Chapter 115
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Chapter 115

    Chemical Intelligence(1)

    Inside the conference room of KG Chemistrys West Building, the first-quarter business performance report meeting was in full swing.

    Thanks to the expansion of premium research and the successful collaboration in global research, our revenue has increased compared to the previous year by approximately

    As Manager Jeon Yeong-ho from the finance and accounting team flipped the projector screen, the executives and department heads were left in awe.

    Revenue: KRW 5,874.1 billion (a 13% increase compared to the previous year)

    Operating Profit: KRW 7,577 billion (a 63.5% increase compared to the previous year)

    Net Profit: KRW 6,381 billion (a 93.3% increase compared to the previous year)

    a 13% increase. The ratio of operating profit to net profit is 63% and 93%, respectively, marking the highest performance in the companys quarterly history.

    Cha Bon-jun, an executive in his late fifties who was sitting at the center of the conference room, looked surprised and then turned his gaze to the director sitting next to him.

    Director Park.

    Yes, sir.

    That preliminary performance report from the beginning of the year, full of pessimistic predictions about domestic economic downturn, reduced inventory, and weakened demand for small battery products. Whose company was that?

    Well that report.

    Thanks to that report, I issued defensive guidelines to reduce R&D investment. Shareholders must love such a foolish management strategy, right?


    Under Cha Bon-juns probing question, sweat formed on Park Ho-jins sparse scalp.

    Twenty years in the company, one year as the Director-General of the Strategic Planning Department.

    Park Ho-jin, known for smoothly handling his work without any major hiccups, had received praise for his efficiency. Yet, he had no words to justify such a glaring miscalculation in the quarterly predictions.

    The presentation by the former director continued.

    In relation to the factors contributing to the favorable performance, the revenue share of new projects from the Central Research Institute and external dispatched projects is significantly prominent. Please verify the individual profit data from the submitted report, and I will report the results up to the second position here.

    As the analysis continued, Park Ho-jins eyes lit up with concentration.

    The natural fragrance project in the basic materials field achieved a remarkable feat by completing all tasks with only 5% of the total research cost, providing the best results for the investment. The air purification project in the materials science field has paved the way for entry into China, currently negotiating contracts with numerous companies based in Beijing government offices and Shanghai.

    Departments heads Jang Tae-seon and Noh Jong-seon, who ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively, side by side in achievements, subtly displayed proud faces. Usually, with such results, praise from the CEO would follow.

    Dr. Noh. A record-breaking performance. Our basic materials took the top title on this eventful day.

    Dont boast just by listing the profit ratio. Keep in mind the overwhelming dominance of net profit in materials science, which is the top in KG Chemistry. Dr. Jang.

    The three other center directors, who only held a small portion in the performance ranking, sighed briefly at the conversation between the two newcomers.

    Cha Bon-jun carefully examined the screen and pressed the microphone button.

    Dr. Jang, Dr. Noh.

    Jang Tae-seon and Noh Jong-seon focused their gaze on Cha Bon-jun, expecting the upcoming praise.

    I remember the New Years meeting. Both of you praised Director Parks report here, providing crucial advice when I was setting operating guidelines. The exact wording was something like this: With many projects in the early stages this year and it being the off-season, its not right to talk about performance. Lets endure some stock price decline for the sake of the second half.

    Park Ho-jin, whose complexion had been darkening, lowered his head deeply, and Jang Tae-seon and Noh Jong-seon looked embarrassed.

    Cha Bon-jun continued speaking.

    I have one question. If you prepared for such outstanding results and showed humility, how do you plan to dispel the public suspicion that you deliberately let the stock price drop to profit from the difference? As someone who purchased a certain amount to defend the falling stock price, I would like advice. How should one handle it when investors feel betrayed?

    The atmosphere in the conference room froze instantly. Jang Tae-seon hastily spoke.

    Sir, you misunderstand. I also had no idea that the collaborative research with Audrey would unfold so well.

    Noh Jong-seon began his own defense.

    Im the same. We conducted the Dust Project thinking a year ahead, and I didnt predict it would generate this much profit in the first quarter.

    After a short silence, Cha Bon-jun spoke again.

