“The acquisition of the shares has been completed,” Vice President Jang said as handed me the document.
I took the document, which read that Tak Joon-gi’s six point five million dollar stake was redeemed at around eight million, adding a premium of twenty percent.
“Then our stake will be?”
“It’s twenty-nine point four percent.”
“Okay, now move our employees, traders, and buy Kai Games.”
“How many shares shall we buy?”
“Up to 50%.”
“Up to 50%?”
I glanced at the calendar. Fortunately, the Fantasy War Ground CBT, scheduled for December, was delayed by about a month and a half due to the Kai Games situation.
“Yes, please buy it until January of next year, even if the price goes up a little bit. When you put up a public notice, please tell them we are buying shares to stabilize the management situation.”
“Yes, I see.” Jang bent his head and started to head outside.
I caught him once. “Ah, Vice President Jang!”
“How did you feel about Director Tak?”
“What do you mean?”
“What was your impression or something?”
Jang recalled him for a moment and said, “Well, he looked like an ordinary chaebol third-generation: self-confident, upbeat style, but a little bit arrogant, too.”
“Well, I see.”
“By the way, he complimented you a lot, saying that you’re competent.”
I was not so happy to get praised by him many times. I said, nodding my head, “Oh, yes. I see.”
After Mr. Jang left, I stood up and looked out the window. At lunchtime, a lot of celery people came out of buildings and flocked to the alley restaurants. As I saw it, I suddenly recalled Director Tak who spoke those words, “Bugs, dog-pigs.”
‘I only thought such a person were in novels.’
Well, considering the people on the news lately, I thought Tak was one of them and not a very unusual case.
‘It’s probably the tip of the iceberg that’s on the news…
‘If we see a cockroach at home, it’s usually said that there are hundreds of cockroaches in the house. Considering the news reports of a chaebol who plays the ridiculous power trip just once or twice a year, we can roughly guess how many chaebols actually think of ordinary people as bugs and dog-pigs. The press is on their side in the first place, so if we think about the silence of the press, it’s a very small number of people on the news.
‘If it’s on the news, it may be for political reasons, or pressure from their competitors… for that reason.’
Suddenly I thought of Lee Won-jae, the director of the Daewon Daily News. The guy…
I didn’t know how Director Tak Joon-gi had known my name, but it might be one of the two. Lee Won-jae of the Daewon Daily News, we knew each other’s identity, might say that, or Section Chief Kim Hye-sook, who gave me an invitation, might say that. Either way, whoever said it could be a big problem for me later, especially later, when I would do a big job with Tak.
If either of these two were keeping an eye on me, I might be in trouble. One of these two people was the owner of a company that was good at information, and the other one was the one who knew how my main accounts worked.
‘What shall I do?’
I fiddled with my cell phone. There was ‘Lee Won-jae’ on the list. However, I could not ask him, “Did you say that?” I saw Kim Hye-sook by pulling up the list. If it was her, I could ask her plainly.
I called her, thinking, ‘Then, shall I dig from here?’
Before the connecting call rang three times, Section Chief Kim Hye-sook answered my call. “Uh, Mr. Han. What’s the matter?”
It was as if she had been waiting for my call. I said to her, “Not different. I’m calling to ask you about Garden Envy.”
She seemed to be quite surprised to hear the words Garden Envy coming out of my mouth.
“Uh, hold on a second,” she paused, then went on again, “You mean Garden Envy, Mr. Han?”
It seemed to her that this was still a secret.
But I spoke with a slight squeeze on her. “Section Chief, please be honest with me.”
“Oh… yes, of course,” she said. She had always been with the fine accent, but her voice sounded a little wobbly.
“Have you ever sold my information to them?”
“Yes? What does that mean?” She asked me as if she had been misinformed. It was a common tactic used by people who needed to think about what to say.
“It is as I said. Don’t change the subject. Have you ever mentioned my name, my age, my gender, my appearance, that sort of thing, to Garden Envy? Have you ever done it, or not?”
“I’ve never done it, sir. I’m not talking about your personal identity anywhere. That’s ridiculous.”
“Really? So how did they know my name?”
“Well… I’m sure Director Tak Joon-gi has a wide network of investment connections. Maybe that’s why he recognized you.”
But her words were a little strange. I never said it was Director Tak Joon-gi who knew my name in Garden Envy. I made a point of saying, “I never said that the person who knew my name inside the Garden Envy was Director Tak…”
When I said that, she said in fright, “Oh, well, since Director Tak is the host, I think he’s the one who recognized you. That’s how I guessed it.”
