Side Story 29. Ji-Jin War

After checking the security camera, the first thing Kim Hannah did was to contact every department of the company. Next, she entered Paradise and went to see Seol Jihu.

“Jinhee’s where?”

Seol Jihu furrowed his brows after hearing what Kim Hannah said. He instantly realized why. He knew very well that Seol Jinhee wouldn’t have visited the company for no reason.

“Shoot. Thanks for letting me know. Ah, now’s not the time. Let’s hurry!”

“Stop.”

Kim Hannah grabbed Seol Jihu’s shoulder.

“What’s your plan?”

“My plan? I obviously need to sneak into the company and pretend to work….”

“I won’t say that’s a bad plan, but don’t you think it’s too predictable?”

“Predictable?”

“Yep. Showing that you’re working might convince most people, but do you think your sister will be satisfied with that?”

The struggling Seol Jihu slowly came to a stop. Now that he thought about it, Kim Hannah was absolutely right. This was easy to see from the fact that she stayed even when the security guard referred to him as Assistant Manager Seol.

“You’re right….”

Seol Jihu muttered briefly before tilting his head and looking up at the sky.

“So… the earthquake war starts again….”

He sighed.

“Earthquake war?”

Kim Hannah let go of his shoulder and asked.

“Oh, the name comes from the first part of our names, respectively.[1] Jinhee had huge reactions whenever I pulled pranks on her, and the house would become rowdy as if an earthquake occurred."

“Just what kind of pranks did you pull to warrant being called an earthquake?”

“It wasn’t anything crazy. Poking her back and pretending to be oblivious, turning off the lights when she’s in the bathroom and closing the door, hiding somewhere and surprising her, putting ice in her shoes, taking her phone while she’s texting her boyfriend and running away... things like that.”

“...You sure are proud.”

Kim Hannah looked at him disappointedly and then rummaged through her handbag.

“Anyway, what’s important is how we deal with this.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“We’re going to fabricate a natural work environment and give her no choice but to believe us.”

“How?”

“It won’t be difficult for you. I’ll have experienced employees play appropriate roles. Just pretend you’re an employee at this company and act as you see fit. Ah, found it.”

Kim Hannah fished out a few pieces of paper from her handbag.

“Memorize what’s written here. It details the company structure and information you need to know. Make sure to memorize the chairman’s name and the names and faces of the people in your department. You can just gloss over the rest.”

It didn’t sound too difficult. Seol Jihu carefully studied the papers Kim Hannah handed over.

“We told your sister that you’re in a meeting and will be out in 20 minutes. That’s an hour in Paradise’s time, but taking the time you need to get to the company into consideration, you’ll only have 15 minutes to prepare.”

Seol Jihu did not reply. He only nodded his head while staring at the papers. He was very clearly focusing intensely.

Kim Hannah raised her eyebrow.

“Hey, Jihu.”

“....”

“Seol Jihu!”

Seol Jihu looked up at the sudden shout.

“How many people are in the management support team?”

“Eight people.”

“List their names, starting from the highest position.”

Seol Jihu answered without hesitating. Slightly surprised, Kim Hannah asked him to do the same for the sales department team, which Seol Jihu did instantly. Other than this, Seol Jihu memorized the location of the sales department team’s office, his own seat, and even the company mailroom’s layout, all in the span of a few minutes.

Kim Hannah marveled.

“I wasn’t going to give you this because of our lack of time, but here. Give it a read. It’s our business plan.”

Seol Jihu intensely read the second set of papers that Kim Hannah handed him. His concentration was truly remarkable.

Kim Hannah didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Seol Jihu had managed to memorize the entire company structure in this short period.

Though it was hard to believe, she wasn’t all that surprised. After all, she had experienced similar things during the Hawaii trip and the festival.

Being on the receiving end made her want to pull her hair out, but as an ally standing on the same side, Seol Jihu’s smarts and skills were truly reliable.

Kim Hannah crossed her arms and gave a confident smile.

“Alright, let’s go. You can continue memorizing on the way to the warp gate. We have to be as efficient as possible with time.”

Seol Jihu followed Kim Hannah while keeping his eyes glued to the papers.

*

After returning to Earth, Seol Jihu got in a car waiting outside and headed to the company. He changed into a suit on the way, which was a little worn out to show that he was pretty much living at work.

