The Encounter (1)
When they heard what happened, Kang Eun-Yeong's parents were nearly overcome by dismay and rage; they could barely contain themselves.
Kang Yu-Hwan asked in a voice seething with anger.
“Is it true?”
Kang Eun-Yeong was a lot calmer now after reaching home.
She lowered her head.
“How can you be so dumb, Eun-Yeong!”
Baek Hyeon-Jeong's palm mercilessly slapped her daughter's back.
“Ouch!” Kang Eun-Yeong whimpered from the sharp pain.
Baek Hyeon-Jeong scolded her.
“You're not a dummy, so why did you let them treat you that way?!”
Baek Hyeon-Jeong continued in a shrill voice.
“I'm disappointed in you, Eun-Yeong! You should've told us when something like that happened to you! How can we know if you don't tell us?! Who can step up to deal with that nonsense if you don't say anything?!”
“I'm sorry, Mom.”
Baek Hyeon-Jeong's heart ached so much to see her own flesh and blood repeating 'I'm sorry' like this.
And the self-blame for not noticing that her child was showing signs of difficulty sooner made her even angrier.
“Uh-whew! This is so…”
Kang Yu-Hwan tried to calm his wife down.
“That's enough, dear.
Eun-Yeong must be equally frustrated, too.”
“How can you say that? And aren't you angry, dear?! If she's frustrated, then why didn't she say anything?!”
“I said, that's enough!” Kang Yu-Hwan raised his voice so loud that it prompted Baek Hyeon-Jeong to flinch and stop.
He turned to look at his daughter.
“It must've been difficult, Eun-Yeong.”
“Promise us that you'll tell us if something similar happens to you in the future.
How can I call myself your father if you can't even talk to me about your troubles?”
“I promise, Dad,” Kang Eun-Yeong replied with a weak nod.
Baek Hyeon-Jeong was still seething in anger and frustration as tears formed in her eyes.
Kang Jin-Ho watched his family's exchange for a while, only to snap awake when his phone began vibrating in his pocket.
He confirmed the caller on the screen before answering, “Hello?”
– It's me, Mr.
Can we talk right now?
“Yes, we can.”
– Actually, I'm right outside your residence.
Is it fine to speak to you in person?
I'll be right out.” Kang Jin-Ho ended the call and got up.
Baek Hyeon-Jeong looked at her son and asked, “Where are you going, Jin-Ho?”
“I'm just popping outside the house for a minute, Mother.”
“At this late?”
“I won't be long…”
Her barely-contained anger spilled out again, and her voice got louder.
“Your sister is in that state, yet you wanna sneak out somewhere?!”
I'll be back soon.
“It's fine, son.
Hurry and tend to your business,” said Kang Yu-Hwan, giving his son permission to go out.
Kang Jin-Ho bowed his head, then stepped outside the house to find a familiar black sedan parked out in front.
He opened the passenger side door and climbed inside.
“What's the situation like?”
Jo Gyu-Min in the driver's seat replied, “The contract has been terminated, Mr.
“And what about the termination fee?”
“Of course, I haven't given them a dime.
However, I warned Starwiz to watch their backs if they really want that money.
At first, that director whatshisname scoffed at me, but after hearing about what Jaegyeong Group can do, I think he finally understands the trouble he is in.”
Kang Jin-Ho asked suspiciously, “I didn't know Jaegyeong has ties with the entertainment industry.”
Jo Gyu-Min chuckled softly.
“Well, yes and no.”
“What do you mean?”
“Jaegyeong is not directly involved with the entertainment industry, but we do maintain a cordial relationship with some corporations that do.”
Jo Gyu-Min shrugged his shoulders.
“Besides, Starwiz's director has a lot of skeletons in the closet.
If you want, it'll only take a phone call to utterly destroy that man, Mr.
“Don't touch him,” said Kang Jin-Ho as a hint of coldness crept into his expression.
Jo Gyu-Min was taken aback.
“No need to mind him since I will personally see to his punishment.”
Kang Jin-Ho, that is a bit…”
“I said, I will handle it.”
Jo Gyu-Min sighed at length as something he was worried about had become a reality.
“This matter can be dealt with through Jaegyeong's power, Mr.
That's why, how about letting us…”
“Tell me about the other issues.” Kang Jin-Ho abruptly cut Jo Gyu-Min off in the middle.
Left with little choice, Jo Gyu-Min changed the topic.
“I've reported the matters of Hwangseong Group to Chairman Hwang.
Unsurprisingly, he flew off his handle and ordered the company to cease trading with Hwangseong with immediate effect.”
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.
“Mm? The termination fee must be considerable, though?”
“As luck would have it, the contract renewal negotiation was supposed to begin next month.
We'll simply not renew it then.”
“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho rubbed his chin before shaking his head.
“I think you should renew the contract.”
“Please tell Chairman Hwang he should reconsider, as long as Hwangseong isn't problematic behind the scenes and is worth continuing the contract with.
The contract should be renewed.”
