Descent of the Demon Master - Chapter 34
Chapter 34. Getting Help (3)
The staffroom’s atmosphere was prickly, to say the least.
“It’s Kang Jin-Ho. I’m coming in.”
Kang Jin-Ho opened the door to the staffroom and stepped inside.
But that only earned him a sharp glare from his homeroom teacher, Kim Seong-Ju. “Why did you come here, Jin-Ho?!”
“But, sir. I was summoned here.”
“It’s fine now, so you can go back to class! Besides, who told you to come here?!”
Gong Ik-Hyeon raised his voice to butt in just then. “I called him here, Teacher Kim!”
“Teacher Gong, this matter involves only us, the teachers! There’s no need to get a student involved in the…”
“We should also hear from the person in question, don’t you think so?”
“Look here, Teacher Gong!”
Gong Ik-Hyeon ignored Kim Seong-Ju’s protests and directly asked Kang Jin-Ho, “Student Jin-Ho, let me ask you something.”
“You got into an automobile accident recently, right?”
“Yes.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded without holding back as there was no reason to hide that fact.
Gong Ik-Hyeon narrowed his eyes. “When did you return to school?”
“I am not following—”
“I’m asking you when you got discharged from the hospital and returned to school.”
Kang Jin-Ho finally realized what was going on.
His first day back in school happened to be the last day of the midterms. His test scores were unsurprisingly rubbish since he had forgotten most of the modern-era education he had received in his teens. Teacher Kim Seong-Ju found it pitiful for one of his student’s grades to fall like that, so he changed the attendance records to say that Kang Jin-Ho wasn’t in school that day.
The school policy said that a student missing school due to an illness or accident would automatically get 80% of the previous test’s result. Kim Seong-Ju chose to invoke that policy since that 80% was still way better than Kang Jin-Ho’s mid-term test results.
But strictly speaking—that was a manipulation of a student’s grades. Kang Jin-Ho had definitely taken the exam; there was no getting away from that fact. However, his poor results had been manipulated to make it look like he had gotten good scores.
Kang Jin-Ho now knew what the issue was, but he still couldn’t bring himself to lie. He never liked the idea of lying, to begin with. Moreover, lying at this stage would be pointless as there were plenty of witnesses anyways.
He quietly replied, “It was on the last day of the midterms.”
His answer triggered hushed whispers and murmurs to circulate in the staffroom. The teachers here already knew what had happened, but hearing it from the proverbial horse’s mouth still imparted a different kind of impression.
Gong Ik-Hyeon made a contemplative expression. “The last day of the midterms, huh… In that case, the tests would’ve been English, physics, and Han-mun, right?”
“And you took all three tests, correct?”
Gong Ik-Hyeon turned his head and stared at Kim Seong-Ju. “So he says.”
Kim Seong-Ju frowned deeply. “I’ve already said as much, haven’t I, Teacher Gong? What’s the point of confirming it again?”
“Teacher Kim. Regardless of your original intention, what you have done is clearly a case of grade manipulation. Because you tampered with the grades, several dozen other students ended up losing their places on the school’s academic ranking!”
“N-no, wait a minute…”
“Is Kang Jin-Ho the only student in your class, Teacher Kim? Can’t you see that your actions of protecting Kang Jin-Ho have caused irreparable harm to other kids?!”
Kim Seong-Ju could only sigh at that. He had only done what he did after finding Kang Jin-Ho’s situation rather unfortunate. But that didn’t seem like a good enough excuse to defend himself. Gong Ik-Hyeon’s line of thinking wasn’t wrong, after all. No, wait—the dean of students was actually making a perfectly sound argument here.
Kim Seong-Ju tried to say something. “I was just…”
“That’s enough, Teacher Kim.” The principal cut him off while getting up from his chair. “I now have a good grasp on the situation. This matter is no longer something that can be discussed in the staffroom. I shall convene a school meeting same time tomorrow and discuss the appropriate punishment for Teacher Kim Seong-Ju and Student Kang Jin-Ho.”
“But Mister Principal!”
“I’m trying to uphold our school’s regulation here, Teacher Kim! I understand what you were trying to do, but that doesn’t mean we must let it slide. Our priority might be the children’s education, but don’t forget that teaching them about upholding the rules is a part of our duty, too!”
“…Yes, Mister Principal.” Kim Seong-Hu’s head powerlessly lowered.
Kang Jin-Ho watching this scene unfold could only sigh under his breath. He had a pretty good idea why this matter resurfaced at this time. This was most likely Chief Director Choi Myeong-Gil’s handiwork.