During the ride, Seol Jihu called Kim Hannah and let her know what exactly happened a few days ago. This was because Kim Hannah asked for any information that could be of help.

After arriving at the destination, the car did not go through the main gate and instead went down to the basement level. Seol Jihu quickly got out, took the employee-only elevator, and entered the company.

Kim Hannah was waiting for him.

“Perfect timing. Okay, here’s your work phone, and you’re the company’s assistant manager. Don’t forget that.”

Kim Hannah ruffled Seol Jihu’s clothes a little before smacking his back. Five or so people were waiting for him inside the conference room. They immediately gave him meaningful smiles.

“Welcome.”

“Ah, yes, hello.”

“You can take a seat there.”

A middle-aged man smiled while looking at him.

“You look a little nervous, but it’s fine. We can just put on a heavy atmosphere.”

“Okay.”

“You don’t need to do anything. Just type something on your laptop while listening to us, play along, and nod your head. It’ll be even better if you throw in a couple of questions.”

Seol Jihu read a script and then looked up.

“Um… if possible, can I lead the meeting?”

“Huh? You want to lead the meeting?”

“Yes, I think I can do it. And I’m sure it will be better that way. My sister’s quick wit is one thing, but her intuition is something else.”

“I see….”

The middle-aged man hesitated for a moment before nodding.

“Then would you like to give it a test run? We still have some time after all.”

“Yes, gladly.”

Seol Jihu stepped forward. Looking at everyone, he started speaking.

“This year, our goal is to expand our overseas orders through Asian and Middle Eastern markets, and a few businesses have already expressed their willingness to work with us….”

The middle-aged man who was intently listening flashed his eyes. At that moment, the bell rang.

“Yes, he just… Pardon? She’s coming up? Y-Yes, ma’am. We’re ready to go.”

The middle-aged man hung up and laughed.

“We cut it close. Your younger sister is apparently tired of waiting and is coming up.”

Seol Jihu clicked his tongue. Just who did she take after to be so stubborn?

The middle-aged man nodded, gesturing at Seol Jihu to go on. Seol Jihu cleared his throat and continued.

“Other than these two regions, we looked into Southeast Asian countries. As expected, their cultural openness and environmental conditions are….”

As Seol Jihu was talking, a small disturbance was heard outside the door. The noise quickly got closer, and Seol Jihu felt a gaze fix itself on him. He pretended to be oblivious and continued.

Just as he was starting to feel that he was talking way too much…

“Assistant Manager Seol, this is indeed good news, but considering the size of these businesses, I’m not sure if they will be able to meet the orders we want to be sold….”

The middle-aged man cut in at an appropriate time.

“Yes, I looked into that as well….”

Seol Jihu replied accordingly while doing his best not to glance outside the door.

Seol Jihu was leading the meeting with such skill that he even surprised himself. His college experience helped, where he had participated in a presentation competition for fun and gotten first place. He was also lucky in that the topic of that presentation was similar to the topic of today’s meeting.

“Oh, is it already this late? Why don’t we take a break and go eat.”

Judging that they had shown enough, the middle-aged man ended the meeting with lunchtime as an excuse. Realizing that Seol Jinhee was outside, he continued to ask Seol Jihu questions on the way out.

“Assistant Manager Seol, you should also find some tactful solutions. You can’t just say, it’s not possible or we can’t. If we don’t give in to some of their requests, how can we expect them to give into ours?”

His tone had gotten a lot more casual than during the meeting.

“They were going too far with their demands. They don’t even have their data computerized, yet they want us to give them our data without leaving out a single detail. You have no idea how hard it was for me to hold in my laughter whenever they brought up work efficiency and continuity.”

“They don’t know how these things work. That’s why we sent you out there. So you could teach them and lead them. Otherwise, neither side is going to get anywh… hmm?”

The middle-aged man stopped when he saw Seol Jinhee standing to the side. Seol Jihu widened his eyes and dropped his jaw.

“This is….”

“Ah, she’s my guest.”

Seol Jihu quickly stepped up.

“What’s going on, Assistant Manager Seol? Weren’t we going to go get lunch?”

“I’ll be right there, sir.”

The team members left the office. Left alone, Seol Jihu stared at Seol Jinhee with a blank look.

“...What are you doing here?”

“Didn’t you ask me to bring you something?”

