Translated by Jasmine.
So Long For Now, Summer
That year in February, on the last day of the International Economic Cooperation Forum, also the last day of their business trip in Busan, she was in the midst of an uncomfortable dinner.
A dinner place where secretaries had been invited to eat outside nonchalantly. Thanks to the courtesy of Chairman Jang.
Woosung C&T Chairman Jang looked ten years younger than his age, even though he was in his mid-sixties.
Compliment often on his well-cared face and a fairly good appearance. He was a charming, powerful person who won people’s favour with a smile without even needing to speak.
Manager Lee and Hee-joo, had accompanied Chairman Jang at his kind but intimidating invitation, and were now sitting side by side with the other party in a traditional Korean restaurant.
It was her first trip to Busan, thus she was invited to dinner as well. Chairman Jang was the one who recommended it and even included them in the reservation.
But somehow the table and seats he had booked seemed to be so greatly calculatively close together and secluded that it made her and manager Lee infer his indecent intentions. Woo Jin-ha’s unpleasant expression, when she sat next to him, only reinforced their hunch.
He had already opposed Chairman Jang’s move to invite them before they had arrived..
However, Chairman Jang dismissed Woo Jin-ha’s opposition by saying that they (secretaries as in Lee and Hee-joo) were the ones he had relied on therefore he (Woo Jin-ha) had no right to refuse their attendance.
In a place where even Woo Jin-ha didn’t have any right to refuse him, how could Hee-joo and Lee’s opinion matter?
“Right, drink lots, Secretary Shim.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Having to drive Woo Jin-ha’s car on their way back to the hotel, she purposely had a small amount of alcohol in her ceramic glass and pretended to hold it close to her mouth, for the sake of not offending Chairman Jang.
However, while sitting next to her, Woo Jin-ha’s eyes were filled with disapproval for an unguarded moment.
It was late evening when the alcohol was finally finished.
Woo Jin-ha was typically cold-hearted, but he was not a heartless boss nor was he a person who demeaned others or was openly arrogant.
His standoffishness was not something that could be easily changed by a little-nobody executive secretary like her.
He and I had been working together for 4 years.
From the moment she first met Jin-ha, he always seemed a little obsessive about his work, and because of that, she was hardly aware if it was day or night when they were working.
From take-out sushi to cafeteria sandwiches to hotel room service to fairly reputable restaurants, she couldn’t even count the amount of times she ate face to face with her boss. This wasn’t her first time in this restaurant either.
So the fact that they were of different statuses and economic classes didn’t make Hee-joo or Woo Jin-ha feel uncomfortable while they were together.
But for some reason Woo Jin-ha seemed very uneasy. It was obviously because of her.
Even when he had promptly and skillfully managed his facial expressions, Hee-joo could read his emotions. She was hyperaware of Woo Jin-ha’s every signal. It was required of her profession.
What mistake did I make…….
While Hee-joo sat there, mindlessly grinning at the conversation, the back of her mind was worried and at a loss of what she had done.
She had always wanted to prove herself to him and complete tasks without any flaws.
Hee-joo’s long infatuation with her boss made her practically kneel at his feet without him needing to ask her to do anything.
If my clingy, grovelling attitude is exposed, he would certainly look down on me. It would be an ugly flaw….
She kept secretly glimpsing at Woo Jin-ha, pretending to listen to Chairman Jang’s comments, while Woo Jin-ha listened only halfheartedly to chairman Jang’s stories while eating neatly.
Then, whenever their eyes met, a cold, guarded gaze met her’s.
Thus she got anxious. However, until this long meal was over, there was no way to find out what was her mistake and how to correct it.
“Well… I’m… I feel a bit really sorry for Mr. Lee. He has been working for me for seven or eight years? As Vice President Woo knows well, it’s hard for people like us to obtain a reliable person by our side. It’s even harder to keep one for a long time.”
“If you think someone is trustworthy, you may get stabbed in your back. And what if they are too smart? It’s more dangerous to be smart, especially if they don’t know how to shut up. They have to be loyal, know how to keep secrets but not be greedy—because people will try to bribe them to take you down… Don’t you think so? The truth is, even if those dumbasses shut up, they’re still useless in the first place, so it’s not worth it.” (T/N: he is referring to MC and Lee together)
Chairman Jang acted as if Lee and Hee-joo weren’t even there.
Similar to an ornament but, on the other hand, treating them as “exceptions to the other lesser things.” He seemed to think he was really acknowledging them for having the privilege of listening to his thoughts as he looked down from the top.
Perhaps Chairman Jang thinks that his evaluation right now is very impressive and significant to Mr. Lee.
Hee-jo peeked at the manager Lee from the opposite side of the table casually and smiled knowingly when their eyes met.
Lee had also smiled sheepishly as if he was a little embarrassed. Even though they had only met for the first time, they could have a simple conversation just by looking at each other’s eyes.
If they could actually have a conversation, maybe he would say, ‘Oh. I’m going to die.’