Forming Contract (6)
The heads of the directors lowered.
Hwang Jeong-Hu quietly asked, “Yeong-Gi, what do you think is the best course of action”
Baek Yeong-Gi scanned the directors.
He could see that they were feeling lost and miserable after their positions had been flipped on their heads literally overnight.
These people had done those things as a way to survive since their trusted Chairman Hwang Jeong-Hu showed no signs of recovery for so long.
Some of the directors found the way that Baek Yeong-Gi clung on to the Chairman out of loyalty too pitiful to watch, so they had tried to persuade him, but the latter didn't listen to them.
Eventually, Baek Yeong-Gi became an eyesore to the three presidents and was dismissed from his directorial position.
When that happened, it looked like other directors had made the right call while Baek Yeong-Gi was wrong.
In a matter of few hours, the results of their decisions had been flipped over so violently.
With Hwang Jeong-Hu's return, Baek Yeong-Gi now stood at the center of the axis of power. In addition, the lifelines of the other directors were also in his hands.
Baek Yeong-Gi finished scanning his fellow directors.
“You may speak.” Hwang Jeong-Hu nodded.
“It is only natural that you feel betrayed and disgusted by these people.” Baek Yeong-Gi started.
“Indeed.” Hwang Jeong-Hu glared sharply at the directors, causing them to flinch and shrink back.
Baek Yeong-Gi continued with a calm voice.
"However, what would have happened if you never woke up, sir"
"These people didn't have a choice but to consider that possibility, sir.
We should also consider that they were doing what they thought was best for Jaegyeong."
“Tsk. Aren't you angry at them, Yeong-Gi”
Baek Yeong-Gi grinned brightly.
"Sir, you're back where you belong, which means such minor matters don't even matter anymore.
More importantly, however, we need these people for the sake of your grand ambition, sir."
“Do you think I'll be weak and defenseless if these directors were no longer here”
“Of course not, sir.
However, you'll have to deal with more annoyance and a little more workload than necessary.
Sir, may I remind you that you've already collapsed once before. You need to cut back your workload in consideration of your health.”
“Mmhmm. You do have a point there, Yeong-Gi.” Hwang Jeong-Hu glared at the directors for a while, then declared in a sharp, cold voice, “I shall let this one go.
This one time.”
The directors cried out, “T-thank you, Chairman!”
"However, this is your last chance.
I do not wish to keep around idiots that repeat the same mistakes.
It doesn't matter when or how.
Just one mistake from you, and I shall fire you right there and then.
“You can leave now,” said Hwang Jeong-Hu.
He watched as the directors sighed in relief before hurriedly flooding out of the Chairman's office.
Afterward, he turned his gaze at Baek Yeong-Gi.
“Is that all for now”
The biggest issues have been handled.”
“I see...” Hwang Jeong-Hu shifted his gaze outside the window, suddenly looking forlorn.
“My life's been in vain, it seems.”
"Indeed, I've been desperately holding onto a bloody sandcastle that would crumble to nothing as soon as I let go of it."
Baek Yeong-Gi tried to console his boss.
"Isn't it good that you discovered it before it's too late Chairman, you're capable of turning a sandcastle into an actual iron fortress."
“If I had enough time, of course.”
Hwang Jeong-Ho shook his head.
“Never mind this old man's musings.
You can also go now, Yeong-Gi.”
Baek Yeong-Gi bowed deeply.
“Oh. By the way, Yeong-Gi.”
“In case something happens and I can't wake up again, you'll be in charge of the company.”
“C-Chairman! What are you even talking about, sir!”
"I've already redrafted my will.
If something happens to me, you will be the next Chairman.
If you're worried about the administration, discuss it with the directors, then hire a dedicated manager or something.
I've already left more detailed instructions in my will."
“Chairman, sir! But to say something so ominous...”
Leave me for now.”
“...Sir.” Baek Yeong-Gi reached the doorway, then bowed deeply before exiting the office.
“Thank you for everything,” Hwang Jeong-Hu muttered as he stared at the closed door, his voice melancholic.
He eventually shifted his gaze away to take in the sight of the setting sun.
The third and the final day of the contract he made with that mysterious man was about to end.
The human heart was indeed sly.
Back when Hwang Jeong-Hu was still confined to the bed, unable to move an inch, he would have sacrificed everything just to be given three days of freedom.
But now that he had those three days...
It felt far too short.
But he had no regrets.
Although it was unfortunate that he couldn't tie up all the loose ends, it should be fine to leave the rest to the others.
The company's future was now secure, meaning he had achieved what he had set out to do.
“Are you here” Hwang Jeong-Hu quietly asked the empty air behind him.
Was this a symptom of him losing his mind Of course not.
As if to prove that he hadn't gone senile, a reply suddenly echoed in the empty air, "I am."
Hwang Jeong-Hu turned his head toward the direction of that voice.
He finally spotted a shadow in the corner of the office as the amber light of the dying sun entered through the windows.
Unsurprisingly, it was the mysterious man from three days ago.
