Chapter 599

“This is a neat-looking company.”

She grabbed onto her mother’s arm, as her mother looked around all over the place. Somehow, they were gathering a lot of attention. After waiting for a while in the lobby on the 1st floor, they were guided to the president’s office on the 4th floor.

“Welcome. I am Yoo Ahyoung, the one managing this company.”

“Oh, yes. I am this kid’s mother. The interior design is really good.”

“I put a lot of effort into it. Also, nice to see you again. And thank you for contacting me back so early.”

Ahyoung offered for them to take a seat. She sat down on the sofa with her mother.

“You have heard about the general gist of things, yes?”

“Yes. But are you really okay with accepting my girl?”

“Of course I am. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. I am sure that she will raise the value of our company. Would you like some tea first?”

“Sure.”

Ahyoung left the room after telling them to wait for a while.

As they waited, her mother looked around the president’s office. For a brief moment, she saw her mother smiling faintly. She looked as though she met a friend of hers. She wondered what her mother saw.

Not long later, Ahyoung returned with some pretty-looking pottery.

“It’s a hobby of mine. I hope you like it.”

“I like tea too. Is it red tea?”

“Yes. If you want, there’s milk too.”

“No thanks. I like tea by itself.”

“You have similar preferences to mine.”

Red tea was poured into the transparent cup. She took in a sniff of the fragrance that wafted into the room and felt her tense body relaxing a little. She met eyes with Ahyoung who asked if it was good. She curtly replied ‘yes’.

“If she was an adult, I  would have asked her to sign a contract on the spot, but in the case of minors, a parent or guardian needs to be present. There are cases where this isn’t the case, but it is the tradition, so please understand.”

“In any case, doing everything neatly is good. Like this tea.”

Her mother and Ahyoung smiled at each other.

She found the eyes of sharp observers between the two warm smiles. The two people seemed to have started probing each other out. Whether it was in an official place or not, she never saw her mother lose in a battle of wits. Even when the editor sometimes comes to their house to beg her mother for a manuscript, her mother would always put on her neat smile and maintain her usual calmness. Her editor would become more and more fatigued as time went by, and it was to the point that she would sometimes give her a drink in secret and cheer her on.

“For now, this is the contract form.”

“May I read it?”

“Of course. Let’s talk again once you’re done reading.”

There were two copies of the contract. While her mother carefully went over the contract, Ahyoung pushed the other copy to her side.

“You should read it as well.”

“Yes.”

When she read the words 'exclusive contract’ at the top, it finally came to her that she was stepping into the entertainment industry. She took a deep breath before reading the form below. The wall of text that filled the entirety of the page made her feel suffocated. There were many difficult words and terminology that made it hard to understand if she did not read it in detail.

“You don’t write standard contracts, huh?”

“That’s because we include intangible assets. Also, to be clear, she is not in a state where she can bring us profit. It’s not like she’ll be working at our company either. Most of her time will be spent on education, so standard contracts are meaningless.”

“That’s true. Then what happens to the deposit?”

“The exclusive contract deposit is 14 million won. It’s paid in one go, but will be taxed over 7 years, 2 million won each time. It will be amortized under activity fees after her debut.”

“What’s this clause about development expenses?”

“It’s money we invest in her. This money will also be amortized after the debut. Of course, most of the time, we just ignore it when we extend the contract. She’ll get treated according to her name value.”

“So it’s a conditional debt in a sense?”

“Yes. It’s a debt for us. Even if she does not produce any profit in the 7 years after she signs the contract, there will be no monetary losses for her. However, that’s not in the best interests of either of us. Gaining as much as the investment, if not more, is how people feel after all. Since we’re doing it, isn’t it better to earn a lot?”

“Money is not always right, but it’s right most of the time. Now that I actually see it, the entertainment business is pretty risky, huh. There must be cases where you don’t make money off your investment.”

“That’s why over a dozen agencies appear and disappear every year. Perhaps an entertainment agency is similar to gambling. Doing things little by little doesn’t guarantee that you’ll make it, but if you do make it, it’s a huge jackpot.”

