Becoming Rich (1)
“C-Chairman Hwang, just...
What do you mean by this, sir”
Kang Jin-Ho sighed when his mother asked the exact same question for the third time.
Hwang Jeong-Hu didn't lose his patience at all, though, and gently explained the situation to Baek Hyeon-Jeong once more.
"So, it's like...
I had a grandson, and he..."
The gist of Hwang Jeong-Hu's explanation was like this—he used to have a long-lost grandson.
He searched for this child everywhere for many years.
But when he finally discovered the boy's traces, it was long after an accident had taken the latter away from this world.
While wallowing in sorrow, Hwang Jeong-Hu heard about the boy's best friend during his middle school days.
Then, he discovered his grandson's diary while going through the boy's keepsakes that detailed how kind Kang Jin-Ho had been to his grandson.
The diary also repeatedly mentioned that the boy wanted to repay Kang Jin-Ho’s kindness.
Seeing this reaffirmed what Hwang Jeong-Hu wanted to do, so he sought out Kang Jin-Ho to carry out the wishes of his late grandchild.
'What a heartbreaking sight this is...'
Kang Jin-Ho mused while quietly staring at Hwang Jeong-Hu desperately and pitifully explaining this backstory that not even a cheap soap opera would have used.
Watching an old man lying through his teeth while sweating profusely like that was so pitiful that Kang Jin-Ho almost averted his gaze from him.
If Kang Jin-Ho had been entrusted with explaining things, he was confident of doing a better job.
A far, far better job at that!
Who would be dumb enough to believe that story when the person saying it was sweating like that! Kang Jin-Ho felt an onset of migraine after imagining himself trying to fix this crisis.
However, there was an even bigger problem, and that was...
“I didn't know that something like that happened!”
“It's so dramatic and moving!”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly facepalmed.
This nonsensical backstory was actually working on his family.
Even his usually sharp-tongued younger sister, Kang Eun-Yeong, had begun shedding thick teardrops.
'Here I was, wondering who in their right minds would be watching all those low-level soap operas...'
The one thing he just couldn't comprehend after his return to the modern era was the world of TV soap operas.
Sure, some of the dramas were...
passable, but most were hot garbage that made him almost gag.
He kept wondering why such dramas consistently had high viewership numbers.
As it turned out, two of the culprits were hiding in his family all along—his mother and younger sister.
Hwang Jeong-Hu took out his handkerchief and dabbed away at the corners of his eyes.
'He's working hard, isn't he...'
Kang Jin-Ho sighed once again.
Hwang Jeong-Hu didn't seem to notice that and continued with his explanation in an emotional voice.
“That's why I came to find your son, Mrs. Kang.
I'd like to be a grandfather to Jin-Ho the way I couldn't to my late grandson.
I'm sure that's what my boy in heaven wants me to do, too.”
Kang Jin-Ho's cheeks twitched while listening.
Hwang Jeong-Hu's backstory sounded...
rather poor, but his preparation had been watertight.
“Chairman Hwang, that means the boy named Myeong-Deok was...!”
was my long-lost grandson."
It was true that Kang Jin-Ho had a very close friend in his middle school days and that an accident had taken the boy's life.
That kid had a unique name—Du Myeong-Deok—he even came to visit Kang Jin-Ho's home several times.
Of course, that boy was definitely not related to Hwang Jeong-Hu in any shape or form, even if his family history was to be investigated thoroughly.
Quite conveniently, though, it was revealed later on that Du Myeong-Deok had been adopted, and no one knew who his biological parents were.
But Hwang Jeong-Hu had somehow learned of this fact and used it to cook up this...
Kang Yu-Hwan’s expression hardened as he muttered, “I see. I had no idea that there was such circumstance...”
'Even my father...'
Kang Jin-Ho let out yet again another sigh.
How could no one in his family suspect that something was up here! Why did they not find this story strange
Kang Jin-Ho was dismayed, but from his family's perspective, they had no reason to suspect anything as Hwang Jeong-Hu wouldn't lie or make things up to scam them.
It didn't matter whether the story was full of holes or not because...
Why would someone like Hwang Jeong-Hu waste his valuable time by showing up in the Kang family's home to con them with a cock-and-bull story
If some other stranger had said all this nonsense, they might suspect something was indeed up here.
But the person visiting them today was none other than the chairman of the Jaegyeong Group, Hwang Jeong-Hu.
What would he stand to gain by conning the Kang family!
The name 'Hwang Jeong-Hu' alone was a symbol of trust.
It didn't matter what he said, it wouldn't be a problem—at least in the minds of Kang Jin-Ho's family members. What was even more important was that Kang Jin-Ho himself was not aware of such a simple truth.
Kang Yu-Hwan nodded in understanding.
We simply cannot accept this money.”
“Listen to me, Mister Kang!” Hwang Jeong-Hu raised his voice in exasperation.