Jo Gyu-Min was confused and had to ask for clarification, “But then, what about this matter?”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head again.
He was still angry, but he understood that he shouldn't direct his anger at the uninvolved third parties.
“The issue involves the company's leader, not the employees.
There's no reason to hurt the workers just because the daughter of the company's boss had done some stupid things.”
Jo Gyu-Min was inwardly impressed by that decision.
A man with power would normally be itching to show off and even abuse that power.
Despite having power, however, Kang Jin-Ho was searching for a way to minimize the potential harm to other people.
This might sound like something obvious that anyone could think of it, but making it happen was definitely not as easy as it sounded.
Jo Gyu-Min nodded.
“You're right, Mr.
We'll get a suitable apology from Hwangseong's leadership for this matter, then we can make them sweat nervously for a while.
Will that be fine?”
“Yes, that should suffice.”
Kang Jin-Ho licked his lips before slightly nodding.
“Actually, I have another issue to take care of…”
“The situation might have devolved to this state, but being an idol is still my sister's dream, so it's difficult for us to tell her to give up on it now.
We'll have to search for a new agency, but…
Will there be a suitable one that might accept her?”
Jo Gyu-Min nodded.
“There is, actually.”
We have a contact with one of the top four agencies in the country.
If we mention Chairman Hwang, this agency will immediately scout your sister and get her ready for her debut.
From what I can tell, her skill level has already far exceeded a trainee's, so the transition should be painless.”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted softly.
“Using my connections, is it…”
Jo Gyu-Min replied in a slightly chiding tone, “Mr.
Jin-Ho, you won't survive for long in Korea without using your connections.”
Kang Jin-Ho agreed with that sentiment.
That story wasn't applicable only in Korea, after all.
Even back in the demon cult's halls, a similar rule applied too.
He had experienced enough times back then how important one's connections could be.
“I'm sure you're right.”
Jo Gyu-Min suddenly became enthusiastic.
“However, if you're not cool with this method, there's another way.”
“Really? What is it?”
“It's simply creating a talent agency of our own.
Jaegyeong can create an agency, and your sister will become its first enterta—”
Kang Jin-Ho immediately cut him off.
“Let's go with that top agency in the country, shall we?”
Jo Gyu-Min nearly slipped off his seat.
My idea isn't such a bad way to…”
We'll go with the first option.”
“Well, if you say so…” Jo Gyu-Min ruefully smacked his lips.
His scheme to become the boss of a talent agency while also keeping his current position in Jaegyeong Group went down the drain, just like that.
“In that case, I'll prepare things accordingly.”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
Jo Gyu-Min hesitated slightly before continuing.
“And, uh, regarding the aforementioned Starwiz's skeletons…”
“Is it serious?”
The agency’s history is marked by many instances of bad management.”
Kang Jin-Ho's eyes narrowed.
Jo Gyu-Min explained even more, “Your sister was spared the worst of it, actually.
Probably because the agency's director thought she was worth something.
However, other trainees from poor backgrounds have been subjected to far worse treatment.”
“Is that so?”
Jo Gyu-Min sighed.
As you've said before, that agency had crossed the line and shouldn't be allowed to exist.
If we hadn't known, fine.
But now that we know, turning a blind eye is a bit…”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded in agreement.
“I'll leave that agency to your discretion.”
“What will happen to Park Hyeok-Gi, then?”
“The prosecuting authority will investigate him.”
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes again.
“He'll most likely get arrested and spend some time behind bars.”
Have a good night, Mr.
Kang Jin-Ho bade goodbye, then climbed outside the car.
He went back inside the house while maintaining a stiff face.
His parents were still talking to Kang Eun-Yeong in the living room.
'I haven't seen this scene in a while…'
Indeed, he couldn't remember the last time the entire Kang family sat down and had an earnest talk like this.
Kang Yu-Hwan sighed and spoke, “Eun-Yeong, you must be tired from what happened today.
Go get some rest, my child.”
Before she could leave, though, Kang Jin-Ho called out to her.
“Hold on for a sec.”
“Mm? What's up, Oppa?”
“There's this thing, but…” Kang Jin-Ho pondered for a brief moment before continuing.
“I forgot to ask about the name.
Do you know which talent agency has ties to large corporations?”
Kang Eun-Yeong tilted her head.
“Large corporations? Are you talking about Code?”
“As I said before, I don't know the name of that agency.
But I do know it's one of the top four in the country.”
She nodded affirmatively.
“Mmhm, it sounds like Code.”
Kang Jin-Ho grinned at her.
“That's where you'll transfer to.”
But Kang Eun-Yeong gave him a weary look instead.
“Oppa, Code won't accept someone like me…”
“Why wouldn't they?”
“I've auditioned for them several times before, you see? But I didn't make it…”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted and replied in a too-honest way, “That's because you didn't have your current looks back then.”
“Wha—” Kang Eun-Yeong began clutching her fists tightly after her brother's exceedingly pragmatic reply registered in her brain.