    From the perspective of running a company, that makes sense. You want to boast even a small achievement optimistically. However, KG Groups motto is transparent management. Weve gained the trust of investors by openly acknowledging difficulties. Please keep this in mind, all executives and below, and be careful not to make mistakes again.

    In the chilling atmosphere following the performance announcement, as Cha Bon-jun passed by, he casually asked.

    So, what are the business prospects for the second quarter?

    After the meeting, in the absence of the CEO.

    Park Ho-jin gathered the five center directors of the Central Research Institute and began a serious discussion with a grave expression.

    What on earth is going on? I dont meet with you center directors every day, and if I dont have a proper understanding of whats happening in the research institute from the Strategic Planning Office, how am I supposed to plan the management strategy?

    Director Park, its true that we had no idea the overall performance would be at this level.

    After a stylish response from Jang Tae-seon, he exchanged a glance with Noh Jong-seon.

    Park Ho-jin sighed heavily and spoke.

    Whats done is done. We need to formulate the second-quarter strategy and report it within this week. Please provide your opinions properly. First, lets discuss this report.

    Park Ho-jin, who had been scanning the detailed report on the laptop throughout the meeting, pointed out one conspicuous name.

    Starting this year, is Central Research Institute also hiring freelance researchers? How is it possible that this employee is the key researcher in high-profit projects? Even projects from KG Life & Health and KG Industries. What I find most incomprehensible is this.

    Park Ho-jin opened the financial statements.

    Why is 38% of Yujin Chemicals Total Care revenue included in our net profit? Even if I want to release extensive press releases to clear up misunderstandings about the first-quarter performance, there needs to be a convincing explanation.

    Noh Jong-seon responded to this question with a wry smile.

    Director Park, do you not know Han Jeong-woo?


    Oh, you didnt know. The rumor has already spread among the affiliates. He joined us through a special recruitment at the end of last year, and hes truly exceptional.

    As soon as Han Jeong-woos name was mentioned, Jang Tae-seon interjected with a wide smile. π˜§π“‡π˜¦π˜¦π”€β„―π˜£π“ƒπ“Έπ“Ώβ„―π˜­.𝑐𝓸𝓂

    It might seem odd that our Jeong-woo went to Alaska due to Yoon Jaegils crazy conditions. But that happened because even Yoon Jaegil couldnt resist the treasure of Central Research Institute, which consistently exceeds expectations.

    Park Ho-jin, with a puzzled expression, asked Jang Tae-seon.

    So, youre saying this outstanding performance is all thanks to Han Jeong-woo? A regular researcher single-handedly surpassing the companys management strategy and accomplishing not one but several tasks? And all of this in just three months?

    Its hard to believe, but yes.

    All center directors looked at Park Ho-jin with expressions agreeing with this statement.

    After combining objective indicators and testimonies from center directors, Park Ho-jin reached the conclusion that without Han Jeong-woo, it would be impossible to formulate the next quarters management strategy.

    The impact that a single researcher could have on KG Chemistry. An unforeseen, truly absurd variable had intervened.

    Park Ho-jin immediately opened his laptop and read through Han Jeong-woos personnel file. As he went through the information, he had to doubt his eyes.

    He came in as an intern and its already been five months?

    He was truly a talent sent unexpectedly from the heavens to help KG Chemistry.

    Jang Tae-seon, noticing Park Ho-jins shock, added an explanation.

    He might have come in through a parachute-like special recruitment, but hes Dr. Cheon Seung-guks disciple.

    If its Cheon Seung-guk, although hes at the top in terms of research in the institute, does he even care about management?

    Whats surprising about our Jeong-woo is that, he has skills and a personality comparable to Park, who is at the senior level.

    As Park Ho-jin continued to hear more revelations, he had to swallow a sigh. He then found himself contemplating the current status of Han Jeong-woo, a regular researcher.

    Hes handling work beyond the senior researcher level, yet the treatment is merely at this level. If another company scouts him, it will create chaos not only in the board of directors but also among the shareholders.

    That is indeed a concern. Even someone like me is willing to stake the position of the next head of the Basic Materials Center, but I wonder if Yoon Jaegil would have incurred such significant losses if he had just called him.

