KG Central Research Laboratory Conference room was busy, with various Heads of Centers arguing over the next year’s budget.
“Please check this year’s Intellectual Property Rights. The Electronics Center has a great deal more than any other center. From Lithium Ion Patent to Reinforced Nano Membrane (Alternative Name that comes up: Nano-enabled Filtration Membrane)”
“Does profitability not matter? Profit margins on Displays are vastly superior to Batteries.”
“That’s because your center focused more on sales than research.”
“What did you say?”
The Head of Fundamentals Elements Center also jumped into the fray when the Heads of Electronics Center and Information Electronics Center began to argue.
“If you take into consideration the number of 1st tier projects in progress, the Fundamental Elements Lab has the most. Of course, we need the most funding as a result as well.”
“Don’t count the collaboration researches. We the Pharmaceutical Center have over ten we do solo.”
Once the Pharmaceutical Center stepped in, the debates began to heat up. Senior Researcher Yoonseok let out a deep sigh, looking at the Heads of the Centers as if they were pathetic from his seat on one end of the conference table.
Project Subsidy fund.
It was not a fund that was as carefully managed as the Regular budget. All it did, in reality, was help increase the once a month company outing to about once a week. But as Heads of the various Research Centers, it performed the important role of increasing the credit limit they could use to appear gracious and dignified before their researchers at the company’s expense. So none of the Heads were willing to back down one bit.
At the place where all of their gazes were focused sat a wrinkled man with half white half black hair. He had a tranquil expression and was enjoying his coffee leisurely as if the chaos unfolding in the conference room was entirely unrelated to him.
“Chief, sir, the Heads of Centers are asking for your input.”
He turned his eyes towards the Heads.
“I trust everyone’s decision. Please continue the discussions,” he said before returning to the serene world of his own. The room which had briefly fallen silent for him began a second round of arguments.
“Our Electronics center conserved our materials to be able to afford a Membership Training trip.”*
“The Pharmaceuticals has a large number of employees recruited from other companies so if they aren’t given a good treatment…”
Head Researcher Yoonseok Shin’s gaze remained on Songu.
The Chief remained calm and was enjoying the yelling and bickering of the Heads of Centers as if it was background music. Yoonseok couldn’t help but smile bitterly at the Chief’s hobby of inciting the incredibly talented and gifted Heads of the Centers to fight among themselves. Even though he himself was known as the ‘Tiger’** of the Central Research Laboratory, but he was nothing in comparison to Chief Songu who was like the Banded Red Snake ***.
Songu who was still wearing glasses as thick as magnifying glasses put down his coffee mug and picked up the documents that were placed before him. The papers he was reading were the assessments on the six temporary researchers from the Senior Researchers.
Yoonseok directly asked, “Is there anyone who interests you in particular?”
“I don’t know. They are people who made it above hundreds of competitors so they should do very well. Like those Heads of Centers.”
Songu then asked without taking his eyes off of the documents.
“What about you, Professor Shin? You’ve met the new recruits during the End of the Week meeting a few times.”
“He’s not a temp, but there was a special case intern that was brought in at the recommendation of Professor Chun who is currently on leave. His name is Jungwu Han.”
“Professor Chun did?”
Songu pressed the button on the table to instruct the Secretary to bring all documents available on the intern Jungwu that was on file.
“If he attracted the attention of Professor Chun then is he someone we should look forward to?”
“We haven’t made a decision yet.”
Yoonseok thought back about Profesor Seunguk.
Central Research station’s problem Professor.
He was an eccentric researcher of an immense but unreplicable ability, who was of a rather difficult character. When the Professor suddenly announced he wanted to take a break for a year, the Center Heads who were antagonistic against him went as far as to celebrate the news.
Songu pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose before saying, “Now that I think of it, didn’t Professor Shin do his schooling with Professor Chun?”
“We weren’t close.”
“Was anyone ever close with Professor Chun?”
Yoonseok could only grin at Songu’s question.
“Chief, sir. I’ve brought it.”
The Secretary cracked open the door slightly and handed Songu the documents that had been requested.
“Let’s take a look now.”
Songu tilted his head when he saw the Resume.
“What an extremely unconventional personnel. His Major appears to have nothing to do with our line of work.”
“Whatever the reason, it was the one and only recommendation of a Chief Researcher,” said Yoonseok.
Songu’s eyes began to glow when he saw the other records.
“His name appears to be on the Team 4’s Project roster.”
“He was able to point out and revise the flaw in Professor Sangshik’s end product and managed to revive the project.”
Songu who saw the next document made a rather strange expression.
