-How could you not give me a call even once?
“Well, I’m doing that right now. Did you have your meal yet?”
-That’s the only thing you’re interested in, isn’t it?
“Well, it means that you’re healthy,” Maru spoke as he watched the guardrails that flashed by.
“Are you practicing even now?”
-Obviously. I have juniors now. I have to teach my juniors so that we can take the grand prize again this year. I also want a personal prize as well.
“Aren’t you being too greedy? If Myunghwa high school wins this time around, it’s the 3rd year in a row, isn’t it?”
-No, it’s the fourth.
“Then it’s about time you hand it over to us. Let’s have a symbiotic relationship.”
-If you want it so much, win it from us.
A fufu laugh could be heard over the phone. Maru smiled as he imagined her with a satisfied smirk.
“Then you don’t have any time during weekdays?”
-I don’t. Sorry.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about. How about the weekend?”
-I can do Saturday.
“Then let’s meet then. Aren’t we seeing each other too little even though we’re students?”
-Well, we would’ve been able to meet yesterday but a certain someone had to go somewhere else for shooting a movie.
“...Fine, it’s my fault.”
-How was it? Did you do well?
“I think I did a decent job?”
-You don’t sound so confident. Are you sure you won’t be edited out?
“I guess I have to pray for that to not happen.”
The express bus slowed down and entered a service area. The driver got off the bus as he told everyone to visit the bathroom.
-Are you on the bus?
“Yeah. I’m going up to Suwon right now.”
-When are you arriving?
“I think there’s still 3 hours to go. I think I’ll make it home before six.”
-Isn’t it tiring?
“I’m doing nothing but sitting still. Rather than that, don’t you need to get going? I think I hear something.”
-Yeah, we just resumed practice, I need to go.
“Be careful. Watch out for your stamina. Don’t forget to stay hydrated.”
-Yeah, yeah, sure. Don’t worry about me and worry about yourself instead. Also… congratulations on your debut. Let’s go look at it together once it’s out.
-Let’s hang up then.
Silence continued for a moment before the call ended abruptly. Maru stretched his arms out as he stood up. He got off the bus and entered the convenience store in the service area. He bought some bread and milk as lunch before returning to the bus.
“We’re departing. Please check if your companions are here.”
The bus left the service area and entered the highway again. The scenery was unchanging and it was quite a boring ride. He was looking at the cars passing by outside the window as he was folding up the bread packaging. At that moment, his phone started ringing. He took out his phone from his pocket and checked the name. The name said Kim Dongwook. It was quite an unfamiliar name, so it didn’t come to his mind immediately. He was pondering as he put his thumb against the call button when he remembered the entertainment journalist he saw during the read-through.
-Is this Mr. Han Maru’s phone?
“Yes, it is, journalist.”
-Aah, yes, that’s right. Your voice sounded so mature, so I was wondering if I got the wrong number. Where are you right now?
“In a bus to Suwon.”
-Damn! I guess we missed each other.
“Miss each other?”
-I’m driving to Yeongdeok right now. Because of work.
“Oh, work. It’s about the movie then?”
-Yes. Oh, and also, why didn’t you tell me back then?
“Tell you what back then?”
-Stop pretending to be ignorant. I’m going to Yeongdeok to collect news. I already talked with your president.
“Oh, I see.”
-Oh, I see? I did feel this back then, but you really are quite something. You belong to JA and you didn’t tell me anything about it. I’m kinda sad, you know?
“Well, that was because I didn’t see the need to. But what do you mean when you said that you already talked to the president?”
-We’re helping each other out now, is what I mean. Your president, though, he’s quite a scary man. He first investigates me in secret, and then he tests me out in secret as well. Though, I do like him for it.
Dongwook started speaking about that event as he laughed.
* * *
“Geez, looks like I took a hit this time. I thought it was a good fish I can chew on, but it turns out it was bait to fish out a man,” Dongwook spoke as he looked at Lee Junmin, who was in front of him.
“It’s natural for an employer to look into the abilities of a potential employee, no?” Junmin replied as though it was only natural.
