Official Yang turned to face Jungwu for a moment before he motioned his hands for Jungwu to continue.
“Is the responsibility for maintaining Han River Railway with the City, or with Korail?”
“Why are you asking that question?”
“That picture right there.”
Jungwu pointed at the slide where the Han River Railway was zoomed in on a specific location.
“I was just wondering who would be responsible for wiping off pigeon poo if it were to fall on the rail.”
Perhaps due to asking such a laymen question, many of the participants in the room began to grin.
Boyoung turned around in shock and stared at him, but before she could complain demanding to know what he was up to, Jungwu lifted up his hands to tell her to calm down.
“Mmm…Uh…I don’t see anything like a Pigeon poo anywhere.”
Jungwu watched the illusion of the atomic star formations floating in the air gather into a bundle and form a constellation which resembled a pigeon. He resumed speaking.
“That flapping atom… I mean if I look at that portion where there is a dent from a high level of corrosion, I can deduce what happened. It’s pigeon poo that pierced through even Yujin Chemical’s paint.”
Jungwu walked up towards the screen and pointed at a spot. Official Yang discovered a very faint fingernail-sized dent at the corner of the screen and asked Jungwu with a quizzical look.
“How did you notice it?”
“It’s a guess grounded in Chemistry. I am a Chemist.”
Official Yang must have accepted his explanation for now because he answered Jungwu’s original question.
“The portion where the subway trains pass are maintained by Korail. There are too many electrical lines running above the rails that are off limits to most people. The City of Seoul only provides monetary support. But what is the purpose of asking this question?”
“That is unless it rains, no one can clean up that poo. Even if you put a powerful paint over it, it can’t suppress Steel’s inherent nature.”
“It’s undying love and desire to bond with Oxygen. A love not even paint can eliminate.”
Several people in the room snickered when Jungwu began to anthropomorphize the nature of atoms as if he was telling them a fairy tale. Jaegil was one of them.
“What a humorous young man.”
Since Jungwu said something negative about Yujin Chemical’s paint, Jaegil picked up the mic right away.
“Pigeon poo? Do you really think we can’t prepare ahead of time for such things? The dents around the size of the one you see on the screen are already accounted for, so we apply three layers.”
“There are places with three layers, but there are also places with less.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I’ve seen it.”
Jungwu recalled the yellowish green surface of the steel he had seen this morning as he continued with his explanations.
“The place where the bolt is meeting the steel. The place where the nail meets the frame, there is no paint there at all.”
“Isn’t it impossible to put paint there anyway?”
“Of course. That’s why it’s inevitable that there are holes in Yujin Chemical’s Total Care solution. Are bolts not a part of the bridge structure?”
“We have spent over a day investigating just the rivets and the bolts alone. How can you possibly know anything about them when you have never seen it in detail?”
“I saw them in passing.”
Jungwu started to feel a little stuck as he looked at someone who didn’t want to accept anything he had to say.
‘How do I solve this problem?’
Jungwu was thinking carefully about how to approach the issue when his eyes focused in on Jaegil’s chin.
Perhaps due to being able to see the various constellations of randomly mixed chemical compounds overlaid with reality, Jungwu was able to instinctively read what was on his chin.
“I suppose you drank too much last night.”
Jaegil’s expression changed to that of disbelief. Jungwu answered right away.
“You have a bit of vomit on your chin.”
Jaegil hurriedly wiped his chin, then gave Jungwu a withering look.
“Why are you saying such baseless accusations, friend?”
“I can see a mixture of Ethyl Alcohol and Bisabolene. The aroma seems very high class. You must have had something expensive.”
Jaegil gave Jungwu a menacing look.
“This is a joke, right?”
“It’s not a joke. Wait… Citric Acid and Ascorbic Acid is there too. Wow, Sour. You had Orange or Lemon with your drink? A fruit with high proof alcohol. You’ll ruin your stomach like that.”
