Real Man - Chapter 11
An awkward atmosphere continued to pass between them, but since it was loud and noisy in their area, their silence seemed to be a natural part of the scene.
Yoo-hyun knew very well that there was an invisible wall in front of him.
It was the wall that his father built after he had thrown resentment towards him.
He wanted to break it right away, but he was being careful so it wouldn’t lead to his father’s retreat.
He had to wait for his father to open the door to his heart by himself.
After all, this was not a meeting of a salesman that needed results within an hour.
It is clear that this is a difficult task, but Yoo-hyun already took the first step properly.
He was able to get them to a place where they can be together, and they could even have a drink.
In this case, drinking alcohol would become pivotal for his relationship with his father.
That was what Yoo-hyun believed.
Holding a bottle of soju, Yoo-hyun leaned towards his father’s empty glass.
“A drink for you.”
His father passed the empty glass silently, and Yoo-hyun silently handed it over after filling it up.
One or two glasses were emptied quickly… and then the empty bottles piled up one after another.
His father’s cheeks were getting redder as he got more drunk.
After downing one glass at once, Yoo-hyun looked at him.
His father certainly looked frailer than what he remembered as a child.
However, it was not like his father had an expression of giving up, unlike that one Yoo-hyun had faced in the future.
There was still a spark in his eyes.
His father had a calm look on his face while he breathed steadily, moderately setting his arms and legs as he leaned his upper body towards Yoo-hyun.
After noticing his changed posture, Yoo-hyun felt that the wall had been torn down to some extent, so then he opened his mouth to say, “Father.”
His father then raised his head upon hearing Yoo-hyun’s words.
A handsome, middle-aged man — who looked to be of similar age to his father — approached them and talked to his father.
“Hey, CEO Han. Why are you sitting here like this? Who is this young man?”
“Oh, you had such a wonderful son. It’s so nice to meet you. I’m Kang Dong-ho.”
“This is Han Yoo-hyun.”
Yoo-hyun noticed that his father may have had a bitter expression on his face, but it didn’t seem like he was totally displeased. His father may have been quite close to this person.
As Yoo-hyun was getting up to shake the newcomer’s hand, the middle-aged man patted Yoo-hyun on the shoulder and sat him down.
“Hey, what’s all this? Sit down, sit down.”
Then, Kang Dong-ho wrapped his hand around the back of his father and addressed Yoo-hyun directly, “Yoo-hyun, was it? Did you know that you have a wonderful father?”
“Chief Kang, you’re too drunk.”
“No, no, boss. I have to tell him how cool his dad is. Yeah, he is, isn’t he?”
When Yoo-hyun nodded, Kang Dong-ho excitedly started talking about his father.
The conversation was mainly about his father’s character.
It went on for a while that if Yoo-hyun’s father hadn’t stopped Kang Dong-ho, they would have stayed longer for an hour or more.
In the end, he paid for his own drinks and left.
“He talks a lot.”
“It was nice meeting him.”
Yoo-hyun’s father handed over the empty glass to Yoo-hyun without saying another word.
— Why do we have to give all the money? Huh? It’s hard for us, too! You look like you’re going to die right now, so how could you even take care of others first?! In times like these, you have to take care of your family first!
The anger that Yoo-hyun had spat after the company went bankrupt still nagged his father’s mind.
He even gave the money he made from selling the factory assets to the workers who lost their jobs.
As a result, it was their family who suffered the most.
That was always such a sad thing to remember.
“Father, have a drink.”
Yoo-hyun took one look at his father’s gloomy expression and guessed what he was thinking.
He couldn’t remember exactly what he said in the past, but he knew he said a lot of hurtful words to his father.
When he heard the rumors that he had given all the money to the employees, he just couldn’t contain his anger.
He even pushed his father by asking why they must be the only ones living like pushovers.
But now he knew.
He knew how heartbreaking it was to have succeeded but still have no one left around you, whereas his father still had these people who believed in him.
In the end, it was his father, and not himself, who had truly succeeded in life.
His heartfelt feelings came out in his words, “I’m sorry, dad.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just because, I was feeling bad and said some hurtful words to my father.”
Upon hearing his words, his father’s hands slightly trembled as he filled Yoo-hyun’s glass with alcohol.
“I’m sorry. I was so devastated…”
“Don’t say that. It’s all my fault.”
Both of them kept blaming themselves for their mistakes — and maybe because they were a little drunk.
A smile made its way to their faces.
They even toasted their drink.
“Congratulations on passing the screening.”
“You should hold that until I actually get accepted.”
Light conversations were exchanged naturally.
It seemed that alcohol certainly worked to open up people’s hearts.
Before they even realized it, a sincere conversation began. His father started his story with a recollection of the past and how it would progress in the future.
“Don’t worry. I think I might get a pretty big order one of these days.”
“That’s great, really great. You’ve been working so hard, cheers for that.”
When Yoo-hyun raised his glass, his father also smiled and raised his own.
“Yes. The factory will definitely revive if we win the contract with Woosang Construction.”
It was when the glass collided.
At that moment, there was one word that resounded in Yoo-hyun’s head.
“That’s right. It’s a large apartment complex being built in our area by Woosang.”
Yoo-hyun glossed over the other unrelated words and started organizing his thoughts.
If he considered it more closely, Woosang Construction was recently preparing to build a large-scale apartment complex near his old school.
And in his memory, that project was also the one that caused the company to go bankrupt because it created a lot of damage.
He wondered if his father was also damaged in the process.
‘Then it makes sense.’
He didn’t remember his father’s factory making a comeback.
After all, it makes sense that he couldn’t revive the factory if that dream depended on the contract with Woosang Construction.