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head slightly and asked, “Well, then. Can I go now?”
The principal was slightly surprised by that question. Any student witnessing something like this would go pale from fright, but Kang Jin-Ho was different. This boy didn’t even bat an eye once. Didn’t he behave the same the last time, too? Back when the Chief Director showed up, and when the police came to arrest him? Despite going through all that experience, Kang Jin-Ho remained unruffled and calmly navigated through the situation.
‘Is he just slow-witted, or ballsy? I can’t tell.’
The principal frowned slightly before replying, “Yes, you can leave.”
Kang Jin-Ho stepped outside the staffroom, then closed the door behind him. “Whew…”
Another sigh left his mouth.
Kang Jin-Ho wasn’t worried about getting punished. In fact, he couldn’t care any less even if the school management told him to get lost right now. However, his main concern was his parents and their disappointment and sorrow. Of course, his ordinary life that had just barely found its footing would also go out of whack again.
“Choi Myeong-Gil…” Kang Jin-Ho quietly mouthed the Chief Director’s name.
Back then, he didn’t expect that he would have any further interaction with this man, but now, the latter had become the biggest obstacle in his new life.
Kang Jin-Ho’s eyes became withdrawn. For now, he would have to wait. Making a hasty move now could cause problems not just for him, but for his homeroom teacher Kim Seong-Ju as well.
“…I shall observe for the time being.”
He decided to wait and see just how far those people were willing to take this. And if this matter reached the limit of Kang Jin-Ho’s patience, then… Choi Myeong-Gil would also have to welcome a ‘visitor’ soon.
Of course, that visitor wouldn’t be Kang Jin-Ho—it would be Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor who would come to say hello to him in the middle of the night.
Kang Jin-Ho’s withdrawn eyes coldly gleamed as he slowly returned to his class.
“Are you done investigating?” Chairman Hwang Jeong-Hu asked in a stern voice.
Jo Gyu-Min tensed up and stared at his boss. It hadn’t even been a week since Hwang Jeong-Hu made his triumphant return. But he was already stabilizing the company at a breakneck pace. The Jaegyeong Group was returning to its old self as if Hwang Jeong-Hu’s absence for the past year-and-half had never happened in the first place.
Indeed, Hwang Jeong-Hu’s reputation was well-deserved.
His three sons weren’t sucking on their thumbs doing nothing while he was sick. They were obviously doing their best to protect the company. Even then… The atmosphere within the company now was remarkably different from when those three were in charge.
The presence of a trusted leader was enough to transform the attitude of all the employees.
‘Is this what they call the leader’s charisma?’
Jo Gyu-Min thought.
It wasn’t as if Hwang Jeong-Hu had initiated a special measure to save the failing company. His return alone was enough to revitalize the company like a shot of medicine, and everything was now clicking back to its original position.
“Yes, Chairman. Here,” said Jo Gyu-Min while handing over a stack of reports.
Hwang Jeong-Hu cocked an eyebrow. “You still write up physical reports like this?”
“Sir? What do you mean?”
“Do you think we bought those computers to use as paperweights? We specifically installed the electronic reporting system for you lot. But to think that it’s the young ones who are reluctant to use it instead of the old…”
Jo Gyu-Min was slightly taken aback at that. Hwang Jeong-Hu was almost seventy. Considering when computers became popular in Korea’s corporate environment, the Chairman must have only learned how to use computers in his early fifties.
Most chairmen or chairwomen in that age bracket would stubbornly stick to the old ways of doing things. Jo Gyu-Min was well aware that old folks who had reached the summit of their respective fields were usually reluctant to learn new things if they could help it. This was why he chose to compile a physical set of documents as his report.
As it turned out, Hwang Jeong-Hu wasn’t one of those old folks. He was a businessman who desired change and progress more than anyone else.
Jo Gyu-Min bowed his head. “I shall report electronically from now on, sir.”
“Hmm…” Hwang Jeong-Hu nodded, then began perusing the report. “Is this everything?”
“Yes, Chairman. According to my investigation, this is all there is to find about Kang Jin-Ho.”
“…I see that he’s rather ordinary.”
Jo Gyu-Min was also puzzled about that very point. The more he investigated, the less important this Kang Jin-Ho seemed to be. As a matter of fact, that boy was just another high school student commonly found everywhere. No more, no less.
So, the question was… Why was Chairman Hwang Jeong-Hu so interested in such a normal student? Why did he say ominous things like how that boy was holding his lifeline or something?
Hwang Jeong-Hu asked while still reading the report, “Were there any other notable things about the boy?”
“Sir? When you say other notable things…?”
