While interns and the Heads of Centers were busy using the five presentations as an excuse to get unruly, there was actually one person who had been sitting in anticipation.
Head of Pharmaceutical Center Donghwi Yoon. He was watching Manager Jun who was doing something on the laptop. The scheduled time for presentations was almost over. Meanwhile, he wanted to see if that extremely talented intern would be able to display incredible mastery over even the subject of Biology.
‘Like Researcher Chaeun Moon.’
Donghwi looked over to Chaeun Moon who suddenly showed up to ask if she could participate in the Researcher Evaluation happening today. She was one of the core members who influenced the direction of research in the development of new medicine. With Diagnostics Medicine as a base, she was a person who demonstrated a high degree of productivity. Except for the feeling of uselessness he occasionally felt when comparing himself to her fearsome worth ethic, she was quite literally the treasure of the Research Station.
‘So just do it already! I want to see what happens even if we get laughed at.’
And while he was watching Manager Jun expectantly, the sixth presentation appeared on the screen.
[Research on Protein Polymers as Allergy Suppressant]
“Hmm? Another one?”
The Heads of Centers who had been in the middle of bickering looked to the screen with surprise. Jungwu lowered his head towards Manager Jun who was sitting below the podium and asked,
“How much time is there, Manager Jun?”
“About 1 minute. But please take as much time as you need.”
Jungwu took a deep breath and then turned his gaze to the PT material. After having looked at five mini universes, seeing the sixth made him feel dizzy.
And whenever any Chemistry related observation occurs, he ends up speaking nonstop as if his mouth was put on autopilot.
‘Whatever the case, this shape is kind of peculiar.’
What appeared before him was some large round object with a bumpy appearance giving off blue light. This object which was several hundred times larger than molecular stars was a type of cell.
“Yes, go ahead.”
“You said that when it comes to Allergy Remedy research, symptom therapy focused on alleviation is one of the most important factors, so if results are inconclusive then the research will lose traction, right?”
“What great memory. Yes, that is correct.”
“What if we were able to use Genetic Analysis to produce Protein Polymers that individually act on Inhibitory T Cells?”
Sitting there, with such short time, coming up with new research ideas six times in a row, Donghwi’s eyes lit up as he watched Jungwu make a suggestion.
“So you suggest we design immunity tolerance around per basis model?”
Jungwu watched the misshapen stars floating above the PT screen. While it was orbiting in a wiggly fashion, it was attracting and absorbing comets with its gravity.
“In order to directly eliminate allergy-causing microbes while also inhibiting immunity cells to prevent malfunction, we need to thoroughly analyze…”
When Donghwi had to pause for a moment to think about the quick proposal Jungwu had made following the sudden change of topic, the other Heads of Centers looked smug.
“Head of Center Donghwi nim.”
Suddenly, there was an interruption by a clear refreshing voice. The attention of all the Heads of Centers who were paying attention to Jungwu instantly gathered onto the left side seats of the Judges.
“May I exchange thoughts with intern Jungwu Han?”
“Oh, Doctor Moon. You are our Center’s representative, so please do as you like.”
Donghwi made a wide grin when an unexpected rescue came his way. Everyone’s eyes fell upon Doctor Moon.
A formal yet attractive outfit with just the right amount of flair; once the beautiful Researcher befitting an image of a tea lady* began to speak, the attention of even the Head Researchers were focused on her face more than any other time.
“About cells that influence the immune system, there are more things to consider than simply tackling the issue from a purely chemical point of view. Are Microbes only harmful to the body?”
Her well enunciated announcer-like voice eased the steady information flowing from her lips into everyone’s head, which is why the question she threw out spread across the conference room in record time.
Jungwu hesitated because an answer to this question did not arise immediately.
“A human body needs a certain level of germs. A lack of exposure leads to the stunted development of the immune system, which leads to an increase in the risk of functional impairments. For example, Atopic Dermatitis; the percentage of population afflicted were much lower when the environments were less sanitary.”
