This chapter may be disturbing for some people. You’ve been warned.
The sun was still up outside. Students were probably studying with dreams of getting into a good university, while salarymen were probably wrestling with work while waiting for their salary day. It was 4 p.m. Many people should be wrestling with the world, but here, it was the opposite.
“It does feel good to play like this from time to time! It reminds me of my younger days, good!”
Team leader Han clapped with the tambourines to the president who was shaking his ass in a disturbing way. He felt pathetic for having to smile and laugh for someone over fifty doing such immature actions, but that only lasted a moment. He put the tie that the president took off and put it around his head like a headband before swinging his head round and round.
“Now that’s some good spin!”
“I used to learn samul nori when I was young, so I’m good at spinning the tail of the sangmo.”
He flattered the president endlessly. The president laughed heartily with the mic in hand and sang a trot song that was way past its date, and team leader Han clapped according to the beat.
“Here, receive one from me.”
“You too, girls,” he spoke to the girls who were sitting on the sofa.
The ladies with revealing clothing accepted a glass immediately with joy. That bottle of vodka cost 1.2 million won per bottle. The president just drank it from the bottle as though it didn’t matter to him.
“President, let’s do a love shot.”
“A love shot?”
A girl who looked to be in her early twenties grabbed his arm in an attempt to grab attention. When she did, the other girls all threw away the vodka into the bin under the table. Team leader Han saw that scene, but did not say anything. Just like how he bowed his head to the president in order for him to live, they were throwing away the vodka for the same reason. There was a sort of sympathy between the vodka that was being thrown away and the gaze that looked over it. After waving his hand at the girl that winked at him, team leader Han approached the president.
“President. Are you okay?”
“I might have drank too much. I’m feeling a little tipsy.”
“Please take this.”
He offered him a drink to ease the hangover. The president gladly received it and started drinking it.
“It feels good to play with the young ones once in a while. I should do this more often.”
“Oh my, you’re no more than a youth at your age. You should try out more things.”
The president giggled and reached his hand into the cleavage of the college girl. The college girl acted coquettish and stuck her body to him. It seems that the president seemed to have taken a liking to that girl. Team leader Han left the room and called the madam here.
“Are the girls inside allowed to do 2nd rounds?”
“Who wants them?”
“The president of one of YM’s subsidiaries.”
“Looks like I can’t say no. I’ll book a hotel right next to this place so take them there. The uncle there will sort things out.”
Team leader Han nodded before returning to the room. In the short time he wasn’t here, the president had already stripped the college girl of her one piece dress and was burying his face into her chest. The girls sitting next to them all looked at him. Team leader Han quietly whispered to them that they could leave.
“President, I booked a room for you. Please let me guide the way.”
“Hey, hey. Team leader Han. I’m not someone that rolls around anywhere. What happens if some flies decide to come my way while I play with this bumpkin?”
The college girl in his bosom flinched when she heard the word bumpkin, but she soon smiled and just acted cute, saying, ‘oppa, that’s going a little too far’. Team leader Han clasped his hands and just stood there silently since the president just sat there while fondling the girl’s breasts, seemingly not having any intention to stand up.
“Team leader Han.”
“Give me a rubber. I’ll just do it here.”
Team leader Han smiled bitterly. He left the room after telling the president that he would be right back. The madam gave permission after hearing the circumstances.
“You know we don’t do this kind of service, right?”
“I’ll have you pay double for the room, just so you know.”
“Well, the old dude inside is the one paying.”
Team leader Han went into the room with the condom that the madam gave him. The college girl wearing only underwear and the president with his lower half revealed were entangled with each other. Seeing that the president was trying so obstinately to pull down her underwear, team leader Han passed the condom directly to his hands.
“Then I’ll take my leave.”
“Oh my, team leader Han. You do a clean job.”
“Haha. Thank you.”
Team leader Han looked at the college girl before he left. She had a slightly annoyed face, but just left her body to the president as she knew that the middle aged man wasn’t ordinary.
Team leader Han quietly closed the door before leaving. As the room had perfect sound isolation, nothing could be heard from the outside. After looking at the dark corridor for a while, team leader Han just sighed and walked out towards the entrance.
“Team leader Han.”
The president of his company was there.
“Sir, did you really have to run away by yourself?”
“There’s no need for both of us to die, is there?”
The two were able to get an empty room per the madam’s kindness. After drinking some cold water, team leader Han felt better.
