I ordered Yeonhee Woo not to think about coming back before finding the dungeon entrance. Could she find it? Finding the dungeon access point that was the size of someone’s foot would need perseverance and serious luck. If she succeeded, she would become the second person to find a dungeon after me. That had been the main reason I sent her alone, but if she did not give up easily, that would be satisfactory. She needed to become used to the darkness, and this would be the most appropriate place to test her will and limits. A night in the hill was dark and seriously scary.
The day I received the Federal Trade Commission’s approval to buy the fund division of ANC and Blue Rock was also the day the people had enough, and started to finally demand that someone take responsibility for the Korean Financial Crisis. All sorts of hearing were coming out, and I had to go to Gangnam right after school because Father had asked me to come.
He had said that he felt a lot of affection for Jeonil Investments because they shared the same name, and he called me there. I wore my cap deeply, as I would not meet the busy Jamie but I would meet those who had come to my office building, where my father worked. This was the first time I visited the head office. (EN: Yep, Sun named his company after his dad. ^_^ )
The large, expensive logo on the entrance identified Jeonil’s corporate headquarters. There were not many visitors since civilians had no need to visit. However, the few guests seemed like major players from the Blue House or in the finance field. Therefore, the overall atmosphere was serious, solemn like at a church, and the lobby receptionist asked me about my purpose. She would see me as an ordinary university student.
“I came to visit my father, and his name is Jeonil Na.”
“Please wait in the VIP Lounge over there.”
Her smile said that she was surprised at my age. I looked at the lobby as I waited for Father, and a group of people came out from the elevator. I knew who the center was, as while the current Minister of Economy and Finance was with the group, people were walking at the pace of a middle-aged man who wore a Jeonil badge.
I recognized that he was one of the two Korean directors in Jeonil, and whichever one he was, he had contributed much to place Jeonil in the center of power in the Korean way.
I looked at them with curiosity when Father arrived.
“Your timing is nice. Do you know who they are?”
Father went on speaking like he did not expect me to answer.
“He is the Director of my company, and the Minister of Economy and Finance is with him with his subordinates. Do you know about the position?”
“What do you think about seeing them from afar?”
“I think that they are human beings. Things seem unreal in monitors.”
I did not know the answer Father wanted, but he smiled satisfactorily.
“You do watch the news. I thought you were only interested in sports. Did you eat lunch?”
“Wait for a minute here.”
Father spoke as he looked at the lobby window where the car belonging to the Minister was parked, and he quickly went out. I could see him bow to the Minister, and the older man tapped Father’s shoulder and shook hands with the Director before going inside the car.
Father then came towards me with the Korean Director, and I thought that Father was trusted in the way the two men walked. I stopped myself from going somewhere else, as even though I would prefer to not meet him, to disappear would embarrass my father.
After taking off my baseball cap, I stood like a military officer and bowed after waiting for them to come in. I politely greeted them and saw Father’s fleeting smile.
“He’s a handsome son. What university does he go to?”
The Director asked me, and Father answered.
“He’s still a middle-school student.”
The Director looked at me with surprise before speaking.
“Well! You have nothing to worry about since your son is healthy, trustworthy, and polite. You’re a middle-school student?”
“I go to Sinwoong.”
“That’s my middle school!”
Father opened his eyes wide at the news, and the Director gave me ten ten-thousand won bills. (EN: $150 in today’s dollars)
“I’m giving you this so you can become a good man like your father.”
I was the one who wanted to give him money and tell him to keep up the good work.
Father looked happy.
“Weren’t you surprised at me saying to come here?”
We were walking along the main road.
“I have something to tell you and something to do. I wanted to show you the company I worked at before I am reassigned.”
“You are reassigned?”
I was truly surprised.
“I’m not fired. I was promoted two ranks higher and did not tell your mother this yet. I’m planning to surprise her today.”
“We are going there now.”
I first thought of Daehoo, as the waiting period was now over. Daehoo was being reorganized now, and Father had been a bank teller. If he was reassigned to Daehoo, he would be going to Daehoo Securities, which will be incorporated into the future Naeil Finance Group.
“How was your trip? I only heard a few things from your mother since I was busy.”
“Thank you for sending me. It must have been a tough decision.”
“Look at you speak so well. It’s nice to see. I think you’re all grown up. I was only a kid who liked to fight at your age. So, where did you go?”
“I went to Hwasung, Gimje, and other places.”
“Did you have enough money? You didn’t use the credit card.”
“There was enough.”
“Your mother worried a lot, but not me. While you’re still young, you can understand that Korea is going through a hard time now. Do you know why the IMF occurred?”
“Our country’s firms borrowed foreign funds recklessly, as exports were going well at the time. They wanted to increase their businesses, but then exports began to fail suddenly. Study on your own the reasons why.”
I realized that today was that day, and it had been quickened at least two years. I had been waiting for this day since I came back. My heart beat a bit faster at the thought of recovering my own talisman and good luck charm.
In the past, Father had been waiting in front of the supermarket. It was a weekday during my high school freshman year, and since the closing time for banks and stock firms was nearing, I ran with him without knowing why. I opened a stock account in the bank and a new one in the Korea Exchange, KRX. I had a million won in my stock account after everything ended. (EN: $1500)
“You remember that I work in a foreign-owned firm, right?”
I came back to reality after hearing Father’s voice.
“What does your mother say?”
“She only said that it’s the most powerful.”
“While she’s not wrong, that’s why it’s sad. You may not understand what I’m saying, but when you do, tell me so. Then, we could have a drink together.”
Father nodded to the head office of the Korean Exchange Bank in front of us.
“I’m working there from tomorrow. Does the building look good?”
I also looked at the building, and I had not heard that the Korean Exchange Bank had been bought by Jeonil Investments. Originally, an American firm would go in as the largest shareholder in the Korean Exchange Bank, and people would start to talk.
This was due to the Credit Card Crisis of 2003, after the financial group that owned the Korean Exchange Bank overextended itself after buying Daehyun Investments and Securities.
“The Korean Exchange Bank is your company’s? I did not know that.”
“You knew about the place I work at? You still surprise me despite being my son.”
I had not heard anything about the Korean Exchange Bank when Jamie reported to me. She had only said that the warehouse was empty. So, she had been careful in using the remaining funds, and her choice seemed to have been the Korean Exchange Bank.
“I argued for it, despite not knowing whether it was a good thing.”
Father spoke in a self-deprecating tone and walked forward like nothing had happened. The employees there already knew Father’s face, and after greeting them, he began the same speech I had heard in the past.
“The people are the ones who suffer and not the higher-up who had brought the country to ruin.”
While he said the same thing, he was wearing a suit and was not hiding his sadness. His gaze was deep as he looked at me.
“I want you to know how our country got here and be more interested in the economy in the future.”
The past and the future met in this moment.
Edited by Userunfriendly