Chapter 28: The Calm before the Storm (3)
I took a deep breath and exhaled. Perhaps it was because of the incident, but the air up here felt different from the lower floors. A heavy atmosphere took hold of this place, making it seem like I shouldn’t breathe heavily.
I saw a few familiar faces in front of the CEO’s office. PR Team Leader Park who was holding the doorknob, about to go in, and the balding management business director next to her.
Sung Dowon’s manager, who I had met last time, had his head down like a sinner.
Then did this mean Sung Dowon had already arrived?
The director let out a big sigh that seemed as if it could collapse the ground.
“Just how are to managing your actor to get into this kind of trouble?”
“I-I am sorry. That day, Dowon hyung told me not to follow and go home first…”
“So you just let him go and you went home by yourself?!”
“He said it was a private party with a few close acquaintances… I-I really didn’t know it was that kind of party…”
As if he couldn’t handle this situation, Sung Dowon’s manager’s lips were trembling. His face was already deadly pale.
“Director. Team Leader Park.”
As we approached, the director became surprised.
“Why’d you come here? And why is that guy behind you? Are you trying to let everyone know?”
“That’s not it…”
When Kim Hyunjo transmitted what I said to the director, his eyes shined.
“It was a guy from Pure Star Entertainment?”
“Yes. I thought it would be good if I told you so I brought him here.”
The director pondered momentarily before looking at Team Leader Park and asking.
“Seems a bit suspicious, doesn’t it?”
“Very. Director should know as well. That company is a bit…”
“Wait for a bit.”
The director knocked on the office door and went in. I saw a few faces as the door quickly opened and closed.
Two men wearing suits, one was the bearded man from the elevator. CEO Baek Hansung sat with an incomprehensible expression.
And Sung Dowon.
He always had a bright, gentle smile on his face, but it was currently stiff like a rock.
As soon as the director entered the office, Sung Dowon’s manager fell to the floor, pulling his hair.
Both sides looked like they were about to collapse.
“It looks like the legal team is inside… are they going to file a lawsuit?”
When Kim Hyunjo asked Team Leader Park, she tilted her head.
“I don’t know.”
Now that I thought about it, there were no talks about W&U filing a lawsuit against the anonymous man in the future.
Even if Song Dowon was a nationally recognized celebrity, taking a picture without permission, invasion of privacy as well as threatening, weren’t these crimes enough to shut him down? There were plenty of times when Hollywood actors would sue the paparazzi. If they just filed a lawsuit against them before the incident exploded…
“If we file a lawsuit, there will probably be quite a few who will rush here trying to dig something up. If this story gets out, we have so much to lose.”
“If we can stop him by giving him money, this will probably be the best.”
Ah, so that was how they sunk deeper into the depths of despair.
A few minutes that felt like hours passed and just then, the office door opened.
Then the director pointed at me.
“The CEO wants to hear your story personally… so come in.”
The door of the office was opened wide.
“There’s no need to be nervous. Just tell us what you heard.”
Kim Hyunjo whispered to me while patting my back.
The moment I entered through the frame of the door, 50,000 thoughts went through my head. The benefits I would get after everything was settled well, the recognition from the company, a raise, a bonus, from those to the curses and disadvantages I would receive if it failed to go the way I imagined.
Either way, the door was opened and I entered the office.
Team Leader Park who followed in behind me closed the door.
When I lifted my head, everyone inside the room, I really meant everyone, was staring at me. Especially Sung Dowon and the bearded man, they seemed to bore holes in me with their stares.
“I am Jung Sunwoo of Management Team 3.”
I cleared my throat before I talked, acting calm. Of course, my mind wasn’t calm at all.
No matter how courageous one was, if they stood here with my guilty feelings, their hearts would probably freeze.
What was really fortunate was that I saw the photo on top of the table.
The photo evidence was both the trigger and the key to solving this incident.
Figuring out I was looking at the photo, the bearded man flipped it over, but it was already after I had examined it.
It was because my instantaneous observation skills had improved greatly after I got my foresight ability.
Sung Dowon and a woman, whose identity was covered by a mosaic, were captured in the photo and the composition and background were enough to put him in a bad light.
“What did the Pure Star Entertainment manager say?”
CEO Baek Hansung was amazingly calm even in this situation.
I tried to answer as calmly as possible.
“He asked if ‘those unethical bastards at W&U teach you to work that way? You’ll wake up to your senses after being stabbed in the back.’”
I supplemented what I said to Kim Hyunjo before.
They say people get better at lying the more they lie, lies were easily flowing from my mouth.
“You don’t have any more than that?”
“Yes. Only… now that I think about it, it seemed that they really did have something up their sleeves.”
CEO Baek Hansung fell into a state of deep thought for a moment while the bearded man told me in a domineering voice.
“Hey. If there was something fishy, you should have reported to us immediately. Did you not know that our relationship with them isn’t good since Dowon left his contract with them for us?”
“That manager is known to come from a bad background. There were rumors about him threatening other managers so I just thought that he was trying to make me scared at that time. But if something really happened to Sung Dowon, then I thought I should let you know… I am sorry for telling you so late.”
The director shook his head.
“It only seems like this because this incident occurred. It was normal for you to think that way back then.”
“Anyways… Pure Star Entertainment are bastards who could do this and even more. There are only pure gangsters over there.”
“It’s only a belief, we aren’t certain.”
