Chapter 22: < Protect – Episode 21 – Jang Seol Hyun  >
“An exclusive contract? She still has two years left at FNB.”
Jang Seol Hyun’s manager, Kim Woo Jung opposed.
It was already ridiculous that Ahn Soo Ho was asking for an exclusive contract, but it was even more absurd that it was with Shinhwa Entertainment. They weren’t a small company, but they were lacking in scale and reputation compared to FNB. This was no different from asking her to move from a large corporation to a smaller one.
“I heard she’s being treated like leftover rice.”
Even though what came out of his mouth was negative, Kim Woo Jung had no choice but to consider it. It was true that after she failed in Hollywood, she wasn’t treated as well by the company. They did their best to hide it, but it still showed. There were exactly 1 year and 9 months left in her contract so the company should be talking about renewing her contract already, but seeing how there was no word, they were in the process of weighing their options.
Kim Woo Jung was offended by that.
“How could they treat her like a has-been when she had just started?”
Jang Seol Hyun was still only in her mid-20s.
Technically, she didn’t fail in Hollywood. That was because Hollywood was no easy place to succeed in, and there were countless actors who were still going from audition to audition. In the Hollywood Walk of Fame, very few star owners took off from the very beginning.
“We have been considering going off independently… but it’s too early.”
Above all, paying a cancellation fee and moving to another agency would taint her image.
“If she transfers in the middle of a contract, bad rumors will spread. That can’t happen.”
“Then what should we do?”
Ahn Soo Ho proposed a common ground.
“Buy FNB and merge it with Shinhwa Entertainment.”
Kim Woo Jung and Kim Yoo Seon couldn’t hide their surprised faces. They were unable to comprehend how this man thought, who was talking about M&A as if he was working with two small shops. Was it an illness? Or was he going insane?
“Sigh. As you know, acquiring and merging companies is no easy task. It takes a long time to get a team together, and in terms of the law…”
Ahn Soo Ho cut Kim Yoo Seon off with his waving hand.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. So are you in or not?”
Kim Woo Jung and Kim Yoo Seon went into contemplation again.
“It doesn’t sound like a joke, and he doesn’t seem incapable either.”
Kim Woo Jung met Ahn Soo Ho for the first time in Hollywood 2 years ago. At the time, he thought he was just an Asian guard that the agency hired, but he turned out to be a lot more than that. If Kim Woo Jung thought about it with experience in mind, Kim Yoo Seon looked like an executive of Daesan Group. He also wondered if he was a hidden son of Chairman Kim Dae San.
“In any case, it’s good to have a sturdy connection with Daesan Group.”
Whether it worked out or not, just having a connection with Daesan Group was good enough. Kim Yoo Seon talked first.
“Sounds good. I’ll try to convince the shareholders.”
“There’s no need for that. I’m already purchasing shares that are in the market. I’ll take care of the takeover process, so please don’t worry about that.”
What Ahn Soo Ho proposed wasn’t to completely merge the companies. It was more similar to a group system where it would look like one on the outside, but they were actually two different companies.
Kim Yoo Seon figured out that he was not asking for their permission. Kim Woo Jung’s complexion changed.
“Then FNB too?”
“Hm? Didn’t Seol Hyun told you?”
“I’ve already secured a large number of their shares two years ago.”
Even though Jang Seol Hyun was only in her early 20’s 2 years ago, she knew how things worked better than anyone else. So she also knew that she wouldn’t succeed in Hollywood right away. If one wanted to be acknowledged in Hollywood, looks and talent were important, but the most important thing out of all was persistence. Americans liked people who started from the bottom and succeeded with an extensive amount of effort.
“An agency that was too scared to try it the first time probably won’t let me try it for a second or third time.”
It was true. Koreans who were not fans just wanted to see the end result. They have no interest in how hard they tried. So it wasn’t difficult to understand the agency’s perspective.
“I’ll make sure that you are compensated accordingly. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the show.”
When Ahn Soo Ho exited the office, he could see Jang Seol Hyun surrounded by fans who wanted autographs and pictures. Ahn Soo Ho waved his hand and approached her.
“Are you finished?”
“It seemed like Manager Kim wanted to talk to CEO Kim about something.”
“I know. Let’s go downstairs.”
Jang Seol Hyun pulled Ahn Soo Ho’s arm. As soon as they got down to the parking lot, a celebrity van awaited. After he thoughtlessly opened the door, he frowned.
