Chapter 88: When You’re Missing Pieces of the Puzzle (5)
TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir
The door of the PR team office smashed open.
Kim Hyunjo came in wearing a fierce expression. It seemed he was on a call as his phone was stuck next to his ear.
“Yeah, Reporter Min. Look into it for now.”
After ending the call, he looked back and forth between Team Leader Park and me.
“Did you hear about Lee Joohwan’s relationship with a girl? Did you?”
When we looked at him blankly, Kim Hyunjo said in a frustrated manner,
“I heard that that bastard was seeing another girl? I hear she’s a non-celebrity. Reporter Min says that since the story is so detailed, it’s pretty much a fact. Apparently, G-Today holds the information. Sunwoo, don’t you have a reporter you’re close with there?”
When I replied, Kim Hyunjo slapped my back and urged,
“Call her and ask. You have to use your connections at a time like this or when else would you?”
“Mr. Hyunjo, don’t be so hasty and have a seat. Calm down a little.”
Team Leader Park pointed to an empty seat.
“Do I look like I can calm down right now? When a rabid dog is causing a fuss? Wait, if you’re telling me not to be hasty, that means you’ve already heard…”
Kim Hyunjo, who had been talking with a frown, paused before saying,
“No, why are the two of you like that? Team leader, why are you so calm? Not long ago, you were going berserk, asking where Lee Joohwan was and how simply screwing him over wouldn’t be enough, right?”
Team Leader Park looked at me and smiled brightly.
“Ask Mr. Sunwoo. Mr. Sunwoo made a great contribution today.”
“A great contribution? What is it?”
“Mr. Sunwoo completely submerged Lee Joohwan in shit. We now only need to take him out and fry him up.”
Kim Hyunjo looked at me with a perplexed face.
“What are you talking about?”
“Hmm, listen to this.”
Without tiring my mouth from explaining, I handed Kim Hyunjo my phone. Then I played an audio recording. The audio recording contained the conversation I had with Lee Joohwan on the phone.
As soon as he heard Lee Joohwan’s voice, Kim Hyunjo’s eyes widened.
“Is this Lee Joohwan? That bastard picked up his phone?”
“Just listen to it, Mr. Hyunjo. Then your mind will be at peace.”
Kim Hyunjo hesitantly took a seat. Lee Joohwan and my voice played out in silence. Kim Hyunjo’s face gradually turned strange, and he even started staring at me intensely.
I avoided his gaze with a cough since I wasn’t used to threatening someone then listening to the recorded threat with others. No, wouldn’t it be a problem if I got used to it?
With a thrilled expression, Team Leader Park said,
“Here’s the climax.”
‘Umm. I’ll, I’ll take it down right away. The post. I made a mistake while drunk.’
Lee Joohwan’s excuse was smeared with anxiety and confusion.
Even though it was her second time listening to it, Team Leader Park’s reaction was outstanding. Should I say it looked like she had downed a beer in one shot?
“Send me this. I need to save it on my phone and listen to it when I need to calm my heart. It has an immediate effect.”
I readily nodded my head at Team Leader Park’s words.
Kim Hyunjo, who now had an expression similar to Team Leader Park, said,
“I bet his company is in mayhem?”
“His post on social media was brought down right away. They are probably wracking their brains trying to deal with it.”
At my words, Kim Hyunjo gave me a strange look once again. Then, with a laugh, he said,
“This guy’s talented, isn’t he? You’re even better than me.”
When I smiled without replying, Kim Hyunjo patted my back.
With a relaxed expression, he told Team Leader Park,
“I was thinking about how this was a bolt out of the blue, but if it’s like this, things should blow over without any damage.”
“We can’t just let things blow over.”
Not wearing any makeup, Team Leader Park’s lips became crooked.
“Since he’s already pulled Lee Songha into this, even if he takes his post down and explains, there will be a lot of people who won’t believe it and will think that we pressured him. Elementary and middle schoolers ignore facts and believe in whatever they want to believe.”
“So, if we want to make this situation advantageous for us, let’s make Lee Joohwan a true bastard.”
Just then, my blank phone vibrated. It was Reporter Park Woojeong.
