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96 Flavors of Life 1 – PART 1

 Korean Thanksgiving Day came around.

Gun-Ho went to his parents' home in Guweol Town, Incheon to have a memorial service for ancestors. When he entered the condo, he could smell his mother's cooking prepared for the memorial service.

"Gun-Ho, you came. The table is already set for the memorial service."

Gun-Ho looked at his mother and father. They looked good. Their skin complexion looked bright and neat, and also they seem to gain some weight, maybe because they had been doing well in a better environment in this new condo. They were wearing nice new clothes as well.

"What do you think about my outfit? Your sister bought this for me."

Gun-Ho's sister, her husband and Jeong-Ah ran out of their room.

"My uncle is here!"

Jeong-Ah was wearing a colorful Korean traditional dress. She looked like a fairy.

"My princess, you are getting prettier every time I see you."

Gun-Ho hugged his niece. Gun-Ho's sister and her husband were standing awkwardly. They seemed not to know how to act around Gun-Ho because they were living in a condo that Gun-Ho bought for his parents. However, they looked good and healthy.

After finishing the memorial service for ancestors, they started having their breakfast together on the same table, eating the same food that was served for their ancestors.

Gun-Ho could hear his mother's laughing sound and his sister laughed along with her. Whenever Gun-Ho had visited his parents' home before, he always had to hear his mother's grievances. Now, she looked happy. Gun-Ho felt good too.

"Right. This is the flavors of life."

Gun-Ho drank Jeongjong* placed on the table.

"Mom, can I do the New Year's greeting full bow to the uncle?"

Jeong-Ah was badgering her mother to let her do the New Year's greeting to Gun-Ho while sitting on her mother's lap.

"No, Jeong-Ah. Today is not New Year's Day, but it is Korean Thanksgiving Day."

Gun-Ho laughed while spreading his arms wide open.

"That's okay, Jeong-Ah. If you want, I will take your New Year's full bow greeting from you."

Jeong-Ah quickly gave Gun-Ho a full bow.

"You started going to school, right? Use this to buy your school supplies. Enjoy your school life."

Gun-Ho was about to hand 50,000 won to Jeong-Ah when his sister stopped him.

"Just give her 10,000 won. 50,000 won is too much for her. She is too young for that money."

Jeong-Ah grabbed the money and quickly went to her room.

Gun-Ho asked his mother.

"Mom, does the aunt visit you here sometimes?"

"Yeah, she came here once. She almost fainted in surprise. She said she thought we were making a joke when we told her that you bought us a 50 pyung condo."

Gun-Ho's father was smiling while listening to her wife talking about the episode with his sister.

"Oh, did your aunt call you to introduce a girl to you?"

"She did."

"She was going to introduce you to a 38 years-old girl who is working in a credit union, right? Damn woman. How dare did she try to introduce a girl who was a lot older than you? She always thinks her son is better than you and she is trying to keep it that way."

Gun-Ho's mother complained.

"Stop it."

"Why should I stop? I'm telling the truth. That woman would never try that kind of nonsense again since she saw us living in this nice condo."

Gun-Ho's brother-in-law poured Jeongjong in Gun-Ho's glass.

"Take this drink."

"Oh, I should have poured in your glass first."

Gun-Ho tried to take the bottle of Jeongjong from his brother-in-law, but his brother-in-law insisted on pouring it in his glass first.

"What do you do these days?"

"I'm still driving a truck. I am delivering fabrics to vendors."

"Are you getting enough work?"

"Well, it's okay."

Gun-Ho wanted to ask him how much he was making, but he didn't. Gun-Ho's sister said while eating a Korean pancake.

"Since we live in this condo, we don't have to pay rent any longer. So, I think we can save up and buy our own truck to do a transportation work, maybe after five years or so."

"What do you mean by getting your own truck and doing a transportation work with it?"

Gun-Ho's father answered for his son-in-law.