“When?”

“Beeeh. So how does it feel to be pranked on?”

Seol Jinhee stuck out her tongue. She was pretending like her goal was getting revenge for what happened a few days ago. Seol Jihu decided to play along.

“That was at your college, and you were on your way out. You can’t just barge into a company like this. How did you even get in here?”

“Hmm~”

Seol Jinhee did not reply. She looked at his loose tie and slightly stretched-out dress shirt, her nose twitching.

“Ugh, you smell. You’ve been busy recently?”

“Does it look like I’m free?”

“This is where you work?”

Seol Jinhee looked around the office. Her eyes flashed sharply.

“Where’s your seat?”

“...Why did you come?”

“To check out your company. Why?”

“Hey.”

“Come on. It’s lunchtime anyway. Just tell me where your seat is. You can’t even do that?”

Seol Jihu looked at Seol Jinhee dumbfoundedly before pointing his finger to the left.

“Hm, hmm.”

Seol Jinhee carefully examined the messy desk Seol Jihu pointed at. After moving the mouse a couple of times, the computer screen turned on, showing a password that had to be entered.

Seol Jinhee grinned and looked back at Seol Jihu.

“You said this was your seat, right?”

Seol Jihu didn’t show it, but he felt his throat go dry. Although he made all the preparations he possibly could, he felt like even a single slip of the tongue could blow the cover.

Kim Hannah must be monitoring them from the security cameras and the microphone hidden in his suit.

“Of course I know the password~”

It was then. A bell rang. It was from the work phone that he got from Kim Hannah.

“Yes, this is Assistant Manager Seol.”

Uhehe, it was all a lie, kekeke. That’s the password. Type that in Korean.

“Pardon…?”

At that moment, Seol Jinhee practically flew up to him and put the phone on speaker.

—I’m asking if you’re still at the office.

At the same time, the middle-aged man who called changed his tone. It was perfect timing.

“Y-Yes, I am.”

—Then check your mail. I just sent you something.

The middle-aged man’s voice rang out.

“Please hold.”

Seol Jihu sat down and typed, ‘Uhehe, it was all a lie, kekeke’. Thankfully, the computer was unlocked. When he logged into his company email address, which he memorized beforehand, he was a little taken aback. The inbox was full of work-related emails, and most of them had been read.

Seol Jihu clicked on the most recent one, and Seol Jinhee strained her ears while watching Seol Jihu’s every move.

—Did you read it?

“Yes, hold on….”

The email turned out to be a document with the name of a business he had never heard of before.

—Assistant Manager Kang just sent me that.

“This is….”

Seol Jihu trailed off. He couldn’t figure out the intention behind this email, which was obviously meant to help him out.

—Just looking at the document isn’t enough. We should visit them and meet in person. I also put a couple of other businesses in there, so take a look. How many days do you think you’ll take?

“To visit each business…? I’d say four days, at least.”

—No, we have other work to do. They said they’re okay even if you visit late at night… so let’s get this over within two days.

“Two days? By myself?”

—Eii, of course not. Manager Kim will accompany you.

“Still… Wouldn’t I need to leave right away even to have a chance of making it in time?”

—Manager Kim already put in the application for a company car. Get going. I’ll let the upper management know.

Seol Jihu finally understood Kim Hannah’s intentions.

“...Yes, sir. I’ll get ready right away.”

—Good. We have a tight schedule, so let me know how things go at each visit.

The middle-aged man hung up. Seol Jihu threw the phone on his desk, dropped his head, and sighed.

“Chief Manager Chun… you son of a bitch….”

Seol Jihu grumbled like an employee who was cursing at his workaholic boss. Before he noticed, he had transformed into a perfect assistant manager.

Seol Jinhee, who was browsing through the phone’s text messages and recent call logs, flinched when the phone vibrated again.

“Department Manager Kim? Who’s this? Is this a woman?”

“...Give it. When did you even take it?”

Seol Jihu grumbled and picked up the phone.

“Yes, yes, I just got the call…. Of course. What choice do we have…. Hm? Daejeon? We have to finish in two days… so even if it might be hard, we should go down to Gumi. If we’re allowed to faint afterward, we can go down to Daegu. Yes, I’ll be there soon.”

Seol Jihu hung up and then got up with a sigh.