"I'm not sure how kind my son has been to your grandson, but let's say it's true.
That still doesn't mean we deserve this money, sir.
That's what I believe.
Your sentiment is enough, sir."
Hwang Jeong-Hu was somewhat taken aback by Kang Yu-Hwan's response.
Did this family not have a single greedy bone in them or something Why were both the son and the father refusing to accept easy money like this!
Hwang Jeong-Hu had lived his entire life in Korea where saying no to an offer three times was seen as a sign of courtesy.
In other words, he knew how to tell the difference between rejecting out of courtesy and genuinely rejecting something.
And he could tell that Kang Yu-Hwan was being genuine here.
He surreptitiously glanced at Kang Jin-Ho and noticed that the boy was grinning faintly. This made Hwang Jeong-Hu grit his teeth in silence.
He had been boasting on his way here, so accepting this defeat and retreating with his tail tucked between his legs would result in losing a ton of face.
As such, he decided to resort to the hidden ace up his sleeve.
“I beg of you, Mister Kang.” Hwang Jeong-Hu bowed until his forehead touched the floor.
“S-sir! What are you doing, elder!”
“Goodness me! Mister Chairman!”
Kang Yu-Hwan and Baek Hyeon-Jeong freaked out and tried to stop Hwang Jeong-Hu, but the old man didn't even budge an inch.
"I failed to provide for my grandson.
My mistake led to losing the boy, and he died without knowing who his father or grandfather was.
This sin will never let me rest in peace even if I die now.
That's why I ask of you.
Let me do this, at the least, even if it's only a fraction of what I should've done for my grandchild.
Again, I beg of you."
Kang Yu-Hwan and his wife began sweating buckets.
"Sir, raise your head first, please."
“Mister Chairman, please don't do this, sir!”
But Hwang Jeong-Hu's voice grew even more desperate.
"Mr. Kang, Mrs. Kang! I beg of you! Please reconsider!"
“I understand, sir! I really do! That's why, please raise your head, sir!”
“Really” Hwang Jeong-Hu sneakily raised his head.
Kang Jin-Ho couldn't bear to keep watching this tragicomedy scene and double facepalmed.
He was dying of cringe inside.
“In that case, please accept this.” Hwang Jeong-Hu pushed the bank account passbook forward.
“...If you insist, sir.” Kang Yu-Hwan picked up the bank account passbook, then sneaked a look at the first page.
'...T-t-ten billion won!'
His eyes nearly bulged at the 'ten billion' printed on the bank account passbook's page.
If Kang Yu-Hwan made a hundred million won per year, he would have to work for a century to earn this much money.
“What in the name of...! So much money!”
Hwang Jeong-Hu became unhappy at that response.
"Do you think I'd be too stingy to spare ten billion for my grandson"
“And I was even thinking of leaving my Jaegyeong Group to him, too...” Hwang Jeong-Hu took out his handkerchief once more.
Kang Jin-Ho's sigh got deeper while observing how the old man dabbed at the corner of his eyes to wipe away the imaginary tears.
Acting wasn't a technique you could learn.
No, you had to be born for it.
Outside the Kang family home...
“So… What do you think” Hwang Jeong-Hu proudly asked.
Kang Jin-Ho's reply was honest.
"Sitting through that had been torture in itself, sir."
"Kekeke. It's all good as long as it works, don't you agree It seems that you’re still unaware, then.
Let me tell you, being too iron-tight with your story only makes it more suspicious.
You have to leave some plotholes behind to make people believe that there's no way you'd fool them with such shabby stories."
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.
"Is that how you con people, then"
“Can you at least call it negotiation”
"In any case, I'm relieved, sir." Kang Jin-Ho sighed and shook his head slightly.
"Our biggest hurdle has been cleared, so that's good.
Other sundry issues will crop up in the foreseeable future, but..." Hwang Jeong-Hu stared at Kang Jin-Ho for a few seconds before continuing. “You must remember this.”
"Money will bring you comfort and even power.
Having more money is always better than not having any.
However, money is also a monster that can alter you if you lose yourself in it."
Kang Jin-Ho flatly replied, "That's a needless worry, sir."
“I'm not worried about you, young man.”
“You might be fine, but remember, your family members are ordinary folks.
When ordinary people suddenly come in contact with a large sum of money, something bad will inevitably happen.
You'll have to act as the voice of reason and as the balance for your family in the future.”
Understood," Kang Jin-Ho replied, nodding.
I'll be on my way now.
Call me if you run into other problems.”
"Wait..." Hwang Jeong-Hu hesitated for a moment.
"Well, I do have this one favor to ask you since we've already come this far..."
"When I think about it, it will be difficult for you to contact me when you need something, wouldn't you say So how about we have a middleman, a contact, who will always be available to you"
Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
He instantly figured out Hwang Jeong-Hu's intentions.
The chairman said it would be a contact, but he was actually thinking of someone who would report back to him.