It was somewhat awkward. The way she talked was unnaturally shaken. 99.9%. I was convinced that it was her.
If she had really guessed, she should have had to have a little time to think about it for at least a few seconds after what I said. However, the fact that Tak’s name came out of her right away was that she had been thinking about him since I started questioning her.
I said in a cold tone, “Oh, yes, I see.”
“Mr. President, I think you have a misunderstanding… please don’t misunderstand.”
“Ah, yes, I see,” I hung up coldly.
‘Business is based on credit. We have to trust each other to work together. This Seo-kwang Bank is close to me, and I made the biggest deal with them. But she has let loose my personal information. She may be a spy of Mr. Tak and sell my information again.’
I picked up the phone and said, “Secretary Seo.”
“Yes, sir. What would you like for lunch?”
I guessed that was exactly what he thought, as it was lunchtime. I said to him, “No, let’s make one phone call and go eat. Why don’t you put me on the phone with the manager of the Cheongdam branch of Seo-kwang Bank?”
After lunch, I went back to the company parking lot, chatting with Seo. Pressing the up-button to hold the elevator, while waiting, I asked Secretary Seo, “So, how is Chang-wook doing?”
Chang-wook was one of the junior members of our founding club.
“He went back to his hometown. He just passed the civil service exam.”
“Oh really? That’s great. It’s hard to become a public servant these days.”
“I thought he would pass because he studied hard. He used to say he prepared for the seventh-grade civil servant level, but it turned out that he had to lower it to ninth grade.”
“Yes, these days, students at Seoul National University and Yonsei University are also trying to take the seventh-grade civil servant exam. It wouldn’t have been easy.”
The elevator stopped in front of us. I went in and said, “How about Min-seo, who was popular in the business startup club… she was pretty?”
“Oh, Min-seo. She asked me, but I forgot. She called me once last weekend. Personally, she wants to see the boss.”
“She’s been putting applications in all over the big companies, apparently, but she’s failed and is snooping around our company.”
Even if she was the junior member of the startup club, I didn’t like her snooping around our company, after she failed out of the big companies.
“Talk to her, I’m busy and it’s hard. Instead, I want her to put in a formal job application.”
“Then she’ll be disappointed.”
“No, is our company an alternative company to poke at when she fails at some big companies? I don’t like that, either.”
“That’s the same with me, too… I’ll tell her to put in her job application.”
“Yes, Vice President Jang will take care of it well.”
Employees would bow when I came into the company. I tried to get into my president’s office with those greetings. But one of the staff members followed me and said, “Mr. President, you have a visitor.”
“The Cheongdam branch manager of Seo-kwang Bank …”
It was a little surprising. I called him before lunch, but he was already here. When I went inside, waiting next to Seo’s seat was a man with gray hair and a suit. in his sixties.
“Hello, President Han, I saw you at our branch last time. I’m Lee Hyo-eun, the manager of the Cheongdam branch of Seo-kwang Bank.”
I opened the door to the president’s office and said, “Oh, yes, come in.”
He told me as soon as he closed the door to the president’s office. “As soon as I heard that you were going to close your account and transfer all of your deposits, I came in a hurry in surprise.”
He would have had to do that, because few people like me made tens of million dollars of deposits and hundreds of million dollars in trading.
I shook my head and said, “Oh, yes. I couldn’t help it, either.”
“Yes? What do you mean by that…”
“I will no longer deal with Seo-kwang Bank… At least I’m not going to make a deal with the Cheongdam branch.”
“Yes? Why? President Han, can you just think it over again? We’ll take you back on better terms.”
He spoke to me as if pleading, but that was just what this was: Gapjil, to overuse one’s power.
I felt like I was doing Gapjil like this way. But there was no way to I would put my deposits in a bank where they sold my information. I couldn’t keep my money where such people were. It was a legitimate act.
“I don’t think that’s possible. Seo-kwang Bank has a big credibility problem.”
“Then, President Han. Could you at least tell me why? If you say the reason, we can reflect on ourselves, make improvements, and do it.”
At the words, I thought about Section Chief Kim Hye-sook, hitting the table twice for a moment. If she had been honest that she had been forced to reveal things, because of Director Tak or Suyeon Group’s power… at least I wouldn’t have hated her. Rather, I would have felt a little she was a poor woman who was forced to speak out under the influence of the chaebol and its third generation.
However, she said, “No, I’ve never done it, sir. It’s nonsense that I have been talking about you.”
‘I hate people who lie to me, especially when it comes to work.’
I told the branch manager her name. “I am a little bit uncomfortable to say it, but ask Section Chief Kim Hye-sook. She’ll know why.”
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