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“Are you going to work?”
“How are you feeling? You look like you’re going to fall without even doing anything.”
“I feel like dying. But unless you have an official schedule, it’s an iron rule to get to work on time, even if you don’t want to.”
Ji-Won, who was walking toward the front door with a grimace, stopped for a moment, glanced at Dok-Yeom’s face, and kicked his tongue disapprovingly.
“If you’re feeling sick, sleep a bit more. Don’t fall down on the street while rushing out for no reason.”
Ji-Won groomed himself in front of the front mirror attached to the shoe rack, and went out without loosening his stoic expression. Dok-Yeom, who was slowly entering the kitchen with the help of the wall, stopped in surprise when he witnessed the hectic scene inside the kitchen, as if it had been hit by a bomb.
Hae-Soo was biting his lips with a depressed face, but ran to Dok-yeom as soon as he entered the kitchen and scanned every corner of it. In the end, Dok-Yeom couldn’t help giving Hae-Soo a pathetic look.
“How could you act like this at someone else’s house?”
“What do you mean? Brother Ji-Won said he doesn’t usually eat breakfast, so I made breakfast for him, thinking that it wouldn’t be good to go to work with an empty stomach the day after drinking. But he didn’t even appreciate my sincerity…. He’s too much.”
“How many pots did you use to cook a bowl of porridge?”
“I don’t know…. It kept getting stuck. There’s a lot left. Do you want some? Honestly, I tried it and it’s just a little salty.”
“Ha. Give me a bowl.”
Dok-Yeom, who carefully put a spoonful of burnt porridge in his mouth with a white look, ran to the sink and spit it out before he could taste it. Although he was determined to pretend to eat something that Hae-Soo made with so much effort, he could not cover the terrifying salty taste that seemed to have been made by boiling seawater about ten times with shallow fellowship.
“Are you crazy? How much salt did you pour in to make it taste like this?”
“I saw the recipe and made it! A very famous blogger told me to add 3 spoons of salt.”
3 spoons of salt for a bowl of porridge? Isn’t it a recipe you use to screw someone you don’t like? Dok-Yeom looked carefully at the cell phone screen that Hae-Soo was sticking out with suspicious eyes, then kicked his tongue with a ridiculous expression.
“Hey. This is a lowercase t. It’s not a tablespoon. It’s a teaspoon. Don’t you know what a teaspoon is? You know, the small ones for tea.”
“No, even if you use three tea spoons, it can’t taste like this. How did you measure a spoon?”
At Dok-Yeom’s interrogation, Hae-Soo, who thought he had made a mistake, rolled his eyes around and poured a spoon of salt. It was more than twice the amount of a typical spoonful.
“Ugh, I’m going crazy because of you. Where did you find this worthless measuring spoon again… Hae-Soo, I’m talking about using a regular spoon that we use for cooking, not a shovel-like spoon to dig sand. Didn’t you learn this in Home Economics class? What on earth were you doing during class time?”
“Don’t you know what sports kids do at school? I slept well.”
Tsk, this is why elite physical education is a problem. They only teach students how to exercise from their childhood. Because of this, students don’t gain basic common sense. No, even so, Hae-Soo is too much of a stupid. I can’t argue with this kind of guy. Hae-Soo got angry as Dok-Yeom’s eyes looking at him turned pathetic.
“What, do you think it’s easy to win a medal at the Olympics? How can a person be good at everything? Choose your aim and focus. Haven’t you heard of it?”
“There are a lot of other phrases that I’ve heard from somewhere. Stop messing around and clean it up before Ji-Won gets angry!”
Ji-Won, who barely endured the morning hours by drinking bottled water while trying to control his mood, jumped out of his seat just as the lunch time began. He just thought of having a nap after drinking a bowl of hangover soup, when he heard a familiar ringtone.
[Zanice’s Security office.]
What is it today? I’m not in the mood to deal with ghosts. Ji-Won stared at the crystal liquid for a while, then answered the phone with slight irritation.
“Yes, it’s Cha Ji-won.”
[Director Cha, I’m the Head of Security.]
Unexpectedly, when Hyun-Ho’s voice was heard, Ji-won, who had been frowning from morning due to a lumpy headache, opened his eyes a little wide. The fact that the Head of the Security office called him directly was probably related to Gaon.
“Yes. Go ahead.”
[CEO is going to Gapyeong in a hurry this afternoon, so can I ask you to accompany her? There’s a painting you have to look at.]
The corners of Ji-Won’s mouth greatly turned upward at the polite coercion of the Head of Security. Both sides clearly knew it was like an order, even so, Ji-Won didn’t like Hyun-Ho’s way of speaking as if he had a choice. It was this morning that he decided to stop going to the headquarters for the time being. His heart was so hurt that he needed some time to recover.
However, contrary to the complicated feelings, the answer was concise. There was no other answer in the first place.
[The CEO is in an urgent meeting right now. I think she’ll leave around 2 o’clock after she finishes the meeting and has lunch.]
“Yes. However, I’m afraid I won’t be able to drive because I drank too much yesterday. I don’t have a car right now either.”
[Oh, don’t worry about that. Manager Kim is on your way, so I’ll tell him to pick you up in the middle. I’ll have him call you 10 minutes before he arrives.]
