“The Korean Martial Assembly, is it…” Hwang Jeong-Hu stared at the report submitted by Jo Gyu-Min and sighed deeply.
“And then, there ’s this Yeongnam Group, too?”

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Jo Gyu-Min nodded.
“Yes, sir.”

Hwang Jeong-Hu didn ’t even bother to peruse the report and practically dropped it on his desk before leaning back on his chair.
“Let me ask you, Gyu-Min.
Do you know how I managed to survive that blood-soaked scary military dictatorship and get this far?”

“All I know is that you went through some terrible ordeal, sir.”

I should be grateful that I somehow got to keep my head.
Those days were that kind of an era, after all.
If I hadn ’t resisted those people back then, I could have grown my corporation to a behemoth now, one big enough to laugh at Jaegyeong ’s current scale.
However, folks who did that failed to survive, and I ’m still here.
Do you know the difference between them and me?”

“No, sir.
I don ’t.”

Hwang Jeong-Hu tutted quietly.
“I didn ’t get involved in unnecessary things.”


“Being aware of the zeitgeist is necessary, sure.
But that is something for an individual.
As a businessman, I should be worrying about how to increase revenue, how to look after the welfare of my employees, and how to continue growing and expanding our business…
Well, something like that.”

Jo Gyu-Min silently nodded away.

“You can certainly protest against the unfairness.
However, that ’s not the duty of the businessman Hwang Jeong-Hu, but the individual named Hwang Jeong-Hu.
As the owner of a business entity, I have to ensure my actions won’t harm the company.
Why? I ’m not the only one making a living through this company, that ’s why.”

“Sir, I do understand your point.”

“Good…” Hwang Jeong-Hu sighed before mouthing a cigarette.
“It can ’t be helped if you think you definitely need to get involved in this matter.
However, if you do so while acting as the Jaegyeong Corporation ’s Chief Secretary…
I want you to think deeply about whether your involvement is for the good of the corporation or not and if it ’s worth the risk.

“Yes, sir.”

Hwang Jeong-Hu lit up his cigarette, then glanced at the report.
“Looks like we got entangled in something we shouldn ’t have gotten involved in.”

“Unfortunately, yes, sir.”

“There are no secrets in this world, Gyu-Min.
And if some secrets are still being hidden, then that means those secrets haven ’t been uncovered just yet.”

Jo Gyu-Min nodded again.
The chairman ’s assertion was right.
Jo Gyu-Min had no idea about their existence until recently, but here he was, openly discussing them.
Wouldn ’t it become dangerous?”

Hwang Jeong-Hu asked, “Dangerous for who?”

“Mister Jin-Ho, sir.”

The expression floating up on Hwang Jeong-Hu ’s face at that moment was truly strange.
From one angle, he seemed a bit dismayed.
From another, he seemed to be seriously pondering something.
However, even Jo Gyu-Min could clearly tell that none of the thoughts in the chairman ’s mind was on the positive end of the spectrum.

“You shouldn ’t be worried about Kang Jin-Ho, but Jaegyeong, Gyu-Min.
No matter what happens to him, that kid can look after himself.
But Jaegyeong can ’t do that.
It won ’t have a way out.”

Jo Gyu-Min quietly nodded in understanding.

Hwang Jeong-Hu coughed to clear his throat.
“By the way…”

“Yes, sir?”

”How are things going with that pizzeria? ”

“Well, that…” Jo Gyu-Min scratched the back of his head.
“Sir, it ’s not definite yet, but it seems to be heading toward bankruptcy.”

“Is that right?” Hwang Jeong-Hu cackled away.
“Damn brat.
I guess he ’s gonna go through some hard times for once.”

“You look pleased for some reason, sir.”

“How can I not be pleased when a brat who always succeeds in his tasks will finally taste failure? I ’m sure he ’ll finally realize how excellent of a businessman I am.”

’I guess he ’s been frustrated, huh… ’

Jo Gyu-Min could only make a cramped smile.
This shouldn ’t be so surprising, though.
Even someone like Hwang Jeong-Hu would be dissatisfied.
After all, the masses respected him as a businessman and one of Korea ’s wise elders.
Even if one excluded his character, his achievements alone were worthy of all the respect in the world.