“You came right on time, then.”
“We made a promise, after all.”
Hwang Jeong-Hu sighed deeply.
He was hoping for a lucky break, but the mysterious man showed up in the end.
The time to uphold the contract had come.
“Well, I should thank you.”
"Thanks to you, I got to correct the situation before it was too late.
Even though I'm not fully satisfied yet, I should still be able to close my eyes and pass on without any regrets."
Hwang Jeong-Hu stared hard at the mysterious man, Kang Jin-Ho.
What do you want from me”
Kang Jin-Ho was about to say something only for the old man to cut him off first.
“You can ask for anything other than my company.”
"This company isn't just mine.
If someone with no experience tries to run a large corporation, the livelihoods of tens of thousands who had dedicated their lives to this company will be threatened.
I am prepared to give you everything you want.
That's why I am asking you to let this company be.
If you want shares, I shall give them to you.
Please, do not interfere with the management."
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly studied Hwang Jeong-Hu's face.
The old man continued. "I'll be dead shortly, and that would be it for me.
But the ones I leave behind need to keep living on, don't you agree"
Kang Jin-Ho slowly shook his head.
“Looks like you are mistaken about something.”
“...What do you mean”
"First of all, I never said you'd die today."
Hwang Jeong-Hu's brows rose up.
I am not following…"
“It was you who asked for three days.
And I merely said yes to your request.
I don't have the power to revive you for a fixed duration before reverting you back to your previous condition.
I simply healed your illness, that's all.”
Hwang Jeong-Hu wobbled on his feet in shock.
“Your request to me was to let you live like your old self for three days.
The only way to make that happen was to heal you and recharge your origin energy.
In other words, your illness has been fully cured.”
Hwang Jeong-Hu's jaw slowly fell to the floor. So he wasn't going to die
“But you will still need to receive my treatment once a month,” said Kang Jin-Ho in a flat voice.
“Once a month, you say”
Otherwise, your meridians will be obstructed again.”
Hwang Jeong-Hu hurriedly nodded his head.
Making time once a month wasn't going to be a problem at all.
“And finally, I never asked for your company.
It was you who told me you'd give me everything.
What I want is something trivial.”
Kang Jin-Ho had never aimed for the likes of the Jaegyeong Group.
The patient he had selected coincidentally happened to be Hwang Jeong-Hu, it was simple as that.
He would have healed any candidate within his criteria of being rich and exhibiting similar symptoms.
Acquiring the Jaegyeong Group would grant Kang Jin-Ho incalculable wealth.
But then, every move he made would be monitored by the media around the clock. He did not wish to trade his freedom for wealth.
He only desired just enough money to continue living the ordinary life.
“All I need is just one thing.
A single check.”
“A single… check”
“...Are you seriously telling me that my life, Hwang Jeong-Hu's life is only worth a single check” Hwang Jeong-Hu stared dumbfounded at Kang Jin-Ho.
The latter frowned a little before sneaking in a question.
“Is it too much”
“T-too much!” Hwang Jeong-Hu chuckled in disbelief.
This mysterious man looked like a devil during their first meeting, but now...
He came across as rather affable for some reason.
And, despite his shocking ability, didn't he seem somewhat naive, too
Hwang Jeong-Hu wouldn't have a choice but to give up all of his shares in the company if that was what the mysterious man asked from him.
Such a thing would have been a thousand times; no, a million times better than getting confined to the sickbed again.
Just a single check! That was all he wanted
Hwang Jeong-Hu stuttered a little, “I-in that case, a...
a check per year...”
Kang Jin-Ho replied disinterestedly, "Let's go with that, then."
Hwang Jeong-Hu smiled and nodded weakly.
It seemed that this young man standing before his eyes was not particularly well-versed in all things money.
However, something like that could always be fixed in due course.
For now, he should just humor the request.
Of course, Hwang Jeong-Hu had no desire to call it a day with just a measly check.
One should receive a fitting reward for a job well done—that was his belief, which he had rigorously upheld throughout his life.
"Hah. Hahahaha!" Hwang Jeong-Hu suddenly let out a hearty laugh.
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head, confused by the old man's reaction.
Why was someone getting ripped off of their money so happy about it
Hwang Jeong-Hu continued to laugh for a while.
Eventually, though, he coughed to clear his throat, then quietly asked another question, “Where should I send the money, then”
“Will you be providing me with your bank account number”
“M-my bank account number, you say” Kang Jin-Ho was taken aback.
"Why are you so surprised You need to give me your account number so that I can transfer the money instead of giving you a physical check every time.
Or were you really thinking of depositing all that amount by yourself If you try to do that often, the police will swiftly start investigating you.
Since you're going to get paid, be upfront about it and even pay tax while you're at it.
If you don't like the idea of paying tax, I'll pay you extra to cover it.”
“I-investigation, you say”
Hwang Jeong-Hu groaned.
It might be seen as either tax evasion or illegal funds...”
Kang Jin-Ho flinched a little.