These two looked like they were at each other’s throats. She put down the contract after reading it until the end. The contract was just like what she had heard, and there were no major differences. Her mother, who had stamped several contracts, said that there were no problems, so it was definitely a normal contract.

“Hey, you seem to like that book, huh?”

Her mother pointed at the one book that was placed on the display case next to the president’s desk. The moment she had a look at the cover of that book, she understood the meaning behind her mother’s smile from before.

“That book? It’s a new work from a favorite writer of mine. It’s a romance novel, and I end up reading it without noticing the passage of time once I start.”

Ahyoung said that while brightening up. Her good feelings towards the book could be felt from her words. She could see her mother’s smile becoming thicker. It wasn’t surprising, since it was her own writing that was being complimented.

“As awkward as it is for me to say it in a place like this, I wrote that book.”

“What? Really?”

“Yes.”

“You are writer Choi Haesoo? Oh my god, wait a sec.”

Ahyoung stood up before hurriedly moving somewhere. After a while, Ahyoung returned with her hands full of books. They were all her mother’s novels. There was even an essay.

“You bought all of them?”

“Of course. You won’t know how much I advertised these books to my friends.”

“Thank you for that. Perhaps the slowly increasing income of mine might have been thanks to you, president.”

“Uhm, can you give me an autograph right here? I really enjoyed this book. I was thinking that it would be really good as a drama.”

“Hm, actually, there are already talks about publication rights on adaptations. This is not set in stone though, so don’t go talking about it to others.”

“Really? Tell me once the adaptation is decided. I will put any actor you want in the drama.”

“Thank you for that. Oh, I saw Mr. Yoo Jihoon’s photo just now.”

“He’s with us.”

“If it ever does happen, I’d like to ask for him. I really like him.”

“Don’t worry about that. As long as the script is good, I will definitely make him do it. But oh man, I would have never imagined that you were my favorite author. Uhm, shall we eat out somewhere? There are so many things I want to ask. The contract matter is done after all.”

“Rather than eating out, I’d like a light drink.”

“A light drink, huh. I’d love to do that. But your daughter….”

“Let’s just finish up with her first and have a get-together with just us adult women, shall we?”

“I think I’m about to become a passionate fan of yours.”

Ahyoung smiled and put the two contracts side by side.

“If you don’t have any objections, shall we stamp the contract for now?”

Her mother looked at her, as though the final decision was up to her. She took out the stamp that she brought with her.

“If it’s someone who has signed multiple contracts, I or the head manager would be the one to do it, but since it’s your first contract, you should try stamping it yourself. It feels different after all. Oh, you can use this stamp ink.”

She put her stamp on the red stamp ink. She pressed deeply before placing her hands above the contracts. Her hands shook. She took a deep breath before stamping in the middle of the two contracts placed side by side. She stamped deeply to the point that her hands were shaking before lifting it up again. The moment she saw her name stamped between the two copies of the contract, she sighed out in relief.

“Hey, there’s more to go, you know?”

Ahyoung smiled and flipped over to the next page. She smiled awkwardly before stamping all the pages. After stamping everything, Ahyoung put one copy in an envelope before handing it over to her. She looked at Ahyoung’s hand for a moment before grabbing it.

“I will definitely make sure that you won’t regret coming to us.”

“Please take care of me.”

After shaking hands once, she let go. Only then did she realize that her palms were sweaty.

“Oh, and about your stage name. Did you think about it? It’s not that you have to decide on it now, but the quicker the better. There’s a superstition that calling people by their stage names will make them lucky.”

“Uhm, there’s one.”

“What is it? Tell me.”

“It’s Han Gaeul.”

“Han Gaeul?”

Ahyoung contemplated for a while before smiling.

“That’s decent. If it was something strange, I was going to go to a naming center and get one from there. Han Gaeul, Han Gaeul, huh. There’s no one who uses the same name, and it’s easy enough to pronounce. Above all, it’s an actress-like name. What do you think, writer?”

“If my girl’s okay with it, I’m okay with it too.”

“Then I guess I should call you Han Gaeul from now on. Also, tell the people around you to call you that from time to time. If you get famous, you’ll get called by that name more often than your real name. It’s also to get more luck.”

“Okay, I’ll do that.”