In other words, that person would be a surveillant.
Kang Jin-Ho still nodded, however.
"Let's do that, then."
“Thank you for your understanding.
The person I have in mind is pretty good, so you can order him around to your heart's content.”
Kang Jin-Ho chuckled helplessly at that.
He was still a high school student in this life, so how could he order someone older around like some kind of a gopher
"Well, I'll see you later, young man." Hwang Jeong-Hu climbed into his black sedan.
The vehicle slowly disappeared out of the alleyway.
Kang Jin-Ho watched the vehicle leave, then stepped back inside the house.
He figured that his family would be raising one almighty fuss, but...
They were surprisingly calm.
His father was intensely staring at the bank account passbook resting on the dining table, while his mother was pouting deeply for some reason with her eyes shooting daggers in her husband's direction. His little sister looked happy, but she still managed to contain herself.
Kang Yu-Hwan raised his head and looked at his son.
“Did you see him off, son”
“In that case...
Come and sit here for a second.”
“Alright.” Kang Jin-Ho settled in front of his father.
Regarding this money...”
“I was thinking of not touching it for the time being.”
Kang Jin-Ho groaned inwardly.
"May I ask why"
"First of all, this money came from someone else's pocket.
And secondly, we don't know when Chairman Hwang will change his mind.
Finally, we didn't earn this money through our own hard work.
That's why we shouldn't accept such a large sum of money so blindly."
“But Father… You already accepted it, though”
"What choice did I have when Chairman Hwang was so adamant about it Even so, this amount is a bit..."
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“I agree that this amount seems like a large sum to us.
“Father, let's say you're in the same shoes as Chairman Hwang.
Wouldn't you be willing to gift a million won to the family of your grandson's benefactor”
Kang Yu-Hwan narrowed his eyes.
"Of course, I'd be willing.
And I'd have no problem accepting a small amount as one million won myself."
Kang Jin-Ho nodded sagely.
"That's what I'm trying to say, Father."
“This and that are not the same, son.”
"No, they are actually the same.
Even if we scrounge up every cent in our house, it'd still not reach a hundred million won.
However, Chairman Hwang's private fortune must exceed over one trillion won.
Even more than that, when you count all the hidden assets he must have stashed somewhere…"
Kang Jin-Ho continued in a persuasive tone.
"Considering his wealth, what we got from him would be equivalent to us handing out around three hundred thousand won.
It should be somewhere around there."
Kang Eun-Yeong listening on the sidelines pouted deeply.
"Wait a minute! Now that I heard you now, that old man had been stingy, wasn't he! I would've gladly handed out ten million won in his shoes!"
Baek Hyeon-Jeong smashed her palm into her noisy daughter's back.
"You have no idea how dangerous money can be so, be quiet!"
“Ah! That stings, Mom! No, I'm just saying, you know!”
Kang Jin-Ho ignored the duo and continued convincing his father.
"It's only three hundred thousand won, yet the recipient says it's too much of a burden and is planning on not doing anything with it like it’s some kind of an infected rag.
Would the person giving the money away feel happy about that, Father"
“...No, he wouldn't.”
“That's why the right thing is to spend the money, Father.”
Kang Yu-Hwan slowly nodded.
"Now that I hear you, son...
You're right about this."
Kang Jin-Ho also nodded.
"Alright, I understand.
Then, we shall accept the chairman's goodwill as just that, his goodwill," Kang Yu-Hwan finally made up his mind.
That immediately set off elated screams from both Kang Eun-Yeong and Baek Hyeon-Jeong.
"Kyaaah~! I wanna buy a new bag, Mom!"
“Don't be silly! Your father needs to buy a new car first! Then as your mother, I need new clothes next!”
“But Mom! You already have plenty of clothes!”
"What are you talking about I hardly have any clothes to wear nowadays!"
Kang Jin-Ho watched them bicker and he revealed a gentle smile.
Hwang Jeong-Hu was right.
You could be happy without money, but having money would make your life just a bit more convenient and happier.
He turned to his father next.
"May I be excused now"
You do look tired, son.”
“Yes, just a little.”
Makes sense you're tired after going through something this crazy.
Get some rest, son.”
Kang Jin-Ho bowed slightly and returned to his room before lying down on the bed. It seemed as if everything had been resolved quite easily.
But Kang Jin-Ho still had another massive problem to deal with.
Kang Jin-Ho quietly inserted his hand inside his pocket, then eased out another bank account passbook.
It had become slightly crumpled after being stuck in his pocket for a while.
This was a different account passbook from the one Hwang Jeong-Hu had given to Kang Yu-Hwan.
The money he earned by healing the chairman was reflected in this book.
This was the massive problem he was agonizing about.
"Where am I supposed to spend this money on now"
Kang Jin-Ho groaned.
As it turned out, having money could actually be a problem.
A Passing Wanderer's Thoughts
Veela: I wish I had that kind of problem T-T