“This looks like this report was made just now by the Finance Team. Yujin Chemicals deposited Project Grant to us. I suppose this Intern gave consultation?”
“He met Jaegil Yoon last week during the City Hall meeting and gave assistance with the Han River Railway incident.”
“He gave consultation to the country’s best Transportation Infrastructure Maintenance company?”
“Team Leader Donggil and I heard the news in the middle of a meeting so I don’t know the details.”
Songu who found out consecutive shocking news about the intern’s activities began to read more carefully about Jungwu’s reports.
“Jaegil personally sent the Grant in Intern’s name. What do you suppose this means?”
“The fact that he took the time to deposit it in his name, well there’s only one explanation isn’t there? This is a bait to scout him. That, if we were to use this funds for use by the rest of the Lab, then he would immediately inform the intern to insist that we are treating him unfairly.”
“He must have really liked him. To go as far as to use such an underhanded method.”
Songu turned the page, and couldn’t help but laugh.
“The Sales team sent him Commissions. To the intern.”
This was something even Yoonseok didn’t know yet, so he read the document Songu held out together.
“Super Snow Mix? He was able to sell this failed product?”
“Failed?” Songu tilted his head.
“It was a chemical composite that we weren’t able to find buyers for due to the high cost of production in comparison to its performance.”
“Looks like a Major Shopping Mall purchased quite a large volume of it.”
Songu’s expression showed curiosity towards this intern who was able to demonstrate an unbelievable variety of accomplishment in just one week.
Yoonseok who read the report then made a completely nonsensical suggestion.
“What do you think about just allowing Yujin Chemical’s Project Grant to be used only by the Intern himself?”
“To someone who’s not even a Team Leader tier, but to an intern? This too is most unconventional.”
“Well at the very least we have sufficient proof that he’s gifted enough to be sought by Jaegil Yoon. And if he is anything like Professor Chun, then receiving Project Grants like this, or making commissions… this won’t be the end of it.”
After watching Songu think deeply for a moment, Yoonseok added another idea that just occurred to him.
“This Intern is going to participate in the Proposal Assessment this afternoon. Would you like to attend?”
Normally, only the representatives of the Centers, as well as the Training Managers, attended such events. Songu took a look around at the Heads of Centers who were still bickering energetically among themselves as he said, “I suspect it will get as rowdy as now.”
“I will inform the Training manager now.”
Jungwu sat on the chair next to the Vending Machine staring at the laptop screen.
He had the PT file for the Proposal Assessment open and was thinking about what he should say during the presentation for the past hour.
‘It’s really nerve wrecking now that the time has come.’
The purpose of the Project Assessment that his Sunbaes had suggested during last Friday’s Company Outing was a little different than what he had initially predicted. Instead of making a real project proposal to be selected for new research, it was more used to appeal the good sides of the presenter, like saying ‘here are my strengths so please come and pick me’.
There was the Fundamental Elements Lab, Electronics Development, Information Electronics, Component Sciences, and Pharmaceuticals. And finally, the Central Research Center which combined all of these Centers.
In terms of the military, it was like the Soldiers being lined up before the commanding officers.
The Temporary Researchers prepared for the specialization they hoped to enter with their projects. And each of them checked each other’s work to try and maximize their scores from the representatives of the centers of their choices. For three whole months.
‘I guess technically I had 3 days?’
His condition wasn’t the best due to not having a good rest last night.
“If I keep thinking negatively, things will go poorly for sure. Let’s believe in myself… or Professor Chun,” he mumbled to himself before returning his attention to the PT file.
“You’re working hard.”
Jungwu knew exactly who it was without having to turn thanks to the bright and energetic voice.
She walked up to Jungwu while yawning.
“I came by to take a quick coffee break, would Jungwu ssi like a cup too?”
“For free? Without any strings attached?”
“Of course. Were you tricked all your life?****”
Because he kept getting tricked, he thought of trying to guess her intentions and closely inspected Boyoung. But she who stood before the Vending Machine looked especially plain.
“Don’t stare at me like that. I have to go back to the Microbe Lab shortly so my self-confidence is pretty low.”
“Oh, Sunbae won’t let me put on cream on my face worried that the particles of makeup might alter the readings.”
“You don’t seem all that different from usual though?”
Boyoung smiled widely when she heard this.
“I’m so~oo pretty even without makeup, is that what you mean?”
“It means you’re the same with or without makeup.”
She gave him a withering look when he cleared up the misunderstanding. Shortly after, Boyoung handed him a paper cup containing coffee before sitting next to him. Jungwu took a sip before asking, “What kind of research is going on in the Microbe Lab?”