The question that was not in the realm of Chemistry but that of Medicine stimulated the attention of the Heads of Centers. Donghwi watched the treasure of his Center with pride as he waited to see whether or not the intern would be able to make a reply.
Jungwu watched the shower of comets fall all around the misshapen star. Each and every one of the comets were pathogens.
“Doctor Moon. What if we were to individually tackle each of the causes of Atopic Dermatitis? Heavy metals, chemical additives, environmental hormones, allergens.”
“You want to target the causes that react differently for everyone one by one?”
“Of course it will take effort and funding. But much of the proteins that form human genome is leftovers from viral infections from long ago. A portion of those do nothing, but some under the right circumstance could cause cancer.”
Once Jungwu began his reply, the attention refocused on him.
“With modern technology and techniques, I believe that using DNA analysis to predict actual response to pathogen would not be all that difficult.”
“The Genome concepts on the subject of recombination is not developed enough to utilize. Just like how it is impossible for a single individual to carry genetic material that reacts to all existing illnesses…”
Chemistry and Medicine clashed and combined as the two endlessly discussed between themselves. A minute was long past and even after 3 minutes elapsed the conversation was not yet over.
Taesun Jang, the Head of Fundamental Materials Laboratory, who had been watching absentmindedly then opened his mic.
“Hold on hold on. Are you two on a date? Why are you two so excited to go back and forth?”
Jungwu snapped awake from a state where he was concentrating on the phantom images and speaking automatically. The misshapen star disappeared along with the brightening Conference Room lights.
“And you there, did you say you were Doctor Moon of the Pharmaceutical Center?”
“Yes. I am Senior Researcher Chaeun Moon.”
“Professor Yoon used Doctor Moon as an excuse to take a large portion of the grant money, and you seem to deserve it. It was very impressive. If you have nothing to do at Pharmaceutical Center, come to Fundamental Elements Lab.”
Taesun Jang then turned to Jungwu.
“We’ve seen all there is to see. Now, shall we talk about the issue of what Center that intern will be joining?”
All the heads of Center activated their mic in unison.
“Actually, the material Jungwu Han had presented is ideal for our Project leads to start. But that kind of ability to think and respond on his feet, this is perfect for Electronics development Center where there are lots of variables.”
Jongsun No took his turn after Iljung’s apparent closing statement.
“You have the talent to raise a project’s score from 0 to 85 percent. As a practitioner of Material Sciences, I was deeply impressed. Let us build our worth together, intern Jungwu Han.”
“The Information Electronics Lab has plenty of funding as well as empty labs. We can begin a project straight away.”
“As you have seen with Doctor Moon, only a meeting between a talent and another talent can cause amplification like a chemical reaction. Pharmaceutical Lab that has the gathering of the best and the brightest minds of the whole Research Center is the most ideal choice.”
Taesun Jang who was listening to them all along finally said,
“Intern Jungwu Han. What do you think about what the Heads of Centers are saying? Blah Blah Blah. Oh my goodness so complicated. Just come to the Fundamental Elementals Lab. There’s no Head of Center as young and cool as me.”
“Hey, Professor Jang! Then just settle it with rock paper and scissors!”
They were becoming rowdy once more. After fighting in a battle that seemed like it could never end, THIS was the result they finally arrived at.
“Chief, sir. What do you think about all this?”
The gaze of everyone in the Conference room immediately headed towards Songu. Songu smiled brightly and quietly opened his mic before replying.
“First, I would like to thank all the Temporary Researchers for working hard and preparing the presentations. You have shown me today that it was not wrong to believe that all of you here are the future of KG Chemicals.”
Chief’s warm statement thanking and recognizing the now completely-forgotten Temporary Researchers was perfect in cooling the minds of all the Researchers present.
“I wish for KG Chemicals Research center to be more than just a comfortable place to work. I wish for it to be comfortable to work as well as a place you enjoy working. Sunbae Researchers say it like a motto right? Research isn’t done alone. I hope that even if you feel unprepared, you will develop into an excellent personnel as you continue to research here.”