“Sorry, Jinhee. Looks like I have to go.”

“....”

“I wanted to eat lunch with you, but….”

“It’s fine. By the way, where’s the bathroom?”

“Go outside and then…. No, that’s for employees only, so let’s go down to the first floor.”

Seol Jihu picked up his bag and went down with Seol Jinhee. As he was about to walk out of the elevator, he ran into a woman who was just coming in.

The woman smiled after seeing him.

“Oh, Assistant Manager Seol! Are you going out for lunch?”

“Ah…. It looks like I’ll have to eat at a rest stop.”

“Huh? Why?”

“I have to go on a business trip.”

“Again? Didn’t you just come back from one?”

“Tell me about it.”

Seol Jihu smiled bitterly.

“Chief Manager Chun’s really harsh….”

“What choice do I have? I’m just a lowly employee.”

“Cheer up. I’ve been swamped too recently. Maybe we can go out for a drink afterward.”

The woman made a drinking gesture with her hand before leaving.

“Who’s that?”

“A colleague.”

“What’s her name?”

“Miss Yura. Why are you asking though?”

“Miss Yura…. Hnng, suspicious~”

Seol Jinhee glanced back, murmuring, ‘Should I go back and ask?’

At that moment, a loud, ‘Miss Jang Yura! Come over here!’ was heard from a distance. The woman who just talked to Seol Jihu replied loudly and rushed over.

Kim Hannah must have pulled some strings.

“Oh, I guess you’re right.”

“You sure are tenacious.”

“What do you mean? I only asked because that Unni seemed interested in you.”

Seol Jinhee gave a good excuse.

Seol Jihu shook his head. Of course, he was breathing a sigh of relief on the inside.

Creating a situation where Seol Jinhee would have no choice but to believe him—the plan had gone perfectly.

*

Even after going outside, Seol Jihu did not lower his guard. He parted with Seol Jinhee in front of the company and then met up with Kim Hannah to hop into a car. Soon, the car set off.

“Haaaa….”

Seol Jihu heaved out the breath he had been holding in. The meeting had been short in some ways and long in others. He felt like a fierce storm had just swept by him.

Kim Hannah laughed, giggling incessantly while driving the car.

Chief Manager Chun~ You son of a bitch~ That was a good one! How did you come up with that?”

“I don’t know. I got too involved in my role-playing.”

Seol Jihu laughed feebly.

“Fabricating a safe environment to go back and forth…. Looks like more work goes into it than I thought.”

“You’re a special case among special cases. You get what you deserve.”

Kim Hannah scolded him.

“Anyway, we’re okay now, right?”

“Probably? We showed her this much. If she still doesn’t believe you, she either has a mental illness that prevents her from trusting people, or you must be one hell of a bastard.”

Kim Hannah shrugged.

“But if you want to make sure…. How about we keep going…?”

Kim Hannah’s tone went up toward the end. Next, she looked at the rear-view mirror before blinking quickly.

“Ahahaha!”

She suddenly burst into laughter.

“What’s wrong?’

The wildly laughing Kim Hannah pointed at the mirror in reply to Seol Jihu’s question.

Seol Jihu also looked at the mirror, his expression stiffening instantly. A familiar car was following them while keeping a safe distance away. It was Seol Jinhee’s car, which they got back from Seorak Land.

“God! Still!? What the hell did you do to your sister to make her not trust you so much!? Did you abandon her in the middle of the highway or something?”

Kim Hannah cackled loudly while Seol Jihu cried on the inside.

“....”

Seol Jihu didn’t know what to say.

“...What should I do?”

“Ah, what a piece of work, really. And what do you mean?”

Kim Hannah wiped her tears and then tapped on her phone that was sitting on a phone holder.

“If she can’t trust you after all this and if you haven’t made any mistakes, then she must have sniffed something out. Ah, I’m dying to know what her status window says. I want to try taking her there…. Yes, hello?”

Seol Jihu stared fixedly at the smiling Kim Hannah. Was he wrong in thinking that she was thoroughly enjoying this situation? Was he mistaken in thinking that she looked like Zhuge Liang[2]who just met Jiang Wei[3] for the first time?


1. Ji(hu) + Jin(hee). Jijin in Korean means earthquake.

2. Served as the chancellor and regent of the state of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period of China.

3. A military general of the state of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period of China.

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