Becoming Rich (3)
“Gyu-Min, from now on, you'll have to watch over the boy,” said Hwang Jeong-Hu.
“As in monitoring him, sir?” Jo Gyu-Min cautiously asked.
“Think of it as being his personal secretary.”
monitoring him as a secretary?”
Hwang Jeong-Hu shook his head.
“Even if you're monitoring him, the task itself isn't that complicated.
Just keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't wander off too far.
And serve as a contact between us in case of emergencies, that's all.
I'm assigning you to Jin-Ho's side because I want you to assist him.”
“…?” Jo Gyu-Min was slightly confused as he looked back at Hwang Jeong-Hu.
Assist the boy? What would a high school kid need assistance for?
Wait, could it be…?
Is he a potential heir?”
“What?” Hwang Jeong-Hu exploded in laughter.
ha… An heir, is it? An heir…”
The chairman's laughter indicated how dumbfounded he was.
However, Jo Gyu-Min discovered something odd about that laughter.
Hwang Jeong-Hu initially laughed as if he heard a funny joke, but his expression gradually changed the longer he laughed.
The initial flabbergasted expression was gone from his face, only to be replaced by the look of serious pondering.
“An heir, you say?”
Jo Gyu-Min was justified in making such a leap of logic.
In any other circumstances, Kang Jin-Ho being a potential heir would be unthinkable.
However, the current situation made that scenario a distinct possibility.
And that situation was with how Hwang Jeong-Hu had cut his three sons out of his life.
It wasn't simply his sons, however, Hwang Jeong-Hu had also completely severed ties with all of his blood relations below his sons, too.
In other words, he was now running the Jaegyeong Group by himself.
He was almost seventy years old.
Even though he was the picture of good health right now, no one knew what he would be like in five years.
As such, he couldn’t help but think of the issue of having a successor.
The group's daily operations could be left to a specialist manager, but there was no getting away from the fact that the Jaegyeong Group was reliant on Hwang Jeong-Hu's charisma for its continued existence and growth. A random manager wouldn't be able to replicate that.
This was their current situation. But then, Hwang Jeong-Hu suddenly ordered an investigation done on a teenager named Kang Jin-Ho right after cutting his sons out.
The chairman even showed up at the boy's school and declared that Kang Jin-Ho was his grandson.
This flow of events looked like Hwang Jeong-Hu was carving out the path of an heir for Kang Jin-Ho or something—that was how it was in Jo Gyu-Min's eyes.
“An heir, is it.
Yes, there's no reason why that boy can't be an heir.” Hwang Jeong-Hu laughed again, then patted Jo Gyu-Min on the shoulder.
“It's not decided yet, but there's a chance that he might become one.
So, do your best to assist him.”
Jo Gyu-Min energetically replied, “Yes, sir!”
“This task will never lose its importance as long as I'm alive.
I chose you because you've been handling your recent tasks commendably well.
And you are also young, which is another plus.”
“I won't disappoint you, Chairman.”
“Think of that boy as me, understand?”
I'll engrave it to my heart,” Jo Gyu-Min replied with a deep nod.
Jo Gyu-Min felt as if Hwang Jeong-Hu’s eyes had become heavier than they had ever been before when they landed on him.
Chairman Hwang alluded that Kang Jin-Ho could end up as the heir to the Jaegyeong Group.
If that possibility turned into reality, Jo Gyu-Min assisting the boy since his high school days would also become a big shot in the group's hierarchy.
'That isn't such a bad chain of events, now is it?!'
The ship he chose to throw his lot with the last time turned out to be the Titanic, but this new ship seemed far more waterproof than that doomed vessel.
Jo Gyu-Min was not a dummy who would let this chance slip through his fingers.
He grinned and spoke, “The chairman has ordered me to help you in any way I can.
If something is bothering you, please don't hesitate to let me know.”
“I will,” Kang Jin-Ho replied.
“And also, if you need something, call me on the phone. Oh, and I'll be accompanying you during your commutes to and from your school.”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“There's no need.
I ride my bicycle to school.”
Jo Gyu-Min gasped.
“Ah, I almost forgot! My apologies for bringing this topic up late.
I've managed to source a suitable bicycle for you.”
“For now, I thought it'd be better to procure the highest-spec model available locally.
Please follow me.”
Kang Jin-Ho followed Jo Gyu-Min to the chief director's office.
He found a bicycle with a sleek, light gray frame leaning against a wall in the office.
Jo Gyu-Min pointed at it.
“I've assembled it myself, but you'll have to adjust it to fit your physique better.”
“Was there a need to store this bicycle in your office?”
“That thing is unbelievably expensive, you see.
I may not be the one footing the bill, but I'm still just another company employee, so the thought of it getting stolen kind of scares me a lot.”
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.
“Expensive? How much?”
“It's the most expensive model that Italy's Bianchi currently produces.”
sounds like a woman's name.”
“I assure you, its performance is the real deal.”