Lee Jung Hoon, who he had sent off when Kim Woo Jung arrived, was sitting inside. Jang Seol Hyun pushed him to get inside. The road manager in the driver’s seat was someone Ahn Soo Ho had seen before. When he nodded and greeted him with his eyes, he responded with a smile. There was a certain way men acknowledge each other without having to say anything.
Meanwhile, Jang Seol Hyun sat next to Lee Jung Hoon and asked about Ahn Soo Ho’s personal life. Even though she probably knew more about him than he did, she made witty remarks and went with the flow.
To have the conversation summed up…
“He beat me up as soon as we met.”
“Oh my! Really? What a mean brother.”
“It hurts here and here. Wah. Hehe!”
“You must have had a hard time. Treat me as if I’m your sister-in-law from now on.”
Ahn Soo Ho separated the two.
They weren’t too far from being registered for marriage behind his back. Lee Jung Hoon gave Ahn Soo Ho a challenging look.
“I’m against this marriage!”
“Oh my! If you say such horrible things, you’ll regret it. Hoho.”
Lee Jung Hoon backed down to Jang Seol Hyun, who threatened him with a smile. After taking control of her future brother-in-law, she looked at Ahn Soo Ho with confidence.
“I’ll take care of your brother from now on, Honey.”
“Since when was I your ‘Honey?'”
It was hard for a dad to be called “Honey,” but it wasn’t hard for a “Mister” to be called “Honey” or for “Honey” to become “Sweetie.” There was no change in Jang Seol Hyun’s shameless character. Could she act after all? When Ahn Soo Ho shook his head, her smile got even bigger.
“I should have known that targeting the surroundings was the way to go.”
In the world of dating, a family was known to be the weakness in both fraud and love. They also say that if the headquarters was solid, one should step back and attack the exterior to show off their flexibility. Jang Seol Hyun, who went from Rakshasa to Avalokitesvara, treated Lee Jung Hoon with affection.
“You must be hungry. There’s a really good place that I eat at all the time. Let’s go there.”
Kim Woo Jung hadn’t come down, but no one cared.
“They say there’s no use in raising a daughter… Our So Hee’s not like that, right?”
He was surprised by the remark about his daughter. Ahn Soo Ho was in no place to badmouth others. As soon as the car took off, it was a forest of buildings. Since they were in a van that only celebrities could use, many people were staring, wondering who was inside. Lee Jung Hoon enjoyed the feeling of being a superstar, and Jang Seol Hyun sat next to him and egged him on.
“That must be genetics.”
Whether he liked it or not, Lee Jung Hoon had Lee Hyo Geun’s genetics, which could become a big problem in the future.
“There’s no answer.”
Lee Jung Hoon has no choice but to be reborn through intense education. If not, he would have his soul taken away by scammers just like his father did. The ones who got scammed would get scammed no matter what.
“Will you be okay?
Jang Seol Hyun had no trouble understanding Ahn Soo Ho’s question.
“I told you. The entertainment world is a cold-hearted place. There’s no guarantee I’ll be popular tomorrow just because I’m popular today. The public’s interest is more unpredictable than kids in puberty.”
In any case, it looked like she was stabbing the agency employees’ in the back, but she didn’t think that way.
“The CEO and the board of directors only care about profits, so they don’t take care of the employees at all.”
It was about ten years ago when FNB was just a small agency. It was Kim Woo Jung who brought FNB to the top, but the executives kept him in check and didn’t treat him properly. If Kim Woo Jung wanted, he could have taken one of those positions.
“You’ll keep your promise, right?”
“Don’t you trust me?”
“Of course, I do.”
Ahn Soo Ho used the good old “Don’t you trust me?” Jang Seol Hyun wasn’t helping him for free. Love is love, and business is business.
“Vice-President Kim Woo Jung…”
That title suited him.
Seoul was still surrounded with candles and demand for a reformation of the rich.
The government, National Assembly, companies, and people could do nothing but adhere to their own stances since there was no answer as to when any of this would end. The prosecution and police had no idea where to put their men. A new rumor came about, that made them scared to report that there were more than a million people there.
“The reformation of the rich and the candle protest are just schemes created by powerful rebels who want to divide this country!”
The whole commie theory went out of the picture. That was because the powerful rebels were not the North Koreans but the Japanese.
“Is it true? Is Japan the force behind it?”
“Are you asking as a producer or a friend?”
“Off the record.”
The broadcasting producer, Kim Soo Jung pulled out her most powerful card. The one supporting her was Yoon Chul.
