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    2. Reincarnation Management Committee

    …Wait, shouldn’t the quest for auditions come before appearances? Who set these quests with the order all messed up?

    What is Ryu Chae-yoon’s wish again, and why only partially revealed? Has the staff member been assigned yet?

    ─ Yes. A person in charge has been assigned. Hello. I’m from the Reincarnation Management Committee a.k.a. Reincarnation Committee C1012.

    A voice suddenly intruded into his mind. Seong-woon gasped sharply

    ─ Oh, I guess you didn’t call me knowingly. My apologies. It’s been a while since I’ve done the Soul Adjustment Project, so the tutorial was lacking…

    It was strange how he could sense the emotion behind the voice even when no sound was heard. Seong-woon blinked and focused on the voice ringing in his head.

    ─ Congratulations on passing the tutorial. Now, let me briefly explain the Soul Adjustment Project.

    Throughout the ride home, the voice in his mind rambled on incessantly. During that time, Seong-woon’s face turned beet red, then ghostly pale, before finally draining of all color completely.

    So in summary… This ‘Reincarnation Management Committee’ is a department overseeing the reincarnation of all souls on the planet Earth, and the ‘Soul Adjustment Project’ involves granting the very strong unfulfilled wishes of souls fated with tragic destinies upon their deaths. And Ryu Chae-yoon was selected as one such case.

    Then why was Seong-woon made to enter this body and grant Ryu Chae-yoon’s wish? The ensuing explanation was nothing short of preposterous.

    ─ Because Mr. Jin Seong-woon was the most suitable candidate to fulfill Mr. Ryu Chae-yoon’s wish.

    Was Ryu Chae-yoon’s wish related to acting? Was I the best actor among the remaining souls? Seong-woon chuckled inwardly, but C1012’s response exceeded his expectations by far.

    ─ That’s right! Mr. Jin Seong-woon is the best in acting. And it was perfect for making Mr. Ryu Chae-yoon’s wish come true.

    What meaning is there in fulfilling a wish through a body? It seems Ryu Chae-yoon’s soul has already reincarnated.

    ─ Not exactly. Mr. Ryu Chae-yoon’s soul is also experiencing everything. It’s just that the surface manifestation is Mr. Jin Seong-woon’s soul.

    What if I refuse to participate in this Adjustment Project?

    ─ Of course you can refuse…but if you wish to refuse, you must decide right now whether to proceed with the project or revert everything and be reincarnated.

    So reverting everything means going back to the point of death?

    ─ … Correct. Mr. Seong-woon would not feel anything. From the moment Mr. Seong-woon died, the Reincarnation Committee branched Earth’s timeline, and depending on Mr. Jin Seong-woon’s choice, the current timeline will proceed or revert to the original.

    This Reincarnation Committee seems formidable.

    As if taking his sarcastic remark as a compliment, C1012 responded innocently:

    ─ The Reincarnation Committee is an impressive organization!

    ─ That… What would you like to do? If you proceed with the adjustment process, you can never quit again.

    Seeming to sense Seong-woon’s irritated mood, C1012 continued in a slightly subdued tone:

    What exactly does “Failure will return you to the Branch Point” mean?

    ─ This means that we are going back to the time when Mr. Jin Seong-woon died.

    Does that mean I’m going to die?

    ─ … That’s right.

    While the current quests like acting or auditioning may not be too difficult, there could be completely random unreasonable ones that would be impossible to fulfill. What if I’m suddenly told to debut as an idol?

    … Of course, if Ryu Chae-yoon said he wanted to do it now, it seemed like his aunt Ryu Young-joo the RBS chairman would create an idol group in no time. No, even before that, his parents would make it happen first.

    ─ The quest is to fulfill the final goal of Mr. Ryu Chae-yoon’s wish, not to force you to fail.

    Having arrived home, Seong-woon waved his hand as if dizzy and paid little mind to the greetings from Manager Hyeong-seok and the road manager as he went up to his room. His senses felt coarsened like sandpaper, making the cameras watching him seem unusually sensitive.

    Seong-woon stared at the camera for a long time and bit his lip. So if he didn’t accept this Adjustment Project, he just dies, right? And if he fails a quest, death as well?

    Even living a life unwelcomed by anyone, Seong-woon had never once thought he wanted to die. …That is, after that incident. He only realized he didn’t wish for death after truly being at death’s door.

    Moreover, Ryu Chae-yoon’s life as well… . Seong-woon held his head and thought for a while.

    He realized why these Reincarnation Committee people gave quests under the guise of a tutorial, and made Jin Seong-woon live the life of Ryu Chae-yoon during that time.

