Chapter 254

“You should’ve come upstairs if you were here.”

        “I was a little early, so I decided I should go up after this.”

Maru showed him the coffee and the bun.

“Ok, let’s leave things at that. What brings you here?” Junmin then spoke to the lady wearing round glasses who was standing behind Maru. Maru also turned around and looked at the woman. It seemed that the two were acquainted.

“I’m here to invite you out to dinner, president.”

“What were you going to do if I had other plans?”

“But you don’t, do you?”

The woman approached Junmin with a smile. A weird tension seemed to form between the two, but it disappeared with Junmin’s smile.

“Fortunately, I don’t. Let’s go up for the time being. Oh, you should greet her. This is president Park Narim of NL company. This fellow is Han Maru and he’s a new actor under me.”

Narim then pushed down her glasses a little and looked at Maru. The round eyes behind the round glasses changed into a sharper expression.

“It sounds like you two haven’t entered a proper contract yet.”

Narim extended out her hand. The moment Maru shook her hand, he exclaimed slightly. Her hands were quite rough. People’s hands were a representation of the life they went through, and Maru could tell that her life wasn’t that smooth.

“My name is Han Maru.”

“I’m Park Narim. You have a good name. But I’m a little disappointed. It would have been good if you at least pretended to be surprised. I like that kind of stuff.”

“Pretend to be surprised?” Maru asked back after shaking hands. He did not know what she meant.

“Don’t you know NL Company?”

“I’ll have to apologize. I don’t know the structure of the companies around here.”

“Oh my word,” Narim chuckled. She didn’t seem to be in a bad mood.

“Looks like I’ll have to put more effort in the future. I’m a little disappointed that someone that’s about to join JA Productions doesn’t know what NL Company is. President Lee Junmin, don’t tell me he’s doing this to me on purpose?”

“This fellow probably really doesn’t know. In the first place, he didn’t start off as an aspiring entertainer. He was just a student up until a year ago. Though, he still is one right now. But hey, if you want the things you asked me for, you should try to give her a good impression.”

Junmin smiled and looked back at Maru. Maru thought about what that meant. Try to give her a good impression? The things Maru asked of Junmin were some tickets to TTO’s concert. Narim was the president of NL Company. It seemed that the president of the company behind TTO was Narim.

“Let’s go up for now.”

Junmin guided Narim. Taking the elevator, Junmin pressed the 16th floor. Maru was a little confused since he thought that they would be going to the 7th floor.

Soon, the door opened again and Maru was able to see a soft cushion mattress on the floor. Stone pillars that seemed to be taken from the Parthenon decorated one of the walls, and at the front was a counter made of marble.

“Welcome,” a neat-looking man behind the counter greeted. It seemed that he was notified beforehand as he called for an employee as soon as he saw Junmin’s face. A lady wearing a neat uniform led their way with a smile.

The first scene they saw when they entered was the night scenery of Gangnam. The lights from the buildings and the cars made quite a spectacular scene. The tables had guests and the lady offered them to be seated at one of the closest tables to the window.

“You knew I was coming?” Narim asked in surprise.

“I was planning to have some dinner with this fellow here,” Junmin smiled back.

Maru thought that it was the right decision to not get a meal before meeting Junmin. A handsome staff appeared out of nowhere and pulled out Narim’s chair. Although only two sets of cutlery were prepared on the table originally, Narim’s set was prepared in a blink of an eye. From how the staff prepared all that without Junmin’s instructions, the amount of attention Junmin received could be seen. Well, he was the owner of the building, so it wasn’t that surprising.

Maybe power does come from money after all.

“Welcome.”

When the people clad in uniforms disappeared, a man with a well-built body appeared. He was wearing an outfit different to the servers in the hall. He seemed to be the chef here. His name was stitched on his chest.

“I wonder if I was interrupting you on your day off.”

“It’s your request, so I don’t dare ignore it. I would come even if I was resting at home.”

“You’re embarrassing me here,” the two seemed to be on close terms. Thinking back, Junmin was close to the owner of the restaurant in front of the Myungdong theater.

‘Is he interested in the cooking industry?’ Maru wondered.

Meanwhile, Junmin and the chef talked for a bit more. The topic of conversation was about the course menu.

“Well then, if you’d please excuse me,” the chef walked away after a polite remark.

“I’m envious. I’d like to receive such treatment from a restaurant like this too,” Narim smiled as she spoke.

