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55 The Branch Manager of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China 1

 Gun-Ho usually came to work at his Korean restaurant at 9 AM.

All other staff arrived at the restaurant around 10 AM, and by 11:30 AM the restaurant was already ready to serve customers. When he ran his restaurant in Noryangjin, he had one kitchen lady working for him, so Gun-Ho had to handle various work himself. Here was different. Since the labor cost was low in China, he could hire eight workers. They all had their own role and work, so Gun-Ho didn't really have to work at all.

"There are four ladies working in the kitchen, and Dingming takes care of the counter. For the hall serving, Mae-Hyang Kim and other two ladies handle it. This is going great so far."

Gun-Ho usually sat at an unoccupied table and read a Chinese local newspaper. He particularly paid attention to articles about real estate. While he was reading a newspaper, he sometimes asked Mae-Hyang to translate the sentences he couldn't understand. There was another thing he did in the restaurant. Whenever Korean workers or Korean businessmen who had a business in China came to the restaurant in the evening, Gun-Ho was the one who served them. This job couldn't be delegated to the staff.

"Let's look around at West Lake today on a bike. It seems like they are building new luxurious apartments in Baochoolu area around West Lake. I want to see it."

The West Lake area was filled with tourists when Gun-Ho arrived on a bike. Gun-Ho had fun riding his bike there.

"Whoa, the residential community over there has a lot of luxurious single houses. They look like the houses in Seongbuk Town in Seoul. How much would they cost?"

Gun-Ho sometimes stopped his bike to eat street food. He ate Hotteock*, some other snacks and a bottle of water.

"Haha. The Chinese merchant understood my Chinese when I asked them how much it was."

After looking around at the West Lake area, Gun-Ho came back to his restaurant around 5 PM. There wasn't any customer for dinner yet. They would start coming in after one or two hours.

"Where is Mae-Hyang Kim?"

Gun-Ho looked around the hall and found Mae-Hyang having a meal with a lady at the table behind a column.

"Oh, G-jjong, you came back. This is my friend."

Mae-Hyang stopped eating when she saw Gun-Ho coming into the restaurant and introduced her friend who she was having a meal with to him.

"Hello."

Mae-Hyang's lady friend stood up to say hello to Gun-Ho.

"She is my hometown friend. She graduated from Jilin University and came to Hangzhou City to find a job."

"Oh, really? Enjoy your meal. Don't mind me, please."

Gun-Ho sat at another unoccupied table.

"Do we have an evening newspaper?"

Gun-Ho started reading the newspaper. Even though he couldn't speak Chinese, he could read a newspaper. Well, he at least could understand the big titles in the newspaper. If he saw something he couldn't understand, he would mark it and ask Mae-Hyang later. He was reading the newspaper when Mae-Hyang came to talk to him.

"Umm, G-jjong. Do you by any chance need Poodao?"

"Poodao?"

"A private tutor. For your Chinese language."

"Oh, there is a private tutor for the Chinese language?"

"Umm... my friend over there, she is staying with me right now. Once she finds a job, she will find her own place. She majored in Korean language in college. If you-G-jjong-need a private tutor, she can maybe teach you two hours a day. What do you say? She speaks Korean and Chinese very well. You can pay her 600 Yuan (72,000 won)."

"Hmm..."

"She has experience with teaching a Korean when she was in Shanghai. She is very good at it."

"Let me talk to her."

Mae-Hyang's friend came to Gun-Ho; she seemed to be shy.

"What's your name? I'm Gun-Ho Goo."

"I'm Eun-Hwa Jo. I am from Jilin."

"You are a Korean Chinese. Is it possible to get Poodao in the restaurant? The place could be distracting."

"That's totally fine. You can do it anywhere. This restaurant is cozy since it is a hotel restaurant and a perfect place to study."

"What time would be good for you?"

"I guess the mornings should be good since you won't have customers in the morning."

"Let's do it then. How about from 8 AM to 10 AM? The kitchen ladies will come to work at 10 AM."

"That sounds good. I agree with you."

Gun-Ho started having his private lesson from Eun-Hwa Jo on the following day.

Eun-Hwa had a very decent accent since she was from the north. She spoke the standard Chinese language. She also spoke Korean very well. Gun-Ho's Chinese improved notably.

"Eun-Hwa Jo is playing her role very well as a teacher. She is giving me a lot of homework."

Gun-Ho did his homework diligently. After completing the conversational Chinese book, Eun-Hwa brought the elementary textbooks used from 1st to 6th grade and started teaching Gun-Ho using them.

"Chinese children know about 3,000 Chinese characters once they graduate from elementary school. If you, G-jjong know the same, you won't have any problem reading a Chinese newspaper or magazine."

After two months, Gun-Ho started hearing and understanding simple Chinese.

It had been four months since Gun-Ho came to China.

Gun-Ho was doing well in China. It was summer already. It was really hot especially the southern area of Yangtze River. It felt like being inside an oven. However, Gun-Ho's restaurant was cool. Its air conditioner worked great since it was in the hotel building. Some of the restaurant staff stayed in the restaurant even after their work hours because the restaurant was cool and pleasant while their homes were really hot.

One day, Dingming came to Gun-Ho from the counter and said there was someone on the phone looking for him.

"Who is it?"

"He said that he is from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and he wants to talk to G-jjong."

Gun-Ho thought he wouldn't be able to converse through the phone with a bank with his level of Chinese language fluency. So he called for Mae-Hyang.

"Why don't you take the call for me?"

Mae-Hyang picked up the phone and told the person on the other side of the phone that she was the interpreter.

"The branch manager of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China would like to meet with you, G-jjong."

"Me? For what? Ask him when would it be convenient for us to meet?"

Mae-Hyang got back to Gun-Ho and told him what the branch manager had told her, "He is suggesting 12 PM tomorrow at the Pinghoo Chinese restaurant & bar around the West Lake area."

"It's not difficult to meet with him. Tell him that I will be there."

The following day, Gun-Ho went to the Pinghoo restaurant & bar with his interpreter, Mae-Hyang. He took a taxi instead of his bike because he thought it was not appropriate to show to a bank's branch manager.

"I guess I will have to rent a car or something when I meet people like this."

The Pinghoo bar was huge. When they told the bar that they were the guests of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the staff in Qipao led them to the second floor. It was a private room with the West Lake view through the window. The view made Gun-Ho feel cool. The branch manager and others with him were already in the room waiting for Gun-Ho. The branch manager looked like he was in his late 40s. He was with two other female bank staff who both looked like in their 30s.

"I'm sorry that I am late. I'm Gun-Ho Goo."

"Nice to meet you. I'm Jangbingchao from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China."

Gun-Ho gave him his business card that said, 'CEO of Mando Food Co., Ltd.'. He also gave it to the two other staff as well. The branch Manager handed over his business card to Gun-Ho. His business card said 'President' instead of 'Branch Manager.'

"President? The president of the bank came here from Beijing headquarters?"

Mae-Hyang took a look at the business card, and said,

"That means a branch manager. In China, we refer to a branch manager as a president."

"Oh, really?"

Gun-Ho smiled bitterly once he understood the meaning of the president.

Note*

Hotteock - A popular street food that is similar to a pancake that has sweet fillings.