In the context of their conversation, he was saying she had gotten a lot prettier these days, but why did she feel so displeased right now?
As usual, Kang Jin-Ho remained oblivious to his slip of the tongue and continued.
“In any case, you'll be transferring there.
It has been decided already.”
Kang Eun-Yeong stared at him suspiciously.
“You're not lying?”
So, no need to be restless, okay? Get some well-deserved rest.”
“Mmhm. Thanks, Oppa…”
Kang Jin-Ho went to his room when the discussion ended, then switched off the lights.
After lying down…
he patiently waited for dawn to arrive.
How many hours had passed? Kang Jin-Ho quietly opened the door and stepped into the living room.
That was when he noticed his father sitting alone by the kitchen’s dining table while nursing a drink in silence.
“Father? You weren't asleep?”
What about you, son?”
“As you can see…”
“Mmhm. You couldn't sleep as well?”
Kang Jin-Ho didn't say anything.
He simply stood in the living room and looked at his father's pained expression.
Kang Yu-Hwan took a sip and muttered, “Yes, me too.
When I think about how my little girl was suffering in that place, I can't sleep at all.”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly studied his father's slumped back.
This was not the first time he saw his father like this.
He squeezed his eyes close as his anger began boiling again.
'I feel the same as you, Father.'
Kang Yu-Hwan took another sip of the booze and sighed.
“It angers me that there's nothing I can do.
It’s pissing me off.”
Kang Yu-Hwan gripped the cup tighter.
“And when I think about how the bastard that put my child through hell will sleep easy at night! I can't even…”
“Still, you need to get some sleep, Father.”
I must sleep…”
Kang Jin-Ho smiled gently.
“Father, please go to bed.”
You should do the same.”
“Of course…” Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
Kang Yu-Hwan got up and headed back to the bedroom, but he stopped and looked back.
“You worked hard, my son.”
“You did something I couldn't even do.
I am ashamed to be your father.”
“Don't say that…”
“Whew…” Kang Yu-Hwan sighed deeply, then stepped inside the bedroom.
Kang Jin-Ho stood there and watched his father close the door behind him.
Then, he wordlessly turned around to leave the house.
It was dawn right now, well before daybreak.
It was also the darkest hour of the night.
In other words, it was the perfect time for the monster sleeping within him to awaken.
Inside Starwiz's office…
“Urgh…” Park Hyeok-Gi roughly scratched his head.
“What the hell am I supposed to do now?!”
The matter with Kang Eun-Yeong had ballooned beyond his control now, thanks to Jaegyeong Group's involvement.
Who knew that a major corporation like Jaegyeong was backing her? Wasn't this basically the same as a pearl hiding in the mud, but he was too dense to notice it and treated it like trash?
“What options do I have left?” Park Hyeok-Gi held his head.
Now that Jaegyeong was in the picture, one wrong move could lead to the utter destruction of Starwiz.
The two companies might not be in the same industry, but that wouldn't matter to a corporation as huge as Jaegyeong.
Erasing some idol agency like Starwiz out from existence should literally only take one night for them.
I gotta go and apologize to that girl's family.”
Park Hyeok-Gi had to resolve this crisis somehow, even if that meant going to Kang Eun-Yeong's home and beg for leniency.
“Goddamn it! Why the f*ck is this happening to me?!” Park Hyeok-Gi cried out in rage.
Look at him, still stuck in his office until dawn, unable to go home! “F*cking hell…
That b*tch had so much money, so why…
She could've just donated some, so why the hell did she try to save some pocket change and screw me over like this?!”
He clenched his teeth in anger.
He heard that the haves could be quite stingy, but to think that she would be one of those stingy f*ckers!
First thing tomorrow, I gotta go to that girl's home and…”
“No need to waste your breath.”
“W-Who's there?!” Park Hyeok-Gi jumped up from his seat in fright and hurriedly looked behind him.
The office's light suddenly went out.
It was still the middle of the night, so with no light coming from the overhead lamps, the office was suddenly bathed in eerie darkness.
“W-Who’s there?! Who!” Park Hyeok-Gi hurriedly grabbed the lone desk lamp off his desk, ready to smash the intruder in the head.
“You already know who I am…”
Park Hyeok-Gi's figure began shuddering after recognizing that voice coming from the darkness.
He definitely remembered hearing it earlier in the day.
The voice didn't respond to that.
Park Hyeok-Gi urgently cried out.
“W-Why are you doing this?!”
“Kekeke…” A low cackle seeped out from the darkness.
Park Hyeok-Gi's grip on the lamp stand strengthened.
Showing up in the middle of the night and behaving this way indicated that the other party didn't come here with good intentions.
He had to get ready for a fight.
“What was it about Kang Eun-Yeong?”
All of a sudden, Park Hyeok-Gi's body floated into the air.
“Kuh-heok?!” He urgently grasped at his throat.
Someone—or something—was choking him while lifting him up in the air! “Kkuh…
The pain left him disoriented and lost, and as he flailed about, a quiet growl reached his ears.
“Say it again.”
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