The president approached Gun-Ho who was kneeling on the floor. He bent and pinched Gun-Ho’s cheek with his thumb and index finger and wagged it.
“You, what did you do with the company money? You invested in stocks, didn’t you?”
“Gun-Ho didn’t answer.
“You put the entire money you took back to the company account because you made some money out of it, huh? How much did you make? Several million won? Or a few ten million won?”
“No, that’s not true. I was thinking of using the money I withdrew, but I got so scared that I didn’t use the money at all. That’s why I put it back to the company’s account.”
“Don’t lie to me you pervert! I can’t look into your personal account, but I can file a report against you. So the police can look into your account to investigate.”
Gun-Ho recoiled from the idea that the police would have access to his bank statement, and the money he made would be revealed.
“You idiot, didn’t you know that you would be held liable for using the company money even though you didn’t cause any loss to the company?”
The president sighed and went back to his chair to sit in it.
“Since you touched the company money, I can’t let you work here.”
“I am so sorry, sir. I indeed wanted to assist you in any way I could, but things happened like this.”
Gun-Ho’s voice was trembling.
“Once you leave this company, do not ever work in the accounting field. You touched the company’s money. You will likely do it again. You will eventually find yourself in big trouble. If you didn’t make any money out of it and rather lost some, our company would have faced a big problem and you… you would have ruined your life.
The president grabbed the bottle of water from his desk and started to gulp down water. He then leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment before he grabbed his cell phone and called someone.
“Manager Kim? It’s me. I am sorry to bother you during your maternity leave.”
Gun-Ho felt relieved when he heard the president talking to Manager Kim; he thought the president was calling the police.
“Mr. Gun-Ho Goo is leaving us for personal reasons. I was wondering if you could come to work until we find someone else to fill in the position.”
Gun-Ho could hear Manager Kim’s voice over the phone.
“As a matter of fact, I’ve been feeling so bored at home and I was wondering how things are going at work. I will come to work tomorrow.”
“You don’t have to work a lot. Maybe you could come and work in the morning just to handle funds related work. That will be enough.”
“No, that’s fine, sir. My mom is staying with me to help me take care of the baby. I can come to work. It’s totally fine. It has been a month already.”
“A month already? The baby must have grown a lot already and really cute. Then let’s make it a part-time work for mornings only.”
“Sounds good. I will see you tomorrow then.”
After getting off the phone with Manager Kim, the president turned around to look at Gun-Ho.
“Get up. You look hideous f*cking kneeling on the floor.”
“I am so so so sorry, sir.”
The president sat back in his chair. His eyes were closed while he was drinking his water. He looked exhausted. Gun-Ho was still in a kneeling position with his head down. They both stayed that way while being silent for a few minutes. Finally, the president talked slowly in a low voice.
“What’s done is done. We don’t want to make a big fuss about the situation. It won’t do any good for any of us. Since the company didn’t sustain any financial loss, let’s put an end to it. We both don’t want it to become known. Let’s keep this between you and me.”
“I am terribly sorry.”
Gun-Ho lied on his face down on the floor in the president’ office. Tears welled up in his eyes.
The president looked into a blank space. He then closed his eyes before talking again.
“Make the cash withdrawal that you made on the 5th and the 6th look like it was withdrawn by the company’s president. The deposit on the 20th would be the return of the money I withdrew earlier. Gun-Ho Goo leaves the company the day after tomorrow once he hands over the work to Manager Kim when she comes to work tomorrow.”
Gun-Ho was choked with tears by what the president had said.
“Thank you, sir. Thank you. I will never forget your generosity.”
Gun-Ho cried while his face was lying down on the president’s office floor. He felt relieved thinking that he could keep the 530 million won in his bank account while sobbing continuously.
After Gun-Ho handed over the work to Manager Kim, he packed his stuff in his OneRoomTel room. It was a windy day when he headed to Seoul with his belongings loaded in his car. On the way to Seoul, he stopped the car around Seonghwan Town. He then bowed deeply towards the Shingbong Town, Dunpo, Asan where the YS Tech Corp. was located.
“If I ever succeed in life, I will come and visit you.”
Four months ago, Gun-Ho was singing Bohemian Rhapsody when he was on his way to Dunpo, Asan. At that time, he was so excited about getting the job. But now, it felt a bit different. He felt like he was bearing a heavy burden on his shoulders. Gun-Ho took out his bankbook from the inner pocket of his jacket.
“530 million won! This is my money!”
Gun-Ho had never had this amount of money before. He thought of his father and relatives. They had never touched this much money in their lives either.
“Where in Seoul should I head to? Noryangjin is the only town I know in Seoul, where I studied for the level-9 government job exam. Let’s go there for now!”
Gun-Ho arrived at Noryangjin, and he rented a room on the second floor of a townhouse behind the Dongjak District Office. It had a private bathroom and a kitchen.
“I paid ten million won for a security deposit with a monthly rent of 500,000 won. It’s a lousy room for its price.”
The house was old but the room was large.
“The room in Gwangjeok Town in Yangju City was the best. This room is more expensive than that room in Yangju but it is shabby… However, this room should be better than the rooms those people who are preparing for the government job exam have. They can’t afford to have a large room like this.”
The room Gun-Ho rented this time didn’t come with any option. He had to get a refrigerator and a washer on his own. He bought the used ones. He even had to buy a rice cooker and a table; he also purchased used ones. He didn’t have to buy a desk though. The person who used to live there left a desk behind.
“I spent 10 million won out of the 530 million won in my account for the room security deposit. So I have 520 million won left. Let’s start by paying off my debt tomorrow. I have the sunshine loan and student loan.”
Gun-Ho paid off his sunshine loan and student loan. He canceled the Revolving on his credit card debt and paid off the credit card as well. He had 500 million won left after he spent 20 million won for paying off all his debt.
“I shouldn’t waste any more of this money. It is precious money.”
Gun-Ho thought of his future while laying down in his room.
“Should I try the level-9 government job exam again since I am in Noryangjin now? If I study for the next two years, then I will be 34… If I could start working as a government employee from the age of 35, it’s too late to grow in that career. Moreover, there is no guarantee that I will pass the exam this time…”
Gun-Ho then thought about starting his own business.
“What if I move to Incheon where my parents are? Buy a condo there and start a roasted chicken restaurant or a bakery? Maybe I should keep the 500 million won in the bank and work in a factory or get a job again in accounting.”
Gun-Ho thought of all the options he could think of but nothing particular attracted him. Just at that moment, Gun-Ho received a call from Jong-Suk.
“What are you doing? Watching an adult video?”
“No. I came to Seoul. I am in Noryangjin right now.”
“Noryangjin? Really? Are you going to prepare for the government job exam again?”
“No. I am thinking of starting my own business—like a small store.”
“A store? Do you have money for that?”
“I don’t have money but there is someone who wants to invest in my business.”
“It’s really risky to start a business with someone else’s money. You don’t even have any experience in running a business.”
“I don’t know.”
“You have to be really careful in starting your own business. There are tons of people who miserably failed.”
“I know that. So I am still thinking.”
“You should ask your classmate, Suk-Ho then.”
“Suk-Ho? What does he do? How come you know about my classmates more than I do?”
“That’s because you don’t go out a lot. Suk-Ho bro is running a bar at Gyeongridan Street in the Itaewon Town.”
“Really? I believe his father was a soldier in the military.”
“That’s right. I heard he is doing good and making a lot of money. You should go see him.”
Gun-Ho remembered that he had a fight with Suk-Ho when he was in high school. It could be awkward to see him now, but he still decided to meet him.