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Big Life Chapter 279: Is This An Internal Strife (3)

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Chapter 279: Is This An Internal Strife (3)


Aigoo, my cute son. Do you see Mommy? Do you see Mommy smiling at you?” It wasn’t enough just seeing the lovely eyes of her son all day long. Chae Yoo-Jin changed his diapers and carried him in her arms. The smile couldn’t be wiped off from her face.


Waaah-waaah? What did you say? Are you hungry? Do you want some food?”


Chae Yoo-Jin prided that her happiness was different from most. Her pregnancy was first and foremost both a blessing and a miracle. She had managed to shake off the lonely destiny of having to live alone in the U.S. after breaking up with Oh Myung-Suk due to her infertility.


Bzzt!


“Son, please wait a while. Let Mommy answer the phone first. h.e.l.lo?”


— h.e.l.lo, this is Yanagi Yos.h.i.+mi from Ichijikan. Are you free to talk now?


The lady spoke in extremely sloppy English. Chae Yoo-Jin had encountered such situations a few times before, so she let out a silent sigh.


“Yes, I’m available to talk. And please feel free to speak in j.a.panese,” Chae Yoo-Jin replied in j.a.panese for the sake of smoother communication. There had been a few times when the lady on the other line spoke in sloppy English p.r.o.nunciation that made it difficult for Chae Yoo-Jin to understand her.


The lady then replied in j.a.panese with a brighter tone.


— Thank you for your consideration. As I mentioned over the phone the last time, I called again to discuss the copyright for The Malice. I made some mistakes back then, as I wasn’t familiar with the instructions given by my supervisors, and there wasn’t a proper manual given to me as well.


The lady spoke twice as fast as she replied in j.a.panese. There was nothing of substance for Chae Yoo-Jin to listen to as they were mere words of apology out of politeness. Still, as a competent agent, Chae Yoo-Jin waited patiently. After the introduction and apology were done, the lady went straight to the point.


— …So after an internal meeting, we decided that we would be able to pay 10 million j.a.panese Yen upfront in royalty. And we would like to hear the agency’s answer on this.


Chae Yoo-Jin smirked before replying. 10 million j.a.panese Yen? Compared to the past when Chae Yoo-Jin had signed a contract for 3 million yen, this was a huge improvement, but that was still far from enough.


“Um, Ms. Yanagi.”


— Please speak.


“We can’t sign this contract.”


— Pardon? But could you please…


“We can’t sign with just 10 million j.a.panese Yen,” Chae Yoo-Jin replied with determination, her expression icy cold.


It wasn’t an issue with the amount; it was her duty to protect Ha Jae-Gun’s value as an agent. That was why she continued without hesitation. “I am well aware of the trends on vested interests in the publis.h.i.+ng industry in j.a.pan. In other words, a cartel of sorts within the industry, right? I think this advanced royalty is too high. Let’s not sign any contract at all. Things are still going to go this way, right?”


— Apologies, but there must be some misunderstanding…!


“I acknowledge such a trend in j.a.pan. But this is Writer Ha Jae-Gun’s work we’re talking about. Publis.h.i.+ng an essay in Korea compared to the advanced royalty of 500 million won paid to a famous j.a.panese writer is too ridiculous, isn’t that right?”


— That… Korea’s publis.h.i.+ng industry has a trend of infinite compet.i.tion between publishers in the fight to get their hands on great works and…! Of course, the company is a for-profit organization, so it’s natural to want to sign contracts with those who could provide more royalties upfront, but—


“I understand what you’re trying to get.” Chae Yoo-Jin cut the lady off and continued with her own opinion, “I have no intention of saying that the practices in Korea’s publis.h.i.+ng industry are right. It’s natural to say that foreign companies who are aware of such practices in Korea are also picking them up. Indeed, the Korean market goes too far from time to time.”


Chae Yoo-Jin looked up and drew a deep breath. She looked at the shelf of books written by Ha Jae-Gun and added, “Let me tell you our firm stand. We have no intention of matching Mr. Ha Jae-Gun’s value to the j.a.panese market.”


— W-what…?


“Mr. Ha Jae-Gun has made me the proxy and a.s.signed me to completely deal with overseas copyright-related deals for all his works. It doesn’t matter to us even if The Malice is unable to enter the j.a.panese market right now. We have signed contracts with more than thirty countries across the world, and I believe we will be able to establish relations.h.i.+ps with other publishers aside from Ichijikan.”


Chae Yoo-Jin iterated clearly on who had the advantage here. Feeling the suppression, the lady on the other side of the line couldn’t continue any further.


Creaaak.


The door opened behind her, and in came Oh Myung-Suk. As she sat upright, Chae Yoo-Jin spoke into the phone, “I believe that you’ve understood my words clearly, and will be hanging up now.”


— W-wait. Please, let’s talk this over calmly…!


Beep!


