Chemistry

Chapter 56
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Chapter 56

    A month in the life of a chemical company team leader(1)

    The second week at the Basic Materials Center.

    Jeong-woos days continued to be peaceful. Within the 15-day dispatch period, excluding holidays, there were limited tasks that external researchers could perform. The first day was strange.

    Unless summoned by the center director, Jang Tae-sun, Jeong-woos daily life consisted of wandering around the Basic Materials Center and exchanging greetings with senior colleagues.

    Even that didnt happen often. In this place where research projects were carried out in teams, there were hardly any seniors who would engage in professional conversations with outsiders who would disappear the next day.

    At the dinner celebration boasting the success of the firefighting bidding competition, there was so much joy and conversation when Jeong-cheol and Gong Gyeong-ho, both senior staff members, met.

    Thanks to that, the biggest burden in this place was dealing with Center Director Jang Tae-sun.

    Take charge of a project.

    Ill be leaving at the end of January.

    Just for a short period, lead the team for 10 days. Bring whatever you want to work on, and Ill deduct it from the budget.

    Its unlikely that a research project started that way will succeed.

    As the time spent drinking with Jang Tae-sun increased, Jeong-woo faced more and more pressure to take on projects at the Basic Materials Center.

    Repeatedly refusing one request after another.

    Perhaps because of that, Jang Tae-sun even went as far as assigning tasks that should be done by the center director.

    The metal and resin adhesive technology being developed by Basic Team 3 seems to have room for improvement. We need to simplify the joining process to reduce weight.

    Reduce weight? How?

    Take a look at the report. I stayed up late working on it last night. Lets finish it quickly.

    Haha. You could just take a nap here.

    Im planning to leave early. Look at the next page. The interior coating film requested by KG Construction, Yoon Team Leader says it lacks moldability

    Do you want to have a meal with me or do research here?

    I modified the thermoplastic synthesis and changed the surface treatment method. Please refer to this report as well.

    Do you want to have a meal with me or live here?

    Oh, its already 11:50. I should go now. You dont take early leave in the afternoon, right?

    Jeong-woo!

    When the third week arrived with only five days left, the office turned into the center directors room.

    As Jang Tae-sun kept chasing after him regularly, instead of building connections, the Basic Materials researchers began to avoid Jeong-woo.

    After spending 14 days at the Basic Materials Center, the final day of the dispatch arrived on Friday morning.

    Still, its a bit bittersweet.

    Jeong-woo, carrying a personal research material he had prepared in Cheon Seung-guks private lab, entered the center directors office as a parting gift.

    Is the center director here?

    The secretary gestured him to wait for a moment. Usually, he would be allowed to pass right through, but as he looked at the inner door, it seemed like someone was already inside.

    While waiting in the reception area, he received a text message on his phone. It was from Song Boyeong.

    [Can you spare some time to look at something? I still cant grasp one concept we talked about last week in the paper.]

    He quickly composed a reply.

    [Unless the center director suggests we live together.]

    [He said that again? Director Jang is really funny. Hes not just casually leaning against the wall today, right? Haha]

    She was the only one at the company with whom he could have such candid conversations, so she knew very well how much Jang Tae-sun cherished him.

    [Even though he likes you so much, he pretends not to notice when you ask for a project. Opportunities like that dont come easily.]

    Being a team leader in charge of a project.

    Jeong-woo had always wanted to try it someday. However, working under a center director who was extremely adventurous would be burdensome. Moreover, there were still four more centers to be dispatched to.

    [Shall we meet for lunch? Ill pay.]

    [I always end up paying. You really eat a lot, Mr. Jeong-woo.]

    [Then Ill seize the opportunity. We can talk about the paper next week.]

    [No! I dont have time this weekend, so we have to meet today, definitely.]

    [Senior, are you casually leaning against the wall right now?]

    [Get over here.]

    A mischievous emoticon of an angry doll appeared and disappeared. Even though he was teasing her through text, Jeong-woo couldnt help but imagine Song Boyeongs face and smirked.

    Mr. Jeong-woo, please come in.

    He had expected to wait for quite some time, but the secretary gestured for him to enter. Jeong-woo put away his phone, stood up, and asked.

