Jo Gyu-Min felt light-headed and weak just then. Hwang Jeong-Hu's words were simple, yet they contained so many implications.
Yes, this old man was Hwang Jeong-Hu, the legend responsible for building the Jaegyeong Group into what it was today. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that he was the Jaegyeong Group.
A company wasn't just the sum of its wealth and the products it offered. And in this case, the Jaegyeong Group was this man, and he was the Jaegyeong Group itself. Nothing else mattered now that Hwang Jeong-Hu was awake.
The shareholders would instantly switch over to Hwang Jeong-Hu's side the moment they heard of this news. Even the board directors who were now split into three camps and were fighting each other would hurriedly join the Chairman's side, too. But even if they wouldn’t, their situation wouldn't change. Hwang Jeong-Hu's own shares would be more than enough to wrestle control of the company back, anyway.
In other words, everything else was meaningless now that Hwang Jeong-Hu was awake. Even if Hwang Min-Jae learned about his father's condition now, it would be pointless.
Jo Gyu-Min sighed softly. If Hwang Jeong-Hu was truly fully aware of the current situation, there was no way he would forgive his sons. After all, he should be capable of severing ties with his own kids without so much as batting an eyelid.
And someone like Jo Gyu-Min, who had been monitoring the Chairman for Hwang Min-Jae, wouldn't be spared from the old man's wrath either. All he could do now was lower his head and wait for the guillotine to fall.
“The fate of small fries like you merely following the orders of my idiot sons...” Hwang Jeong-Hu leaned against the couch and leisurely spoke. “...are none of my business, I suppose.”
Those words sounded like a death sentence.
Jo Gyu-Min squeezed his eyes shut as hopelessness took over him, but then, his ears caught something rather unexpected.
“If I was still the same as my old self, that is.”
Jo Gyu-Min's eyes flew wide open. Was that Hwang Jeong-Hu leaving the door open?
Jo Gyu-Min's gears began turning even faster than before. He was quite certain that the Chairman was giving him a chance. In that case, what should he do to ensure his survival?
Hwang Jeong-Hu continued. “I currently need able hands.”
The lightbulb went off in Jo Gyu-Min's head, and he immediately knelt down on the floor, realizing that he had found a way for himself. "Chairman, sir!"
Kim Seung-Hwan stood there in confusion and stared at Jo Gyu-Min. Unfortunately for him, the latter had no time to explain himself. What they would do right now, right at this moment, would change their lives for the better... or for the worse. Indeed, this was one of those crises in life that could be a heaven-sent opportunity. And the crossroads laid out before Jo Gyu-Min's eyes at this moment couldn't be any clearer.
“I shall become your hands and feet, sir!”
Hwang Jeong-Hu's powerful glare ruthlessly crashed down on Jo Gyu-Min.
He should have been a powerless old man. An old man whose life was hanging precariously on the edge only yesterday! Yet, the eyes of such a man were emitting an insane level of pressure on Jo Gyu-Min. The latter silently endured the pressure, unable to even think about wiping away all the cold sweat trickling down his forehead.
A giant that had lived through the era when violence ignored the law, when the law had to kneel before wealth and power, and when the law and corporations were hostile to each other...
The eyes of a giant who had triumphed against so many trials and tribulations of the modern world contained weight that no mere mortals could win against.
“You will?” Hwang Jeong-Hu asked quietly.
Jo Gyu-Min swallowed nervously again.
The Chairman's revival had taken place only a little while ago. The directors he had believed would be by his side until the end had already left him to find their own path to survival. Which meant... He couldn't be a hundred percent certain of what was happening in the company, despite receiving Director Baek Yeong-Gi's report yesterday.
If Hwang Jeong-Hu wished to return to the frontline, he needed someone to act as his hands and feet. What he needed was not his old friends following him out of loyalty but a loyal 'dog' that would bring him all the necessary information. Jo Gyu-Min was counting on this.
If Jo Gyu-Min had analyzed this situation correctly, then he would get to live. Even better than that, he might be able to grab hold onto a renewed and far sturdier lifeline instead!
But this was if the giant before his eyes determined that Jo Gyu-Min was useful! To help the old man reach that conclusion, what should he say at this moment?
“Chairman. I shall find out everything you require, sir.”
"Kekeke..." Hwang Jeong-Hu tutted before chuckling softly. "Going a little overboard, aren't you?"
“...!” Jo Gyu-Min's figure froze on the spot.
