only way we could mimic something that resembled a romantic relationship.
The person who was filming at the time was Yeonseon’s younger brother, Hyehyun Ham. When Hyehyun heard that his brother was going to debut, he followed his brother and poked around in curiosity. This was also around the time that Yeonseon used his strange personality as an excuse to bring Hyehyun as his manager.
Hyehyun Ham said he was recording the video to use it for a promotional video. Afterward, since I gave up on my career, the clips from that day couldn’t be used for promotion, so they were released on the internet.
The management agency was the one that decided to release the video, and Yeonseon was the one who played along on TV shows about the recording studio story.
Although I gave up on my career, Yeonseon still debuted as a solo artist. All the songs that were made for two had to be rearranged for one, and the songs that were already recorded had to be re-recorded. However, Yeonseon didn’t resent me for it. Instead, he said that he wished that my voice was a part of his first album.
He wanted my incomplete solo song to be a part of his album. The agency wanted to strategically use the press to link Yeonseon with the keyword “ghost,” so they listened to his wish. I felt like I had to agree because I felt sorry for leaving the agency and Yeonseon with just troubles.
Although, on the inside, I thought that Yeonseon would make it even without the ghost story.
If I was the goblin, Yeonseon was the second man with the lumps in the story. The liar who only received another lump from the goblins. Yeonseon was always good at singing from the moment he was born, so perhaps it wasn’t right to compare him to the lumpy old man.
Furthermore, unlike me, who borrowed only the sound of my voice from another, Yeonseon was a true singer with great projection and solid technique. If my song attracted the dredges of the world, his song could entrance the people who listened.
Yeonseon told me that his dream was to become a singer. It was also his parents’ wish. So while he was growing up, he took music lessons seriously. Because there was nobody who was against his dream, he could walk the path of a singer relatively easily.
He once told me that the biggest obstacle in fulfilling his dreams was himself. It was true. During his singing career, his biggest hurdle was his bizarre personality.
In any case, despite the agency’s concerns, Yeonseon was loved by people for his singing. He received the newcomer’s award or something that year, I think. Even if they didn’t use the ghost story to draw interest, Yeonseon would have been able to succeed. Although it was understandable for the agency to be concerned because a lot of things needed to be redone along the way.
Truth be told, when I agreed to have my song included in his album, I didn’t expect my story would be circulated around the entertainment industry for this long. Undoubtedly, the management agency and Yeonseon who played along had no idea either.
After all, there were plenty of celebrities who had their own strange stories about their recording studios as well…
If one were to ask if all those witnesses also produced big hits, the answer would be no. That was why even if a newbie said that they thought their album would make a hit because they saw a ghost in the studio, the public assumed that this was just a made-up script, overlooked it, and then forgot about it.
When he received the end of the year newcomer’s award, even though Yeonseon said that he thought this was thanks to seeing the ghost while recording, people reacted with, “Oh, right, that happened. Does he still believe that? Isn’t it about time to stop talking about it?” I thought that was the end of it.
…However, my story made a complete revival after Yeonseon died in a car accident.
The video always ended with my frightened voice. “Who are you? Why are you on Yeonseon?”
“Just what did you see?” Woorim asked at the same time the ashes from my cigarette dropped. The ashes fell on my shirt so after brushing it off, I threw away the completely dead cigarette in a nearby trash can.
The inside of my mouth felt sandy. I felt like it was about time that I headed back to the studio because, by that time, Hyehyun would have come with my coffee and searched for me. But putting aside the fact that I felt uncomfortable sitting in a closed space with Hyehyun, I felt suffocated there… I rubbed together my right index finger and thumb that still smelled strongly of tobacco.
He didn’t receive an answer from me, but he didn’t seem to care for it anyway. Woorim asked a follow-up question, “Was it a grim reaper after all?”
I ended up laughing at that. I hadn’t heard that in a while.