The 6 Temporary Researchers looked upon Songu following his rather relaxed but profound-sounding reply with looks of respect and awe.
Taesun opened his mic and asked carefully.
“So, what are your thoughts on assignment of personale…”
“Ah, that? I trust in the judgement of the Heads of Centers.”
Taesun Jang continued to speak, biting back the desire to groan out loud.
“I too trust my judgement very much. But other Heads of Centers don’t. Their stubbornness is so…”
“Hey, Professor Jang. Are you seriously insinuating your mule like stubbornness is nothing?”
“The two of you, please take this fight outside. Give us Jungwu and Gitae though.”
“Professor Hu, you’re trying to sneak off with even the Head Temporary Researcher?”
The chaos returned.
Behind the Heads of Center, Yoonseok who had been sitting among other Head Researchers couldn’t take it anymore and turned on his mic to shout very loudly.
“Order! Please have some decency, Heads of Centers!”
A deep voice echoed through the room. Silence hung in the conference room shortly after Yoonseok opened his mouth.
None of the Heads of Centers dared opened their mouth to make a noise when the Head Researcher second only to the Chief himself yelled at them.
‘Oh, it’s him.’
Jungwu automatically felt nervous when the expressionless Yoonseok finally took the spotlight.
“May I speak my mind, Chief sir?”
“Of course. There is not one researcher present who is not permitted to speak in here.”
Songu gave Yoonseok a gaze that seemed to say ‘I trust in the judgement of the Head Researcher’. Yoonseok took a brief but deep breath before starting.
“For the assessment of the Temporary Researchers, Mr Human Resources Manager please follow standard operating procedures.”
Manager Jun nodded.
“And that problem Intern.”
Jungwu couldn’t help but gulp when Yoonseok looked his way.
“That man who was able to put on such an impressive display of talent, he gave us absolute confidence that he trusts his sunbaes and wishes to research together.”
Yoonseok swept his gaze toward the Heads of Centers. “And impressed all presentation long, the Heads of Centers have diligently carried out a comprehensive series of questions and answers to better understand the Intern’s abilities.”
In such short statement, Yoonseok even provided a way for the Heads of Centers to save their faces, causing them all to nod in agreement.
“Earlier, Chief had declared that we are a gathering of Specialists. I admit this is true. But as time passes, when someone reaches the position of appointed officer, then moves up to Head Researcher, and finally an executive…”
Yoonseok turned to look at Jungwu once again.
“…Then that person ends up as a Generalist. Armed with boundless knowledge, the person is someone who is able to see a wider picture. Someone who is able to take advantage of the various resources of the Research Center and improve operating efficiency. I believe that Intern Jungwu Han is a man who has the potential to become a Generalist.”
In the midst of others speaking among themselves, Yoonseok made one final comment.
“Having this kind of talent be tied down to a single project for 2 to 3 years is a great loss to the Research Center. If we have the potential to produce an individual who not only is a Generalist but Specialist in every category, then shouldn’t we make all efforts to do so as soon as possible?”
The Heads of Centers all nodded in agreement.
“So here is my proposal. We change Intern Jungwu Han’s position to Regular Researcher, and then set the next 6 month as training period where he is to be sent to all the Centers to gather experience. Assigning him to a center afterwards won’t pose a problem.”
Taesun looked convinced when he recalled something and asked,
“Is that possible under the current operating procedures?”
“That probably depends on the decision of the Chief. And Intern Jungwu Han has already been granted project subsidy, so if for nothing other than assigning him a Corporate card, he must become a Regular Researcher.”
Yoonseok moved his gaze over to the Chief. The Chief smiled quietly and then turned on his mic.
“Procedure and Exception. What a good proposal riding the line between the two extremes. I am always greatly impressed by Professor Shin’s great wisdom.”
Yoonseok became emboldened by the Chief’s apparent consent. Yoonseok addressed the Heads of Centers.
