Aura of a Genius Actor Chapter 91

Chapter 91 - The Emperor's True Intentions

༺ The Emperor’s True Intentions ༻


  Finally, Jeong Mong-ju began to recite the poem he had swiftly composed. 


  Wielding a three-foot sword, he soared like a dragon to conquer the world,

  And heroes of the era all came forth to aid. 

  Seo Seung-sang, who pledged with Taishan and the Yellow River, 

  And Lee Tae-sa, who ruled heaven and earth.

  In the garden pond of the prince’s mansion, spring radiance abounded,

  And moonlight shone over the royal pavilion.

  Indeed, descendants of the era’s heroes

  Let us all enjoy peace and promise each other longevity. 


  The poem that was recited with a slightly hoarse voice was masculine and powerful. 


  It was a performance that emphasized the powerful spirit of Emperor Hongwu, who subdued the Yuan dynasty and founded a new nation.


  The passages also included the loyalty and competence of Zhu Yuanzhang’s close aides, Seo Seung-sang and Lee Tae-sa.


  The strength in his voice carried the unwavering spirit of a scholar who faced the brink of life and death, and it silenced the grand set. The poem’s boldness and beauty praised Zhu Yuanzhang’s achievements, leaving the subject himself unable to hide his pride.


  [Indeed, such spirit and skill are rare to find in this vast Ming empire.] 


  Zhu Yuanzhang praised him joyfully.


  [I truly covet your talent. But since you’ve gifted me such a splendid poem, I must honor my promise. You refused a title in Ming, so tell me your wish instead.] 


  Zhu Yuanzhang’s face, which was usually skeptical and guarded around his subordinates, was now visibly relaxed.


  Jeong Mong-ju straightened his back and spoke.


  [Your Majesty, I am profoundly grateful for your kindness and generosity. The honor of composing a poem for Your Majesty is a lifelong glory for me, and I need no further reward…] 




  Jeong Mong-ju carefully chose his words and Zhu Yuanzhang urged him on, intrigued.


  [Our nation suffers invasions from the north and south, and cries of our people echo throughout the land. I humbly request the consideration of the great empire of Ming.]


  Zhu Yuanzhang was deeply moved by the young envoy’s integrity and loyalty, who sought nothing for himself.


  [Bring back the tribute presented by the Goryeo envoy.]


  Thus, the tribute was returned, and better treatment for Goryeo followed.


  Jeong Mong-ju boldly faced the Emperor of the vast continent, who was renowned for his cruelty.


  Hansung embodied Jeong Mong-ju’s will and skill as if it were his own, and it left Yoomyeong and everyone present in awe.




  Clap clap clap clap— 


  As the director called a cut, the actors and staff applauded unanimously. 


  Luo Derong extended his hand towards Hansung.


  [I’m impressed!]


  “…Thank you.”


  Though unsure of his words, Hansung recognized the praise from Luo Derong’s expression and tone. Having admired Luo Derong’s acting himself, he eagerly shook his hand.


  [I apologize for yesterday. As the actor pointed out, my perspective was narrow. If I respected the director, I should have trusted his choice of actors, too. I’m ashamed of my overeagerness and shallow viewpoint.] 


  Hansung, unable to understand Luo Derong’s loud and expressive Chinese, became flustered. 


  “Uh… I don’t speak Chinese…”


  [That boldness when you recited the poem, and above all, that overpowering gaze when you first locked eyes with the Hongwu Emperor!] 


  “What’s he saying…?”


  [There are so many talented actors in Korea. It’s amazing how such a small country has so much talent. Your movies and dramas too…] 




  [What was your major work called again? A colleague mentioned it yesterday. Please tell me, and I’ll definitely check it out. I hope we can work together again someday.] 


  “Let’s just leave it…”


  Chinese people might not readily open their hearts to others, but they were known for being deeply affectionate to those they accept as their own. Luo Derong’s praises continued endlessly while the director was busy monitoring.


  Yoomyeong, who heard Luo Derong’s compliments through Miho from afar, smiled wryly.


  Tomorrow was his turn.




  The next day.


  They were going to film the scene where Lee Saek and Lee Bang-won went to visit the Ming dynasty.


  The shooting location was in the audience hall, where the emperor met the envoy.


  The Emperor sat high above on the dais while Lee Saek, Lee Bang-won, and the other envoys bowed with their heads on the floor.


