Chapter 1 - Unforeseen Meeting
As Sehun walked toward the elevator, he could hear the whispers.
“Isn’t that Attorney Sehun Kang from Doguk? Is he related to this case?”
“What’s he up to? Why’s he here?”
“Is there anyone who got a good shot of him entering the building? A full-body one.”
Upon discovering Sehun, the flock of reporters camping outside the courtroom murmured amongst themselves as they started to gather around his lean body.
For large-scale law firms, their main source of income was from giving legal advice to corporate dealings rather than from litigations in civil suits. Within corporate dealings, the two most prominent areas of consultation that came with high retainer fees were financial and corporate law, but these two areas were different in substance. The former needed strong analytical thinking while the latter required flexibility in thought. Sehun was exceptional at processing both areas of law. Furthermore, he was adept at various kinds of litigation. He minimized his exposure to the media, but it was a given that reporters who frequented the courts knew him.
Standing nearby, Sehun’s chauffeur approached Sehun, who was crowded by people. However, Sehun put up a hand signaling the other to wait and listened to the onslaught of questions pouring out from the reporters.
“Aren’t you Doguk’s Sehun Kang? If I remember correctly, you don’t take on average criminal cases. What brought you here today?”
“This is because you acknowledge that the press is bad for the recent corporate restructuring case, correct? To my knowledge, the displaced workers gathered to protest against the company and Doguk, denouncing your actions!”
“If that’s not the case, are you passing the hot potato onto the current interest of the media? If it is, please tell us if this was discussed in advance with the defense counsel!”
Sehun’s eye-catching looks and acrimonious parlance were the perfect prey for the media. When needed, he gladly tossed food for the vultures. However, today was not such a day.
Sehun, who had patiently listened, waved his hand elegantly requesting silence, then spoke with gravitas, “I’ll get straight to the point. The reason I visited this courthouse was for personal reasons. I did not come here officially on behalf of Doguk. If I come across any speculative articles released, I will have no choice but to pursue legal action against you. That is all. I have no further comments, so please, step aside.”
After his brief answer, he gestured for his driver to come over. The man came and opened a path among the field of people. Sehun walked by the reporters and stood in front of the elevator.
Finally, the double-doored elevator opened and the two boarded the lift.
“Mr. Kang, are you leaving like this?”
“Say something, Mr. Kang!”
He ignored the desperate calls for him and personally pressed the close button.
Zing. As soon as the doors closed, his poker face collapsed in annoyance. Sehun hated the interest others had in him. In addition, he abhorred the loud voices that provided no benefit to him and pierced his eardrums. Unfortunately, he was plagued with the general majority, contrary to his will.
“Can’t people tune down their vocal frequencies to match Yoonshin Do?” Sehun said.
At his random remark, the driver who was covertly checking on Sehun flinched and replied, “Sorry?”
“Hah. I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s nothing. Let’s go down quietly.”
He shouldn’t have come here.
Sehun, who was peering at the elevator panel, frowned in irritation.
The vehicle carrying Yoonshin stopped at a shared basement parking garage of a multi-purpose mixed residential and commercial building complex near the law firm district in Seocho-dong. The garage was densely packed with expensive sedans and supercars.
The entrance leading to the hallway exclusive to the parking lot was fashioned like an art gallery entrance with grandiose patterns decorating the surface. Past the entrance was an extravagant hall reminiscent of a festive Christmas lobby in a renowned hotel. To exaggerate slightly, from the very entrance of the building to the neighborhood park at the back, it seemed like a small, standalone kingdom.
This apartment, lavish even at first glance, was a company residence that belonged to the law firm Doguk.
Doguk employed around four hundred lawyers, one hundred patent attorneys, and other personnel required to maintain intellectual property rights for a total of nearly one thousand full-time professional staff.
If any of their professional personnel wished, they could reside at a unit in the residences, assigned according to their position in the firm. For welfare purposes, the employee’s family was allowed, so the three buildings in the residential complex were almost completely filled by over one thousand households. Apparently, Sehun Kang lived in Building A on the “Royal Floor,” which had the largest square footage. Yoonshin also moved in recently to this complex.
Yoonshin started to gather the files that were placed in his backseat but paused to pick up and look at his resume.
“Is this really all right? I’ve never gotten a job from my connections before…” he thought.
A few weeks ago, Yoonshin was contacted by his elder sister.
The siblings’ relationship was quite close. Their father raised the two children by himself and his significantly older sister, Ikyung, practically raised Yoonshin like her son. After their father passed away, they were left alone in the world and naturally depended on each other. They were unable to meet frequently after Ikyung got married, but one of the things that Yoonshin was determined to follow was his sister’s words.
So, when she asked him to submit a resume to Doguk, he was quite taken aback—even more so when she told him that his spot was already made and announced that all he had to do was walk in. This was quite unprecedented since she had never ordered him to do this or that before.
‘So that was why Mr. Kang came to watch my trial with Senior Attorney Song,’ Yoonshin thought. His sister wanted Yoonshin to find a financially stable job instead of working all day and night for very little gain. She advised him that if he had experience at Doguk, he would be able to carry more credibility in court. He could feel her fondness and worry for her lonesome brother.
Yoonshin knew very well about Doguk’s reputation. Their clients were only international and domestic corporations that were guaranteed to bring in money, and they didn’t even consider consulting average individuals. It was self-evident that if he entered the firm, he would no longer be able to take on public interest cases. Even so, he accepted the offer after long and deep consideration.
This was all because his elder sister asked this of him.
He had never refused her before. That wasn’t because he was a docile younger sibling nor because they had a close relationship.
Ikyung was as wise as she was considerate. She didn’t disregard Yoonshin because he was young, and she acknowledged her brother’s free will. Even when it was difficult for her to accept, she thought long and hard from Yoonshin’s perspective, and only afterward, she very carefully suggested other options. That was her personality, so if she suggested something that Yoonshin was unwilling to do, there was bound to be a good reason for it.
However, he was planning on hanging on until she felt at ease before resigning at the right moment. He didn’t think he could last very long in that jungle of a firm. If he did the best that he could before resigning, she would understand.
“Hah… I don’t know.” Yoonshin shoved the document back in its envelope and got out of his car. After that, as he walked toward the regal parking lot lobby that he couldn’t get used to despite seeing it constantly over the last few days, he happened to see another man get out of his car.
His slim yet sturdy back was strangely familiar.
‘Where did I see him again?’ Yoonshin, who was quietly following the man, saw the other lift his keycard to the entrance. His long fingers adorned with neat and well-shaped nails left an impression on Yoonshin. He looked quite sanitary and extremely particular. Additionally, his sharp but clean profile was quite elegant. Yoonshin felt like he had seen the other before.
He was hit with the realization and had to swallow back his gasp.
It was Sehun Kang.
He never thought he would run into Sehun this early on.
The one blessing in this unfortunate situation was that Sehun didn’t turn around and see Yoonshin. He merely marched forward.
In the center of the parking lot lobby, the hall split into three paths. This was the junction that led to the different buildings of the apartment complex. Sehun walked up to that point wordlessly before he suddenly turned around and extended his lean arm to block Yoonshin’s way.
Yoonshin didn’t know when Sehun realized that he was behind him.
Yoonshin was astonished that he was stopped in his tracks out of the blue and stared up at the other. The first thing he saw was the sharp eyes that looked like they could see through another’s head and his pallid complexion. The moment their eyes met, Sehun addressed Yoonshin before he could avoid eye contact in awkwardness. “We meet again.”
When he said “again,” Yoonshin wondered for a moment whether the other was talking about the time they had briefly met a long time back. However, Yoonshin soon realized that was not the case. He quickly recalled that there was another event that happened between then and now. “Right. After we met at the courthouse… we meet again.”
“Do you have some time right now?” Sehun’s deep and composed voice asking him for a conversation sounded quite charming. However, Yoonshin knew somewhat that, despite his splendid outer appearance, Sehun couldn’t be considered beautiful on the inside.
Yoonshin couldn’t discern the authenticity of the rumors, but he had overheard that Sehun Kang was an opportunist. Sehun was arrogant, avaricious, and heartless. If it had a semblance of legality, he happily traded under the table with anyone, and sometimes he went against his professional duties and resorted to shortcuts, or so the malicious rumors told. Perhaps it was thanks to that, Sehun rarely lost his game.
“Yes, go ahead.” While Yoonshin replied, other residents were coming down to the lobby through the middle doors.
They snuck peeks at the two and the awkward tension surrounding them as they made their way to the parking lot. As long as they were residents of this apartment, they were related to Doguk in some fashion whether deep or shallow, and the passersby seemed to recognize Sehun. Yoonshin cleared his throat uneasily. However, Sehun’s expression never changed. He seemed not to mind the eyes of others.
“You know me, right?” Sehun asked.
There was nobody in this profession who worked for a few years who didn’t know Sehun. Yoonshin couldn’t infer the intention of this sudden question, so he decided to simply nod. “Of course, I know you. You’re Mr. Sehun Kang of Doguk.”
“Good that you know. I wanted to ask you a few questions.”
“I’ll gladly answer if I can.”
“I was wondering why I had to meet you here, of all places. This is Doguk’s residences.”
Yoonshin didn’t understand why Sehun was asking this when Sehun personally went to watch Yoonshin’s trial. It was either because Sehun didn’t approve of Yoonshin entering the firm using his sister’s influence, or he was trying to test him for another unfathomable reason, so Yoonshin replied in the most roundabout manner possible, “Perhaps this meeting was fate.”
He answered appeasingly, in the gentlest way possible. The other’s languorous gaze stuck to Yoonshin. His pale visage was filled with amusement.
“Fate, you say. I don’t believe in that. Don’t you think the cause is too vague?”
“But there is a definitive cause to why we met here… as far as I know.”