    Is there a guest inside? Should I still go in?

    Well, Im just relaying Mr. Jangs instructions.

    The secretary replied without divulging any further information.

    Jeong-woo hesitated as he approached the door.

    This is Han Jeong-woo.

    Come on in.

    When he opened the door, a bespectacled executive sitting on the sofa waved his hand cheerfully. Jeong-woo paused as he noticed another guest seated across from him.

    It was a foreign woman with captivating blue eyes.

    Her age was difficult to guess, but she appeared young, and above all, exuded a confident aura. So much so that even the usually energetic Jang Tae-sun was discreetly observing her.

    The woman, with her red hair cascading down, shifted her gaze and looked at Jeong-woo.

    H-Hello.

    Im from France.

    Jeong-woos eyes widened as he heard Korean words from the woman. She looked at Jang Tae-sun and asked.

    That person. Does he have the qualification to attend this discussion?

    Though her pronunciation carried a foreign accent, her grammar was impeccable.

    Jang Tae-sun gestured for Jeong-woo to sit beside him before addressing the woman.

    He is more than qualified. He can provide answers even to the questions that our CEO has.

    Upon hearing this response, the womans gaze turned towards Jeong-woo, who was taking his seat.

    Jeong-woo, this is Michle, the representative of Audrey perfume.

    Audrey?

    He vaguely recalled it as a luxury perfume brand.

    Pleased to meet you.

    As Jeong-woo bowed, he couldnt help but keep glancing at the other person. He had a strong feeling that Jang Tae-suns subtle glances were related to this woman.

    Shes Caucasian, but its hard to guess her age. She seems to be in her thirties, right? Oh, it feels unfamiliar.

    A well-proportioned physique with slim ratios that one would never see in an Asian person, along with a head the size of a fist and a captivating nose bridge.

    This was the first time I had encountered a foreigner who seemed like a character from a movie up close. It was to the extent that I could feel a nervousness I didnt even know existed.

    Take a look at this.

    Jang Tae-sun pointed to the document on the table. Jeong-woo quickly skimmed through the document as he held it in his hand. As he read, he felt like he understood why Michle, the representative, had come here.

    It was about developing a new perfume product.

    The document outlined the project and listed the necessary ingredients to create a fragrance tailored to the Asian market and Asian consumers. Among them, there were also ingredients that were difficult to obtain in large quantities.

    Are they planning to artificially recreate components of endangered wild plants?

    Yes, thats right.

    It sounds challenging. Its not just one or two samples to extract and reproduce.

    Fortunately, as soon as he saw the ingredients, the molecular structures came to his mind, and he silently imagined aromatic molecules.

    Im not sure about others, but what about this parasitic flower? If we slightly modify the fragrance of azalea, we might be able to achieve a similar scent, dont you think?

    It wasnt Jang Tae-sun who responded to this remark, but Michle.

    Similar is not enough. It has to be identical.

    We dont need to compose the entire flower. By synthesizing only the top ten compounds with the broadest scent range, we can sufficiently mimic

    As Michle listened, she thumped the table. Startled, Jeong-woo stopped speaking.

    These are the chemists fanciful musings.

    Although she pronounced it in a Koreanized way, he understood the meaning well enough. Michle looked at him angrily and spoke.

    Perfume has the power to transform a person in just one second. In our company, where we create fragrances only with natural ingredients, it is an inevitable choice. If it cant be perfect, Ill look elsewhere.

    As she became upset, her pronunciation oddly shifted to a more Korean style. Jeong-woo felt like she would curse at him like a typical Korean, so to defuse the situation, he spoke.

    I just meant its challenging, not impossible. Smell molecules are composed of only five atoms, except for a few exceptions. Its just a matter of a few carbon differences to create a fragrance. We dont necessarily have to go to such lengths

    Nonsense.

    Once again, Michle cut off Jeong-woos words, then suddenly took out a small bottle from her bag. She looked at Jang Tae-sun and asked.

    Did you spray Bourne Number Nine?

    Oh? I sprayed a little, but maybe the scent was too strong.

    Since it was a product from another company, not an Audrey product, Jang Tae-sun playfully laughed and tapped Jeong-woos shoulder for no reason.