    What does Director think about this?

    Amidst everyones silence, Noh Jong-seon raised his head and said.

    We have no way of knowing if its not disclosed. He briefly mentioned that Han Jeong-woo, as a disciple of Dr. Cheon, showed deep affection for KG Chemistry.


    Park Ho-jin found himself in a new dilemma. To formulate a proper management strategy, there must be a guarantee that this talent currently targeted by Yujin Chemical wont leave KG Chemistry.

    Peoples hearts can be swayed in front of positions and money. Its strange not to treat such top-tier talent properly, but at the same time, its difficult to issue personnel orders that violate internal regulations to someone without a masters or Ph.D. degree.

    Director Park, may I offer a small opinion regarding the position?

    Jang Tae-seon chuckled and, lowering his voice as if to share a secret, continued.

    Do you know what position Dr. Cheon Seung-guk had when he was first scouted by KG Chemistry? Its the same for our Jeong-woo

    Jeong-woo forced his eyes open at the sound of the alarm. It was the third day lying in bed at home, suffering from a cold and swollen tonsils. After returning from Alaska, the tension that had been tight since leaving home seemed to have finally relaxed, resulting in a sudden onset of fatigue accumulated over the past month.

    Despite this, apart from the sore throat that stung every time he swallowed, many other symptoms had subsided.

    While sitting in the room, trying to gather his thoughts, the door creaked open.

    Brother, wake up!

    Due to a request to wake him up if he couldnt get up, his younger brother abruptly shoved his face with a bandit-like expression.

    What a surprise, you woke me up. Is Soo-jin still doing well?

    Oh, yeah. You look like shit these days.

    Lets talk about your belly fat.

    Even in the midst of pain, the banter with his younger brother was the same as usual.

    Jeong-woo stretched and got up from his bed. As he descended to the lower floor, his mother was nowhere to be seen. In the kitchen, Jeong-chan, his younger brother, made eye contact with Jeong-woo.

    Mom went to the early morning market. Are you going to eat?

    Im good.

    Not having much appetite, Jeong-woo had a glass of juice to start his morning. He then went to the bathroom, brushed his teeth, and stood in front of the mirror.

    Ah, I look like shit.

    Comparing his current appearance with before he went to Alaska, he had lost almost 5 kg, making his face look quite pitiful. After washing up and trimming his slightly grown beard, he looked somewhat presentable, but still appeared a bit haggard.

    Even with a slightly furrowed brow, he deliberately forced a smile in the mirror.

    Cheer up. Were getting busy from today on.

    Deciding not to dwell on it and to move forward, it was the first day of work that had arrived.

    Though his body was quite fatigued, his mind was as light as ever.

    Outside, it was unmistakably spring.

    As Jeong-woo walked out from between people rushing through the station exit, he couldnt take his eyes off KG Chemicals twin buildings that he hadnt seen in a long time.

    Finally, he felt like he had escaped the wild and returned to human society. Whistling as he walked, Jeong-woos pocket vibrated. Taking out the phone from his pocket, it was a message from the HR department.

    Huh? Why are they asking me to come here?

    Having taken Monday and Tuesday off due to sick leave, he hadnt heard which center he was being dispatched to.

    Jeong-woo entered the main building and took the elevator.

    As he went to the 25th floor, the familiar view of the corridor came into his sight. Cheon Seung-guks private research lab, frequently visited by Jeong-woo, was nearby.

    If its Room 11 at the end of Section C corridor here it is.

    He arrived in front of the opaque glass door and swiped his access card.


    The interior space was a modest-sized private research lab, equipped with a workspace with two desks and a smaller cleanroom.

    It wasnt at the level of executive-level researchers, but it looked like the residence of a researcher who was at least a team leader.

    Is my project immediately starting as I return to work on Wednesday?

    Sitting on an improvised chair inside the cleanroom, since there was no guest chair in the office area, Jeong-woo spent his time exploring each experiment tool that was all set.

    After about 20 minutes passed, the sound of the door opening from the outside reached him.

    The owner must be here.

    Jeong-woo opened the door to the cleanroom and reflexively bowed his head.