“Did you honestly think someone like you can achieve what I want?”
Jo Gyu-Min couldn't readily reply, so he belatedly realized that he mustn't just say, “Yes, sir, I can.”
The urgency of the situation forced him to say those things, but he didn't even know what kind of high-value information Hwang Jeong-Hu wanted in the first place.
'Did I make a mistake just now?'
It felt like his last ray of hope was quickly fading away.
Hwang Jeong-Hu chuckled again. “However, I do like that you're quick-witted.”
“T-then, sir?” Jo Gyu-Min hurriedly raised his head to witness Hwang Jeong-Hu stubbing the cigarette out and standing back up on his two feet.
'Just how is that possible?'
Hwang Jeong-Hu walked on his own power toward the window. Jo Gyu-Min still couldn't quite believe what he was witnessing. Did the Chairman return to full health literally overnight? If not, what...?
'...Wait, could he have been... pretending?'
The only plausible theory Jo Gyu-Min could think of was that Hwang Jeong-Hu had gotten better some time ago but decided to sit back and watch things play out first.
Of course, Jo Gyu-Min knew that was nonsense. Living as a patient confined to a bed wasn't as easy as most people imagined. Being unable to move for the entire day despite being fine would be unimaginable torture, a nightmare beyond one's understanding. How could anyone with a sane mind endure that?
But what if this hypothesis was true?
Jo Gyu-Min couldn't fathom just how determined this frail-looking old man before his eyes was. Of course, he had no idea that his assumption was completely incorrect. After all, he couldn't have known that Hwang Jeong-Hu's 'revival' only happened early in the dawn a few hours ago.
Since he didn't know the truth, Jo Gyu-Min could only let his imaginations run wild.
Hwang Jeong-Hu stared outside the window for a while before muttering quietly, “Ashtray.”
Jo Gyu-Min hurriedly snatched the ashtray off the table in front of the couch and quickly ran up to Hwang Jeong-Hu. Then, he took out another cigarette, cautiously handed it over to the Chairman, and then lit it up.
The old man, still in the patient gown, leisurely sucked in the cigarette's acrid smoke, then let it out of his lungs just as slowly. And then... he finally spoke up, "Three days."
Jo Gyu-Min was puzzled at that monotone declaration and looked back at Hwang Jeong-Hu, only to notice that the old man's eyes were glaring somewhere else. Somewhere far beyond the window, where Jo Gyu-Min's gaze couldn't even reach.
“I will be returning everything back to where they were in three days,” said Hwang Jeong-Hu.
Three days? That wasn't long at all... However, it didn't sound impossible either since Hwang Jeong-Hu had said so. Jo Gyu-Min was the proof—he had called himself Hwang Min-Jae's right-hand man, but could only submit meekly under the might of Hwang Jeong-Hu's name. That simple-sounding name was capable of evoking so much awe and respect in those who knew the Jaegyeong Group and lived within its corporate structure.
Even though he had only taken a couple of puffs, Hwang Jeong-Hu chose to slowly stub out the cigarette, then leisurely turned around to look. His glare was fixed on Jo Gyu-Min as he issued his next command. It would be the first order Jo Gyu-Min would have to complete regardless of what it would take.
“Go and call Baek Yeong-Gi here.”
A storm was about to be unleashed from this hospital room.
"Euh, euh...!" The chief director of the Dongmyeong Foundation, Choi Myeong-Gil, was making a crumpled expression as he stared at his grandson, Choi Yeong-Su. "Dear lord, Yeong-Su?! What's happening to you!"
“Yeong-Su! What's gotten into you, my boy?!”
“T-that bastard, he... he's coming!” Choi Yeong-Su hurriedly looked around him repeatedly as terror filled his face.
"Just who is coming?! My boy, tell me!" Choi Myeong-Gil's heart was burning to ashes at this sight that was chillingly reminiscent of a junkie from a movie he had watched a long time ago. Just where did his once-bright grandson disappear to?! The frustration forced him to keep calling out the boy's name. "Yeong-Su! Talk to me, my boy!"
“...Ho... Kang Jin-Ho! That, that bastard is coming!”
"Why do you keep saying that! How can that bastard come here, my boy!" Choi Myeong-Gil pounded his chest in frustration.
He only had one grandson. After his idiot son had gotten a divorce, Choi Myeong-Gil had sheltered his grandson as much as possible, hoping to shield the young boy from psychological pain. Despite his sheltered upbringing, though, Choi Yeong-Su hadn't gone astray and had grown up into a splendid young man.
