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When I went out to the garden to get the newspaper, I ran into my father dressed in a suit.

"Huh? Father. Where are you going?"

"Oh, today is the opening day. I'm going to the theater to check out the situation first."

Seeing my father rush out like a worker who's running late made me laugh. 

He had never worked a day in his life, but he was giving it his all today because he was being evaluated. 

There was no way the theater would start so early in the morning, but he would have thought it better to wait in front of the theater than to hang around at home.

I fully understood that feeling.

When I sat in the living room and read all three newspapers, I felt something was wrong.

This was planned. All the newspapers were attacking Ajin cars?

Now that the morning paper had started, it was obvious that tonight's TV news would exaggerate the story even more. If this was repeated a few more times, an official investigation would be launched, and the media would sharpen their attacks on Ajin even further...

Why now?

I didn't even remember what happened in '91.

However, the shock wave of the foreign exchange crisis that began in 1997 hit Ajin Motors, and Daehyun swallowed Ajin after 1998.

Was this really what the future held? Had something begun to change?

Or was it just the occasional slamming of companies? Was it just a part of the government's efforts to tame companies?

These sort of questions kept pestering me.

I folded the newspaper and approached my mother who was preparing breakfast.

"Mother, when are we going to grandfather's house?"

"Tomorrow. Why?"

"Then can I go alone first?”

My mother's hand stopped while preparing breakfast.

"Why? Is something wrong? Did your grandfather ask you to come first?"

"No, it's just that once I start middle school, I won't be able to visit him as often."

"Oh, really?"

Mother smiled lightly and shook her head slightly.

"Okay. Have breakfast and go ahead. Go make your grandfather happy."

"Yes. By the way, aren't you going to the theater? Today's the opening day."

"What if there is no audience and the theater is empty? I'm so nervous I can't go."

I couldn't reassure her to go since I could recall no information about my father's movie. It was either it was made so long ago that I couldn't get any detail of it or the movie never existed from the beginning.

All I did was give him an opportunity and now, the ball was in his court on how to make use of it. Moreover, watching without getting involved was also a pleasant thing.

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* * *

"Oh, our little Dojun. You grow up so fast every time I see you. That's great. Hehe."

He no longer lifted me up anymore. In fact, he couldn't. I grew up much faster than he aged.

"My baby, Grandfather has something to do. Can you stay alone for a little while?"

"Yes, I'll be in the living room."

I had an increasing feeling of unease.

The article just before the holiday and the study where many people gathered. Just looking at the neatly placed shoes on the front door, I could tell there were almost ten people.

Grandfather was not cruel enough to tie up his people just before the holiday season. There was also no reason to gather in the study just to watch the fall of Ajin Motors.

Was what was meant to happen seven years later going to happen now?

What kind of discussion could be going on in the study right now?

I waited impatiently.

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* * *

Contrary to Dojun's expectation, those at the study were idly spectating.

What they were observing was not the fall of Ajin Motors but rather, the codenamed 'Operation Desert Storm' taking place in another country.

On Jan. 17, the war began when the U.S.-led multinational forces, fired Tomahawk missiles into Iraq to drive out Iraq, which invaded Kuwait last year.

While pulverizing the equipment and command system of the 600,000-strong Iraqi army and causing death to 70,000 casualties, the US military lost only 294 people. Of Iraqi victims, 145 were accidental deaths and 149 actual combat victims, of which 35 were victims of friendly fire.

Unlike the U.S. military, which had fewer than this, the number of Iraqi soldiers killed was estimated to be about 20,000. The number of wounded and captives combined was 70,000.

Rumors began to circulate that Iraq was withdrawing from Kuwait in the face of overwhelming firepower, and the war was coming to an end.

"When does this end?" Chairman Jin asked.

"It's less than a week away. The United States and the United Kingdom are already discussing post-war restoration projects," answered one of the members.

"What about our country? What did the government say? Is there a possibility of them joining?"

Chairman Jin's frown suggested he had already given up his expectations.

"The Middle Eastern branch and European subsidiaries are moving quickly, but it seems difficult for the government to get involved in recovery operations."

"Then we can at least serve the good side. That way, we'll build a toilet in the desert and get a few more drops of oil. Don't you think so?" Chairman Jin asked.

This was his way of giving an order to secure reconstruction projects and oil in the Middle East specials. The presidents of the two companies, Sunyang Construction and Oil Refinery, glanced at the Chairman and bowed their heads, saying simultaneously,

"We will do our best."

"Can I trust you two?"

"Yes, Chairman."

Chairman Jin was not yet convinced, but it was clear that he didn't want to complain before the upcoming holiday. He immediately moved on to another agenda.

"Have you read today's newspaper? It's about the Scud missiles. We'll concentrate our firepower before sending in more troops, you are all prepared right?

With stiffened faces, they all responded solemnly. The acquisition of Ajin Motors was Soonyang Group's biggest project this year.

Troops referred to funds. After collecting as much funds as possible, when the chairman's signal falls, he/she will immediately buy out stocks under a borrowed name.

When securing a certain amount and the government provides negative and positive support, M&A is carried out like lightning.

Once they secure a certain amount and they get both public and private support from the government, they carryout the M&A at lightning speed.

It went without saying that it had to be finished in the blink of an eye like the Operation Desert Storm.

"You're all excused. Visit your hometown, perform the ancestral rites, give your children some pocket money, and rest well."

Standing up from their seats, they gave the chairman a deep bow.

"We wish you a happy New Year and the best of health, Chairman."

They looked ready to bow with a kowtow, but fortunately, the space didn't allow for it.