  As Lee Saek presented the tributes individually, he sought the formal acknowledgment of Zhu Yuanzhang for King Chang. 


  However, the emperor of Ming was as cunning as a snake and was not easy to deal with. As Zhu Yuanzhang leisurely examined the tributes, he looked down at Lee Saek and asked. 


  [You’ve held a position in Yuan as an imperial scholar, so you must be fluent in Chinese.] 


  Lee Saek, a renowned scholar who topped the Yuan dynasty’s examination, seized the opportunity as the emperor’s attention turned to him.


  [Yes. Your Majesty, The King of Goryeo would like to request a personal audience.] 


  […I didn’t understand. What did you say?] 


  The Emperor failed to comprehend his words. After an official from the Ministry of Rites explained, he laughed and spoke. 


  [Your Chinese sounds just like Naghachu’s (*a Mongolian general).]


  After this subtle mockery, Zhu Yuanzhang’s attention shifted to the person beside Lee Saek. It was the twenty-two-year-old Lee Bang-won.


  [Are you the son of Lee Seong-Gye?] 


  When the emperor ignored his words and changed the subject, Lee Saek’s face contorted. Then, Lee Bang-won calmly replied in Korean.


  [Yes, Your Majesty.]


  That marked the end of the audience for the day.


  Luo Derong observed the actor playing Lee Bang-won and thought.


  ‘This rookie actor seems too demure to portray Lee Bang-won as written in the script, but… there must be something the director sees in him, hmm…’


  Yoomyeong’s acting puzzled Luo Derong, but the next scene revealed that it was all a planned ‘performance’.






  Loud, refreshing laughter filled the room.


  Brimming with presence, the laughter of the confident young hero swept away the modesty shown during the audience with the emperor.


  “What are you laughing about, my lord?” 


  Si-heon cautiously asked.


  “Didn’t the emperor say that his Chinese was like Naghachu’s? That old man must have been seething inside.”


  “I’m not sure, but… it seemed fluent to me…”


  “Indeed, it was fluent. So much that anyone would believe that he was a native of the Ming.”


  “Then why did the emperor…?”


  “Hahaha. Since he climbed up from the bottom, he really is a cunning one. To reject a request in such a roundabout way…”


  Bang-won’s eyes sparkled as he lowered his voice, and Si-heon leaned in to listen.


  “What did he mean by that?”


  “I have no intention of meddling in Goryeo’s internal affairs—that’s what he meant.”




  Si-heon jumped at Bang-won’s bold explanation.


  “Do you understand the meaning of Mogeun’s request for a direct audience?”


  “Wel, literally…”


  Bang-won explained with a smile to his straightforward subordinate.


  “King Chang is too young to travel all the way to Ming. But by making such a statement, if the emperor had replied, ‘Choose a time for an audience later’ or ‘I acknowledge your sincerity, consider it as having been received’, it would have meant Ming’s acknowledgment of King Chang’s legitimacy.”


  “I see…”


  Si-heon nodded after a moment’s thought.


  “But he pretended not to understand and turned his attention to me. What does that mean?”


  “Could it be… that Ming supports your father’s great cause?!”


  “More like, they won’t interfere.”


  “But why?!”


  “Ming is an empire that was only recently unified. They’re already overwhelmed with internal affairs. All that talk from before was just a pretext to extract more tribute.”




  “Given that my father, a famous general on this continent, was about to conquer Liaodong, the Ming emperor must have been scared. He didn’t intend to escalate things that far. Imagine his relief when he learned that my father turned his army around at Wihwado.”


  Si-heon’s mouth hung open at Bang-won’s eloquent and bold analysis of the international situation.


  “So, your use of hangeul(*korean language) was also—”


  “There’s no need to give the impression of an ambitious son under Lee Seong-Gye. It was necessary to appear as mild as possible. That way, that suspicious emperor would be at ease.”


  The wisdom beyond his years,


  The spark in his eyes,


  And the burning ambition emanating from him.


  Bang-won’s presence seemed to engulf the entire imperial palace despite quietly conversing with his subordinate. Luo Derong became speechless at the young actor’s performance.


  ‘What on earth was I saying on the first day…?’


  He found it hard to imagine how the two actors, who had surprised him, would clash fiercely in one scene. In every way, it seemed like the scene would be overwhelmingly powerful. 


