Descent of the Demon Master - Chapter 57
Chapter 57. Enrollment (1)
“What’s this?” Kang Jin-Ho asked while pointing to a large white object before his eyes.
Jo Gyu-Min replied with a bright smile, “It’s a present, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
“Yes. A present to commemorate your enrollment at our university. You got in through your own efforts, so it’s only right that you get a reward for all your hard work,” said Jo Gyu-Min in a deeply-pleased tone. From his facial expression and manner of speech, one could even get the impression that he was responsible for Kang Jin-Ho’s success. Then again, that assertion wasn’t exactly wrong. Without his help, Kang Jin-Ho wouldn’t have gotten good-enough grades to enter the university.
“But… a present like this?” Kang Jin-Ho scanned the ‘present’ with narrowed eyes.
“Yes. Presents like this are rather common these days.”
Kang Jin-Ho rubbed his chin.
‘So, the present is this whole thing, right? Not something inside it, but the whole thing.’
He continued to scan the gleaming object before him, then turned his head to Jo Gyu-Min. “So… the present is a car?”
“You passed your driver’s license, after all. That’s why the chairman specially prepared it for you. So? What do you think?”
A car as a gift, was it? To celebrate getting into a university, no less?
Kang Jin-Ho recalled hearing about such stories. Of course, he thought that giving someone a car as a present was a bit over the top no matter the occasion. But who was he to criticize a stranger spending their money how they want? The poor being conservative with their spending would be seen by others as being sensible, but if the wealthy did the same, they would be labeled as scrooges, instead.
At least, that was what Kang Jin-Ho used to think. But now…
There was a limit to everything, wasn’t there?
“Doesn’t this car look quite expensive?”
Jo Gyu-Min grinned. “Not really.”
“Is that so? But that can’t be right…”
The car in front of Kang Jin-Ho was painted pure white and it was low to the ground. It was so low, in fact, that the vehicle looked more like a fighter jet or some kind of a UFO. Especially when viewed from the front; the low, wide grille and the sleek, pointy lines of its bumper wouldn’t look good on an ordinary car.
How should one go about describing this? Its design would make all the passersby stop and do a double-take to see what it was? Like that?
“It’s a Lamborghini Aventador, Mr. Jin-Ho. Since Lamborghini has a backlog of orders that could lead to a delay in getting your vehicle, we paid a premium to the customer at the top of the waiting list and got his allocation for you. Thankfully, the car was ordered in the Bianco Isi paint. What do you think? Do you like the color?”
“Are you telling me there are people in our country that drive cars like this?”
“Sounds like you’re underestimating Korea’s wealthy, Mr. Jin-Ho. There must be quite a few Lambos in our country.”
“Seriously? Cars like this?”
“Yes. Over a dozen Aventadors are registered in Korea the last time I checked, Mr. Jin-Ho. We initially wondered whether we should get you the limited-edition models like Centenario or Reventón, but the idea of letting you ride around in what’s basically a second-hand car didn’t sit well with us. So we decided on a regular Aventador instead, even if it’s not as rare as those two.”
“Cen… Cen… what?”
What kind of a name was that?
“No need to worry about that, Mr. Jin-Ho. In any case. Looks like we’ve made the right call with this particular car.”
“Was that the chairman’s opinion?”
“No, it’s mine.”
Kang Jin-Ho frowned at that reply. “Mr. Gyu-Min, please take this car back.”
“Take it back to the chairman, then please tell him that I’m grateful for the sentiment. But this is too much for me. If he’s dead-set on giving me a car, then tell him that I’m fine with a simple locally-made hatchback or something. If returning it to the manufacturer isn’t an option, sell it to someone who wants it.”
Jo Gyu-Min stared at Kang Jin-Ho in a daze. What was he even talking about here? “You want to return this car to the maker, then get a Korean-made car instead?”
Jo Gyu-Min was rendered completely speechless. Then again, he could see how much of a burden an unexpected gift like this would be to someone. If Jo Gyu-Min was in Kang Jin-Ho’s shoes suddenly ending up with a car of this caliber would make him restless and suffer from insomnia, too.
But with Kang Jin-Ho’s current wealth, owning a car like this shouldn’t even be a challenge, so what was with the unwillingness?
“Mr. Jin-Ho, this is a dream car for all the hot-blooded men out there, myself included. I’d have nothing left to wish for if I could just have a go in a Lamborghini like that.”
“Oh, is that so?”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded as if he had thought of a good idea. “Giving a present back is against etiquette, so how about this? You take the car. Consider it my present to you.”
“…Mr. Jin-Ho. What would people think when they see me driving the chairman’s present meant for you?”