Perhaps due to Yoo-hyun’s serious expression, his father suddenly put down the glass he was holding up.
This time, Yoo-hyun was the one who spoke up first, “The contract hasn’t been signed yet, has it?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
Yoo-hyun could not answer his father’s question honestly.
‘I can’t tell you that I’ve seen the future.’
And he couldn’t just force his father either.
But that didn’t mean that he’d just let this one go without doing anything.
He wouldn’t let it happen no matter what.
Yoo-hyun organized his thoughts and slowly opened his mouth to say, “Just because. Woosang Construction is building that apartment complex near our school, and I just heard some rumors about it.”
“They’ve been doing so much work here and there, but the financial situation of the company as a whole looks bad enough for the company to be in danger.”
“That can’t be. Woosang is a big company,” his father said while shaking his head.
Of course, he had no choice but to think like his father.
Right now, Woosang Construction was among the top five major construction companies.
But Yoo-hyun couldn’t back down now.
“Just in case, what happens if Woosang Construction fails after signing a contract?”
“I just want to know what will happen.”
If the contract was done properly, even if the company declares bankruptcy, the other contractors might not have such a big problem.
If one looks at it, the downpayment would have been received first, and if the remaining quantity for the work hasn’t been delivered yet, then it’s still possible to deal with that in another way.
The problem would arise if the contract was made as if it were customary for the contractors to shoulder everything first.
His father’s reply was delayed, so the latter type of contract might have been what they had considered signing.
In addition, he must have also become cautious after remembering the cause of the previous bankruptcy.
Just by observing his father’s darkening facial expression, Yoo-hyun could guess what was going on in his head.
“The company will be damaged… I’ll go investigate more on this.”
“Yes. There’s nothing bad about being careful.”
“Right. Let’s have a drink.”
After they bumped their glasses, Yoo-hyun naturally steered the conversation to a different subject.
From then on, he put it to mind that it was all up to his father now.
If that didn’t work, he would check again later and step in if necessary.
The conversation led back to the story of Yoo-hyun’s company.
The five empty bottles sitting on the table told Yoo-hyun that it was about time to go.
Yoo-hyun sincerely asked, “Dad, how should I live in the future?”
“Why are you asking a man who failed?”
“I want to hear it from you, dad.”
When Yoo-hyun bowed his head seriously, his father downed one drink.
Then his father slowly opened his mouth and said, “Yoo-hyun-ah, this father of yours may not look like much, but he still hasn’t changed his mind.”
“Life is not meant to be lived alone. Living isn’t about money or success, it’s about looking after the people you live for.”
— You have to live for people, not money or success.
For a moment, the advice that his father gave him from the past intersected with the present.
Before, he immediately refuted his father’s words with ‘What do you know?’, but then looking at it now, he felt differently about it.
These were the words he wanted to hear again, and he would form his new milestones in this new life based on those words.
Yoo-hyun opened his mouth and with all heartfelt sincerity, he said, “I will definitely keep that in mind. Thank you, father.”
His father patted Yoo-hyun’s shoulder without uttering another word.
There was a joyful smile on his father’s lips.
That was it for today.
Yoo-hyun smiled brightly for the first time.
During Yoo-hyun’s stay in his hometown, he went around many places.
He also visited the car shop where Kim Hyun-su worked, and then ate at the school that Kang Joon-ki attended.
He also advised Ha Jun-seok in his preparation for getting a job.
Ha Jun-seok quietly listened to his words and was naturally amazed at what Yoo-hyun said.
“You sound like an interviewer.”
“Hey, of course, you have to prepare this much.”
“Will it be nerve-wracking?”
“Just remember this.”
“Okay,” Ha Jun-seok reluctantly answered.
Still, Ha Jun-seok desperately wanted to remember everything they discussed.
Of course, it took quite a while for them to get on the same page, but it was also enjoyable for Yoo-hyun.
He was reminded of the fact that human relationships also required a lot of effort to maintain.
He also visited his mother’s side dish shop once more, and then had dinner with the people who worked at his father’s factory.
As Yoo-hyun spent more time with his family, their relationship gradually lost its awkwardness.
They always ate breakfast and dinner together and often talked until it was time for bed.
With less time spent watching TV and more time spent talking face-to-face with each other, the time they spent laughing together naturally increased.
The first to notice this change was Yoo-hyun’s younger sister who went to school in a distant province.
When she returned home after her exams, she was astonished to see her family sitting in the living room and simply chatting.
“What? Why is the atmosphere so good?”
“It’s good because you weren’t here.”
“Tsk, brother. I’m offended.”
“Oh, my daughter. Come sit down. Ho ho ho.”
She playfully pretended to sulk, but Yoo-hyun could see it with one glance.
His younger sister could not help but like the warm atmosphere of their family that she had not seen in a long time.
After she came back, she usually called for Yoo-hyun in her spare time.
Of course, her gaze that lingered on Yoo-hyun had also become softer than before.
All of these changes were made in less than two weeks.
“It’s this easy.”
Yoo-hyun fell into deep thought.
He didn’t feel happy after he ran straight towards his goal, but he felt it now through his interaction with the people around him.
It was now time for Yoo-hyun to go back to Seoul again.
Perhaps because they were about to part ways, Yoo-hyun’s mother became teary-eyed.
“Oh, I’m sorry. What should I do?” She was worried.
“Mom, I’ll definitely call you.”
“Get there safely,” his father said.
This time, his father smiled broadly.
It was this.
Yoo-hyun bowed his head with a very happy heart.
“Take care, father. You know that your health is the most important thing, right?”
“Hey, go away. You’ll be late.”
Yoo-hyun got on the bus, leaving behind his mother who waved at him happily, and his father who smiled broadly.