“Oh my! You really are alive.”

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An excited voice rumbled in his ears.
Ha Joyoon circled his glass and immediately picked a suitable size of ice and kept it in his mouth. 

“I’m not dead.”

The sullen answer increased the other person’s laughter.

 

 

“I thought you were dead.
But turns out, you’re immortal, too.
Why is your face like that?”

“Nothing.
I’m just a little tired.” 

“You’ve gone off completely, totally.”

 

The laughter of the woman, with one hand clenched under her chin, was as pure as a pearl.
Gently brushing her curled hair to the tip of her ear, Song Jina gave her distinctive smile.
Under the bright lights, the stylish appearance sparkled and shone.

Song Jina, an alumna of the same university, was a journalist from the international department of a famous central newspaper in Korea and boasted a wide range of personal connections thanks to her strong personality which garnered her affinity with others.

“Ha Joyoon has become a human.
When I think about a guy who’s been doing this and that, he even comes to say thank you and buys me food.”

 

“… I have?”

“Yeah right, when were you interested in people or anything other than photography?”

It was a familiar reaction.
Not only Song Jina, but most of the people Ha Joyoon met after returning home showed similar reactions.

 

As time passed, and the more people he met, he realized that he needed to re-examine the way he had been living.
Was the life of the past, when only one blindly pursued and longed for one thing, really right? Along with a somewhat depressed heart, a gloomy energy contributed to the pale complexion.
Song Jina, who recognized the emotion of the moment, raised an eyebrow. 

“You’re calm? Spirits died down? Do people change after dying and coming back to life? It’s like you’ve fallen and lost a charm you didn’t already have.”

“…….”

“Such a boring reaction? At times like this, it’s fun to trample on it.”

Ha Joyoon narrowed his eyes as he recalled Ha Junghye’s words about Song Jina being one of the first people to step up and look for him after his disappearance.
It was difficult to find the atmosphere that his sister was talking about anywhere in the way she smiled and pointed her fingers in a playful way.
It was clear that his lost heart had distorted reality.
As was the case with Shin Kwonjoo.
Ha Joyoon blinked slowly as a subtle smile made way at the incident that suddenly came to mind. 

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“More than that, are you feeling better? What went wrong that you were kept in place for 5 years?”

The tone, which was full of laughter a while ago, turned quite serious.
Song Jina’s eyes became sharp at once when she shot a nasal sound with laughter.

“Because that is the most worrying thing!”

Ha Joyoon waved his hand slowly, thinking that the bullying would continue. 

“I’m fine.
It’s because I’m fine that I’m going around and meeting people like this.”

“Well, that’s a relief.
Oh, wait a sec….”

 

At the sound of the alarm message, Song Jina blurted the end of her words and tapped the phone screen to check the content.
Before long, her brows narrowed slightly. Lee Dongjin, you bastard…. At the murmur, Ha Joyoon opened his mouth while still drooping.

We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.

“Why?” 

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Lf’r cba fnfc lc j rlaejalbc ab mjii, rb tf’r ifjnlcu j wfrrjuf.
Lf’ii mjii sbe rfqjgjafis.
Pr atja bxjs?”

“Tfjt.”

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Lj Absbbc jirb xcfk ogbw sfjgr bo fzqfglfcmf atja atf vjlis ilnfr bo pbegcjilrar kfgf erejiis ilxf kjg ktfc vbwfralm jcv obgfluc fwbalbcr kbeiv jii yf yea mbcoerfv ilxf atfrf vjsr, rb tf vlvc’a offi qjgalmeijgis vlrjqqblcafv.

“I’m so busy but I’m still here to see if you’re alive or not, leaving everything behind.
I had no time but I risked my life for this.
I might have to submit an excuse tomorrow.
Aren’t you grateful? You’re crying, right? 

“That’s right, I’m tearing up like crazy.”

“I’m just so busy these days.
Accidents happen so much everyday that I have to take naps daily.
I don’t even know when I get to go home or anything.”