Team Leader Park and Kim Hyunjo’s gazes were locked on me. Their gazes contained a strange excitement. Reporter Park Woojeong’s voice from the other side was also quite excited
-Mr. Sunwoo, I found her. I found that woman!
“You did? Already?”
It hadn’t even been that long since I told Reporter Park Woojeong.
Even the police wouldn’t be able to find their suspect this fast.
-My colleague helped me. Since this didn’t involve a celebrity couple but was a scandal involving an idol and a non-celebrity, he wouldn’t have helped out normally but said it would be interesting if we pulled Lee Songha into the story as well.
-We checked people associated with Punchline members. Though they swore at us since we woke them up early in the morning. After snooping around knowing her appearance, occupation, and name, we found her in no time. We already talked to her on the phone as well.
I was really surprised this time.
“You even talked to her?”
-The bar she works at opens until 4 a.m. Also…
After pausing for a moment, Reporter Park Woojeong said in an excited voice.
-We confirmed the facts after saying we would compensate her. Now we just need to write an article.
There was still a lot of time before the day brightened.
The Punchline members, who had been taking a nap, were forced awake and were sitting in the living room. They sighed out of frustration and gulped down cold water. They also stared at Lee Joohwan mumbling on the sofa.
“Bastard, if you’re going to do something, do it properly. What is this?”
“What are you going to do if our team image becomes bad?”
“Ahh, that foolish son of a bitch. Preventing us from sleeping by causing a ruckus so early in the morning.”
“Fuck, you’re loud! I’m already pissed.”
Even though Lee Joohwan spoke out impulsively, the Punchline members, who were familiar with his personality, ignored him as if he was a barking dog.
Scratching his head aggressively, Lee Joohwan swore.
“Motherfucker, this was definitely a foolproof plan. My popularity would rise, and I would knock Lee Songha off her high horse as well. It was pure genius. Fuck. That manager bastard, I didn’t like him during the recording, but in the end…”
He vented his anger by kicking the floor.
The chief, who had constantly been on the phone in another room, rushed out.
“What? Why? What is it now?!”
“You called that Hyesung or whatever and handled things properly, right?”
“You saw me talk with her a while ago. I told her to keep her mouth shut since reporters might call her.”
With an uneasy expression, the chief said,
“Call her again. I heard some strange information.”
“She’s fine. She’s so head over heels for me that she won’t say anything if I tell her not to.”
Grumbling, Lee Joohwan called her.
However, after ringing for a minute, it went to her voicemail.
“Fuck, why isn’t she picking up?”
“Isn’t she answering on purpose? Send her a text.”
“I’m telling you she’s not. She’s probably busy. Just wait a bit.”
The second, third, and even the tenth call.
The destination of the attempted calls was her voicemail. Lee Joohwan, who had boasted that there was no way she would talk during the first few attempts, grounded his teeth after the fifth. His face was distorted and his cheeks convulsed subtly.
“What the hell? What is she doing that she’s not answering her phone?!”
“Hey, this won’t do. You can’t have a scandal with a non-celebrity. Doing noise marketing by pulling a hot topic maker like Lee Songha in and being exposed in a scandal with a non-celebrity are completely different! Your fans will all leave! And if they mention the post you wrote…!”
“Motherfucker, it’s her voicemail again! Where the fuck does she put her phone?!”
Both had anxious expressions and they said whatever was on their mind.
Lee Joohwan shook his leg restlessly as he made his umpteenth attempt.
“Uhh, hyung, hyung! There’s an article!”
The youngest member, who had been on his tablet, shouted.
Everyone was gathered in front of the tablet in an instant. While multiple pairs of eyes read the article, a suffocating silence hung in the living room.
His face ashen, Lee Joohwan opened and closed his mouth.
The chief rushed into another room while holding his vibrating phone.
Then the main vocalist of the group glanced at Lee Joohwan before saying,
“We’re really fucked.”
As if this was a signal, Lee Joohwan began swearing loudly.
The sky was unusually clear and fair.
Since so many things occurred during the night, I was sleep deprived, but my mood was as bright as the sky.
Holding bagels and coffee I bought at a nearby café, I entered Neptune’s residence. The girls gathered in on the rug in the living room looked at me.