“What happened to him?”
“He must be shaking his ass right about now.”
“They say the rich are even worse than the poor, urgh. What about the ad?”
“He’s drunk, so I can’t be entirely sure, but I did get the answer that ‘he’ll consider it’.”
“That’s good then.”
Team leader Han chewed on some nuts in front of him. He felt better when he considered the crushed bits as the president from the advertiser company.
“Sir, is there really a need for us to do this? He might be the president of a YM subsidiary, but still. Let’s leave aside Joohyun, since we don’t know what she’ll do to him if he tries to do that to her, but do we really need to suck up to him that much? We’re Yellow Star, too.”
There were three colossal corporations in South Korea. DK, SC and YM. The president of one of their subsidiaries had shown up, so it was understandable that they were giving him good treatment. However, Yellow Star was also one of the top 3 entertainment companies in Korea.
“Team leader Han. I know that you have pride in your work, but we’re still small. They’re on KOSPI, while we’re on KOSDAQ. Do you know how many times their aggregate market price is compared to us?”
“...Can I not even complain?”
“I can see that you’re riled up due to all that alcohol in your blood, but watch your words. And also, we’re not sucking up to him because he’s the president of one of YM’s subsidiaries.”
“That man is the son-in-law of The Daily Sunghwa.”
A piece of peanut he was chewing on got stuck in between his teeth. The Daily Sunghwa. It was one of the top 3 news outlets in South Korea along with Hangook and Jungil.
“Joohyun is very popular. That’s because there are women who admire her don’t-look-back actions. However, she’s not a top star in terms of her acting career. 30% drama viewing rate? However, the drama that became a hot topic peaked at 54%. As for movies, she only takes the ones she wants, so it’s far from profitable. She has popularity but we don’t know if that popularity will last or not. An actress without a good work to do will eventually be forgotten.”
The president lit up his cigarette before sucking in a deep one.
“There’s a wave of change among actors due to the Korean Wave and whatnot, but right now, the influence of news media within the country is still supreme. Let’s say Joohyun, who needs to leap to the top, gets her reputation tarnished right now. If it was any other actor, they’ll just clench their teeth and endure it, but is Joohyun the type of woman to do that? She’s the type of person to outright give up if she doesn’t like something. She’ll say what is on her mind even when she is talking to a super rich person. So, then. What about the contract we have with her? What about the advertisements? What about the contract we have with her for maintaining her dignity? You know? Actresses in Korea really don’t have any power. They can’t even date the people they like, and they can’t get married either. Joohyun entered the ranks of such people. She’s someone who would become big through acting. That’s why we need to look after her so that she doesn’t do anything bad.”
“Is money important to you, president?”
“Everything comes down to money in the end. The reason we’re here right now is also because of money.”
The president flicked the cigarette on the ashtray.
“Above all, Joohyun is 33 years old this year. She’s not that old when you consider the era we’re in, but she’s definitely not young either. Other top actresses of her age have a long filmography. There will always be a movie that is called a masterpiece among them. That’s why they’re called top stars. However, Joohyun doesn’t have one. The one she’s doing right now, she’s only a side character. Her acting will definitely be seen under a good light, but what about popularity? A star is, in the end, all about popularity. A flower on top of an unreachable cliff definitely looks pretty, yes. However, people will always end up going to the local florist’s and buy a cheap rose.”
“Goddammit. Han Mijoo has horrible acting, but she’s still doing well, isn’t she?”
“She’s disturbingly pretty, that’s why. But do you see dramas or movies casting her? The only place she shows up in are ads. And she’s the rose I talked about before. She can be seen practically everywhere.”
“Joohyun is pretty as well.”
“Yes, but she’s uniquely pretty. When she dyed her hair purple last time, I… urgh, let’s not talk about it.”
Team leader Han laid back into the chair. He inwardly imagined the college girl and the president of the advertiser company who would be rolling around naked. He was the one who created such a place. If he told this to someone ordinary, they would point at him saying that they were disgusted. It was obvious that he, who triggered such an event, would also eat a share of the insult.
However, what could he do? Entertainment companies did not live on actors doing work. Top actors weren’t actually cash cows that earned money, but the opposite. They were black holes that sucked in endless amounts of money. The source of money was not the actors themselves but the advertisers and the investors. The true owners of entertainment companies were the people that invested their money because of those top actors.