    You have a good nose, representative. You truly live up to being a fragrance CEO.

    I can smell it too.

    Ahaha. Jung Woo, youve become quite blunt, like if it was the last day.

    Michle opened the cap of the bottle she took out.

    The scent that spread out brushed against the tips of Jang Tae-suns and Jeong-woos noses.

    Oh.

    Wow.

    The two men exclaimed at the same time. It was a scent of soap that they felt like they had smelled somewhere before. Even though it lasted only a moment, it was a captivating feeling that couldnt be compared to what Jang Tae-sun had sprayed.

    Michle coldly smiled as if she had expected it and said.

    The scent of the soap family brings comfort and relaxation to people. Bourne Number Nine is not strong in artificial musk scent, so it cant evoke such feelings. In other words, that one is the worst, and this one is the best.

    As the lid closed again, the scent faded. However, the lingering aroma gave a strong feeling of calmness, just as Michle had mentioned.

    As someone who was experiencing the scent of an expensive perfume for the first time, Jeong-woo couldnt have imagined the effect to be this powerful.

    I wonder how much it costs for a bottle of that.

    As he paid attention and observed, the world of various scent molecules floating around the bottle unfolded before his eyes.

    Some were in the shape of flower buds, some resembled fruits and leaves. There were even the scents of the wooden barrel itself floating around.

    Everything was so intricately intertwined that it was difficult to determine which scent was caused by which molecule.

    It felt like an insult for simply calling this complex combination of scents soap.

    The carbon clusters emanating from Jang Tae-suns wrist exuded a scent reminiscent of fathers skincare products, while the molecules in the bottle, despite having just a slight difference in the number of carbon atoms, emitted a luxurious woody fragrance.

    KG Chemical claims they can do it, but I dont trust them.

    As Michle spoke as if her mind had drifted away, Jang Tae-suns expression changed. Along with that, he sent a gaze to Jeong-woo, urging him to do something.

    Uh, thats

    The other person wasnt particularly fond of chemists from the start. Thats why it didnt seem like saying something would change their mind.

    Jeong-woo looked at Michles bottle and said.

    I misunderstood. To achieve such an excellent fragrance, even the atomic numbers need to be exactly the same. Its composed in a more sophisticated ratio than any other compound.

    Our product is not a chemical.

    No. Its chemistry.

    Michle shot a sharp glance at Jeong-woo. Jang Tae-sun looked at him sadly, with a expression that seemed to say, Are you revealing your true colors now that youre going to another center?

    Jeong-woo pointed at the perfume bottle.

    This perfume, you extracted it through distillation, right? The moisture content is roughly 96%. It emits fragrance with the remaining 4% of the ingredients. The scent with one less carbon atom turned out to be a molecule of fir trees. The proportion of the fragrance is roughly 3 out of 40. And this one is strawberry. Blackberry? About 1 out of 20 of the overall composition. And this one Its kind of like feces No, secretions. It resembles a creature with furry hair, like a mouse. About 1 out of 40

    As Jeong-woo began to effortlessly spout out the combination ratios that only the companys perfumer should know, Michles surprised expression turned into a stunned one.

    Stop. Did you analyze our companys product in detail?

    Consider it pre-research. Anyway, I wanted to mention that even mixing natural ingredients is a chemical process. And that task KG Chemicals researchers are confident they can handle it.

    Michle made a contemplating expression, going Hm, before speaking.

    We are considering establishing a fragrance manufacturing plant for a new product to be sold in the Asian market, in Korea instead of China. Im not sure if KG Chemical has enough capacity to handle that cooperative work. However, Im curious to see the results.

    Jang Tae-suns complexion brightened.

    Are you accepting KG Chemicals proposal, is that what youre saying?

    For now.

    Michle held up a small bottle on the table and looked at Jeong-woo.

    I want to hear how you conducted pre-research on a product that hasnt even been officially launched in the EU market and the reasons behind it before making a judgment.

    It wasnt being sold?

    Jeong-woo was slightly taken aback. Jang Tae-sun looked at him with an expression that seemed to say, Please!