“Please let your thoughts be heard if you have any comments.”
Who would dare oppose a proposal set forth by one of the highest ranking seniors, one which the Chief himself had already given his permission to.
‘I can’t tell what those two are thinking at all.’
Jungwu finally breathed in relief after the result of the two hours or so of the Proposal Assessment was more or less decided, but he still could not find himself taking his eyes off of Yoonseok and Songu.
The Conference room was awkwardly silent once the assessment time was over. And as expected, the cleanup of the conference room after the fact was left to the youngest recruits of the Laboratory.
“So we are going to be called later this evening?”
“Manager Jun said on his way out that we will all probably end up in the Centers we have been aiming for.”
Jungwu who had been straightening out the podium couldn’t help but focus in on the conversation between Gitae and Sunghwan who had been organizing the chairs.
“Well after all that Jungwu ssi is going to go under another assessment.”
“You’re right. And sent to all the centers. Just what will he be made to do?”
But Jungwu didn’t have the foggiest idea as to what would actually happen either. But if there was one good thing that came out of this, it was that he was no longer being called an intern.
‘Wait. What is going to happen to my Internship contract?’
He resolved to ask later and refocused on cleaning up.
Around 4:30, the Conference room opened. Jungwu’s eyes opened wide when he saw the person entering the room.
“Jungwu Han ssi.”
She had called him by name so he ran up towards the door.
“The conference for Personnel Evaluation has just completed. It has been agreed that it will begin next year on January 1st.”
“What will begin?”
“Being a Regular Researcher”
Jungwu was curious if Professor Yoonseok Shin’s proposal was accepted in the end.
“So what exactly will happen from this point onward?”
“For now it seems like you’ll be considered a regular researcher of Lab 1 in Central Research Laboratory, and you’ll be dispatched to the other Centers for projects. I’ve said this before, but Researchers who aren’t participating in a project spend most of their time like a freelancer.”
By ‘said before’, she seemed to be referring to the time she had spent all night explaining the runnings of the Laboratory on the day of the signing of the contract.
‘Although I don’t remember most of it.’
Jungwu asked about the internship contract as well. What he got in response was completely bureaucratic in nature.
“It’s detailed in the small print.”
“If there are no other issues I’ll be heading out then. I have business at the Hospital…”
“Ah, wait a moment please.”
Taking this opportunity when he had her before him, he decided to inquire about a recent change to his physiology.
“I can’t sleep at night for some reason. I sleep intermittently throughout the day whenever I find the time or sometimes just pass out. I feel like I have gotten Insomnia somehow, do you think this is due to the side effect? Sometimes I think it might be because of overwork though…”
In the middle of his speaking, Doctor Moon suddenly moved right up to Jungwu. Her nostrils were so close to his face that Jungwu instantly went rigid on the spot. From less than a palm’s distance away, Doctor Moon checked Jungwu’s eyes and the surrounding area of his face before responding.
“Now that you mention it, your face is showing remnants of the symptom.”
“Earlier stages of fatigue.”
She reached out with her hands and placed them on Jungwu’s wrists. She checked the second hand of her watch as she measured his pulse, assuming the image of a doctor checking on her patient perfectly.
‘She was going to diagnose me? I got tense for nothing.’
But then the sweet smell of Doctor Moon’s perfume wafted over to him, agitating his masculine instincts. Standing close enough to the beautiful woman to feel her gentle breath on him while she held onto his wrist, Jungwu could not help but feel his face redden at the unexpected contact with her.
“Excuse me, Doctor Moon. About my Pulse. It could be beating faster for reasons that have nothing to do with the symptoms that you’re thinking about.”
Doctor Moon’s eyes that exuded her intellect looked up at his.
“I’m taking that situation into account when I am testing.”
“Eh? Taking what into account?”
Doctor Moon who had been wordlessly checking his pulse then said,
She gave her diagnostics as a doctor who seemed extremely trustworthy.
“Then it must be because of the overtime, right?”