“For instance, the way he behaves. Or the way he carries himself… Something unquantifiable like that.”
Jo Gyu-Min hesitated slightly before replying, “Sir. He was involved in a car accident recently.”
“Yes, I can see it in the report.”
“And some people have noted that his personality changed after the accident, sir.”
“His personality, is it?”
“Yes, sir. He used to be cheerful and energetic, but he became less talkative and somewhat moodier after the accident. Apparently, he’s starting to revert back to his old self these days. It might be nothing more than a temporary change due to a serious accident, sir. However…”
Jo Gyu-Min swallowed his saliva first before replying to the Chairman, “He… The boy gives off strange vibes, sir.”
“Strange vibes? How so?” Hwang Jeong-Hu seemed intrigued by that reply.
“I wanted to see what the actual person was like, not the one on the paper, so I tried to tail him a couple of times, sir. But… It felt like I was the one being monitored, not the other way around.”
“Wait, you were the one tailing the boy, yet you thought you were being monitored instead?”
“I know it sounds strange, sir. But that’s what it really felt like.”
“I see.” Hwang Jeong-Hu nodded, then began reading the second report. “Hmm? Dongmyeong Foundation, is it?”
“Yes, Chairman. It’s the educational foundation running the high school where Kang Jin-Ho is studying.”
“And… This old fart of a Chief Director is trying to harm Kang Jin-Ho, is that it?”
“Yes, sir. It seems that Kang Jin-Ho had an issue with that man’s grandson. It has already gone beyond the level of harming Kang Jin-Ho, sir. That Chief Director even pressured the companies Kang Jin-Ho’s parents had worked for and got them fired as well. The boy’s parents have found new jobs, but the Chief Director seems to be making another move against them.”
“Is that right?” A grin slowly formed on Hwang Jeong-Hu’s face.
Jo Gyu-Min found that grin somewhat frightening.
Hwang Jeong-Hu nodded. “Good work.”
“Thank you, sir.”
‘The Chairman has praised me!’
Jo Gyu-Min felt his heart flutter. But all of a sudden, he had an epiphany—he had finally figured out why Hwang Jeong-Hu’s subordinates that had gone through the proverbial thick and thin with him were so loyal to him. Such praise shouldn’t have meant anything important, yet Jo Gyu-Min still felt his emotions boil with excitement.
Hwang Jeong-Hu happily muttered, “This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. With this, I might score some brownie points with him.”
“…?” Jo Gyu-Min couldn’t understand, but he still chose to bow his head.
“Have you investigated this Dongmyeong Foundation, too?”
“I haven’t compiled a report yet, sir. I thought it was not as urgent, sir. However, I made sure to collect all the relevant information.”
“And so? Are they iron-tight?”
“Financially, yes, they are. However, it’s only their finances that look iron-tight, sir. They seem to be rife with corruption. As such, even a little nudge at the right spot will bring the whole thing down, sir.”
“Is that right? In that case…” Hwang Jeong-Hu slowly nodded. Then, he got up from his large chair. “Let’s get going.”
“Sir?” Jo Gyu-Min stared blankly at his boss. Where on earth were they supposed to go? “Chairman, I… I’m not sure where you’d like to go, sir.”
“That’s disappointing.” Hwang Jeong-Hu knocked Jo Gyu-Min’s head lightly. “A young man like you shouldn’t be such a slow-witted fella. Obviously, we’re going to Dongmyeong High. Where else should we go then?”
“Sir? You mean, right now?”
“Some things in this world shouldn’t be delayed. It’ll only lead to a loss if you do. Right now, it’s time to make a move. I have a hunch, you see.”
“Allow me to accompany you, sir.” Jo Gyu-Min quickly stepped in front of Hwang Jeong-Hu before leading the way.
The grand doorway of the Chairman’s office opened wide. When Hwang Jeong-Hu stepped outside, the company’s employees and the secretaries manning their posts hurriedly got up and bowed their heads deeply in his direction.
Hwang Jeong-Hu wordlessly studied them while walking toward his exclusive elevator.
Whether it was the company or the superficial customs like this… They were all outdated in his view. Hwang Jeong-Hu might be an old man now, but he still felt sick and tired of such things.
‘No. I shouldn’t rush things. Indeed, this sandcastle had been the result of my hastiness. I should gradually secure and widen the foundation first.’
For now, it was time to build the most important foundation of them all—Kang Jin-Ho. His existence should become the most important foundation for the Jaegyeong Group.
Hwang Jeong-Hu felt certain of his thoughts, so he picked up his pace.
1. Classical Chinese in the Korean context ☜