But now... such a kind and talented grandson was steadily breaking down—breaking down into a pitiful, wretched mess!
“Yeong-Su! Tell me, just who is coming?! Who is coming here for you, my grandson?! This is your home! No one can break into this place!” Choi Myeong-Gil pleaded, but his words weren’t good enough to calm his grandson.
Choi Yeong-Su continued to fearfully look around him. “He, he's coming!”
"Oh, dear god! Yeong-Su! Who's coming?!"
Choi Yeong-Su suddenly glared at his grandfather with bloodshot eyes. "But, but you'll never believe me, anyway!"
“Yeong-Su, please don't do this!”
“Ehe, ehehe! I don't need you anymore! You ain't gonna believe me, anyway! You think I'm too stupid to notice?!”
“Huh-uh...” Choi Myeong-Gil lost all strength in his legs and fell on the spot.
“Chief Director, sir!” The secretary watching from the side hurriedly rushed in to help Choi Myeong-Gil up.
The old man, swept in the emotions of rage and helplessness, stared at Choi Yeong-Su. Everything had started to go wrong after his grandson got into a fight with that bastard named Kang Jin-Ho. No, that wasn’t quite right—things were still fine after Choi Yeong-Su was admitted to a hospital while that Kang Jin-Ho kid was suspended from school. But then... Sometime later on, Choi Yeong-Su began saying strange things.
Choi Myeong-Gil was incensed at the news of his grandson getting violently beaten up while out clubbing. Even after Kang Jin-Ho presented a perfect alibi, the old man was convinced that it was all a lie. Never once did he suspect that his grandson was the one lying.
However, Choi Yeong-Su ran up to him the next morning and cried out fearfully that Kang Jin-Ho had attacked him again... in his own room! The CCTV footage was checked just in case, but there were no traces of someone breaking into the premises. Choi Myeong-Gil started to wonder if his grandson's health had gotten weaker, causing the boy to see things. But that was merely the beginning…
After that day, Choi Yeong-Su had started saying strange things nonstop. He said that Kang Jin-Ho was showing up in his room every single night and that he would really die at this rate, among many other crazy-sounding things.
Choi Myeong-Gil had done his best to convince his grandson that such things couldn’t happen, but it was useless. Choi Yeong-Su had simply gone crazier instead, saying that no one, not even his own grandfather, believed in him.
The chief director of the Dongmyeong Foundation didn't want to admit it, but he had no say in the matter—Choi Yeong-Su was really losing his mind.
Left with no choice, Choi Myeong-Gil had taken his grandson to a psychiatric hospital. But the doctors there couldn't provide any clear-cut answers. Other than mumbling about symptoms possibly resembling post-traumatic stress disorder, those useless doctors couldn't even think of a treatment that might work.
“You ain't gonna believe me, anyway! Only... Only I...! Only I'm getting tortured like this! Only... I...” Choi Yeong-Su screamed in a fit of madness before slowly turning into a sobbing wreck.
Choi Myeong-Gil witnessing this sight felt like his heart was being ripped apart into a million pieces. "Y-Yeong-Su... My boy..."
“Heuh... K-Kang Jin-Ho... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry! I, I will never do it again, I swear... I...”
Choi Yeong-Su’s sobbing sobered Choi Myeong-Gil up, the old man's eyes growing icy cold. His one and only grandson was begging so pitifully at a person that wasn't even here.
Choi Myeong-Gil gritted his teeth. “...Kang Jin-Ho!”
He didn't believe that the punk was responsible for this situation. Kang Jin-Ho hitting Choi Yeong-Su was unforgivable, yes, but that boy had been punished enough for his transgression by now.
At any other time, Choi Myeong-Gil wouldn't have bothered with re-opening the already-closed case. But he needed something, someone, to direct his rage at. He angrily spun his head toward his secretary and began yelling, "Call the school principal, now!"
“Which principal, sir?”
“You moron! What do you mean, which principal?! The one at Dongmyeong High, obviously!”
The secretary made an expression akin to a scalded cat and hurriedly bowed his head at the yelling Choi Myeong-Gil. “Y-yes, sir. I'll call him immediately.”
While glaring at his secretary who was urgently making a call with his cellphone, Choi Myeong-Gil began muttering quietly, his expression distorting in rage, “I will make you pay for this, Kang Jin-Ho!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter