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184 State-of-the-Art Factory Construction 3 – PART 1

 Gun-Ho was having a beer with Jae-Sik at the security office in his company. It was all dark outside.

"You used to be very active in the literature club when we were in high school, and if I remember correctly, you also participated in making our school newspapers."

"Yeah, I did. After graduating from high school, I went to college in Seoul and majored in creative writing. It was not one of the top universities, but I had a good life at that time because I could do what I enjoy doing."

"That's right. I think I heard that you studied creative writing."

"I even won the annual spring literature contest after graduating from college, which was held by a newspaper company in a province. At that time I felt like I could rule the world. I wanted to get a job in a newspaper company, but I found a job at a publishing company instead."

"So you got a job where you can use what you learned in college and that was also what you liked to do with your life."

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"As you know, a publisher is different from a factory like here. It was a small publisher with only three or four employees and it wasn't doing very well."

"Hmm."

"However, that publisher was publishing a few bestseller books at that time, so they could pay me even though it was not much. I met my ex-wife there too."

Jae-Sik's voice started shaking when he talked about his wife.

"Have some more beer."

"Sure."

Jae-Sik sipped his can of beer before he continued to talk.

"Did your wife work at the same publisher?"

"My wife was a poet. In order to make our livings, we both worked at the publisher as a freelancer doing proofreading and editing."

"Hmm."

"So we hit it off when we met. I was a chief editor at the publisher at that time. Unfortunately, the company could no longer find a good book that would generate enough revenue. Any subsequent books we published were sold less than 500 books at a maximum."

"Does it cost a substantial amount of money to publish a book?"

"Our company usually published foreign books. So it cost more than 10 million won to do the translation, editing, design and printing work."

"Wow, it does cost a lot."

"That company eventually had to close its business. I couldn't find a job in the field afterward because the publishing industry wasn't doing well at that time. So I made a living by doing editing. However, I don't know what happened to me; I guess I had to stay in the field doing editing even though I wasn't making much. But, instead, I opened a deep-fried chicken restaurant with a loan."

"Hmm."

"I put about 100 million won in that restaurant business including its premium. However, the restaurant strangely suffered from the beginning. Moreover, my wife became testy because of the customers who were rude and loud, and sometimes they harassed my wife, those low-lives."

"Hmm."

"She would have been able to take some stress that arose from the business if we were making good money. However, the business was suffering, and we were pressured by the creditors to repay the loan, on top of those abusive customers. My wife couldn't take it anymore. You know people who write like a poem, they are more sensitive than average people."

"Did your wife invest her money in the restaurant too?"

"She did. She took out the money from her credit cards here and there and invested 20 million won in the business. I also used my credit cards in addition to loan from a bank and put about 40 million won in the business."

"So, you started the business with your own cash of 30 million won."

"I had a severance pay of 5 million won that I received from the publishing company's president. He literally cried when he gave it to me. And I borrowed 10 million won from my mother. I used those 15 million won in addition to my own cash-another 15 million won."

"The debt was too high compared to your own investment fund."

"The debt grew like a snowball and we were behind our rent. It was that time when my wife eventually suffered a miscarriage of a baby; she asked me to divorce her."

"Whew. I had similar life experiences. You had a harsh time."

"I haven't heard from my wife for a while. She must still be suffering financially because of her credit card debt. She is probably having a hard life doing editing work."

"Hmm."

"When I eventually closed the deep-fried chicken restaurant, I was left with a debt of over 50 million won. I suffered for quite a while by the creditors before I became a person with a bad credit score."

"Why didn't you apply for rehabilitation?"

"I did. With rehabilitation program, I was supposed to pay off debts according to a payment plan provided by the court. I was paying a certain amount of money to the court every month for several months until the accident happened."

"An accident?"

"I was doing the editing work, but when I couldn't get enough work to make a living, I got a job in a delivery company. I think I worked there for about half a year until the accident. I was delivering a package and I had to make a quick delivery, so I made a U-turn where I was not supposed to do and then I hit a car that was coming from the opposite direction. I crossed the yellow line to make a U-turn. I guess something happened to me that day to cloud my judgment."

"Hmm."

"I am not good at physical work since I have always done office work like writing and editing. Moreover, I had a bad credit score. So it was really hard to find a job. I saw Jong-Suk working with machines and doing welding. He looks great. I know I can't do that kind of work."

"So, you have 50 million won debt in total?"

"I have been paying for the debt until now. I think I have 30 million won left by now. Oh, I talked with the general affairs manager the other day about it. He said I would get paid 1.6 million won per month, and I can take the amount of basic living expenses out of it before it is seized. I think I can save some money then."

"Saving money?"

"Yeah. My rent is paid by the company, and I can have my meals at the company. So, I think I can pay off the debt after ten years working here."

"Right. The biggest expense that the people who don't make enough money is the cost of the rent. The people who don't have money have to pay for rent, and the people who have money receive that rent from them. That's the current economic system we are living in. Consequently, the gap between the rich and poor is getting bigger. Ten years are too long for you."

"Well, it is still hope. It's a good thing that the debt is shrinking instead of growing. There is one thing that bothers me a lot though. I collected some funds from our friends from high school to make an alumni directory book. I couldn't make it happen even though I really was going to make it."

"People don't make those types of directory book nowadays, do they? Many people don't want to expose their real address."

"I know. So I was going to enter their e-mail address instead of physical addresses with phone numbers. I started collecting the necessary information and writing some stuff already like the history and path that our school took so far and news from our friends, etc. I still have the writings with me. It will cost 2-3 million won to complete it but I used that money to pay my rent because I was about to be evicted. I became an animal to our friends."

Jae-Sik eventually burst into tears.