“…I guess it’ll get complicated for you, then.”
Jo Gyu-Min sighed deeply. “Is it because a car like this costs so much? And that’s making you uncomfortable?”
“But cars like this are just a pocket change to Chairman Hwang. Giving a hundred thousand won to your nephew when your total wealth is over hundreds of millions isn’t worth losing sleep over, isn’t it? This act of giving you a car is even simpler than that example, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
“That’s why I suggest that you should just…”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head, realizing that Jo Gyu-Min had gotten it wrong. The car’s list price wasn’t the problem here. “That’s not it, Mr. Gyu-Min. I… just don’t feel like driving it.”
“You said that there are only a few examples of this model in Korea.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Which means my acquaintances will know where I am whenever I’m driving around in this car.”
“Also, I’m guessing that not every local Avent… version of this car is painted in the same color, so it’ll be even more eye-catching, yes?”
Jo Gyu-Min furrowed his brow. He hadn’t thought about that possibility, but so what?
Kang Jin-Ho continued. “I don’t have any particular misgivings about driving an expensive car. However, I do want to avoid announcing my current position to the world every time I go somewhere.”
It made sense. Just seeing this white Lamborghini driving past on the road would be enough to let you know that Kang Jin-Ho was behind the wheel, no? For most locally-made or imported cars, looking for the owner meant having to check the license plate, but this Lamborghini wasn’t like that. This model in particular was an extremely rare supercar, with only a few examples imported to the country, so there was a distinct possibility that people would instantly recognize the owner.
“Also… I will be uncomfortable with people staring at me if I start driving around in a car like this.”
“Hah?” Jo Gyu-Min was stupefied once more. Didn’t people buy supercars to get attention? Jo Gyu-Min reckoned that no one had brought over these overpowered cars in Korea because of their performance potential! You couldn’t even reach half of their quoted top speed or even accelerate that fast in this country, so what would be the practical reason for buying such a car? It was to show it off, obviously!
“B-but, isn’t that the whole point, Mr. Jin-Ho?”
Jo Gyu-Min slowly shook his head. This was his first time meeting a twenty-year-old young man with this kind of mindset. “Mr. Kang Jin-Ho…”
“You told me some time ago that your wish is to live an ordinary life.”
“Yes, I did.”
“And that’s why you were not so keen about the rumors of your relationship with Chairman Hwang doing the rounds in the school.”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded at that, remembering how other kids at school started looking at him differently after Hwang Jeong-Hu’s unannounced visit. People he wasn’t even friends with suddenly started acting way too familiar to him. That wasn’t all, though, as kids he had never even talked to before tried to get close to him as if they had been friends for years.
‘It kinda reminds me what happened back then…’
Kang Jin-Ho experienced something similar back in Zhongyuan—when he became one of the Ten Demons in the demon cult. Honestly, though… He was sick of the act of choosing your relationships not based on the person’s qualities, but on their status and abilities. And he was definitely fed up with the act of unhesitantly ending one’s relationship just because it would no longer serve their interests. After all, hadn’t his most-trusted subordinate ended up betraying him?
Driving around in this car meant he would be subjected to that kind of gaze once again. He very much hated that idea.
Jo Gyu-Min cautiously spoke, “The thing is, Mr. Jin-Ho…”
“Living an ordinary life is one of the hardest things in the world to get right.”
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow and stared at Jo Gyu-Min, waiting for clarification.
“Let me ask you this. What is an ‘ordinary’ life in your opinion?”
An ordinary life? That was what Kang Jin-Ho wanted, wasn’t it? So… So why couldn’t he immediately answer Jo Gyu-Min’s question? He tried to do that, but he found it strangely difficult to come up with the true meaning of the term ‘ordinary.’
What an unfunny joke this was… Kang Jin-Ho desired an ordinary life more than anything else, yet he couldn’t even adequately explain what that life would entail.
“Mr. Jin-Ho, do you believe living like everyone else makes your life an ordinary one?”
Jo Gyu-Min sagely shook his head. “No, it isn’t. That’s simply you imitating everyone else. Doing that cannot be called living an ordinary life.”
“Perhaps.” Kang Jin-Ho had to acknowledge it. He could see that Jo Gyu-Min was right about this one.
“So, then. Does having a lot of money preclude you from living an ordinary life?”