Kang Jin-Ho muttered, “You still haven't told me how much this was, though.”
Jo Gyu-Min glanced outside the window, then pointed at a compact hatchback parked outside the building.
“Do you see that car, Mr. Jin-Ho?”
“Yes, I do.”
“This bicycle is more expensive than that car.”
“…!” Kang Jin-Ho frowned a little as if he didn’t quite understand what Jo Gyu-Min meant.
He stared alternatingly between the bicycle and the car.
“Were you talking about that car over there, Mr. Gyu-Min?”
“Yes. It’s that car.”
This bicycle costs more than that car.
That's what you're saying?”
Jo Gyu-Min nodded and pointed at the bicycle again.
“That costs way more, yes.”
“Hoh…” Kang Jin-Ho was silent for a second or two before asking the obvious question any sane-minded person would have asked, “What kind of a bicycle costs more than an actual car?”
Jo Gyu-Min nonchalantly replied, “When I was in the store holding the company credit card and ready to seal the deal, I thought I'd have a heart attack right there and then when I saw the price tag.
Even though I wouldn’t be spending my own money, you should've seen how badly I was shaking back then, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
'You know, you shouldn't be so nonchalant about that…'
Kang Jin-Ho sighed, then took another look at the bicycle.
Its sleek, streamlined shape did give off an expensive and high-tech aura.
Be that as it may, why would this simple lump of metal cost more than an actual, functioning motor vehicle?
He looked back at Jo Gyu-Min.
“People actually pay money to buy bicycles like this?”
“They must be.
Otherwise, they wouldn't be selling it.”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
“Huh. I guess you're right.”
“I found out that prices like this are a common occurrence in the world of road bikes.”
“That's a world I'll never understand, then.”
Jo Gyu-Min shook his head.
“I don't think that's the case, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
“What do you mean?”
“I'm sure you must have felt this before.
That feeling of wanting to go just a little faster—just a little harder.
Humans thirst for victory or at least do better than they have done before, even if all they are doing is playing a video game.
In that case, would someone with the money to burn think that investing funds into making bicycles go faster is a waste of their fortune?”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded, thinking that he could finally more or less understand it.
Didn't he also throw himself wholeheartedly into getting better in that computer game after tasting defeat? “I guess the world of road bikes can get pretty profound and intense, then.”
Jo Gyu-Min spoke in a sage-like voice, “Apparently, you can never get out once the bug bites you.
That's why I quickly ran out of the store after buying the bicycle.”
“You made the right call.”
“Thank you for the praise.” Jo Gyu-Min chuckled, then turned his attention back to the bicycle.
We need to find the solution to the problem of where to park this bicycle that costs more than a car…”
“Even parking it is a problem?”
“If someone recognizes it, you can bet your bottom dollar that person would do whatever it takes to break the locks and steal it, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
‘Would someone really go that far…?’
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow, seemingly unconvinced.
However, Jo Gyu-Min remained adamant.
“It's expensive, after all.”
“Mm. Considering this and that…” Kang Jin-Ho groaned and glared at the bicycle that was turning out to be a problem in so many ways.
“Maybe not accepting it is for the best?”
“Why not, Mr. Jin-Ho? Because it's expensive?”
“Well, there's that, and…” Kang Jin-Ho became uncomfortable thinking about what this meant.
Since the bicycle cost more than a car, wasn't this the same as Hwang Jeong-Hu giving him a new car? Who wouldn't feel a bit overwhelmed in that case?
“Mr. Jin-Ho, this amount won't even put a dent in the chairman's finances.”
“Urgh…” Kang Jin-Ho roughly scratched his head.
He didn't expect the words he said to his father yesterday to come right back to him.
“Even if the bike cost ten times higher, in Chairman Hwang's view, it'd be like buying a cute little toy for his grandson.
I advise you to just accept it, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
“Uh-whew…” Kang Jin-Ho could only nod and accept it.
Jo Gyu-Min pointed to the corner of the office.
“For now, why don't we park it in this office? Place it in here in the morning, and after school, store it inside your home.”
Kang Jin-Ho was taken aback.
“Wait, you want me to store a bicycle indoors?”
Jo Gyu-Min was even more surprised than him.
“Don't tell me you were thinking of leaving this thing outside?”
The car outside probably cost at least twenty million won, right? Which means, this bicycle costs…
“…Please take good care of it, then.” Kang Jin-Ho chuckled hollowly.
He then named this expensive and apparently useless bicycle 'Golden Elephant,’ a play on the term white elephant.
He figured that it must be made out of pure gold to be so expensive.
Jo Gyu-Min lightly snapped his finger after remembering something else.
“Ah. Can you accompany me for a little while after school, Mr. Jin-Ho? There's a place we must go.”
“To the Seongsim Orphanage.”
“I heard that you requested the construction of a new orphanage building.
I thought that the sooner we take care of it, the better.
That's why I wanted to go to the orphanage and discuss it with the director there.”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“I wouldn't be much help even if I go with you.”