However, Kang Jin-Ho was an exception.
He seemed totally unimpressed by Hwang Jeong-Hu ’s status and would sometimes treat the chairman as a neighborhood grandpa or some such.

’Yup, no wonder he ’s dissatisfied. ’

Anyone alive would harbor some pride in things they had achieved.
Especially so with someone like Hwang Jeong-Hu, who had to be intensely proud of Jaegyeong and his own personal achievements.
People often said that he had definitely gone through all sorts of inhumane hardships to become one of the most successful men in the country, after all!

But now, a brat he had been eyeing as a potential successor was too blasé about Hwang Jeong-Hu ’s achievement.
At first, such an attitude was brushed aside with genial chuckles.
However, it had been several years since then.
As such, Hwang Jeong-Hu was starting to express a little bit of his dissatisfaction.

Jo Gyu-Min found this sight quite weird to behold but also rather amusing.
While hiding his inner thoughts, he addressed Hwang Jeong-Hu.
“However, sir…
If I ’m being honest, I ’m slightly worried about this situation.
Doesn’t it mean that Mister Jin-Ho isn ’t as capable as we thought?”

“Not as capable as we thought, eh?” Hwang Jeong-Hu stared quizzically at Jo Gyu-Min.

However, his response only confused Jo Gyu-Min.
“Sir? Didn ’t we start this venture to gauge Mister Jin-Ho ’s capabilities to run a corporation?”

“Well, yes…”

“In that case, doesn ’t this mean the evaluation is as good as over?”

Hwang Jeong-Hu smirked.
“Look here, Gyu-Min.”

“Yes, Chairman.”

“Folks can still mess up running a corner convenience store.”

“That is true, sir…”

Hwang Jeong-Hu stubbed the cigarette out.
”You know what is the most common mistake made by successful old men? ”

Jo Gyu-Min couldn ’t reply.
He could only stare at Hwang Jeong-Hu in silence.
It was very clear whom he meant by the category ’successful old men.’

“That ’s having the mindset of, ’Since I worked hard and became successful myself, others can also be successful as long as they put enough effort. ’ That ’s it.
You see, most success is not related to your blood, sweat and tears.
They are decided on something as simple as luck.”

Jo Gyu-Min had no idea how to respond here.
If he agreed, it would be the same as belittling Hwang Jeong-Hu ’s achievements.
On the other hand, disagreeing would be the same as calling Hwang Jeong-Hu out to his face.

However, Jo Gyu-Min was a wise man.
He knew what had to be done in situations like this one—he simply had to keep his trap shut.

“Tell me, Gyu-Min.
If I go back in time, do you think I ’ll be able to build another company and raise it to the same level as Jaegyeong?”

“Of course, sir.”

’No one knows ’ is the correct answer.”


“You must not think that your success came about all thanks to your own capabilities.
It is unwise to omit the fact that divine luck had been with you.”

“M-mm…” Jo Gyu-Min weightily nodded.
Whether that assertion was right or wrong didn ’t matter to him right now.
Just the fact that someone like Hwang Jeong-Hu would think that way was beyond the realm of impressive and straight into ’scary.’

Hwang Jeong-Hu continued, “It ’s obvious that a kid with no business experience or knowledge will bankrupt his store.
Demanding someone with zero knowledge to show their capabilities in that subject matter is not being expectant.
No, that ’s being delusional.”

“In that case, why did you…?” Jo Gyu-Min couldn ’t understand Hwang Jeong-Hu and had to ask.
If that were the chairman ’s opinion, why let Kang Jin-Ho open his own business? Hadn’t they done all those so that Kang Jin-Ho could taste his first real failure?

Hwang Jeong-Hu noticed Jo Gyu-Min ’s puzzled expression and tutted loudly in dissatisfaction.
“Haven ’t you been listening to what I said?”

“…My apologies, sir.”

“What I wanted to see weren ’t Kang Jin-Ho ’s capabilities.
No, wait.
In a way, it should be seen as a part of his capabilities, too.
However, it ’s not what you think, Gyu-Min.”


“Obviously, a dedicated professional manager will be better than you when it comes to running a business.
If you wish for someone without a clue to be better at a job than another person who had studied and dedicated themselves to that subject matter, you ’re being way too unreasonable.
What I want to see from that kid isn ’t that, but…
How should I say this? His savviness? How lucky he is? Things like that.”