“I think it’s about time you tell me what you came here for,” Junmin made his intentions clear but he stayed polite.

“You’re in a hurry. Can’t we leave that for later?”

Maru saw that Narim was giving glimpses to him. It seemed that it was business-related and she didn’t want an outsider here.

“I don’t have any time after the meal since I have a prior engagement with this fellow here,” Junmin did not relent.

‘A conflict?’ Maru had a look at the two CEOs in depth. JA Productions and NL Company. As he was not aware of the internals of each company, he did not know whether these two were in a symbiotic relationship or whether they were in a competitive relationship, but from Junmin’s attitude, it seemed that they weren’t as close as it seemed on the surface. The fact that he was giving her face despite that was probably because of the place they were in.

“Hm. It’ll be somewhat awkward to come back at a later date…,” Narim fiddled with her fork but eventually nodded after having made a decision.

“Since you called this fellow all the way here, it seems that he’s not the type of person to tell everyone secrets so I’ll say this here. It’s nothing special. It’s related to my kid participating in your movie this time.”

“You mean Ahn Sungjae from TTO?”

“Yes, Sungjae. From what I’ve heard, you haven’t started creating the movie poster yet….”

Narim did not finish her words and smiled. Even Maru, who was not related to this matter, realized what was going on. She probably wanted that idol from NL Company to appear on the poster.

‘Wait. She said ‘your movie’...?’

There was only one movie JA Productions was creating. Only then did Maru realize that there was an idol appearing in the same movie he was cast in.

“I’m not saying he should be at the front. You’re going to create many different versions of the poster for advertising purposes, right? I heard that each character gets their own posters with different fonts.”

“Hm, posters, you say.”

“Of course, the poster displayed in cinemas should be the ones with the main actors. However, I think it’ll be okay to create different ones for advertisement. Of course, the profit doesn’t just go to us. Once the advertisement starts after the movie is released, Sungjae’s fans will flock to the movie as well.”

“So you’re saying that you want a poster for those fans.”

“Yes. We’ll cover the expenses for that as well. It’s mostly for fan service and not for advertisement, so I don’t think the main actors will take offense from it.”

Narim stared at Junmin.

Maru was well aware of the impact such considerations had on the fans. In his distant memories of his company days, there was an event where one of the cooperating companies did not miss one of the complaints that a customer had and fixed their item, and that led the touched customer to write a good article online, leading to the company’s rise.

Offering the customers something that they didn’t even realize that they wanted. Narim seemed to understand how to touch the hearts of the customers. Her abilities in making a profit off that seemed incredible.

“That’s no problem. It’s to be used in the advertisement of the movie, so I see no reason why we can’t do that.”

“It’s good that I can get through to you. Phew, that puts me at ease.”

Narim slowly tasted the wine that the staff poured for her. While the food was being prepared, Narim used her unique conversation skills and did not allow for a moment of silence. She was well-versed in all sorts of areas, not just entertainment.

“Is divorce such a bad thing?”

“If it was someone else’s divorce, I couldn’t care less, but if it was related to one of my family members, then I would of course mind.”

“Then Maru, you’re saying you’ll agree if someone close to you says that they want a divorce?”

“Probably. If that person deemed that it’s impossible to live with the partner even after the consideration period, then that family is already beyond saving, so it’s better to part ways as early as possible. If both parties are young, then they can just look for new love, and if it’s too late for them to get married again, then they can just enjoy their remaining lives with the money they saved up.”

“President Lee, this boy knows his stuff.”

Narim smiled and scooped up the jelly that came out as dessert. They talked a lot during the past hour. Maru respected Narim on the point that she was able to lead the conversation in a relaxing manner. There was a lot to learn from Narim’s conversation skills. She had the power to bring out the other party’s topic of interest and lead the conversation without getting boring. Her conversation skills would make anyone look at her in a good light.

‘A smooth talker, and a politician.’

Maru stored two words associated with Narim in his head.

“Then I’ll take my leave first. You don’t need to see me off. After all, you’re busy. And Maru, see you later. I’ll send you the tickets by email. If you print it out, it should work as a ticket. They’re R-seats so you should thank me.”

Narim was comfortable with Maru’s presence already. After seeing Narim leave the restaurant, Junmin spoke up.

“Scary, isn’t she? She’s shameless yet she does it in a way no one finds her repulsive.”

“That’s true. Well, I’m going to see her in a good light. After all, I got six free tickets thanks to her.”