  Although he had been a part of numerous films and worked with many fellow actors throughout his life, Luo Derong had an eye-opening experience once again.


  And he sincerely felt glad to be a part of this movie.




  Hansung felt somewhat better and started shooting a different scene the next day. 


  After five days of filming in China, the crew returned to Korea, exchanging farewells with the Chinese actors they had worked with. 


  On the last day, even Min Gyeong-Guk warmed up to Luo Derong’s endless praises and shook hands with him.


  Then, for another two weeks, they moved around various locations in Korea to shoot interspersed scenes. 


  And finally, the filming of the tea conversation scene at the Yongin set was scheduled for the next day.


  “The shooting of the climax for the next month will be quite intense. Take a good rest for a day.”


  Despite the introduction of the five-day workweek in 2004, the shooting schedule was always demanding, often extending to six or seven days a week. 


  Yoomyeong pondered how to spend this rare day off and decided to visit his school.




  It was mid-August. 


  The film shooting that began in mid-April had progressed through a month of initial shooting with extras, two months of intensive filming in Mungyeong, a week in China, and two weeks in various domestic locations. 


  Now, the final month of shooting at the Yongin set was the only thing left.


  This period coincided with the peak time for the Oedipus workshop. Though his close seniors and classmates might not be around, Yoomyeong expected to see some familiar juniors who would welcome him. He planned to treat them to a meal.


  But there, he encountered a pleasantly unexpected face.




  “Whoa, Yoomyeong! What brings our big star here?!”


  As Yoomyeong entered at the end of the workshop, screams erupted. He was a popular Oedipus senior and a celebrity only seen on TV. Especially the juniors from the 04 and 05 batches were gasping in surprise.


  “I didn’t expect you to be here.”


  “Well, I’m still a novice writer, but they asked me to conduct a playwriting class… hehe.”


  Jun-ho had finished his internship and become a junior writer at <Comet>.


  “Oh, that’s impressive…”


  “You’re even more impressive! How’s the filming?”


  “I got a day off.”


  “Wow… wanna join us for a get-together?”


  “Sure. That’s why I came.”


  The juniors cheered, and they all headed to Oedipus’ favorite restaurant. 


  Fortunately, the pub was empty due to the vacation period, so Yoomyeong could avoid public attention. Well, he still got plenty of attention from his juniors.


  “Senior, what should I do to become a good actor?” 


  “Senior, since when did you become so good at acting?” 


  “Is Cha Harin really pretty in person?”


  Questions poured endlessly. To the twenty-five-year-old Yoomyeong, even twenty and twenty-one-year-olds seemed like children, and it was especially more so since he had nearly forty years of life experience. 


  He answered many questions with a gentle smile, finding his juniors endearing.


  After being bombarded with questions, he finally sat down with Jun-ho.


  “Have you been well?”


  “Yeah. I often hear about you from senior Seon-ha. They say you’re doing great.”


  “Haha, I’m working hard.”


  Jun-ho, who was part of the same theater group as Seon-ha, always listened with sparkling eyes when Seon-ha brought news from the <The Late Goryeo Dynasty & the Early Joseon Dynasty> set. He cherished hearing about his proud friend’s achievements. 


  “How are the others doing?”


  “They’re doing well. You probably heard about Yu-ri from the news.”


  Yu-ri gained considerable popularity for her role as a princess in the 40-episode historical drama that had been airing since April. She had also been appearing in several commercials lately.


  “Senior Suho got into the Film Academy, and Hye-Seon got a minor role in the autumn regular performance and is practicing hard.”


  Hye-Seon, like Jun-ho, belonged to <Comet>, so he was well aware of her updates.


  Then, Yoomyeong brought up someone he was particularly curious about.


  “How about Senior Ryu Shin?”





  *Referencing a Thesis

  • Ha Jung-seung (2011), A Critique and Its Significance on Jeong Mong-ju’s Poems as Reflected in Historical Collections of Poetry Criticism, Poeun Academic Society.




You can rate this series here.

Join our discord for updates

Aura of a Genius Actor

Aura of a Genius Actor

Score 9.99
Status: Completed Native Language: Korean
[Winner of the 5th Korea Web Novel Contest] He cast his very being into a life of acting, only to go unrecognized.   But now, his life begins anew


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!


not work with dark mode