"That means you do someone else's business with your own truck."

"That's right."

Gun-Ho's brother-in-law said while pouring more Jeongjong in his father-in-law's glass.

"Could anyone elaborate?" Gun-Ho wasn't fully following it.

"I could get a job in a transportation company and do their transportation work with my own truck. So, even though the truck is mine, it would be registered and run under the name of that transportation company. So, I just drive my truck without worrying about getting enough transportation work."

"Hmm, because a truck is expensive, a small transportation company hires truck drivers with their own trucks, huh?"

"Not necessarily. Even a big transportation company hires truck drivers with their own trucks because they need several tens of trucks. Also, it is easier for them to handle the car accidents and insurance."

"That makes sense. So the trucks are owned by individual truck drivers."

"That's right. Those truck drivers are self-employed."

Gun-Ho's sister cut in on the conversation.

"So your brother-in-law wanted to buy a 100 million won truck and get a job in a big company; that's his dream. He could get in a big company like Nongshim, Lotte, or Hite Jinro or other big companies. There are a lot of big companies that hires a truck driver with the right truck."

"A 100 million won truck? How much can you make per month with it then?"

Gun-Ho's sister answered for her husband while having a bracken dish.

"About 5 million won I guess."

Gun-Ho's brother-in-law waved his hand in perplexity, gesturing that's not exactly true.

"I can't make that much. I have to take all the expenses I have to bare into account, such as gas and insurance. Maybe about 3 million won, I would say after subtracting all the expenses."

"Hmmm... 100 million won."

As Gun-Ho was thinking, his brother-in-law said after gulping his drink.

"It won't cost 100 million won. A 4 or 5-ton wing body truck would cost about 80 or 90 million won. I can get a job in a big company with those types of truck.

"Hmm."

Gun-Ho thought.

'If my brother-in-law could make 3 million won per month with the truck and my sister makes another 1.6 million by working at a paper cup manufacturer, their monthly total income would be 4.6 million won. I guess that's enough income for three people.'

"Do you have any debt?"

Gun-Ho's brother-in-law let out a deep sigh before answering Gun-Ho's question.

"I made a mistake in running my business three years ago. I have a bad credit score now; however, I'm trying to pay the debt off gradually. I've already filed personal bankruptcy and I am paying 500,000 won to the court every month to pay off my debt."

"Hmm."

Gun-Ho assumed that his brother-in-law was currently making more or less 2 million won. He knew that because he used to work in a factory before. So, before his sister's family moved into the parents' condo, they had to pay 500,000 won to the court and pay another 500,000 won for rent, and that left the family with almost nothing in hand. So his sister had to work at a factory.

Gun-Ho's brother-in-law gulped another glass of Jeongjong.

"I am so grateful that we could live in this condo because of you, Gun-Ho."

He smiled while pouring Jeongjong in Gun-Ho's glass.

Gun-Ho made 90 million won this month by investing 3 billion won in blue-chip stocks. Gun-Ho thought for a while before making his decision.

'Let's buy him a truck with the 90 million won I made from the stock. It's better than opening a restaurant or café for him to operate because he doesn't have any experience in that field, which is too risky. With a restaurant or café, he would have to work so hard till late at night to eventually close the business someday.'

"Let's do this."

Everyone looked at Gun-Ho.

"You said the 4-ton wing body truck costs 90 million won, right? Buy the truck; I will send you 90 million won and you give my parents a certain amount of money regularly."

Everyone's eyes widened while looking at Gun-Ho.

Gun-Ho was thinking while driving on the Gyeongin Expressway.

'If my sister and her husband take good care of my parents, then I will give that HillState condo in Guweol Town where they are living in right now to them after my parents passed away.'

This way, Gun-Ho thought he wouldn't need to worry about their family anymore. He felt like the burden was being lifted off his shoulders. He felt good and started humming while driving.

Note*

Jeongjong - a clear and refined rice wine.