“Is that so”
"...I shall handle the monetary side of things from now on.
That's why you need to tell me where I can bring or deposit the money.
Only then will we not face any potential issues later on."
Kang Jin-Ho fell into a dilemma.
He failed to understand this flow of events, but he had a feeling that Hwang Jeong-Hu wasn't trying to mislead him.
However, that didn't make revealing his true identity any more appealing than before.
Funnily enough, Hwang Jeong-Hu must have seen through Kang Jin-Ho's concerns.
“Finding out who you are wouldn't be a problem for me if I get serious about it.
I can trace your account or leave a marker with the cash and simply follow the trails.”
"However, what will I get for doing that It's not like I can do anything to you.
Let's be honest, if something happens to you, I'll be back to living that horrible life again.
Which means I can never bring harm to you."
Kang Jin-Ho didn't trust everything Hwang Jeong-Hu was saying but he still had to admit that the old man was right about most of them.
At the very least, trying to use funds from Hwang Jeong-Hu's coffers in South Korea without getting noticed would be impossible.
'In that case...
what should I tell him'
Giving away his address seemed like the perfect recipe for a disaster called 'his parents finding out,’ which was definitely not what Kang Jin-Ho wanted at this stage.
That meant the option for the other point of contact would be...
“...Dongmyeong High School.”
High School” Hwang Jeong-Hu dazedly stared at Kang Jin-Ho.
Why was the name of a high school brought up here
'Wait, now that I think about it...'
Their previous encounters all happened in the middle of the night, so Hwang Jeong-Hu had never really noticed it until now, but after getting a better look at the mysterious man's face under the fading sunlight, the latter looked younger than he had initially thought.
'Does that mean...
he's still a high schooler'
No, that couldn’t be!
Hwang Jeong-Hu had come to accept that the one he had made a contract with was actually a human, just like him.
But he used to think that a devil had come to steal his soul away or something until recently, didn't he So, to learn that the supposed devil was just a high schooler…
“Second year, third class.
Name's Kang Jin-Ho.”
Hwang Jeong-Hu forgot what he wanted to say.
How was he supposed to respond in this kind of situation
Kang Jin-Ho didn't stop there and drove another nail.
“Is there another problem”
"...No, not really," Hwang Jeong-Hu replied while making a bizarre expression that was half smiling and half sobbing.
"I will create a bank account and deposit the money there."
"I'll leave it up to you, then."
After leaving those words behind, Kang Jin-Ho's figure slowly melted into the empty air, completely vanishing from sight.
Hwang Jeong-Hu dazedly stared at the spot where the young man used to be before reaching out to the intercom.
- Yes, Chairman.
“Send in Jo Gyu-Min.”
The office door quietly opened, and Jo Gyu-Min stepped inside.
"Did you call for me, sir"
Hwang Jeong-Hu stared intently at him for a second before issuing a new order.
“There's a high school student named Kang Jin-Ho.
Dongmyeong High, second year, third class.”
“Investigate everything about him.
Find out everything, even down to the number of spoons in his house, then report back to me.”
“Yes, sir.” Jo Gyu-Min was puzzled, but he was prudent enough not to question the boss's orders.
Hwang Jeong-Hu leaned back against his chair.
"However, you must be very careful how you perform your investigation.
You cannot anger that student no matter what.
If you piss him off for some reason, then I promise you, you shall learn what it's like to experience the absolute worst your mind can imagine."
"Yes, sir," Jo Gyu-Min replied as his anxiety got even stronger.
He could hear the tension in the Chairman's voice, indicating that this matter might not be as simple as it sounded.
Unable to win against his curiosity, he ended up asking a question, "Chairman.
May I ask who is the person I'm investigating”
Hwang Jeong-Hu replied nonchalantly, “He's someone holding my lifeline.”
“...!” Jo Gyu-Min's spine chilled just then.
“You could even say that the fate of Jaegyeong Group rests on his shoulders, too.”
“Understood, sir.” Jo Gyu-Min bowed deeply before exiting the Chairman's office.
Now left alone, Hwang Jeong-Hu silently scanned his expansive office.
He had spent well over dozen years in this place, so it should have felt intimate, familiar—yet today, it felt so alien for some reason.
'Over ten years, is it'
He had certainly spent a long time using the same office.
Maybe, now was a good time to change things up.
One of the things he had figured out while being confined to the bed was that he had been coasting along for the past several years.
He had been content with being called the leader of a huge corporation, one of the top five companies in the country.
With the experience of death hovering so close by, however, his old passion was set ablaze once more.
So what if his company was called a major corporation So what if it was one of the top five in the country or whatever The important thing here was that his company hadn't reached the top yet.
In other words, there was still more room for it to grow.
“...Time to start anew.”
What Baek Yeong-Gi had said earlier was right.
Since Hwang Jeong-Ho had time now, he should take the sandcastle and rebuild it into an actual unshakeable iron fortress.
The flames of zeal were burned fiercely in Hwang Jeong-Hu's heart once more.