    Nice to meet you Huh? Senior Boyeong?

    Two large eyes without double eyelids were directed at Jeong-woo. Holding a box in both hands and standing in the corridor, Song Boyeong squinted her eyes and stared at Jeong-woo for a while.

    Didnt expect you here.

    Reacting to Jeong-woos words, Song Boyeong snapped out of her daze and came inside.

    Why are you here, Jeong-woo?

    The HR department asked me to come here.

    Weird. Why?

    What about you, Senior?

    Placing the box on the small desk inside the office space, Song Boyeong answered.

    Ive returned to regular work after completing Seung-ju sunbaes project. Im assisting senior and getting used to the usual work at the same time.

    Song Boyeong pointed towards the large desk with a gesture.

    Following her gaze, Jeong-woo turned his head toward the desk. It was a simple desk with only basic office supplies, without a nameplate.

    Who is that person?

    I dont know. I received a sudden call from the HR department this morning, I guess you and I came together because were from Lab 1. I dont know anything beyond that.

    While saying this, Song Boyeong looked closely at Jeong-woos face.

    I heard you went through a lot, and it seems to be true.

    Surprised by Jeong-woos thin cheeks, Song Boyeong couldnt look away.

    Did anything happen?

    My face got half paralyzed.

    No way. Senior, my face is the same, just the double eyelids are 1.5 times thicker.

    Song Boyeong puffed up her cheeks in response to Jeong-woos teasing.

    It was quite peaceful for a month. If it wasnt for a designated location for the dispatch, I would have just sat next to you and watched, my dear junior.


    Bringing the makeshift chair from the cleanroom, Jeong-woo placed it next to Song Boyeongs desk and sat down. He suddenly remembered and asked her.

    Senior Boyeong, do you have all the papers that Dr. Cheon Seung-guk wrote before?


    I want to read them once.

    During his days of suffering from a cold, Jeong-woo had thought about his personal research direction, the Project to remain a successful chemist next year, and reviewing Cheon Seung-guks past actions would make it easier to draw a blueprint.

    Song Boyeong clenched her fist and turned her head.

    I cant give them to you for free, not to a rival.

    Why are you like this? Even though I helped you sell a thousand boxes of that essential item for women, which you couldnt even get beef with yet.

    That you.

    Now that I know youre the type to keep your mouth shut, Ive seen it.

    Song Boyeong was about to answer that she would bring them tomorrow when suddenly someone knocked on the door from outside.

    Knock, knock.

    Excuse me. Im Jin Yeong-man from the HR department. Is Han Jeong-woo here?

    The sound of knocking on the door from outside reached Jeong-woo and Song Boyeong, and Jeong-woo approached the door to press the button to open it.

    Han Jeong-woo?


    First, take this. Park Ho-jin, Executive Director of the Strategy Planning Office, is visiting at 10am. Please wait.

    Looking at the table nameplate that Jin Yeong-man handed out, Jeong-woos expression turned into a questioning one.

    Is an assistant researcher here? Her name is Song Boyeong?


    Song Boyeong, who had placed the box on the small desk, answered.

    Please do a good job for the executive director.

    The director? Here?

    The HR staff who delivered the surprising news disappeared, and Jeong-woo, who was standing still in front of the door, was approached by Song Boyeong.

    The owner of this room is no joke. Its the Strategy Planning Office, the core department of the headquarters. Why are you just standing there like that? You should prepare something like drinks in advance when an executive director comes. Even though youre leaving for the dispatch in a few days, youre the youngest, Jeong-woo.

    Um, Senior. Are there such positions in the research lab?

    Jeong-woo showed Song Boyeong the job title and name written on the table nameplate he had in his hand.

    [Special Researcher Han Jeong-woo]

    Her eyes widened at what Song Boyeong saw. She realized who the owner of that large desk was and had an expression of disbelief.

    Excuse me~ Delivery.

    Someone approached the open door. With a large flower arrangement placed next to it, the person bowed and disappeared.

    The congratulatory message from Jang Tae-seon on the flower arrangement read, [Lets celebrate Han Jeong-woo becoming a special researcher, lets come to the basic materials one more time!].

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