Chapter 16 – Old Steel (6)

Hana’s expression changed when she saw the screen. With a completely serious look, she turned to face Jaegil.

“Could the difference in color be caused by spoiling?”

Jaegil was watching the screen as well, so he was able to answer right away.

“It not possible for a bridge of this class to have bolts whose surface can wear off from corrosion. Especially after we applied our coating solution this year.”

“That’s true. Which means…”

Hana and Jaegil answered nearly at the same time.

“There was a problem with the manufacturing of the bolts…”

“There were defective bolts with incorrect metallic composition.”

Hana began to work away at the keyboards to find out which company had provided the bolts, and Jaegil called the Head of Technology at Korail.

Boyoung noticed that the two of them were busy and tapped on Jungwu’s shoulders.

“Parachuter ssi.”

“What?”

“Did you identify the cause?”

“I already found the cause in the morning. They’ve only come to accept it now.”

“Che, show off.”

Jungwu smiled, thinking that the only thing now remaining was to work out a consultation fee. Boyoung, who was abnormally quiet after getting on the bus, stood next to Jungwu and watched Hana and Jaegil work.

5 minutes later

Jungwu became tired of waiting and asked Boyoung,

“About Professor Chun. What kind of work did he typically do around the research center?”

“You know, this and that.”

“This and that?”

“He would make shocking proclamations during the end of the week meetings and surprise the Project leads, and go around checking on all the Seniors’ resear… Ah, if you’re curious then Parachuter ssi should tell me a secret as well.”

“I’ll just pretend I never asked.”

“But you already heard everything!”

Just then, Jaegil suddenly spoke loudly during his phonecall.

“Press conference?!”

He covered the receiver with his hands and whispered with a shocked expression.

“We have found the cause and are in the middle of analysis. If we want to do a thorough examination, we need a minimum of two weeks to produce any report. It’s not possible to…”

Jaegil then turned around to look at Jungwu before continuing.

“…Please hold on for a moment. Jungwu ssi, would you be able to recognize problematic bolts by sight?”

“Maybe.”

“How much time would it take?”

“Probably about the time it takes to walk across the bridge by feet? About 30 to 40 minutes?”

Hana suddenly froze and stopped typing. Someone was making plans to spend two weeks of analysis and inspection, and he declared he could do it in 30 minutes. Jaegil also stifled a groan before replying to his cellphone.

“I will head there now. I will meet you at the entrance, Sir.”

Jaegil turned to look at Jungwu after ending the call.

“Jungwu ssi, would you please come with us to the Yongsan station?”

Jungwu turned to check with Boyoung. Boyoung realized that things were getting serious when she heard the mention of a press conference and gulped.

“It’s okay. We’ve already notified the Central Research Laboratory.”

Once Boyoung expressed her approval, Jungwu asked Jaegil

“But isn’t finding the problem bolts a separate issue from consulting?”

“If all goes well, we will pay you 10% of Total Care Team’s two week’s worth of budget.”

Consulting fee and now a percentage of the team’s budget. But haggling is the most basic of the basics of negotiation.

“Hmm but… It’s cold, and walking above the Han River at night might get me ill.”

“15%. Considering that we are allocating our budget to an outsider, we have already given you the best possible compensation.”

He didn’t know how much he was being offered, but Jungwu could imagine that Jaegil was feeling a bit annoyed. Jungwu nodded. Boyoung was here as well so he couldn’t ask ‘exactly how much are you offering to pay me?’. He would look desperate.

“Let’s go.”

“If we head to the Yongsan Station, we will be able to access Han River Railway with the help of the Korail Inspection team. I’ve been told that some reporters from cable companies are present on site. They may request interviews.”

“Interview?”

Before the Yongsan Station entrance.

There were dozens of reporters standing on top of the stairs before the partition. The parked reporter’s vehicles weren’t from any of the major 8 o’clock news stations, but the number of vehicles from smaller news made this place look like a scene of a major accident.

Jungwu was watching the scene outside when he was surprised by the sudden appearance of Boyoung’s head which popped up from underneath.

“Wow, it’s true. Parachuter ssi, you might even appear on TV. Not even other Sunbaes from Lab 1 have made an appearance yet.”

Jungwu asked Boyoung nervously after listening to her exclamation.

“I can’t cause problems for KG Chemicals, right?”

“Why are you asking something so obvious? Professor Chun was on TV a bunch of times, and he was totally awesome. Each time with so much gusto!”

‘Gusto?’

Even now he was being compared to the professor.

“Jungwu ssi, let’s get going.”

