„Will you come up with me?” Dong Hoon asked as they reached the door of his building.

„Got any beer?”

„There might be some left.”

„Then I’m coming with you,” Gi Hoon’s mood had slightly improved. He felt as though he had shed a significant portion of the burden he had arrived with.

They entered the apartment, and Dong Hoon headed straight for the bathroom, allowing his brother to fend for himself in the kitchen. When he emerged, Gi Hoon was already lounging on the sofa, sipping soju instead of beer.

„Changed your mind?” Dong Hoon inquired.

„No, but I couldn’t find any beer, so I opened the soju. Is that a problem?” he asked cheekily.

„No beer?” Dong Hoon was surprised. „I was sure I had some left.” He checked the fridge, then the cupboard. „Indeed, there’s none. Will you pour me some from your bottle, or should I open another?”

„Get your own,” came the decisive reply. „I have a feeling we’ve got more to talk about,” he said, pouring another glass.

„About Lim Seung Kyu?” Dong Hoon prodded.

„Ne! There are a few other things bothering me… Can you handle it? Aren’t you tired?” He looked at his brother with genuine concern.

„Go ahead. I’ve been resting long enough,” Dong Hoon wanted to keep the atmosphere light.

„For instance, where were Lim Seung Kyu’s so-called fans when the media and police were all over him? What were all those damn fandoms doing, the ones who used to scream and squeal whenever he showed up in public? Isn’t it all sick and driven by business? I mean, by a very sophisticated business exploiting sociotechnics and manipulation? Suddenly everyone went quiet… disappeared… I didn’t see a single one in the recordings outside the police station or the prosecutor’s office. I’m seriously analyzing these fan movements now, and I’ll probably use the conclusions in one of my projects.”

„I’ve long concluded that celebrities are literally enslaved by their fans. They can’t fully be themselves, show any weakness, ugliness, they can’t make mistakes, or do other generally condemned things. They’re made into 'gods’ that are literally worshiped by so-called fans, all to keep the business rolling. Which, unfortunately, leads to huge frustrations for these poor souls, and increasingly to suicides and suicides of very young people who can’t withstand the terrible pressure and life under a magnifying glass.”

„Wow, we really went there!” Gi Hoon noted. „We’ll have to come back to this because today I still want to focus on Lim Seung Kyu.”

„OK. What else is troubling you?” Dong Hoon asked.

„If the reason for his decision to die was guilt and shame over an alleged affair… I say alleged because we can’t be sure—would my offer have meant anything to him?”

„I wanted to make you realize, in my opinion, it might have pleased him a bit, but it’s unlikely that it would have deterred him from suicide,” Dong Hoon asserted.

„Chincha? Do you really think so?”

„Remember, I was also betrayed, and I clearly remember Yoon Hee telling me that when she found out I knew, she wanted to kill herself. She couldn’t bear the pain she had caused me, and on top of that, she felt immense shame. I think she didn’t go through with it because of our son and because neither I nor you showed her contempt or condemnation. It wasn’t easy, but we didn’t do that, so somehow she survived. And she wasn’t a celebrity!”

„You’re probably right,” Gi Hoon poured himself a last glass of soju. „By the way, I’m really impressed with how both of you handled that,” he added.

„We haven’t quite handled it,” Dong Hoon also poured himself a drink. „I think it’s time for a final breakup. I can’t go back to her. Love her, trust her, treat her like I used to… I just can’t, Gi Hoon…” he now fell into a foul mood.

„I know. I understand, hyung,” Gi Hoon looked at him attentively. „But you have Ji An…” he continued to gaze at him and went on, „I watched her in the hospital, and I’m sure she loves you! And has for a long time, hyung. Don’t you think it’s time to say it out loud?” His question hung in the air like an accusation.

„Not today, young one,” he heard a quiet but firm statement. „Not today. I need to be sure I’ll return to some semblance of my old self. That girl doesn’t deserve an old man, battered by life and an accident. I need to sort myself out a bit. Understand?”

„In my opinion, she doesn’t care about your looks, hyung! She got to know you really fast and you definitely didn’t get into her heart because of your external charm,” Gi Hoon could also be painfully honest, as it turned out.

„Not today, please,” Dong Hoon suddenly seemed to lose strength. „I’m tired,” he declared as he stood up. „I’m going to bed. You can crash on the sofa,” he said as he walked off to his bedroom and quietly closed the door, a trick he’d learned from Ji An.

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