“No. That’s also strange.”
Jungwu found himself unable to resist her when she placed her thumb under his lower eyelids and naturally pulled them down because she had done it with such practiced doctor-like professionalism.
“Most normal adult men don’t even complain with just this amount of overtime. You even had weekends off.”
“Ah, that’s what you mean?”*
In some ways, it was a terrifying diagnostic.
“Well, it doesn’t hurt to run some tests. It’s almost end of your shift, right? Please come down to the parking lot when you’re done. We’ll head to the hospital together.”
Doctor Moon finished speaking her piece and immediately headed out of the Conference room.
‘Today? Right after? She’s so thorough. I guess it would be great if she could find the cause sooner than later.’
Jungwu turned around to finish organizing and cleaning up the podium and couldn’t help but be surprised. The Temporary Researchers had been watching him very closely from afar.
More than getting the recognition of the Heads of Centers, more than Yoonseok’s proposal of special treatment, the Temporary Researchers watched Jungwu with far more envy at the fact that Doctor Moon was standing there holding his wrists. So Jungwu couldn’t help but grin.
There was a research lab inside AN General Hospital that was shared between AN Hospital’s Pharmacy Support Center and KG Chemical’s Pharmaceutical Center.
Jungwu was taking the same examination at the same place as a month ago when he had first come here as a human test subject. From Blood pressure, electrocardiogram, ultrasound, until blood sample. For about half an hour, Doctor Moon focused on the exams without sharing a word with him.
“We need to first see the result so please rest for a bit.”
Jungwu who had been pressing an alcohol swab over the arm the blood was drawn from then gave a big yawn.
“Doctor Moon, I’m so sleepy. I’ll take a nap on the chair until we get the results.”
“If you do that then the AN Hospital staff will not look upon you well.”
Irresistible drowsiness; he felt like he was about to faint at this rate.
“Then I’ll go to a chair outside…”
“Please wait. I’ll lend you a bed.”
Jungwu swallowed back a groan before the chaotic pile of sheets, random articles of clothing, and other unidentifiable personal items cluttering up a two-story bunk bed.
“Where are we?”
“Diagnostics and Overnight Room.”
Doctor Moon pointed not at the messy but neatly arranged bed on the opposite side.
“That side is my spot.”
“Doctor Moon’s spot?”
“There are a lot of times we need to stay overnight at the Pharmaceutical Center so I have asked for permissions from the doctors in this area ahead of time. Please go ahead and sleep for now. I’ll come back with the test results.”
“I don’t mind but…”
Jungwu fell asleep the moment he hit the bed.
An hour later.
Doctor Moon was sitting in front of an automatic Blood analyzer with the tag ‘XE-2106’.
She had been reading a book waiting for the results to print out when the door to the examination room opened and a late thirties man with a sizable face walked in.
“Eh? Miss Chaeun?”
“Hwichul Sunbae nim.”
A doctor wearing the name tag “Hwichul Yi” walked up to her with a welcoming smile.
“We were so busy we haven’t even seen each other in a while. Isn’t this the first since we met back in the fall?”
“I guess it is.”
“What were you up to here? Aren’t you normally confining yourself to the Pharmaceutical Center?”
“I had something to examine.”
The machine made a beeping noise and a receipt-sized paper came printing out. Doctor Moon who saw this then tilted her head.
“Hmm? What’s wrong?”
“Result came back too normal”
“Healthy is always good.”
“But then it doesn’t explain the symptom.”
Hwichul looked at Doctor Moon with eyes filled with curiosity.
“Is it a rare symptom?”
Hwichul Yi’s interest evaporated, but he recalled something while watching her prepare to leave and said,
“Miss Chae…no… I should be calling you Doctor Moon now. It looks like you’re still waiting for Professor Ha to return. You won’t pick Residents, and it’s killing us with overwork.”
“Everyone knows torturing sunbae and company is the professor’s hobby. Isn’t it because of that?” replied Doctor Moon.