“But sir, that ’s just too vague.”

“Vague, is it? Not really.
Simply put, I ’m trying to see what kind of a result he ’ll give us by utilizing whatever he got aside from his business acumen.
Indeed, I ’m waiting to see what will remain at the end.
In short, the result matters.”

Jo Gyu-Min mindlessly nodded along.
It was too tough for him to understand Hwang Jeong-Hu ’s business philosophy.
He was merely a support staff rather than a manager, after all.

’Then again, how many people in this country can understand even half of our chairman ’s business philosophy? ’

Someone as lofty as Hwang Jeong-Hu was anticipating something from Kang Jin-Ho.
And that fact was making Jo Gyu-Min ’s heart race.


Lee Hyeon-Ju on the phone spoke first.

– I ’ve sent all the relevant information via email.

“Thank you,” Kang Jin-Ho replied in a relaxed manner.

– Excluding some information we can ’t expose, I ’ve sent them all.


– I have a request.
If you ’re about to clash with those people…
Can ’t you give our side a call first?

“And why should I do that?”

– So we can deal with the aftermath, Mister Kang.

“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t say anything else other than a groan as if something were bothering him.

Lee Hyeon-Ju urgently explained herself.

– We ’re not trying to monitor you, Mister Kang.
This matter involves our survival, you know? If the wider world learns about us due to the serious scale of your clash against the Yeongnam Group…
That will generate massive shockwaves.
And surely, that will make your life rather difficult as well?

Kang Jin-Ho silently nodded.
He agreed with her assessment.
Lee Hyeon-Ju was correct.

What would happen if regular people learned about the existence of martial artists living among them? Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t be sure, but the shockwave sweeping across the world should be more intense than, say, the news of a pandemic breaking out.

“…I ’ll consider it.”

– I ’m sure you ’ll see for yourself in the provided information, but well, please remember that the Yeongnam Group is not a pushover.
And it ’s definitely not something an individual could deal with.
Since you demanded information, I have given them to you, but you should stop believing that you alone can do something to that group.

Kang Jin-Ho smirked at that.
It was silent, so Lee Hyeon-Ju wouldn ’t know he smirked at her over the phone.

– I ’m not trying to belittle your abilities, Mister Kang Jin-Ho.
It ’s just that no lone individual in this world can fight against an organization of that size.
You know this, don ’t you?

No one in this world, was it…
Kang Jin-Ho wasn ’t immature enough to suddenly get triggered by that, but he still grew curious about something.
What if he lost himself like before and charged straight at the Yeongnam Group? What kind of a face would Lee Hyeon-Ju make, then?

Kang Jin-Ho got rid of the mischievous thought in his head and replied, “Yes, I do.
For now, thank you for the advice.”

– What will you do from now on?

“Not sure.
I haven ’t decided on anything yet.”

-In that case, may I make a suggestion? How about stopping by our HQ once?

“…I ’ll also have to think about that.
Well, then.
Goodbye.” Kang Jin-Ho ended the call.
He shoved his phone inside his pocket and started walking away.

’The Yeongnam Group and the Martial Assembly… ’

Kang Jin-Ho frowned slightly.
Lately, he was finding it a little difficult to maintain an equilibrium in his life.
In the past, he could separate the version of himself belonging to the modern era from the version of himself with his toes dipped in the world of martial arts.
However, that boundary seemed to be gradually crumbling these days.

The idea was to prevent the world in the shadows from impacting Kang Jin-Ho ’s other reality, but maintaining the balance was getting harder and harder as time went on.
One only had to look at the last incident involving Kang Eun-Yeong to see that.

Kang Jin-Ho shook his head and quickened his pace.

’Am I late? ’

He wanted to get there early, so he tried to get a move on, but he got more delayed than he thought.
After locating the meeting place, the cafe, Kang Jin-Ho trotted over there and stepped inside.

’Where is she? ’

He scanned the interior but couldn ’t find his date for the day.
However, just as he thought, ‘Great, I wasn ’t late, after all,’ a figure by the corner of the cafe suddenly got up and waved her hand toward Kang Jin-Ho.

Even before he could greet Choi Yeon-Ha, her shrill yell dug into his ears.

“You ’re late!”

Kang Jin-Ho ’s cheeks trembled a little.

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