Jo Gyu-Min was slightly flustered by that reply.
“But, uh… Didn't you request the construction?”
“I did, but I'm not that familiar with that place.
And I don't know anything about property prices or finding ideal locations.
In that regard, a pro will be better than me.
Please use your discretion.”
Understood, I'll take care of it then, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
“Thank you,” said Kang Jin-Ho.
Afterward, he quietly stared at Jo Gyu-Min as if asking the latter if there was anything else.
“This will be the end of my report for today, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
“I see. I’ll be off then.” Kang Jin-Ho slightly nodded, then exited the chief director's office.
Jo Gyu-Min watched the boy leave, his eyes gleaming softly.
Without a doubt, Kang Jin-Ho was an odd person.
Despite his quirks, though, he came across as a decisive and clear-cut individual.
He also seemed to possess a certain charm that drew people in.
'In that regard, he's similar to the Chairman.'
Jo Gyu-Min thought he could finally understand why Hwang Jeong-Hu was so fond of Kang Jin-Ho.
Kang Jin-Ho brought out the bicycle from the chief director's office and exited the school building.
“Well, it's light, that's for sure.”
While carrying the bicycle downstairs, Kang Jin-Ho was impressed by its low weight.
It was almost as light as a child's toy.
He put the bicycle down and climbed up on its saddle after adjusting it for a bit.
Once secured, he cautiously pushed down on the pedal.
The bicycle slid forward without making any unwieldy noises.
It was just a simple little push, but the way the bicycle picked up its pace took Kang Jin-Ho by surprise.
He pedaled a couple more times, prompting the bicycle to shoot forward smoothly with no wasted motion or energy.
It felt pretty good.
“Huh. It's trying to prove its worth, I guess?”
Kang Jin-Ho chuckled before shaking his head.
What a funny notion that was—if this bicycle was going to prove its worth, then it better be capable of flying through the sky in an emergency or at least be as quick as a nitrous-equipped car.
Otherwise, it wouldn’t be able to prove its worth at all!
When you reach the extremes of any given field, even the smallest improvements required an astronomical sum of money.
This was unavoidable. But knowing that didn't really help Kang Jin-Ho feel any less uncomfortable with this situation, though.
Since the bicycle was a gift, he accepted it, but…
'Should I just get a motorbike, instead?'
The cost of this bicycle could have gotten him a pretty good motorbike.
However, he didn't feel like going down that route.
For some reason, he felt this sense of rejection at the idea of controlling a vehicle not powered by human legs.
More importantly, though, he liked the way the bicycle responded to him as he pedaled away.
If going fast was his only goal, he wouldn't have bothered with a bicycle or whatever and just ran on his two feet instead.
However, something about this bicycle was definitely not to his liking.
Kang Jin-Ho turned his head and looked at the limping Park Yu-Min exiting the school gates.
The boy looked surprised.
“Hey, you changed your bicycle.”
Kang Jin-Ho furrowed his brows after realizing that this expensive bicycle was also quite impractical.
“Follow me, Yu-Min.”
“I said, follow me.”
Park Yu-Min ungainly followed Kang Jin-Ho, not knowing what was going on or why the latter was walking alongside his fancy new ride to a bicycle shop near the school.
Kang Jin-Ho called out to the shop owner.
“Uncle, you in there?”
“Yeah, hold on.
Welcome, what can I… Hmm?” The bicycle shop proprietor spotted Kang Jin-Ho's ride, and his eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets.
“H-Hey, is that a Bianchi frame?!”
“Yes, that's what I've been told.”
The shop owner's voice grew louder.
“And it looks like a top-of-the-line model, too?”
“…So I heard.”
“I guess you're rolling in dough, kid.
My store doesn't deal in such expensive bikes, so I never had the chance to see one up close, you see… Hiyaaah~. It must be the one I saw online…
Hang on, isn't this the most expensive model Bianchi makes?!”
The shop owner rushed over to the bicycle while practically pushing Kang Jin-Ho out of the way.
He scanned it and studied it from various angles.
After letting out an impressed sigh, he began fondling the bicycle's frame for a long while.
He then stepped back, pulled out his phone and began taking pictures…
All the while completely ignoring the customers in the shop.
“…Uncle?” Kang Jin-Ho, his patience running thin, eventually called the owner out.
The latter smiled sheepishly and replied, “Ah, my bad.
It's just that your bike is so rare and so bloody expensive…
N-no, forget what I said. Mm… Anyway, what can I do for you? I don't have any parts in my store that can be attached to a frame like this, you know? If you need something, I'll have to special order it.”
Kang Jin-Ho nonchalantly said, “I need a new saddle.”
“You want a new saddle? Too bad, my store only has cheap saddles.
However, I can order it specifically for you if you want.
It'll take around three days, though.”
“That's not what I meant, uncle.
I want a saddle for two people.”
“…Eh?” The shop owner's eyes trembled at Kang Jin-Ho's nonchalant demand.
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