“It’s a long-term project for Lab 1. It’s a Rural Revival Project that’s done jointly with the Agricultural Environments Researchers. It’s not particularly difficult but it’s a project given by the country so there’s a lot of things we have to keep in mind.”
“I see that it’s a noble work for the purpose of improving agriculture.”
“What kind of nobility is there in working with fertilizers? I can’t wait until I’m not the one that has to be doing that work. The smell of the Compost is just…”
Boyoung grimaced and said, “Bleagh” when Jungwu realized something and asked Boyoung just in case.
“Do you have to do it because you’re the newest to the Lab 1?”
Boyoung nodded with a sad expression. “I need a Hoobae to come quickly so I can push off this work.”
A Research on putrid deposit forced onto the newest member of the lab. It was a piece of info that made him hope he would get assigned to anywhere other than Lab 1.*****
“Jungwu ssi, what’s your topic for the presentation? I thought it was on Synthetic Resin last time I took a glance at it.”
“It’s on Stronger-than-Steel Plastic.
“Eh? The one Professor Chun…”
“Yes. I want to inherit the project and develop it.”
Jungwu laughed when he saw Boyoung’s expression which clearly showed her desire to take his laptop and see the next page on the PT document.
He got Coffee out of it, and she hasn’t asked about the whereabouts of Professor Chun or other difficult questions the last few days. So he couldn’t help but feel that he should just let her see the material.
‘She didn’t sit here on purpose for that reason, right?’
But she was not a Sunbae with such a conniving personality. It was more likely that she would unabashedly demand to see it.
“Could you please take a look at it to make sure I did a good job?”
Boyoung’s face brightened up and she nodded enthusiastically. While checking the PT file using the directional keys on the laptop, she couldn’t help but exclaim ‘wow’ from time to time.
“It looks like you already finalized the concept for solidifying over 90% of plastic then?”
“I used the early mechanism of Polymer Crystallization as a point of reference.”
“But this could be applied to over half of the products that need strong but light material; Car dashboards, to food containers. There’s no reason why this project wouldn’t be picked.”
As it was a topic he had picked specifically because it would immediately benefit and bring profit to KG Chemicals, Boyoung’s reaction could be considered normal.
‘As long as it passes the verification…’
But whatever may happen, Boyoung’s elated response helped alleviate some of his fears.
“I want to see more of this, how about a lunch together?”
“Um… That’s after you go into the Microbe lab, right?”
“Yes that’s true, why?”
When Jungwu gave her a ‘are you really asking why’ face, Boyoung looked backed feigning ignorance.
“I’ll eat alone. I’ll be busy.”
“That Compost, you know, smells pretty savory after a while. And also, are you downplaying the noble sacrifice of one researcher who is selflessly working for the benefit of Farming towns? You looked like you were about to cry earlier. I’ll just send this file to your email.”
“Sure, why not.”
Boyoung put the Milk Coffee cup against her mouth and drained it until the last drop before she jumped to her feet.
“You promised!” she declared with a sunny smile before walking towards the offices.
Jungwu shook his head, thinking maybe he should have accepted the invitation to have lunch together. He strangely felt like he was being dragged along to her pace since yesterday.
‘Let’s focus, concentrate.’
But Jungwu’s focus did not last even 1 minute before being interrupted. It was due to the screams coming from the direction of the Temporary Researcher’s offices.
“What the hell, the Chief is coming? And because of that, all the Heads of Centers as well?”
“But it’s not like these presentations are meant to have any impact on the good of the future of the Research Centers!”
The fact that the entire upper echelon of the Research Center will be showing up and be present to the event where newbie researchers of less than six months of employment are to give presentation of their pitiful greenhorn ideas was also shocking to Jungwu.
‘What? Suddenly why?’
*-(Membership training is actually a Korean cultural excuse for companies to take new employees on a group trip to have fun as a form of welcoming party.)
**Scary, strict. Tiger has a respectable and fearsome image.
*** Koreans abhor the snake, and snakes are typically seen as sneaky and treacherous (dangerous cold-blooded etc etc etc). But Banded Red Snake is also known as king of snakes, not because it’s particularly large or venomous (it’s actually mostly non-venomous species) but because it is often found eating other snakes and reptiles, even scorpions. Calling someone banded red snake implies not only they are like the negative qualities of the terrible snake, they are the king of snakes.
**** this means that ‘were you tricked so often that you’re so cautious/distrusting?’
***** Original actually says ‘an ambush’, which I think is a really cute way to describe this ‘info’. But unfortunately, I can’t come up with a ‘natural sounding way’ to express it