‘That’s why we have no choice but to suck up to them, huh.’
Team leader Han sighed bitterly.
A popular celebrity? Those people fell to the depths of the abyss with a single scandal. It wasn’t that the money they earned disappeared so they would have no problem with living, but their career in the entertainment industry would be finished.
The Daily Sunghwa had deep connections with not only the entertainment industry, but the political field as well. It would be hard to keep doing business in this industry if he pissed off someone that had connections to such a place.
Team leader Han never considered himself as a clean man. At his position, he would be lobbied in all sorts of ways. I heard that the actress in that drama is pretty; I like the young one from that movie; she looks good; this girl’s cute; that girl looks sexy. After such a line came just one sentence.
Let me meet her.
When they say ‘all the popular actors can be seen at a party held by the grandson of some CEO’, it wasn’t a lie. Why do such actors, who didn’t lack anything, go to such places? Did they lack something after all? No. They just go there to humor the main characters. Why? Because they have to keep on living. To be exact, they have to keep others close to them living.
They say celebrities live on the love of the public. Was it true? Then where do such celebrities appear? In TV programs, of course, as well as adverts. TV programs, ads, dramas, movies. They were all places with heavy investment, and that heavy investment naturally came from big companies that boasted immense financial power.
Taking a look at movies, no matter how good a movie is, it would be all for naught if a super powerful distributor was displeased with whatever that was related to it. After all, no matter how good it was, there would be no one to watch it if not many cinemas aired the movie. With little profit came less opportunity. Regret would do nothing at that point.
Money made actors.
That was one of the truths he came across while working in this industry.
“It would have been good if Joohyun had more interest in the entertainment industry,” the president said as he looked up at the ceiling.
“You want her to pour wine and vodka to people?”
“That’s just the basics. Like the ones these days.”
“I don’t think I’ll be okay with that even if you kill me.”
“Do you fancy her?”
“Haha, me? There’s just no way. How many people do you think did well after being involved with an actor? I just want to raise a full-fledged actor during my lifetime. I mean, she has the potential after all.”
The president stood up with a smile.
“Then let’s get our old man. We have to send him home while we still can.”
“Yeah, yeah, sure.”
“Why do you care about Joohyun so much? If it doesn’t work, then just throw it away. That’s how you do things, isn’t it?”
The president made a rather sympathetic smile as he spoke,
“A chrysanthemum flower offered to the best nameless actress.”
“There’s something like that.”
The president then left after patting him on the back. Team leader Han tilted his head in confusion as he left.
* * *
Maru stood up after getting a call. Joohyun had called him to come out since she was almost there. He left the streets with the stalls to the main street where he saw a white car slowly scanning the surroundings.
He waved his hand as he walked towards it. Joohyun nodded her head before parking her car on the side of the road.
“That place is a no parking zone.”
“Then what about the cars in front and behind mine?”
Joohyun got out of the car. Maru shrugged his shoulders. As this neighborhood severely lacked parking spaces, they didn’t tow the cars that were parked on the side of the road. There were no parking tickets issued either. It was illegal, but it was an unspoken agreement.
“I was surprised because you called me. I thought you’d call your brother.”
“The one who called me here should be the one to come out.”
Maru had a look at Joohyun’s face. She seemed angry for some reason.
“Did something happen to you?”
“Me? Oh, I just met someone annoying.”
“Don’t tell me you swore at the person.”
“Do you think I’m that reckless?”
“Your interview left quite a deep impression on me. I thought you’d shed the first blood.”
Joohyun giggled when he said that.
“Hey, we feel quite close.”
“You think so?”
“I like your attitude.”
Maru coughed awkwardly as he took the lead.
 More stock stuff again. KOSPI and KOSDAQ are Korean stock exchange platforms, like NASDAQ and NYSE are in the US. Apparently, the requirements to be listed on KOSPI is higher than the requirements to be listed on KOSDAQ (by around 5~10 times per criteria).
Was that warning at the top appropriate? I'm not sure... but I put it there just to be safe...
And man, it's really getting harder and harder to translate each chapter... especially with Korean customs and culture that are both good and bad, as well as the technical stuff like stock markets... Damn you Confucius. You make my work harder.
UPDATE ON JAN 27TH
Manager hostess has been changed to 'madam', having the word 'manager' in her title makes things confusing later on. So I just decided to go with the original word.
The full explanation is in translator's thoughts section in chapter 307