Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Translator: – – Editor: – –
After parting with the employees, Yun stopped by a shabby bar.
A middle-aged man with thick horn-rimmed glasses rose from the seat suddenly and gladly greeted him, saying, “I’m here, brother!”
“I’m a bit late because I had to come here after buying dinner for my workers. Did you wait for a long time?”
“I just got here too. Drink some soju!”
Yun received a cup of soju from the man.
“By the way, what brought you here? Aren’t you busy?” Yun asked.
“Well, I just feel heavy in my heart.”
“Why does your heart feel heavy? It’s not like you’re a president of a middle-sized company.”
“As you know, my daughter is old enough to get married, but it’s not that easy for me to find a suitable man.”
The middle-aged man shook his head as if he was grumbling.
Looking at him, Yun laughed and said, “I think what you find difficult isn’t finding someone who can be your daughter’s future husband but finding someone to succeed you, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. She is my only child, so I feel like I need to find a suitable son-in-law good enough to give my business to.”
“Didn’t you tell me you had two candidates in mind?”
“I don’t like both of them. The only person I have some expectations of is my daughter’s friend, who she brought from the United States. I hear he is a smart guy with a degree from Columbia University.”
“Is he getting a job at your company?”
“Yes, but he has to start from the bottom of the ladder. By the way, are you going to close the woodworking shop and retire at the end of the year?”
“Well, I changed my mind. I’m going to work for several more years.”
“Why did you do that all of a sudden?”
“I’ve found a guy who I can turn over the business to. I think I need to work several more years to train him.”
At that moment, the middle-aged man’s eyes shined.
“Really? How old is he? Is he still single?”
Yun felt as if he could see inside the man’s brain. Not content with having someone from Columbia as a suitable son-in-law candidate, he wanted to have even Hyunwoo as another candidate.
In face, Yun wanted to introduce Hyunwoo to the man.
However, the man was obsessed with one’s academic background. Accordingly, he tried his best to send his daughter abroad to study and hoped that his possible son-in-law was someone with a good academic background.
Yun dusted off his hand with a grin and said, “Never mind! He’s a high-school graduate.”
“Oh, I see.”
The middle-aged man’s eyes stopped shining when Yun mentioned that Hyunwoo was only a high-school graduate.
Yun was a bit disappointed by that. Though Yun knew that he was that kind of biased person, he just wanted to give him a gentle reproach.
“Hey, Mr. Park. There is nobody in the world with perfect qualifications. You have to give up some things. If I were you, I would listen to what my daughter’s opinion. What do you think is more important, your company or your daughter’s happiness?”
Park grinned at that.
“I’ll keep it in mind, brother.”
“By the way, is your business expansion project going well? Don’t you think that you’re doing it too aggressively?”
“As you know brother, luck and timing are the most important in business. This is a real opportunity…”
Park reeled off a story about his business as if Yun had asked the right question. However, Yun was thinking about other things at the moment and wasn’t paying much attention to him.
By the way, how should I train Hyunwoo? He can’t afford to waste his time being a chauffeur.
The next morning.
Hyunwoo left his home early in the morning.
He lived in a villa that was 17-pyong in size on the first floor of an ordinary apartment complex. It looked old and like it was about to collapse at any time. However, Hyunwoo was happy to own it.
Of course, his current life was just miserable compared to his affluent life 15 years ago.
At that time he led a very affluent life thanks to his father’s prosperous business.
But everything they owned had disappeared in a moment.
His father’s business collapsed overnight when its core technology was taken away by an oil refinery company. To make matters worse, his parents had a traffic accident, resulting in the loss of their health.
At the time, his parents gave up their lives, so they, vowing to die together, tried to go to sleep after lighting coal briquettes inside the house. (Note: CO2 poisoning from burning coal)
However, Hyunwoon could not abandon his life.
He was very afraid of dying and couldn’t gather the courage to die.
Rather, he thought that there was nothing he couldn’t achieve if he could lead a life with that kind of resolve. Wasn’t his father who had said that to him before?
So, Hyunwoo persuaded his parents, saying, “There is no difference between dying now and dying sometime later. I’d like to live with determination. Please give me an opportunity.”
At that time, Hyunwoo was only two years into middle school.
His parents felt hopeful after hearing their son’s resolve.
Though his father couldn’t work because of severe damage to his spine, his mother got a job at a side-dish shop. She frequently had to be absent from work because of diabetes, which she had developed after the traffic accident. However, she had been able to keep her job for ten years now because she was so good at making side dishes.
Since then, Hyunwoo became the head of household. He was constantly on the move to make money. He worked hard day and night, thinking that he would rather die while working than die together with his parents.
Thanks to his hard work, he could buy a house under his name, though it was shabby. Also, he purchased some stocks, and the remaining balance on his bank account wasn’t a small amount.
It was 3 am when he went back home after working as a chauffeur. He was supposed to report to work at 7 am.