Jaegil was starting to look shocked. Even if someone could randomly guess the fact that he had had a drink, it was impossible to pick out the exact components down to the molecules like that. The way Jungwu spoke was as if he could see individual molecules with his naked eye; an impossible feat. Therefore Jungwu’s speech must have been made possible due to his confidence in his knowledge of Chemistry.
“Are you looking down on me?”
“No, not at all. I’m just worried for you.”
Jaegil was starting to become angry, and he began to shout at Jungwu.
“How can you possibly know all that?”
“Well. I guess it’s the same way I knew what happened at the Han River Railway when I passed by after the Superstructure collapsed onto the rails this morning. Are you aware that when two metals of different elements are in contact for extended periods of time, they form rust?”
“You think I wouldn’t know what Galvanic Corrosion is?!”
“So you do know.”
“That’s common knowledge!”
Jaegil became increasingly irritated the longer this conversation dragged on and asked in anger
“So what? How can you possibly prove that a perfectly intact nail has formed rust with a passing eye witness testimony?”
“Some bolts seemed to have a subtle difference in composition. A rough estimate of the difference in electrical potential would be about 0.1 volts. If it were to progress steadily, it would probably last a few more decades. But in strong winds and thunderstorms…”
“Don’t try to be funny.”
“I don’t have a talent for comedy, how unexpected. When I make a bad joke, my mother would sometimes throw her ladle at me. I even have a scar from when I was younger when I got hit in the wrong place.”
Jungwu lowered his head to show the back of his head, and Jaegil who managed to keep his anger more or less contained until this point became bright red in the face.
Jaegil who had been confident and aloof until now began to swear, and as a response, Professor Kang who was off to the side covered his mouth to try and stifle his laughter.
‘This should be enough.’
Jungwu saw that the image of Star Constellations had begun to fade and so he concluded by saying
“That’s the extent of my comment. Official, May I return to my seat?”
“By all means.”
Jungwu’s eyes locked with Boyoung’s worried eyes on his way back. She asked him in a whisper,
“Why did you do that?”
“Don’t worry. I only told them the truth.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
Once Jungwu sat down, Boyoung made an expression showing that she was trying to calm her anxious heart.
There was no way Jaegil would let Jungwu go without a fight after everything that happened.
“You’re just going say whatever you want and then leave?”
“Please calm down and stay on topic please.”
The Director of the Seminar picked up his mic and requested that emotional arguments be kept to a minimum.
Jungwu gestured towards Jaegil.
“There’s no way you would accept anything I have to say, so I have nothing more to add.”
“What, are you saying you have Mongolian level of hawk eye?* What is your affiliation?”
“I am Jungwu Han, Intern at KG Chemicals.”
Jaegil shouted loudly when he found out that he had been had by just an intern.
Jungwu who already didn’t have anything to say shut his mouth when Jaegil responded viciously. Even if he were to explain the exact phenomena taking place, it was useless if it was not understood.
‘Communication is reciprocal.’
Whatever happened, Jungwu was just satisfied that it didn’t end with Boyoung and KG Chemicals being looked down upon.
Official Yang raised his hands.
“Jaegil Yoon, Head of Research Division, please avoid speaking from this point forward. Will a representative of Dongho Construction please provide a comment?”
There were more structures in the city of Seoul than just the Han River Railway, so the discussion of the seminar moved onto other areas of the city.
When Jungwu made his way back to his seat, Gitae asked him with a face drained of color.
“Jungwu Ssi, do you have any idea who you just angered?”
“He’s the Head of Research of Yujin Chemicals.”
“He is a professor who holds massive influence in the community. Even if he’s a part of a competing company, there is nothing good that can come from creating a bad relationship.”
“Is that so?”
Jungwu had no plans on accumulating renown among Chemists so he didn’t take it all that seriously. Gitae was even more shocked by Jungwu’s lack of response and shook his head.
Boyoung stole glances at Jungwu and quickly turned her head when he turned to look at her.