    They hoped that Jin Seong-woon would feel sorry for and sympathize with Ryu Chae-yoon’s tragic fate, or that he would yearn for the life of the beautiful young man who was loved. Thereby leaving him no choice but to take on this project.

    Furthermore, if abandoning the ‘Soul Adjustment Project’ means death, and failing quests also means death… then isn’t he left with no choice but to proceed, since this is just an extra lease on life right now?

    What do you gain from this project, anyway?

    ─ …I cannot disclose that at this point.

    In fact, he couldn’t fully trust their words. Why would they go to such lengths of transferring souls and branching timelines just to grant a single wish? If they felt so sorry for souls born with such predetermined fates, why assign them such fates in the first place?

    While Seong-woon did not trust the Reincarnation Committee at all, the conclusion he reached was also an inevitable path.

    ─ That’s a good decision. Then, shall we proceed with the next quest?

    Sigh…he has to audition. And within a month at that.

    * * *

    “You really went and filmed a drama?”

    “Yes.”

    “You…didn’t get too tired, did you? And even a zombie role…!”

    At the company, she was called the Tiger President, but Chae-yoon’s mother Choi Ji-won treated her youngest son like he would fly away if blew or shatter if touched.

    Since Ryu Chae-yoon was the youngest child who grew up with a large gap unintentionally, she wanted to raise him by giving him only good things, but when she saw him smiling brightly even though his body was in pain, she felt like she could even tear out her heart seeing him pale and sickly yet smiling.

    She was surprised to hear that the child in her arms, who was already so precious and weak that she could not even let him go, had gone out to work – to act, no less. Of course she would be astonished.

    “Chairman, the young master’s acting was truly exceptional. Even the director and staff were amazed.”

    “Really? I never imagined our Chae-yoon had a talent for acting.”

    “You absolutely should have seen it, Chairman. He hit all the camera angles perfectly and used his body very well.”

    Seong-woon raised his eyebrows briefly as he listened to the conversation between the two while eating the soy-braised beef. Hyung-seo said he was a manager, and he was now hanging out at mealtimes like an older brother, sharing stories of Chae-yoon’s heroic performances while also showing quite a discerning eye.

    Even in his original body, one of the most frequent compliments Seong-woon received was about how he perfectly stuck to the camera angles. So whenever he worked with a camera operator lacking framing skills, or the more bizarre the director’s editing cuts were, Seong-woon’s scenes would stand out in a good way, leading to strange comments.

    ‘The public hates him, but only the camera director and PD like him? Why did they put in so much effort just for him?’

    “If I had known you were that good, I would have encouraged you to try acting sooner. Did you practice a lot by any chance?”

    The mother was truly sorry for not being able to recognize the qualities of her sickly youngest son in advance. The weight and depth of that feeling was hard to fathom.

    “…I wasn’t that good.”

    “What do you mean? The staff gave you high praise, didn’t they?”

    That’s probably because they had zero expectations at all because he was a person who had amassed almost 3 million followers due to his pretty face and the entertainment industry giant which was his aunt, Ryu Young-joo behind him. Seong-woon, who poignantly pointed out Ryu Chae-yoon’s background, smirked and played with his chopsticks.

    “So does this mean Chae-yoon will continue acting?”

    At his father’s question, the chopsticks paused mid-air while grabbing some side dishes. Just how far did the word ‘continue’ imply – could it mean just doing it once or twice more, or all the way until death?

    “…I’d like to try it some more.”

    In any case, he had to audition, and if the next quests were also acting-related, then he’d have to keep acting for a while.

    He didn’t know what Chae-yoon’s wish was – hopefully not revival – but judging from the current situation, it didn’t seem likely he would be returning anytime soon. Still, Seong-woon wanted to minimize disruptions to his life as much as possible.

    Of course, what issue could there be even if an SNS influencer added acting to his credentials? As the youngest son of a conglomerate family, he could do as he pleased without any problems.

    “I see, it seems Young-joo has been making preparations for a long time.”

    “… Aunt?”

    “Wasn’t your secretary originally an actor? Young-joo said that just in case, we should select a secretary with experience in a related position.”

    “Huh?”

    Turning his head in surprise, Manager Hyeong-seok scratched his head with an awkward expression.

    “I just did a few minor roles. Chairman.”

    “Regardless.”

    His face did seem rather striking.

    “So when…does the drama Chae-yoon filmed air?”

    “At the end of next month.”

    “Can we watch it before…no, let’s watch it together later.”

    He probably only appeared in one scene, so there was no need to watch it together. But even as Seong-woon thought they would likely forget by then, he couldn’t help but smile a little at his affectionate father’s words.

    “By the way, Chae-yoon has been eating vegetables and meat well these days.”

    “That’s right. He never used to touch them.”

    …If he didn’t eat vegetables or meat, what did he live on?

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