Chae Yoo-Jin let out a sigh after hanging up the phone unilaterally.


Noticing the flush on her face, Oh Myung-Suk approached and asked, “What was that call about? Is it from j.a.pan?”


“Yeah, Ichijikan. They proposed 10 million yen in advanced royalties.”


“So that’s why our Ms. Chae Yoo-Jin is so angry.”


“I’m not angry; I just found their offer to be quite ridiculous. Was my son surprised by Mommy raising her voice? I’m sorry, Mommy is sorry.”


The smile returned to her son’s face as she cradled him in her arms. She was about to give him a kiss when her phone rang once more.


“Look after our son. I’ll answer the phone.”


“Thank you, honey.”


Oh Myung-Suk answered the call in her stead, and Chae Yoo-Jin’s interest was piqued as soon as he spoke in English.


A while later, Oh Myung-Suk blocked the phone’s microphone and turned around. Then, he muttered, “Hidensha, 120 million yen.”


Chae Yoo-Jin smiled innocently. It did not come to her as a surprise. Wasn’t it part of nature that the one who was afraid of losing out would reach out to others first?


***


[Ha Jae-Gun’s The Malice finally signs copyright contract with j.a.pan’s Hidensha]


[Industry expert: An extremely unusual case in the j.a.panese market, which is famous for not spending money on overseas copyrights.]


[The Malice sold over 1 million copies in its second hometown, France!]


[The Breath-Dragon Rider with sales slowing down before 30 million copies soared once more after news of the Prix Goncourt award]


“Isn’t this a novel, hyung?” Lee Yeon-Woo mumbled as he read the articles related to Ha Jae-Gun on the search portals. Yang Hyun-Kyung glanced at his monitor briefly and chuckled.


“Isn’t that right? It’s a fantasy novel if we write about Jae-Gun hyung’s stories.”


“You’re already writing them, aren’t you? It’s all over your blog.”


“Ah, Hyun-Kyung hyung. We agreed not to talk about it. If Jae-Gun hyung hears about it…”


“Alright, alright. I got it.”


Just then, Jeon Bong-Yi who was working beside Yang Hyun-Kyung, b.u.t.ted into their conversation. “Regardless if Ha Jae-Gun oppa gets a son or daughter, they’d be born with all the blessings in the world. Their father is a world-renowned writer, their uncle is the heir of one of the top chaebol families in Korea, and their father’s best friend is a world star.”


“That sounds like they’d be born with a cheat code...”


The writers burst into light laughter. Lee Yeon-Woo laughed together, but his facial expression was rigid, thinking of his mother who was working hard all alone.


I told her not to work, but she still went to the restaurant…!’ Lee Yeon-Woo had been sending money to his mother regularly ever since his father’s pa.s.sing. It was the money he had painstakingly saved in hopes that his mother would be able to live a comfortable life.


However, nothing in this world would always go according to expectations. His mother hadn't been willing to waste even a single penny of the money that Lee Yeon-Woo had sent over. She saved it up and resumed working at the restaurant. No matter how much Lee Yeon-Woo tried to persuade or get angry at her, the result was still the same. She said that if she didn’t save it up, it would be almost impossible for him to get married later on in life.


Bzzt!


Lee Yeon-Woo’s phone vibrated on the table, snapping him out of his thoughts. He spotted Ha Jae-Gun’s name on the screen and answered it immediately.


“Yes, hyung. Are you already done with the meeting with President Kwon?”


— Yeah. I’m on the way back to the office, do you want to come out for lunch? Although it’s still slightly early for that.


“Sure, I’m getting hungry as well. Then shall I ask the others…”


— Come alone.


“Sorry?”


— There’s something I need to talk to you about, so just come alone.


“Okay, I understand. I’ll head out now.” Lee Yeon-Woo hung up the call, c.o.c.king his head to the side.


Jeon Bong-Yi had a strange expression as if she was guilty of something.


“Um, Jae-Gun hyung called me out alone, so I’ll be heading out first.”


“Oh, really? You’ll be having lunch outside, then. Have a safe trip.”


Lee Yeon-Woo felt stranger by the minute as he put on his shoes. Why didn’t anyone ask why he was going out alone? But he decided to brush it off as he left the office, thinking that it was because everyone else was busy with their writing.


Ha Jae-Gun was already waiting for him on the first floor when Lee Yeon-Woo arrived. “Did you wait too long?”


“It’s only been three minutes since the call. How is that considered long? What do you want to have?”


“Hmm, since it’s cold out, how about some army stew?”


“Sure, it’s nearby, too.”


The two men walked to the restaurant nearby and found a table for themselves. As soon as the server took their order, Ha Jae-Gun asked immediately, “Why didn’t you tell me about Epic Sphere?”


“Ah, h-how… did you know?” Lee Yeon-Woo turned pale. He had asked Yang Hyun-Kyung hyung not to say anything about it, but Ha Jae-Gun seemed to have heard from someone in the office.