The seminar which took place in a conference room of the City hall ended around 2 pm. The main topic on everyone’s mouths was that ‘Jaegil Yoon lost his cool during a debate with a KG Chemical’s Intern’.
Boyoung walked up to Jungwu after packing her bag.
“Is this why you followed me here?”
“I didn’t follow you. You brought me here.”
Once Jungwu stood up, Boyoung had to look up because Jungwu was about a head taller.
“You did it again. You’re just like Professor Chun. I’m so jealous, really.”
“Am I really that similar?”
“Very. Do you have any idea how much I wanted to pick up that kind of chemistry laced speech pattern?”
As Jungwu continued to hear more and more about Professor Chun, he began to feel a sense of familiarity.
‘I’m starting to want to meet him at least once.’
Boyoung hesitated for a moment before she looked away as if gazing at a distant mountain as she said,
“I’ll keep in mind that you have protected KG Chemical’s image.”
Jungwu couldn’t help but grin at her squeamish way of expressing something that resembled a praise.
Jaegil sighed as he watched two people in the distance converse while laughing.
KG Chemicals: A bitter rival company who maintained the number 1 position in the country. Yujin Chemical had been delegated to second place each time with a minuscule difference, so it was a company he particularly did not want to lose against.
But he had embarrassed himself at the seminar today. And on the subject of reinforcement at that, which was Yujin Chemical’s main specialization.
The cellphone in Jaegil’s pocket rang while he was trying hard to calm his raging heart.
– Sir, we have a problem
“What is it?”
The person on the phone continued carefully after sensing the irritation in his voice.
– Uh…20 minutes ago there was another accident when another part of the bridge fell.
Jaegil stood up alarmed.
– There were no injuries, but two cars were damaged under the bridge as they were passing by when it fell. And now there are articles about it.
“Damn it! After all that…”
It was an event that could forever ruin the reputation of Yujin Chemical’s Total Care System.
“What are we supposed to say to Korail now? They already announced that they plan on using the newly developed coating rather than our paint. Get the Safety Inspection team right away!”
– We also heard something strange. The Seoul Metro Customer Service center has informed us that a passenger called this morning to warn that this would happen. The location the passenger pointed out matches the location where the collapse has occurred.
“What do you mean? He predicted the exact location…?”
– We took down his contact information…
“Give me his number. And have the mobile research center on standby.”
Jaegil entered the phone number right away and began a call.
The phone rang, and the call was picked up on the other side.
“Ah, pardon me. My name is Jaegil Yoon, the Head of Research of Yujin Chemicals.”
– Um. Why?
“Excuse me? What do you mean…?”
Jungwu walked up to Jaegil while still speaking into the phone.
“I mean, why did you call me on the phone?”
“I heard that you had called earlier to warn about the Han River…”
Jaegil froze in the middle of speaking.
“You sure have an interesting personality. Why would you call instead of just saying it in person? I know we had an awkward interaction during the seminar but…”
Jaegil began to suspect that Jungwu, the intern from KG Chemicals, was right about everything and felt like he was about to go mad.
“Why did you call me?”
Jaegil couldn’t do anything but stare wordlessly with his mouth hanging open. This whole situation was ridiculous, and he already had a grudge against Jungwu, not to mention that it was difficult to believe.
“Oh yeah, how did you get my number anyway?”
Jungwu stared quizzically at Jaegil who did not respond.
Boyoung walked up to Jungwu from behind.
“Why are you standing around instead of leaving?”
“Head Researcher Yoon is calling me.”
Boyoung asked quietly
“Calling you? To fight? Should I go help you beat him up?”
“No, I don’t think… what? Why would you beat people up?”
“I mean, that professor. He looks like he has a nasty personality, right?”
“He might hear you.”
Jaegil, who finally snapped out of it, asked Jungwu
“You said your name was Jungwu Han?”
“Come see me.”
There is an urban myth that Mongolians have an absurdly good eyesight (as much as 20/8 acuity). It is an urban myth for the most part, but of course, there are exceptional individuals.