“Tell me, Soo Ho. I’m curious.”
Ahn Soo Ho, who looked at Yoon Chul and Kim Soo Jung in a meaningful way, moved his gaze to others at the table.
“Are they dating?”
“I don’t know, but they’ve been flirting for a long time.”
“I’m glad the old maid and the old bachelor met… Just get together already.”
He looked at Yoon Chul and Kim Soo Jung and smirked.
They acted like they were going to be single for life, but in reality, they were just like normal people. Han Kyung Il, Kang Joon, Kim Min Shik, Choi Jung Yeon, Jung Sol Ji, as well as Yoon Chul, Kim Soo Jung and him added up to 8 people. Everyone at this gathering dropped out of the Naval Academy. Even while talking about flings, they were still looking at Ahn Soo Ho. They must have been curious too.
“You’re half right.”
“Then that means we’re half wrong too.”
Choi Jung Yeon, who seemed like she would be the least interested, started talking first. He didn’t think she had much interest in international matters since she was working to become a professor at a university hospital.
“Doesn’t that mean only one country is behind it?”
“I feel like our country just got pulled into the States and China’s power battle.”
“Russia’s probably on China’s side, and Japan’s probably rimming the States.”
The frank expression of Han Kyung Il, who had become a diplomat, made the girls jeer. But Han Kyung Il didn’t care and kept going.
“Does our country look normal to you? This wasn’t our people’s doing. Something much bigger is behind it. A reformation of the rich? That’s total nonsense in our country.”
“The rich need to be reformed in order for our country to develop.”
“That’s true, but that won’t happen today.”
Han Kyung Il wasn’t against a reformation of the rich, but he was certain that wouldn’t happen today, and Kang Joon didn’t think it should be pushed off until later. Kang Joon, who transformed into a businessman from a promising IT employee, was a living witness who has experienced the status of Korea’s wealth.
“Our country’s GDP is abnormal. The Korean economy is surely improving every week, but the economy that the people are feeling has frozen over. It’s obvious why that is.”
“The rich are the problem? Then do you think getting rid of them will make the world better?”
“It’ll be chaotic for a while, so the thing would have to settle down over a period of time.”
“That’s the problem.”
Han Kyung Il shook his head to what Kang Joon said.
“The world might get better in five or ten years from now, but do you think the politicians will even think about that while the winners and losers get swapped overnight?”
“The people who conduct that kind of politics are the bad ones.”
“That’s the reality, my friend. This is the real world.”
It was not easy making an idea into reality.
Everyone knew what was right and wrong, but no one could speak out about it. That was only possible with more brainwashing than that of communism. In the diplomat, Han Kyung Il’s eyes, there was no such thing as justice in the world. Only the powerful had the right to claim authority.
Ahn Soo Ho stopped their emotional battle, but Han Kyung Il continued.
“What’s the point of a gathering like this? I don’t want to live in the past anymore. That’s what I came here to say. I hope you guys come to terms to reality and realize what would benefit you more.”
Ahn Soo Ho smirked.
“When the situation becomes vague, a traitor is bound to come out.”
Korea was no exception to that saying. “The Oath of the Peach Garden” which says you shouldn’t forget the past when we were controlled by unjust power, faded as time passed. Ahn Soo Ho looked at every single person and opened his mouth.
“Anyone who agrees with Kyung Il… can leave now.”
Three people left as if they were waiting to do so. The diplomat, Han Kyung Il, the secretary, Kim Min Shik, and the aide, Jung Sol Ji, left without hesitation. Yoon Chul turned toward Ahn Soo Ho with a stiff face.
“You knew, didn’t you, Soo Ho?”
“That they’ve changed.”
“All things change through time.”
Han Kyung Il and Kim Min Shik passed their exams and made it to the big leagues, and Jung Sol Ji made it to become the aid of a congressman. It was natural for perspectives to be changed. Ahn Soo Ho didn’t want to blame them for anything.
“What are you going to do?”
He smiled brightly to Yoon Chul’s sudden question. His friends’ change of heart gave him no inspiration, but there were worse and more ridiculous situations in the Styx.
“The boundary between life and death.”
His memories of the bodies crossing Lethe only accumulated over time, and there was only one thing he could do in a world where time stopped.
“I have my old memories to count on.”
In those memories, he was the king, the slave, the adult, and the murderer. They were all too vivid to call a dream. And within them was one very important secret.
“The dead weren’t all from Earth.”
< Protect – Episode 21 – Jang Seol Hyun  > The end.