“I guess that’s done now then. Well then, shall we go out to have a drink, writer?”

“Sure.”

The two looked like long-time friends. She blinked a few times before standing up with the contract in hand.

“Han… I mean, dear Miss Han Gaeul should go back first. Mom will talk with the president here before going home.”

“Gaeul, take a look around the company. If you put this around your neck, you won’t be stopped from going anywhere, so you can visit anywhere you like.”

Ahyoung gave her the company ID card she was wearing.

She - Gaeul - looked at the company ID card in her hands. The two women had already left the room. Alone in the president’s office, Gaeul looked around and took in the scenery into her eyes.

“So I really signed the contract.”

Her heart raced. She lifted the contract in her arms up high. It’s not a dream, right? - she tried pinching her cheeks. The pain told her that it was indeed not a dream. She stared at the contract for a while before coming to herself. She left the president’s room. As the 4th floor was an office space, the entire floor was quiet. She looked at the people standing at their desks drinking coffee, and happily chatting to other people before heading to the staircase.

“It was this place, right?”

She used this staircase to go to the 5th floor with Ahyoung last time. She looked at the colorful stairs before climbing up step by step. Eventually, she was greeted by a door painted blue. She pressed down on the doorknob before pushing it. A cool wind brushed past her body. The green grass, the beach chairs…. There were quite a lot of people resting on the grass. Some of them were even eating. No one seemed to mind who came up here. There was a sense of liberty, so Gaeul boldly stepped outside.

She walked up to the banister and looked around the scenery. To the left were towering buildings, and to the right were houses and shopping complexes. She never knew before this moment that standing in the middle of Seoul was such an exciting thing. Ah, so this place is my agency now - she thought.

She embraced the strange feeling that was mixed with expectation and unease. Just then, she heard a voice behind her.

“Hyung, get up.”

“I don’t think I can.”

“This is why I never let you come here. The president also said that you were forbidden from using the beach chair, didn’t she?”

“I can’t help it. It’s so warm up here. I might as well live here. This place is better than our house.”

“It’s true that this place is better than our house, but you’re being a disturbance by being here. Other people should rest too. Now, get up!”

The boy that seemed to be the little brother dragged the big brother onto the grass. The people around looked at them and giggled. They seemed used to seeing it.

“My little brother, you should lie down as well. This place is heavenly. Ah, I really want to live here.”

“You’re almost late for practice.”

“It’s fine. It will be fine. Time is generous, isn’t it?”

“Who said that? Stop being lazy and move!”

When the little brother glared at the big brother, the big brother, who was lying down on the ground like a sloth, finally stood up slowly. It was a little funny to see that the big brother was submissive to the little brother. Just then, Gaeul subconsciously bowed to them to greet them. The two greeted back, and the little brother’s greeting was the very definition of politeness, in contrast to the big brother that greeted while almost leaning sideways like a deflated balloon. He looked very tired.

“Hyung, this isn’t good. You should wash your face first.”

“Can I not get washed?”

“Really? You should wash your hair as well.”

“I just washed my hair yesterday.”

“If you’re human, you should wash it once a day, or even twice.”

“You know what? You’re being too cruel to me lately.”

“I can’t help it since I’m your manager. Just accept it. Now, stand up.”

The big brother was dragged by the little brother. Gaeul giggled and looked at them until the door closed behind them. This company seemed to have some very interesting people.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Hey, I think I know those two... (I have a hunch that it's the two super smart brothers from Hwasoo High, where the bigger brother acts based on 'colors', I forgot their names tho). Maybe I'm wrong. If they are, Bunbun should've noticed (or they should have noticed her) since they advanced into the finals together in the competition.

Also, I think author pretty much decided to go with Gaeul as the proper noun for Bunbun in the rest of the story, until her real name is revealed. Thank god, I (and you) don't have to deal with italicized shes anymore.

On a different topic, I switched translating on my laptop and connecting an external monitor, since an RTX3070 is consuming way too much power for simple typing. And dang, 32" screen looks terrible in FHD (it's a 4K monitor, but the laptop doesn't support 4k, or even QHD, since it's 9 years old....)

Editor's Note:
I forgot these brothers even existed.