Dongwook smiled bitterly as he remembered about the youth named Yoo Sooil from a while ago.
The information that youth indirectly told him was actually just bait. The evidence that JA is planning to make a big move was a huge news topic in the entertainment industry, so it was very valuable to those that worked in news outlets.
Dongwook pondered what to do with that information. If JA was preparing to list its stocks, there would be a prior notice about it to gather potential buyers, so that wasn’t much of a big news at all. However, Dongwook believed that JA wasn’t going to list itself so hastily. No, on the surface, JA didn’t pass the requirements to be listed, so he believed that they would keep being unlisted. This meant that this info was only valuable to the shareholders of unlisted stocks. Being unlisted didn’t mean that it wasn’t free from market logic, if JA decided that it wanted to grow in size, the price of JA’s over-the-counter stocks would rise.
Currently, JA’s over-the-counter stocks were currently being traded at around 2000 won, though it differed from place to place. It was worth around 1800 won before the movie production news hit the internet. In such a situation, what if the news that they recruited several actors with potential became known? The power of the name ‘Lee Junmin’ wasn’t small in the entertainment industry, so the stock prices would definitely rise.
The important thing here was when to release this information. Dongwook pondered deeply. This was a precious piece of information that might fill his fragile wallet again, so he had no plans to release it hastily. He was thinking about what to do when he received the call -
From none other than Junmin, that is.
It was rather unexpected, but at the same time, the timing was rather awkward, so Dongwook had to get prepared before he went to meet him. After exchanging greetings, Junmin didn’t go over the formalities and straight out asked why he stayed quiet. He tried to feign ignorance once, but he revealed all of his thoughts when Junmin looked like he knew everything and when he mentioned Yoo Sooil. That was when he found out that his encounter with that kid was planned from the start, by none other than the man in front of him.
“I was planning to ignore you without hesitation if you decided to sell your investigations to others for immediate profit. We can just hold off the listing until later and the stock price bubble will burst sooner or later.”
“My wallet is not in a good situation right now, so I was holding on to it thinking about how to sell it at an expensive price.”
“That’s why I feel good about you. As a journalist, finding out the truth is important, yes, but knowing the right time to release the info is important as well.”
Junmin spoke as he drank a sip of his red tea. Dongwook also drank his coffee. He grasped the overall situation, but he did not understand what Junmin was saying completely. He put down his empty coffee mug and spoke,
“But you mentioned something strange just now.”
“You said something about looking into the abilities of a potential business partner. What do you mean by that?”
“I mean just that. Just like the information you painstakingly put in the effort to get, my company is about to start doing public activities. This means that we’ll have to look for people to write articles about us, as well as respond to public opinions.”
“Your current company, Mint News, was it? What’s the pay like over there?”
Dongwook was flabbergasted rather than angry when Junmin asked for his salary numbers. It was like a pleasant provocation.
“What do you think?”
“Less than what you used to receive when you worked for a public media outlet, based on the fact that your current residence costs 300,000 per month and 10,000,000 won as a deposit. It’s sufficient for a single person, but isn’t it hard commuting to work every day? It’s a bit far from the subway station.”
“Geez, when did you look into that?”
“You were investigating us, so we couldn’t sit still.”
Dongwook made a bitter smile.
“How about twice?”
“The type of work shouldn’t be that different to the work you’re doing now. You just need to exclusively do interviews with actors belonging to our company. That’s what we’re going to do about our news. If you want news about JA, then go through Kim Dongwook - or something like that.”
“That’s it, and I receive twice my current annual salary?”
“Yes. Oh, and I’ll be providing you with a residence near the company, as well as a car for work. Petrol fee is company-provided as well. You can eat all three meals at the company as well. The food here is good, so you won’t be dissatisfied.”
Junmin took out a contract form from his bag. Dongwook was flabbergasted and just watched him as he did so.
“I only work with people that can become the best of the best. As for you, journalist Kim, you have already proven your skills. Oh, and I don’t mean what happened recently. I’m referring to your experiences during the time you worked for public TV. I was planning to look for others if your senses had dulled, but they didn’t become dull at all.”