“How did I know? Is that important right now? Do you want to die?”


“I-I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Ha Jae-Gun hyung. I didn’t want to hide it from you, I just—”


“You don’t have to say anything else, I know.” Ha Jae-Gun cut Lee Yeon-Woo off as he filled their cups with water. “I just have two things to tell you.”


“P-please speak… hyung.”


“Do you think writers should only be writing novels?”


“...”


“No, right? Every writer has their own talents, right? Whether it is poems, novels, essays, scenarios, or anything else, wouldn't it be enough as long as there are readers?”


Lee Yeon-Woo’s heart ached, unable to give a reply.


However, Ha Jae-Gun wasn’t expecting an answer at all. Lee Yeon-Woo felt grateful and apologetic, wondering why Ha Jae-Gun was looking out for him constantly and was always ready to comfort him, even though he was lacking.


Lee Yeon-Woo couldn't help but wonder when he would stop being a burden to Ha Jae-Gun.


“And there’s something else," Ha Jae-Gun added, "You said you felt apologetic to be freeloading and riding on my coattails?”


“Honestly, I can’t say no…”


“How is that riding on my coattails? Did Poongyoo-chun’s name get famous with just my efforts alone? I’ve received so much publicity thanks to your blog.”


Ha Jae-Gun then reached out over the table, patting Lee Yeon-Woo’s shoulder. “Sign the contract."


“Ah, seriously, Jae-Gun hyung…”


“It’s your a.s.set and a well-deserved achievement. Don’t feel apologetic to me. Like how indebted you feel toward me, I also feel the same toward you.”


Ha Jae-Gun then looked at the wall-mounted TV and pointed at it. “Look at that. Did you know how thankful I am to you when you helped me put that man down back at Newdon’s office?”


Lee Yeon-Woo looked at the TV and smiled with tears in his eyes. Director Woo Jae-Hoon’s face was being shown on TV, ranking first in the Foolish Comments corner on Immediate News.


“You hear me? You’ve done a lot for me too. So it’d be great if your book sells well, allowing you to be filial to your mother.”


“Can I… really do that, hyung?”


“Have you not been listening to me at all? You don’t need to get my permission.”


Just then, Ha Jae-Gun’s phone rang, interrupting their conversation. Ha Jae-Gun excused himself as it was a call from Nam Gyu-Ho. “Yes, brother-in-law? Why did you call?”


— I wanted to call you in the morning. I heard from Team Leader Lee that you’ve had a meeting for The Breath?


“Yes, I’ve completed roughly half of Part Two, and was discussing it with Laugh Books’ President.”


— You’ve already done half of it? When did you get the time? Are you not on good terms with Team Leader Lee?


“Hahaha, no way. It’s half of the amount compared to Part One. I just had to finish the composition, and I can finish it quickly."


— Alright, send me the ma.n.u.script, too, so I can refer to it for the scenario writing. Wait, you can just send it to Team Leader Lee instead. Enough of this, you know it’s soon, right?


“Of course,” Ha Jae-Gun replied with a huge smile.


Nam Gyu-Ho was referring to the closed beta test for The Breath Online. Ha Jae-Gun was specially invited for it, as he was the original novel’s author.


— Team Leader Lee strongly opposed your partic.i.p.ation but what could she do? I’m the planning director, so I can call the shots. Isn’t that right?


“Hahaha, yes. Soo-Hee is such a perfectionist. I think she’s worried that I’d be disappointed if I saw it in advance since she’s put so much effort into it.”


— I’d be thankful if you could bring along a couple more friends who know about games.


“Hmm, okay. I’ll think over who I can bring on board.” Ha Jae-Gun replied and thought of his best friend, who was working in an SME game company. However, it was questionable whether Nam Gyu-Ho would accept the partic.i.p.ation of employees from compet.i.tors or not.


— I’ll call you again. I’m having army stew with Team Leader Lee. Aren’t you jealous?


“Oh no. I’m already out and about to have army stew as well.”


— d.a.m.n it, I’m a step late again. Enjoy your lunch, brother-in-law.”


“Thank you, enjoy your lunch too, brother-in-law.”


As soon as Ha Jae-Gun hung up the call, the waitress served a huge pot of army stew on their table. Lee Yeon-Woo turned on the fire, and the stew was soon boiling.


“It’s been a while. Let’s dig in.”


“Yes, it looks delicious.” Ha Jae-Gun looked around. Somehow, he had formed the habit of looking around his surroundings in hopes of spotting the elderly man in a custom-made hanbok.


“Hyung? Did you see someone you know?”


“No, it’s nothing… Dig in,” Ha Jae-Gun replied, sounding distant as he picked up his spoon. Meanwhile, the waitress turned down the heater in the restaurant. Ha Jae-Gun soon realized that early spring would soon arrive in his 31st year alive.

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