When everyone else had left, only Lee Hak-jae and Vice Chairman Jin Young-ki remained in the study to put their heads together.

"How much did you acquire?"

"I've acquired 7.4%. I've discreetly spread it in Myeong-dong under a borrowed name, so no one will notice."

As Lee Hak-jae spoke cautiously, Jin Young-ki handed out some reports.

"This is the production line adjustment plan."

"And what's the key point?"

"We've decided to sell off the trucking line."

Chairman Jin flipped through the report dryly and tossed it onto his desk.

"Are you confident?"


"Ajin. Are you confident enough to take it for yourself?"

Jin Young-ki nodded without hesitation. Saying things like it was too much to handle or that he was not confident would only make him look foolish.

"As the chairman said, it's best to achieve the second place in the industry. We'll aim for the top spot in the domestic market by acquiring Ajin."

Chairman Jin didn't find the boasting words of his son pleasing, but what could he do? Young-ki was the eldest son so he had to inherit most.

"Then you take care of it from now on. Discuss with Director Lee and take over Ajin within this year. If I succeed, I'll give you all the shares of the automobile division."

Jin Young-ki looked at the chairman in disbelief.

The shares of Sunyang Automobile were mostly owned by the holding company. Giving him the automotive company meant giving away the holding company's shares, which was virtually the same as giving away the entire group.

Hak-jae was equally surprised.

He was suddenly deciding on the inheritance like this!

"Why? Do you not want it? Or are you not confident?"

"Oh, no. Father! Thank you."

Chairman Jin smiled bitterly at Jin Young-ki, who leapt from his feet and bowed with his head on the ground.

"You should go, too. Take care and don't make any mistakes. Don't come early tomorrow. Visit me in the morning of Lunar New Year's Day and perform the ancestral rites. You don't have time to waste."

"Yes, Father."

As soon as Jin Young-ki left, Lee Hak-jae said, "That's a lot you're giving him for the New Year allowance."

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"Aren't you practically announcing the group succession?"


The chairman's eyes widened as if asking what nonsense he was talking about.


"I only said I'll give him Sunyang Motors. I didn't say I'll give him Sunyang Corporation, did I?"

Now, Lee Hak-jae was speechless.

"There will be no problem in defending management rights if we exceed about half of the auto stocks held by affiliates. That's what I meant. Of course, even that alone is quite a large New Year's allowance."

"Oh no, the vice president must be very disappointed."

"Did you really take it that way?"

"Yes, that's what I thought."


The chairman burst into laughter, hitting his desk.

"Oh, my... Now, he'll go all in."

Hak-jae breathed a sigh of relief at the chairman's laughter. The issue of succession, which would be the most important decision in the history of Sunyang Group, needed to be handled more carefully.

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* * *

"Grandfather, you're still working even though it's the New Year?"

"What can I do? I have a lot of work to do. But it's all over now."

As soon as I entered the study, I saw Grandfather organizing the newspapers scattered on his desk. Judging by the Ajin Motors article visible on the front page of one, the topic of today's meeting was undoubtedly about Ajin.

"By the way, uncle seemed to be in a good mood. He was leaving with a smile…"

"Really? It's probably because it's a holiday.”

Judging by his wry expression, there was definitely something going on.

I couldn't miss the opportunity to tidy up the newspaper. Since I noticed the article about Ajin Motors, I had to pretend to ask Grandfather about it.



"I have a question.”

"Yes, go ahead."

"In the newspaper..."

But I couldn't finish my question. The thick report underneath the newspaper caught my eye. It had the title: 

"The Necessity of Structural Reorganization in the Domestic Automobile Industry and the Government's Support Plan"

Darn it.

To think grandfather was behind all of this!

What the hell was going on?

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* * *

Although the holiday season was coming up, Ajin Motors' Chairman Song Hyun-chang could not leave his office.

All major daily newspapers had criticized his management style as that of a dictator, with some even questioning his ethics, accusing him of embezzlement and corruption.

As a result, the stock price had already hit its lowest point today.

He wanted to sue them for defamation immediately, but he had to avoid any interaction with the media.

All sorts of thoughts swirled in his head, but there was only one thing he had to do right now.

This had to end now. He had to prevent it from escalating any further.

Chairman Song Hyun-chang made a continuous stream of phone calls.

But the media outlets claimed that the article was based on an informant's report and the Blue House said they wouldn't intervene in the media.

All his subordinates reported negative results.

Someone had started the attack, but the identity of the enemy was obscured by the fog and the reason for the attack was unclear.

There were certainly some companies that wanted to make inroads into Korea using Ajin as a foothold. The most notable were Daehyun, Woosung, Soonyang and overseas automakers. 

All of them were much larger than Ajin Motors and had overwhelming financial power, making them difficult opponents.

Although it was the middle of winter, Chairman Song felt like he had a fever having been so worked up.

When he was about to call his secretary to turn off the heater, the intercom rang.

"Mr. Chairman, you have a visitor."

"Send them away! I said I wouldn't see anyone from outside today!"

"Well, that's..."

As the secretary's perplexed voice was heard through the intercom, the door to the chairman's office suddenly opened.

A man in a jumper walked in as a staff tried to hold him back.

"What the hell is this? Do you think this is a public gathering place for anyone to come in? What are you still doing here? Get him out of here now!"

He was so caught up in extreme anger that he even uttered obscene language.

"Do you not remember me, Chairman Song? It's Cho Dae-ho."

"Who? Cho…? CEO Cho?"

Chairman Song Hyun-chang recalled Jo Dae-ho's appearance in a suit.

Wasn't he the president of Sunyang Motors?

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