Jungwu approached the door upon Jaegil’s suggestion.

‘Tssst-’

The Officials approached him as soon as he got off the bus. Among them, he noticed the Government Officials and Korail employees he had met earlier at the seminar.

“Sir Official, don’t you know how many bridges we maintain at a loss? Why are you applying so much pressure on us?”

“I couldn’t help it; the Mayor is paying close attention to the issue. The term has just begun so the Mayor is being sensitive to any major event. And I heard from the head that the solution was found?”

“Not by my merit, but this man.”

Gichul turned to look at Jungwu. He realized that it was the same young man who had been the target of Jaegil’s verbal abuse during the seminar, so Gichul couldn’t help but be surprised.

“You’re Jungwu Han, right? With KG Chemicals?”

“Yes.”

“I look forward to working with you.”

Gichul held Jungwu’s hand with both hands and shook them respectfully. Afterwards, he looked back at the others in his group and said,

“If the Han River Railway shuts down for any reason, the City of Seoul Mass transportation system will be paralyzed. Please make every effort to make sure no accident like the one today ever happens again.”

Gichul’s request was adding to the pressure. Boyoung who finished greeting the Head of Technology of Korail returned with her eyes sparkling with expectation as she looked at Jungwu.

Jungwu scratched his chin.

‘Ok,this is getting intimidating. Should I have refused?’

*

Seungju who was sitting inside of Laboratory 1 opened his eyes wide after he heard Gitae’s story.

“Han River Railway?”

“Yes, I’ve been told they were off to provide assistance with that problem.”

Out of coincidence, there was a breaking news being broadcasted on the flat TV screen on the side.

“Hey raise the volume!”

<<News Channel JVN>>

“Today, right before the weekends, two objects fell from the Han River Railway. There were no injuries reported from the accidents. The first accident took place in the morning where there was a partial collapse of the subway while the second occurred in the afternoon when a piece of the Railway fell onto the highway, damaging two cars that veered to avoid the falling debris.”

After the Anchor’s introduction, an interview with the victim came on the screen.

– I was driving past the subway and was about to drive under the bridge when I saw something dark fall right in front of the car. I was greatly surprised and I quickly turned the wheel.

“We will now hear a more detailed story from a reporter on the scene. Reporter Seungho Song.”

[Hello, Seongho Song reporting. I am standing at the Han River Railway where Yujin Chemical’s Safety management team, which was given the responsibility of providing reinforcement work of the bridge by the City of Seoul and Korail, has arrived on the scene. Yujin Chemical is currently overseeing full management of over twenty Bridges across the nation and…]

Once Yujin Chemical became implicated, the other researchers began to listen in on the news with greater interest, gathering before the screen to watch together.

“Bridge reinforcement was their primary market, right? Was it Total Care?”

“That’s right. Their Project Lead is famous. She was qualified to join Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, but she opted for Yujin Chemical instead.”

“You mean your schoolmate Hana Ju? You told me she was crazy.”

“But she was really pretty so she was quite popular in college.”

Seungju turned to the people who were loudly having a conversation.

“Try to be quiet. Our guys might be on the scene over there.”

“What? Why would our team be there?”

Then, a thin woman came on the screen.

“It’s Hana.”

[…We have begun an interview with the officials. We now bring you live feed from the scene.]

– I would like to first extend a word of apology to the victims of the motor accident today. Yujin Chemical is planning on compensating for the damage independent of any compensation provided by the City and Korail. And to ensure nothing like this happens in the future, we will be quickly conducting a more thorough investigation.

[The viewers are highly concerned about unreliable safety inspection. Is there anything in place to address this issue?]

– Luckily, we were able to enlist the help of an expert and believe that we will be able to quickly get a resolution.

[Who is this expert?]

– Why don’t you speak to the man in question? Jungwu Han ssi

– Yes? Ah me? Ah, ah, should I speak into the mic? Hello, I am Jungwu Han with KG Chemicals.

“W…wait… Isn’t that our intern? That guy from the end of the week meeting.”

“Hey, I can see Boyoung behind him.”

“What are they doing there?!”

– The inspection process is quite simple. The cause is the corrosion happening at specific points along the gutter. They can easily be identified with the eye.

[But this is a problem Yujin Chemical could not detect after a thorough inspection spanning over two months. Are you saying that you, Jungwu ssi, is able to locate the problem that Yujin Chemical could not detect?]

– Well, I’m not that confident.

[Similar accidents will happen again. Is this what you’re telling us?]

– I’m not confident that I will fail.

For a moment, every researcher in Laboratory 1 froze.

 


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