Suddenly, he remembered the scene of Shin Kwonjoo’s office that he had visited recently.
At that time, he had no knowledge of the domestic situation as it hadn’t been long since he returned to Korea.
It was not until he learned through the media that all sorts of problems, such as stock price manipulation and accounting fraud by the head of an international conglomerate, the corruption gates of the rulers, and the provocation caused by the North Korean nuclear weapons program occurred at the same time, that he understood the gloomy situation of the office that was reminiscent of wartime.

Going back to the memories of that time, Ha Joyoon tapped the tip of his chin with his finger.
It was a habit of his whenever he was lost in thought.
He said he’d see him again this week, but Shin Kwonjoo didn’t contact him at all.
There had been no answer to the message that was sent after being thought over for several days. 

Is he too busy? Would it be better to send it directly to Boyle?

Song Jina slightly raised her nails and scratched the back of Ha Joyoon’s hand, who had a blank look on his face that revealed that he was thinking about something else.

“You’re not going to listen?”

Ha Joyoon smiled faintly and rubbed his eyes at the fierce voice covered in laughter. 

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“I met Sunbae-nim a few days ago.”

Sunbae? The high-toned voice was laced with confusion.
Song Jina, who had been thinking for a while, struck him on the knee.

“Oh- is it Kwonjoo Sunbae? Last year, TPA moved its Asia branch to Korea and he came in as the branch manager.
It didn’t seem like he would stay here that long since he was only supposed to be here until the branch was settled.”

“Yeah.
I heard you were the one who linked my family to Sunbae.
Thank you.” 

“Yes.
You should be thankful.
It was harder to get in touch with him than to get a scoop.
How picky and busy he is, as if he needs to do everything by himself.
It was kind of annoying, but well, the sad thing is right here.”

A calm smile stood at the tip of his lips as the embarrassing experience he had recently overlapped with a stark evaluation.
Re-all-ly.
Song Jina sighed as she stretched her words.

 

“He heard you were missing, but he didn’t even blink an eye?”

“Well, it’s not like you and Sunbae were close enough for him to be shocked over it.” 

“Still, you worked under him at one point so how could he be so cold-hearted? Anyway, in the end, Kwonjoo Sunbae took care of all the important things.
Even though he’s arrogant and rude, he still helped out in times of difficulty.
Sunbae’s connections in the media are seriously no joke.
I guess it wasn’t just a rumor that he came from a family of journalists.
He’s hot headed but still holds an influence in TPA? It was also thanks to Sunbae that we were able to reach the foreign correspondents in Syria.”

The look in Ha Joyoon’s eyes seemed to calm down as he listened to Song Jina’s words.

“There was no cooperation between the countries since it’s a civil war, so The Ministry of Foreign Affairs could only take normal measures, and since you’re not someone who holds a key position in the country, there was no way the NIS would move.
Rather, if you were taken hostage by the terrorist group, those people would have made a video with you and then the country would be interested… You were really about to be killed like a dog, you know?”

It was an explanation of the past five years and a harsh reality.
There was nothing wrong with what she said.
He nodded his head quietly, with a dark look on his face. 

“I was, huh….”

“I’m telling you to take care of yourself.
It’s not the era of Cold War, and who goes out in the middle of a civil war and takes pictures while rolling around? Who’s gonna recognize you? You’re not greedy for a Pulitzer, you’re not trying to make a name for yourself to leave it behind, so just why? You don’t know how to do things in moderation at all.”

“I won’t do that anymore.”

Ha Joyoon smiled weakly at the sincere concern.
He lost a lot, but he gained something, so he didn’t think it was meaningless.
The bitterness slowly spread over the elegant face that recognized reality and reminisced about the past. 

Song Jina, who immediately noticed the darkened atmosphere, tried to change the topic and evoke the mood.

“Did you talk properly when you met Sunbae? Did you prostrate yourself before him to say thank you?”

“I did meet him but… it was past the appointed time.”

“He’s a very busy man, so that’s probably the reason why that happened.
Whatever he does, all you should say is thank you.” 

“No, it was me.”

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Song Jina’s red lips parted in astonishment.

“Why?”

“While I was on the way, I was so focused on other things for a while that I ended up losing track of the time.” 

“Wow, you’re crazy.
You screwed over the Almighty Shin Kwonjoo.”

“It wasn’t like that….”