“That’s all a debt. A debt you must pay back later.”

“You’re completely right.”

Maru drank the grapefruit juice and had a look at the envelope that Junmin had prepared. He called someone when the meal was almost over, and the lady Maru saw during the audition appeared in the restaurant with that envelope. That envelope was currently in front of Junmin.

“I just thought that it’s about time we make things clear.”

“Make things clear?”

“About our relationship,” saying that, Junmin gave the envelope to Maru. Maru put his hand inside and took out the papers inside. It was a contract form that was 3 pages long. The title of it said ‘exclusive contract’.

“I was planning to watch you until you graduated, but I was a little worried. I thought about it after you took the audition last time. I raised him this far, what happens if he decides to go to another company?”

“Aren’t you in too much of a hurry? I haven’t shown you anything.”

“Results, not so much. But the man named Han Maru is worth having nearby. Also, I think it was about time I changed the way I talk with you.”

“From what I saw, it seemed that you were treating me as someone not under the contract.”

“Indeed. I don’t use polite speech to people that are under me. In that sense, I might swear at you a lot once you sign those papers.”

“That doesn’t sound too welcome,” Maru smiled and had a look at the contract. The contract stated a 50:50 split. It didn’t look that bad. The news was talking about slave contracts and stuff, and it was likely that he was receiving preferential treatment if a newbie like him was receiving 50% of the profits when he got all the support from the company. Moreover, the split ratio went up by 10% every contract renewal. The contract period was also a short two years. Above all, the third clause caught his eyes.

-”Actor” can break the contract with “Company” at any moment during the contract period.

“Is this a misprint?”

“Many people ask that.”

“You’ll see immense losses if you let people go without any restrictions like this.”

“Money is all I have, so I don’t mind such a small amount of money.”

“Even when you consider that I’ve done my part on contracts like commercials like it’s stated on clause 2, this is just releasing the captive spot free.”

Maru chuckled to himself after saying those words. Somehow, he was the one worried about the company. Junmin’s confidence could be seen from the third clause of the contract. This could be interpreted in one of two ways. One is that he has the confidence to treat Maru well and maintain the contract, or two, he has the power to punish those that ripped him off.

It was probably both. Maru went through the contract meticulously. It was always important to read the contract through in detail, especially when it was with someone acquainted. After all, there were cases where they exploited that relationship to add poison pill clauses in there.

“Doesn't the entertainment business require a lot of upfront cost? With this, I might be leeching off company money while I don’t make a name for myself, and not give you much money when I do make it big.”

“That means it’s just as not likely for you to leave JA since the contract is good. I’m fine with that. And also, if we were in a situation where we would go bankrupt with just that, we would have gone bankrupt ages ago.”

Maru nodded and turned the contract over. He didn’t need much consideration to decide.

“Once the shooting begins, you might not be able to go to school if things become big. You know that, right?”

“Classes are ultimately intended to give me a good job. It doesn’t matter if I can earn money. Also, it’s not like I’ll be taking weeks off at a time, so there shouldn’t be any problems.”

“So then, all that’s left is permission from your legal guardian.”

“Oh…,” Maru sighed as he was getting ready to stamp his thumbprint. Junmin chuckled.

“Go show it to them. If you get permission, I’ll visit them.”

“You’re coming over?”

“The company I’m intending to form is not a company that purely pursues profit. What I want is a family. Though, yes, it’ll be quite a noisy family with a lot of peculiar people. Anyway, I have to convince your family that the family I’m creating is safe and believable. That’s what virtue is.”

Maru nodded his head and put the two copies of the contract inside the envelope.

“It’s about time you get going, no?”

“Yes.”

“Have a safe trip home.”

“I’ll see you on the weekend.”

Maru bid goodbye to Junmin and left the restaurant. After taking the elevator to the first floor, Maru stopped in the lounge and looked at his envelope. He had the mild thought that he would step into society again eventually, but now that he actually did, he was a little nervous.

“Society once again, huh.”

Maru tightly grabbed on the envelope as he left the building. For some reason, he had a smile on his face.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Can someone tell me what 'r-seats' are? What does 'r' stand for?

Edit: Oh lol, looking them up in English did no good, but looking them up in Korean did the trick.
R seats: Royal seats
S seats: Superior seats
A seats: A-grade seats

A seats are supposed to be the 'regular' seats... so how are they A grade...?

Oho, Junmin's getting impatient!