Though he only slept a little more than three hours, he wasn’t tired at all because he was used to this kind of living.
Hyunwoo reported to work with a light heart, but he couldn’t do anything.
“What the hell happened? What the heck…?”
Taeyang Woodworking Shop was gone. What was left of the building was burnt black, and smoke was smoldering from it.
Devastated by the fire, Yun and the workers were looking at the burnt site with vacant expressions. The only thing he could do was comfort Yun, who was dejected, for a while and go back home.
Hyunwoo submitted his resume to many companies for a job. In the meantime, he went mountain climbing as a ginseng digger.
Mountain climbing as a ginseng digger began by chance when he had been a high school boy.
When he entered high school, he worked as a part-time model for men’s clothing because he was tall, handsome, and had a masculine face.
One of the male models at that time happened to be a ginseng digger.
While he was conversing with Hyunwoo, he recommended working as a ginseng digger to Hyunwoo after hearing about his life.
“There is nothing better than working as a ginseng digger to make money if you can manage your free time well, though it is a bit dangerous.”
“Can I make a lot of money?”
“It depends on luck. For me, I make more than 2 million won per month even if I work only on weekends.”
“Wow! Making that much money by working only on weekends? Can I follow you and learn about it?”
Since then, he began following the man and became an amateur ginseng digger. With more than ten years of experience under his belt, Hyunwoo became an expert to the point that he could be called a professional ginseng digger.
Selling wild ginseng, bellflowers, and mountain herbs generated a lot more money than a typical job at a company.
Three days after the fire burnt down the woodworking shop, he got a call from Yun.
“Can you see me for a moment if you aren’t busy?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll come to you right now.”
Yun was waiting for him at an underground teahouse.
When Hyunwoo sat down, the waitress brought tea.
Yun didn’t open his mouth until then. The longer they were silent, the heavier the atmosphere became.
After being silent for a while, Yun barely opened his mouth, but it was inaudible.
“I think I was too greedy.”
“Did you say ‘greedy?'”
Was there anybody in the world who wasn’t greedy? The only difference was the degree of their greed.
To Hyunwoo’s knowledge, Yun was a man with little greed. He wasn’t the kind of man who would ruin his business because of greed. Also, what did the fire have anything to do with his greed?
However, Yun closed his mouth after having said that and looked at Hyunwoo quietly.
I think I must have been absent-minded for a moment because I thought that I would be able to keep a talented man like you in my small world.
You’re not the kind of person who should stay in a small world like this. You should venture into the wider world. I think the heavens punished me because I was too greedy.
“Are you alright, sir?”
Yun didn’t show any reaction.
Hyunwoo was worried about him now. The fire must have left deep scars on him.
Of course, it was quite natural. Hadn’t he spent his entire life on the workshop? He must have gone crazy because it had turned into a pile of ashes.
However, Yun wasn’t that shocked that the shop had burned down.
Though it was regrettable, he would’ve closed the shop anyway without Hyunwoo.
The reason Yun was so sad was because he would be separated from his workers. Now, it was time he parted ways with them. In particular, he regretted having to part ways with Hyunwoo.
Yun took out an envelope from his inside pocket and put it on the table.
“What is this, sir?”
“It’s your severance pay.”
Hyunwoo’s eyes opened wide all of a sudden.
Yun continued as if he wanted Hyunwoo just to listen, “I gave the other workers severance pay too, but I gave more to you. You deserve it because you worked three times as much as the others.”
“Still, it’s too much…”
“You shouldn’t refuse it when it comes from a senior like me. Just take it. I’d feel better if you took it.”
Yun cut off Hyunwoo’s response. Because of how determined Yun was, Hyunwoo couldn’t open his mouth.
“You know Aurum, right?”
“Are you talking about the furniture company, sir?”
Yun nodded his head.
Hyunwoon knew about the company well. Though it was a middle-sized company, it was well known in the furniture business, and it was featured in TV ads often.
“I hear that they’re hiring new workers these days. What do you think? Are you interested?”
He felt that he could work all his life at a good company like Aurum. There was no reason for him to refuse to work there if he could. However, was it possible for a high school graduate like Hyunwoo to get in there?
“As an old hand in this field, I know its president a bit. If you’re interested, let me recommend you to him.”
Hyunwoo was busy finding a new job anyway. Yun’s remarks were more valuable than the severance pay to him. Hyun opened his eyes wide and felt expectation welling up within him.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Don’t expect too much. Though you will be hired, you won’t get much pay because you’re a high school graduate.”
“That doesn’t matter. Thank you so much.”
Hyunwoo bowed his head to Yun.
Looking at him, Yun hesitated for a moment.
Should I tell him about the company president’s daughter?
Though there was a remote possibility, they could develop a good relationship through pure luck. Any person in his right mind would quickly find there to be no better son-in-law than Hyunwoo.
Yun shut his mouth when he thought that far.
Yes, if it’s meant to be, they will develop a good relationship even if I don’t initiate like this.