    Since he would be leaving after this meeting anyway, Jeong-woo composed himself and looked directly at Michle before speaking.

    Just now, the CEO presented a fragrance. That should be enough, even for someone like me, a chemist.

    Absolute odeur?

    Yes?

    Out of nowhere, French words popped out, and Jeong-woo felt the typical uneasiness that Koreans have with foreign languages.

    He mentally reviewed the business conversation he learned for employment purposes, but luckily Michle spoke in Korean.

    Are you an absolute olfactory perceiver?

    Uh well, sort of.

    Strictly speaking, it could be described as having an absolute visual perception of fragrance at the molecular level, but it didnt matter. Pretending to have a good sense of smell was an easier excuse.

    Michle had a rather shocked expression.

    Then why not become a perfumer Its a waste, a loss.

    Isnt career choice a matter of personal freedom? Like in France, a democratic country. Oh, not North Korea, but South Korea, you know?

    Jeong-woo was about to mention the spirit of the French Revolution when he saw Michle take out another bottle from her bag and open the cap, making him wonder what was going on.

    Michle opened the cap of the new perfume bottle. As the familiar floral scent filled the air, she stared at Jeong-woo and spoke.

    Try this one too.

    Lavender and orange are the base notes. Its quite prominent overall.

    What about the proportions?

    Well, roughly one-fifth each. And this fresh scent is like the essence of wood, about 3 out of 40. As for the plant with white flower petals, Im not exactly sure of the name, but its about 1 out of 20. Anything else?

    Orris. You knew the iris root, but how did you know the petals are white?

    It was the reflection of light on the molecules, but Jeong-woo cleverly responded.

    Because the fragrance is better that way.

    Michle closed the cap and looked at Jang Tae-sun.

    If we sign the contract today, until when can you work on the synthetic fragrances listed?

    Jang Tae-suns face brightened. Jeong-woo sighed in relief and finally sat comfortably.

    The subsequent conversation involved the exchange of contract terms between the two companies, so Jeong-woo impatiently waited, finding it boring.

    The secretary brought coffee, but Jeong-woo avoided caffeine to overcome his insomnia, so he continued to drink water.

    Dont worry about the facilities. Our affiliate companys research center, KG Life & Health Fragrance Center, is the best in the country. You can conduct the research here.

    What about the location of the factory?

    We can establish lines in Iksan, Ochang, and Ulsan, so you can choose the desired location

    When will this end?

    Realizing that he would have to postpone saying farewell to the center director and networking at the Basic Materials Center in the afternoon, Jeong-woo shook his head inwardly.

    By the time Michle finished coordinating and got up from her seat, it was almost noon.

    Please have a look, CEO.

    Michle briefly glanced at Jang Tae-sun standing near the door and immediately turned her gaze to Jeong-woo standing beside her.

    Han Jeong-woo. Is that your name?

    Yes.

    You were very impressive earlier. Both your skills and sense of smell.

    It should be impression rather than illusion. The pronunciation of some words with seemed to roll like that. Michle continued speaking to Jeong-woo, who lowered his head in response to the compliment.

    I trust you to create a perfect fragrance.

    After Michle left, Jeong-woo, who didnt fully understand her words, turned his head to Jang Tae-sun.

    Why did the CEO ask me for this?

    Take a look at this.

    Jang Tae-sun pointed to the top of the contract, where only the directors approval was left. Jeong-woos gaze followed his finger. And there, he found the words.

    [Project Manager: Han Jeong-woo.]

    Wha- What is this!

    Im supposed to write something and hand it to you so that we can proceed with the contract. President Michle naturally assumed that you would be handling it.

    But Im finishing my assignment today.

    Look at Michles beauty. If you do this, youll get to see her all the time.

    What does that have to do with?

    Jang Tae-sun chuckled and patted Jeong-woos shoulder.

    Ill make a good suggestion to the director, Team Leader.

    Team Leader. It sent a shiver down Jeong-woos spine.

    Shall we grab a meal together?

    I have plans!

    Oh, really? But Ill treat you. Lets eat something expensive with that person you have plans with. Our Centers treasure~

    A cunning move. Jang Tae-suns plan to catch Jeong-woo with a bait was evident.

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