Hwichul brought his hands to his face and smacked his forehead. “Ah, that must have been it.”
“I need to go share the result so I’ll be taking my leave.”
Hwichul made a serious look at her who was trying to leave and then said,
“And I too am certain that Doctor Moon is going to return someday. We’re Doctors, right? Fighting disease?”
Doctor Moon’s eyes showed nostalgia for but a moment before it disappeared.
“I don’t know why you made this choice, but good luck. I don’t have anything to say but this.”
“I’m being paged. Man… I was hoping to skip out on the examination room. I’ll get going. Next time let’s eat together. With the three musketeers all together.”
Hwichul left the Examination Room first.
Chaeun looked at Jungwu who was fast asleep and oblivious to the world atop the bed of the Overnight room.
It was safe to say that he was deeply in sleep judging from his lack of reaction. In fact, it was probably correct to call it a ‘Deep Sleep’.
‘Should I let him sleep a bit more?’
She had brought IV pack with her because he had been making complaints, but she set it down on the desk. She took off the gown she had been wearing and placed it on the rack and entered the shower room next to the Overnight room.
Chaeun reentered the room twenty minutes later while drying her hair with a towel. Sitting down, she picked up a book that had been on the desk. Jungwu was still sleeping.
And in the middle of her making her way through the Academic papers, the cellphone in her coat pocket began to vibrate.
She was worried it might disturb Jungwu’s sleep, so she took it out of the pocket and walked out of the room.
When she checked the screen she noticed an indication which showed that there was a one-way call pending. There was only one person who would use such a method to contact her.
-Oh, Doctor Moon. I’ve got your mail.
A bright and refreshing voice. It was Professor Seungook Chun.
-How was the guy today?
“As we expected. But then the Chief came in and…”
-Chief Son? He’s too good at sniffing things out. And no other issues?
Chaeun recalled the sight of Jungwu falling asleep as if passing out.
“It seems like Jungwu Han ssi is experiencing temporary Sleeping disorder, but all results came back normal. I think that I should refer him to a specialist for a proper checkup.”
-Do you really think you need to go that far?
“I think we should cover all bases.”
-He’s using unfamiliar perception again and again so he’s probably feeling disoriented. I think it’s the adaptation stage.
“You say he’s disoriented, but he looked like he was really enjoying it. He’s starting to act like you too.”
-Like me? Really?
There was a sound of laughter on the other end of the line.
-You said he was 26, right? Young and with my personality; What if Doctor Moon falls in love with him?
“Your jokes are improving by the day.”
-Doctor Moon is really the only person who responds to my sense of humor. So, is Research progressing smoothly?
Doctor Moon hesitated and did not answer.
-It’s a problem if a person strives perfection excessively. Try to let your emotions control you for once.
“What kind of world is Jungwu Han seeing?”
-Why ask? Are you sad you weren’t the one?
Chaeun recalled Jungwu earlier who was able to point out things she hadn’t yet considered during the presentations earlier today.
“I can’t tell what kind of work you’re expecting to do with this man.”
-The higher the grass the higher the entropy. Please continue to observe him with interest.
“Professor, when are you expecting to return…”
-I think I’ll be in this neighborhood for about a month for now. Munich has such a great scenery. Let’s speak again when I’m ready to relocate. Enjoy your holiday weekend. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself a boyfriend~
Chaeun once again returned to the Overnight room.
She noticed Jungwu who had drifted off to sleep with his eyes closed, breathing in and out oblivious to the world.
‘Fall in love? I would love to have time for such things.’
Doctor Moon returned to the desk and resumed reading through the Academic Papers
Case: Adaptation Stage 1
Research: Subject experiencing temporary Drowsiness after using the Ability
I think the easiest (unfortunately) is to imagine japanese tea ceremony. Super rigid, super formal. Imagine in that setting, there is a lady in tight kimono drinking tea, having impeccable hair and makeup. That’s the image being drawn. Korea has older tea culture, but japanese tea tradition is better known thanks to anime.