“Do you think you can’t be ‘ordinary’ because of a fancy car? If I flip that around, would you say someone with no money can’t lead an ordinary life?”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
Jo Gyu-Min reached the conclusion of what he wanted to say. “Whether your life is ordinary or not isn’t dictated by your financial situation. No, it’s judged by the sum of your entire life, like how you’ve lived it. I don’t know what your idea of an ordinary life is, but I am certain of one thing. Mr. Jin-Ho, you are in danger of missing out on actual happiness because of your pursuit of this ordinary life. Like how you’ve been doing until now to fit in with the rest of society.”
Kang Jin-Ho’s eyes opened slightly wider. Why had he been trying so hard to live an ordinary life in the first place? Wasn’t it to be happy? He couldn’t quite put his finger on what was missing, yet Jo Gyu-Min was able to sum it up perfectly.
He desired to leave all the pain and torment behind and finally learn how to be happy again—that was why he helped his family out and tried to make friends.
In the grand scheme of things, this chat was a minor one. However, it still helped Kang Jin-Ho remember something very important.
“I see. Yes, you’re right.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded slightly.
His wish to live an ordinary life hadn’t changed. However, he should not lose himself in his pursuit, either. Besides, hadn’t he already learnt that ‘power’ was necessary to keep living the desired ordinary life?
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly studied Jo Gyu-Min before bowing deeply.
“W-what are you doing, Mr. Jin-Ho?” Jo Gyu-Min was taken aback and hurriedly tried to stop Kang Jin-Ho.
“Thank you. You taught me something valuable today.”
“I didn’t do anything that grand to deserve this, you know,” Jo Gyu-Min replied while looking clearly flustered and sheepish.
However, Kang Jin-Ho believed that a display of gratitude was a must in this case. After all, what Jo Gyu-Min had said today could greatly influence Kang Jin-Ho’s life in the distant future. Moreover, it was Kang Jin-Ho’s rule to express his gratitude for any goodwill shown.
“For now, I will accept this gift,” said Kang Jin-Ho as he glanced at the white Lambo. However, he failed to completely erase the unconvinced expression from his face. He was in agreement with Jo Gyu-Min’s opinion, but that and driving around in this car were two separate things. In any case, Kang Jin-Ho decided to accept the car first—rejecting it any further would only put Jo Gyu-Min in a tight spot.
‘I’ll have to speak to the chairman later.’
Kang Jin-Ho couldn’t do much about this particular incident. But this didn’t mean that he shouldn’t do anything in the future. Events of this nature would only trouble him, after all. Speaking to Jo Gyu-Min wouldn’t really get him anywhere, so the best course of action would be to talk to Hwang Jeong-Hu over the phone later.
“You made the right choice, Mr. Jin-Ho.” Jo Gyu-Min smiled deeply. “Okay, so… Are you going to drive it home now?”
“…I’m sorry? Why not?”
“I’ve given this some thought, and… Well, even if I accept the car, I don’t have any obligation to drive it. Simply accepting it will suffice, wouldn’t you agree? Please have it delivered to my home. I’ll just store it in the garage and keep using my bicycle.”
“I think that not getting hung up on being ordinary and just following my heart from now on would be a smarter thing to do. So, I’ll stick to my bicycle. Ah, wait. You said you’d love to have a go, didn’t you? Can you take it to my home, please? Thank you.” Kang Jin-Ho bowed his head slightly, then exited the chief director’s office.
Jo Gyu-Min could only stare at the young man’s back in a daze.
“W-well, he’s not technically wrong, but… uh…”
Wasn’t this response oh-so typical of Kang Jin-Ho?
Jo Gyu-Min was well aware of how this type of people operated. They had this tendency of making you flustered the more you talked to them. And they also had a skewed view of common sense, to boot. However, they were also capable of reaching the correct answer every single time.
“Urgh… And I hate that type of people!” Jo Gyu-Min shuddered where he stood.
People like Kang Jin-Ho could be fun to hang around casually. For instance, they could help you see things in a new light. After all, you would learn a lot by conversing with people holding different views from you. However, Jo Gyu-Min’s job was to listen to such a person’s orders and assist him in any way possible, not to be all casually friendly and stuff.
‘I’m so tired…’
Kang Jin-Ho would be great to know as an acquaintance, but he would give you a panic attack as a colleague. It was even worse when he was your boss! He hadn’t made any particular demand from Jo Gyu-Min until now, so things had been plain sailing so far. But just what would happen once Kang Jin-Ho started climbing to the apex of the Jaegyeong Group’s hierarchy?
Jo Gyu-Min sensed the onset of a rather powerful migraine.
Unfortunately, you could not go through life while only doing things you liked. Besides…
“I guess it could be fun, too.”
Jo Gyu-Min could only deeply sigh as he watched Kang Jin-Ho leave the school grounds on his Golden Elephant.