Ji-Won, who hung up the phone, looked up at the ceiling and sighed. He thought he was being childish and arrogant, but he didn’t have time to think about it for long. His eyes felt heavy because he didn’t sleep well last night, and he hasn’t bathed or had any meal yet, so he could smell alcohol every time he breathed. Time was tight to make himself look like a human being by two o’clock.
After finishing a bowl of hangover soup, Ji-Won ran home immediately and put a lot of bath bombs in hot water and quickly took a bath. He got busy putting on a face pack, drying his hair carefully, and carefully choosing an outfit. Thanks to this, he was able to meet Gaon with a relaxed and elegant look that was no different from usual.
“Good morning, Sir.”
“Yes, I see you often these days.”
“By the way, Director Cha. Are you ill?”
At that moment, Ji-Won’s perfect smile hardened slightly. But he soon regained his original appearance.
Really? He looks a little haggard today. Gaon, who looked suspicious for a while, immediately nodded at Ji-Won’s denial. Then she showed Ji-Won the small booklet that she was looking at and asked.
“Do you know Unwol Minnohak?”
“Yes. He was an artist who was active in the late Joseon Dynasty. Among the landscape paintings, he mainly drew landscape paintings, and in particular, he drew several paintings titled ‘Geumgangsan’* Island.”
[T/N: Geumgang Jeondo (금강전도 金剛全圖) is a famous landscape painted by Jeong Seon during the reign of King Yeongjo. The title literally means ‘General view of Mt. Geumgangsan’ or ‘The Diamond Mountains’.]
“Have you ever seen his paintings?”
“Yes. I saw one in the collection of the City Museum of Art. Is the place you’re going to today related to Unwol?”
“Yes. The CEO of Mochang Construction is a very famous oriental painting collector, and he has two Geumgangsan paintings by Unwol in his villa.”
At Gaon’s words, Ji-Won’s eyebrows rose sharply. How can he get that? Having two such paintings is astonishing.
“Are they real?”
“I don’t know. Authenticity doesn’t matter to me. Anyway, Chairman Mo’s family was having serious problems recently, so I looked around and found out that one of the two paintings was possessed by a ghost.”
As they climbed the neatly paved mountain path and passed the heavy gate that opened to the temple, they could see a very well-organized wide garden at a glance. And at the end of the garden, a large mansion that was too large to be considered a simple villa was proudly located.
It was a house built with the finest materials, but unfortunately, it was not that emitted a positive energy. Even from outside the house, it could be said that something evil was attached to the house. Gaon seemed to have a similar idea, she looked around the mansion and sighed at once.
“There really is something.”
“Is it similar to the deceased in Rosenvalov Castle?”
“It’s a little different from that, but…. Anyway, we’ll have to look at the painting.”
When they stepped into the mansion, a white-haired old man with a healthy appearance was sitting in a wheelchair waiting for them. As soon as he saw Gaon, he bowed politely.
“I haven’t seen you in a long time, My Lord. Forgive me for sitting here and welcoming you. I couldn’t pick you up because my leg was paralyzed.”
“It’s okay. It’s been a long time, Chairman Mo.”
Looking at Gaon, who had not gained a single wrinkle even after nearly 50 years, Chairman Mo quietly wiped away the cold sweat with a handkerchief he had in his hand.
The first meeting with Gaon took place at the site of a new large-scale apartment building, which Mochang Construction was in charge of for the first time. The ambitious young man in his 20s, who had just started to grow a small company he inherited from his father into a mid-sized company, was very tired as construction continued to be delayed due to the constant small accidents.
From the time he bought the site, he felt like things were strangely troubled. It was not easy to build the floors, and just as the building was about to start to build stairs, a part of the ground collapsed, seriously injuring a worker. It was an era in which if things got bigger and out of the eyes of the government, it could make him stop the construction in the middle. He had to find a way somehow.
“The quiet earth was turned chaotic, so God was angry. A sacrifice is needed to appease God.”
As soon as the shaman, who was brought in after a series of inquiries, looked around the site, he immediately asked 10 million won. It was a construction that could never be given up, but at that time, it was a huge amount of money that was not readily available for him. However, because no action was taken, they eventually decided to hold a memorial service to soothe the wrath of God.
Since it was impossible to hold a ritual in the middle of Seoul in broad daylight, the time was set to midnight. On a moonless night, only three people, the shaman, his student, and the chairman, quietly cleared the fence and entered the scene. And then he saw Gaon for the first time.
“Oh, my God.”
As soon as the young woman in a sophisticated suit stepped into the scene, the old shaman whose nose was sticking high in the sky all the time was horrified and fell flat on the floor. The sight of him lying on the dirt floor, where dust was rolling, shocked Chairman Mo, who was sensitive due to the incidents happening on the construction site.
“Oh, how did such a precious person came such a place. You could just let us do the miscellaneous things….”
“So that you can take any amount of money without me knowing?”
“I’m saying this because people like you who recognize me don’t build a career that can’t be washed clean even after washing them thousands time in this world. Do you think you can pay for your sins by stacking them up in the stash?”
At that time, Chairman Mo did not immediately understand Gaon’s ambiguous words, but the shaman, who turned white at once, began shaking his hands without even raising from the ground. Gaon looked away indifferently from such a shaman and turned her head at Chairman Mo. Chairman Mo, who did not know Gaon’s identity, thought Gaon was just an arrogant young girl in her 20s. It hurt his pride to bow down such a young girl but in the end, he had no choice.
“If we don’t cut down that tree, you’ll never be able to raise the building.”