“That’s that but…”
“And if they wanted to get back at us, why would they make things so complicated? Since they have photo evidence, they could have just released it to the press… Who are the guys who sent the photo anyways?”
Team Leader Park shook her head.
“They are a small internet news company called True Media, but when I searched them up, I could only find abusing articles. They said that they would never reveal the identity of the photographer. To protect their informants.”
Completely pissed, the bearded man cut in.
“What informants, those paparazzis. Lawyer Lee. How about we scare them by saying we’ll file a lawsuit?”
“Then we said we would send them a certification of contents, they just laughed. They are saying that if we file a lawsuit, we’d be the ones who lose. If this breaks out, Dowon’s image will fall and since it’s an issue of ethics, if the marketing companies Dowon is contracted to invoke a cancellation clause, we might even have to pay up billions of won.”
“On top of that, they aren’t acting as if they are demanding money to shut them up. They act as if they are selling the photo to us and if we don’t buy it, they might sell it to the Chinese press. They are quite familiar with this industry.”
Didn’t Director Park say that the incident started with the anonymous man demanding money?
Did… something change?
Wait. Was it that?
It could be that the final victor, W&U, had changed the story and revealed it as the truth. As history only remembers the victors. Since it would look more like W&U and Sung Dowon were victims if they said that the anonymous man approached them demanding money from the start.
My expectations would have to be correct… It would be critical if something changed right now.
“I am sorry. I must have been crazy.”
Sung Dowon said with a dark expression.
“No matter how curious you are; you shouldn’t go to those things…”
“No, no. At your age, you could be curious about those things.”
The bearded man consoled him, but his expression didn’t change.
“It’s not like there was an exchange of money, and it’s not like you did drugs or gambled. It’s possible that a few close friends came together and did it after drinking. There are tons of kids who do that.”
“But why did it have to be a married woman… And for the photo to capture you guys like that…”
Sung Dowon clenched his fist at those words.
“The photo only turned out that way, I never touched her.”
“Yeah. We believe you. We do but…”
“I don’t even remember her face very well. I didn’t even know she was married. I really…!”
“What’s important is that the photo turned out like that.”
CEO Baek Hansung cut him off. Sung Dowon, who was expressing his victimized feelings, bit his lips.
“’I did go to a sex party, but I didn’t sleep with a married woman.’ Is that what you’re going to say in interviews?”
“I’ll look into whether this incident has anything to do with Pure Star Entertainment, so just make sure that this doesn’t get leaked to the public. If they are a paparazzi with no relations with Pure Star, then we’ll just give them money and end it. If this is related to them…”
CEO Baek Hansung’s eyes sharpened.
I took a deep breath.
To be honest, I wanted to say this earlier, but because I couldn’t guarantee that the photo was 100% photoshopped so my tongue froze at that moment.
However, if I wanted to butt in, I had to do it before it was too late.
… Still, let’s not go all in and leave some room to patch things up.
I looked around and approached Team Leader Park, whom I was most comfortable with.
Team Leader looked at me with an expression that read, ‘Oh, right. You were here too’.
“I saw that photo earlier.”
“Oh, you saw that? Please be careful… No, let’s talk about this outside.”
“But that photo, I think it was photoshopped.”
Again. Just like when I first came into the office, everyone turned their gazes towards me.
If I hesitated here, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.
“… You, this is a serious issue.”
“So that’s why I kept wondering about it and had come to tell Team Leader.”
“Did it really look like it was photoshopped?”
“Yes. Earlier, Sung Dowon said that the photo was taken like that, but when I look at it, it seems like it was put together that way. How about we have a professional look at it before we take action…”
“What kind of bullshit are you spouting?!”
The bearded man flipped the photo and stared intensely at it.
“Aren’t you just saying that? Because we keep complimenting you, now you can’t distinguish when and where you can butt in… Where does it look like it was photoshopped?”
Honestly, I didn’t know.
However, Director Park from the future said that they figured out that it was photoshopped later and if it was a photo that could easily be exposed, Pure Star Entertainment wouldn’t have even started this.
“I don’t see any signs of it being photoshopped? Don’t tell me you’re talking about the mosaic?”
“You said that Dowon definitely went to the party. Then what was photoshopped?”
“No matter how I look at it, it looks real to me?”
Team Leader Park, the director, the lawyers and even Sung Dowon were huddled around the photo and mumbling.
CEO Baek Hansung silently looked at me.
The director called me again.
“Did you ever study photography?”
“I never studied it, but I do have some interest in computer graphics.”
I was interested in it. Just, I didn’t know anything about it.
In Hollywood movie-making films, they talked quite a lot about computer graphics. I watched those parts with interest. Because they were interesting.
The bearded man stared at me once again.
“You really are talking because you know something, right? This is a huge incident with billions of won on the line. This isn’t something that will be settled with a ‘Sorry, I was mistaken’ later.”
The director gestured at me with a serious expression.
“Come here and explain properly. Does it really look photoshopped? Which part?”
“It’s a feeling so it’s hard for me to explain in words…”
“When you look at the photo as a whole, doesn’t it look at bit awkward?”
“It looks awkward?”
They looked back at the photo with their eyes narrowed as if they were looking at a Magic Eye photo.
“I still can’t see it…”
Taking this opportunity, I drew in a particular person I had thought about beforehand.
The person who wanted to believe my words the most.
“Umm… Sung Dowon. Are there any suspicious parts about the photo?”