Although I told them that things ended well early morning, they looked terrible, clearly having spent the night awake.
With sunken eyes like a zombie’s, Im Seoyoung staggered her way towards me.
“Opppaaa, just what happened last night?”
“A lot happened last night. But why are you girls like that? Did you not sleep?”
Im Seoyoung gulped down her saliva.
“Yes. We were readying our hearts because we thought a storm was coming.”
“Although a storm did come, it passed by us.”
I answered with a grin. Only then did Im Seoyoung’s complexion brighten.
LJ, who had been tapping at her laptop on one side of the rug, smirked as she said,
“That storm, it seems it went to Punchline. There’s a huge fuss.”
Well, it did deal a strong blow to Punchline.
While netizens with nothing to do were spreading screenshots of Lee Joohwan’s post and driving Lee Songha into a corner, G-Today took the post and released an exclusive article that included Lee Joohwan’s date.
Follow-up and aggregate articles were published after that. Like how Team Leader Park intended, Lee Joohwan’s image completely went to shit and many fans who called him ‘our oppa’ left him.
Even though we didn’t act, Lee Joohwan and his company desperately explained the post he had uploaded. Only then would he look a little less like trash. Either way; because of their explanation and Team Leader Park’s media manipulation, those who were on a witch hunt against Lee Songha retreated.
While the other girls were looking at the articles and comments about Lee Joohwan, I placed a bagel in front of Lee Songha. Then I asked,
“Were you waiting?”
“Yes, I was.”
Lee Songha said while smiling brightly as the sky.
“What do you want to do?”
The director scratched his chin while asking.
The team 2 leader and Chief Jo were sitting on the sofa across from him. After taking a sip of steaming tea, the team 2 leader spoke. The speech he had prepared to persuade the director flowed out from his mouth.
“Lee Songha, it’s an important time for her right now. It’s not rare for those who debut brilliantly with a successful first project and disappear after dull projects afterwards. If we want to take care of her properly from now on, it’s better to assign a veteran to her.”
“So, instead of Lucky Charm, she will be assigned to you, Chief Jo?”
The director asked while blowing on his tea.
Chief Jo, whose complexion had brightened a little, readily nodded his head.
“Since Chaeyoung’s situation right now is a bit… There’s no need for me to be in charge of her right now.”
The team 2 leader added,
“Lee Songha will be busier from now on, and if she wants to properly take steps into the drama and film world, a bunch of problems will crop up suddenly. We can’t keep leaving it to Jung Sunwoo. Since Lee Bongjoon was there with him, there wasn’t a problem with Cat Guardian Ghost, but he’ll have to face problems by himself in the future. He’s just a rookie with five months of experience, do you think he can handle it?”
“Did you not hear about what happened last night?”
The director abruptly asked.
“I saw that Lee Songha’s name was rising up and down in the articles… It didn’t seem like a big deal.”
At Chief Jo’s reply, the director clicked his tongue and continued to speak.
“From what Team Leader Park says that Lucky Charm handled a scandal concerning Lee Songha that would have given us a rough time this early in the year. Considering he’s a five-month rookie, he’s good.”
“Don’t incite someone who’s doing his job properly and let him be.”
Unsatisfied, the team 2 leader began to speak, but the director looked at Chief Jo as if he didn’t need to hear any more.
“Also, why are you guys acting like this? Chaeyoung pestered the CEO to assign Lucky Charm to her, and you want Lee Songha? If you really want to change who you’re assigned to, then get Lee Songha’s approval.”
Chief Jo, who had been sitting scrunched in his seat, suddenly raised his head.
“Will you assign her to me if I persuade her?”
“I’ll think about it if you get her approval.”
That night, Chief Jo called out to Lee Songha, who was exhausted from preparing for their next album in the basement practice room. Then they sat across from each other in a small meeting room. With a brightly smiling face, Chief Jo talked about the data he had prepared ahead of time.
The conversation only went on for about ten minutes.
After ten minutes, Lee Songha returned to the practice room with no change to her normal appearance. Chief Jo left the meeting room only after a long time had passed.
From that day onwards, Chief Jo didn’t bring up the topic of changing the celebrity he was in charge of.