Junmin spun the contract form 180 degrees on the desk so that Dongwook could read it. His elegant movements seemed to be evident of the fact that he hadn’t done this just once or twice.
“It’s about time you receive proper treatment for your work. Don’t you think so, journalist Kim?”
“Proper treatment, you say. That’s something I haven’t heard in a long time.”
Seeing Junmin with a faint smile on his face, Dongwook shook his head. At the same time, he took out his phone. He called the president of his now-former company that always told him to just copy and paste articles from other news outlets.
“President, no, I mean, Deokbae. I have a letter of resignation inside the top drawer of my desk. No, don’t get angry and listen to me. You paid me dirt-cheap, so you can do that much, don’t you think? Anyway, please handle that for me. Put the severance pay in my account. As for the take-over, you can just use the kid that sits next to me. I hope I never see you again.”
He hung up before grabbing the pen in front of him and signing the paper.
* * *
-Understand? We’re one family now.
“Sheesh, way to go, president, I guess.”
-My words exactly.
“Anyway, congratulations. Your pay suddenly doubled.”
-I feel awesome. It felt like everything was going well after I met you, so I was planning to treat you to a meal, but you just had to be going home at this time.
“Treat me in Seoul once.”
“Then I guess in the future, all the news about the movie is going through you, sir?”
-Yeah. And also, one more thing. Our dear president Lee is preparing a lot of things. He told me that he’ll be releasing a magazine.
-A magazine talking about news in the entertainment industry. The base will be a women’s magazine, and the sprinkling on top is fashion. I’m the editor-in-chief for that as well.
“That’s more work for you, then.”
-It’s still in the early stages, so I’ll have to look into more things. That leads to the question, I heard that you were close with Gwak Joon, the writer?”
“How did you find that out?”
-Through the president.
-Anyway, I need you to be the middleman between him and I. A magazine needs its columns, right? And Gwak Joon is hot and popular these days.
“Well, I’m not sure if that hyung is into that stuff.”
-You never know. He might unexpectedly like that kind of thing.
“Alright. I’ll try asking him. But don’t expect anything. He’s the type of guy who lacks time writing his own stuff.”
-Let’s not be so pessimistic before we even try. We need to try it out first before expecting results. Oh, that’s right. Were there any journalists in the filming scene?
“No. When I arrived, I didn’t see any cameras other than the ones used for the film.”
-Really? Then I guess people will start flocking starting today. Hey, I’m hanging up for now, okay? Be careful on your way home, and see you later.
“Okay. Please be careful while driving.”
That call was quite a rollercoaster. Maru heaved out a deep sigh. It seemed that Junmin was getting ready to do a lot of things in places he didn’t know about. This was probably how the foundations for Geunsoo’s rise to dominance in the movie industry and Ganghwan’s rise to power in the theater scene was being created.
‘I guess I shouldn’t have a problem living if I join them now.’
Maru looked outside the window with a satisfied smile.
 The translator is not knowledgeable regarding stock trading, so forgive me if any of the stock exchange stuff doesn’t make sense...
So this whole stock trading thing. Here's my understanding based on some help from others and personal research.
1. The company "JA Production" is an unlisted(private) company, so its stock cannot be exchanged on formal stock exchange platforms. (e.g. NYSE, NASDAQ). There are certain criteria to fulfill in order to be listed (or 'go public'), which in the context of the novel, JA does not meet, at least according to Dongwook.
2. However, unlisted companies can still have shares/stocks. They're held by the initial investors as well as the owner (and maybe direct family of owner) of the company, who can sell their 'shares' to the company to others. This is where OTC(over-the-counter) stock trading comes in. Companies that do not meet the requirements to be listed on major exchange platforms can still have its stock traded through minor, less reliable exchange platforms, which is called 'over-the-stock' trading.
TL;DR if you're confused about how there can be a stock market price for an unlisted company, it's because of over-the-counter stocks that work in a different way.
IF ANYONE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT STOCK TRADING IS NOT OKAY WITH MY UNDERSTANDING, please tell this poor soul through comments.