 

“Given his personality, he probably wanted to completely turn you into dust.
Haha, it’s totally crazy.
Come to think of it, you should come back to work.
What’s going on at the headquarters?”

“Um… they just told me to send the photos.” 

“As expected, it’s the leading TPA Communications.
What a strong professional spirit.
Pfft.”

“Stop laughing and let me talk… Song Jina….”

Confusion oozed over the neat features. Hahaha. A loud laugh, a shrill voice, a quiet ringing of laughter and a calm voice flowed between them.

Starting with the words opening themselves up one by one, the stories that filled the gaps of the time spent in not meeting each other continued.  Family, friends, alumni, work, and many other topics filled their conversation.
It was Song Jina who led most of the talk, while Ha Joyoon would just give a concise answer or quietly nod, accordingly. 

During the time he was asleep, the world around him went through a lot of things and was changing even though Ha Joyoon, himself, wasn’t doing much.
The more events that covered economy, politics, society and culture were discussed and talked about, the more Ha Joyoon realized that the hot sensation he had forcibly buried inside him still had a chance to survive little by little.

Blind passion, ideals, dreams, aspirations.
However, as soon as someone’s face automatically came up, that sensational flame quickly faded away.

Which one would I be able to throw away? Would I be able to let it go?

Abstract questions came to mind.
And so, an unsightly appearance made way as he was unable to choose anything clearly. 

It was thanks to Song Jina’s unexpected words that brought him back to reality just before he was crushed by the intense thoughts.

“Anyway, if you have a fine single friend around you then set us up on a blind date.”

“Blind date? Thought you were dating someone.”

Song Jina had an old lover who had promised to get married to her so that she didn’t have to forcefully think about it by rolling around her dull head.
Although he had never been formally introduced, her partner was also someone who worked in the same field, so he was a man he knew well because they met frequently on the go.
A face in a hazy memory rose to the surface.
The person who actually spoke up swept her flowing hair again with a calm face. 

“It’s been quite a while since we broke up.”

“Didn’t you say you were getting married?”

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“What marriage? I dated him for 10 years and found out he was cheating on me.
That’s why I ended it.”

The woman who answered calmly, smiled.
It was a cold, twisted smile, with only one corner of her lips curled.
It was a short answer, but Ha Joyoon’s lips also slightly opened due to the strange sense that something was making its way through.
A cold silence fell in an instant. 

“Are you okay?”

It was a silly question that lacked understanding of the situation.
As if to prove him, Song Jina’s wrinkles between her eyebrows deepened.

 

“It’s because I’m fine that I’m here with you.”

“How did you get over it?” 

“What do you mean get over it? I told you he cheated on me.
It was the worst.
I got addicted to alcohol for a while, and I barely woke up from it after hearing about you.
I guess I just wanted to forget everything back then, so I was more addicted to work.
Your matter… helped in that context.
I just wanted to hang on to something.
To be honest, I felt embarrassed getting thanked by Junghye unnie.”

“…….”

Ha Joyoon, who was staring at her, asked the question again.

“Are you really okay now?” 

When asked the same question as before, Song Jina turned over her phone with a strong hand.

“What did you hear me say?”

The questioning voice was laced with irritation.
But Ha Joyoon was genuinely curious. How long does it take, how do I forget, and how do I get better?

“How long does it take to be okay?” 

“What?”

“What do you usually do if you just can’t forget?”

“Hey, Ha Joyoon… what’s wrong with you?”

“I’m completely at a loss here.” 

As the questions continued, Song Jina’s tone of answering them seemed to be one of embarrassment. Hey, Yoon-ah. Despite her calling him out, there was no expression on his face that had lost its color.

He knew nothing but love.
Kang Taejung was the only person he loved.
Other than him, no one else had ever entered Ha Joyoon’s heart.
He didn’t even know how to get over him since it was a breakup he had never experienced before.
After holding it in for several days, his head began to complain of headaches again.

“Idiot.
Would I be asking you to set me up on a blind date if I knew the answer to that?”

Song Jina, who sensed the other person’s abnormal mood, broke the silence with a more mellow tone.
After that, the conversation didn’t go well for a long time. 

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