Chapter 98: Cut-off (2)
A huge scandal involving Seo Chae-eun? The news was absurdly shocking and utterly unexpected. However, Director Kwon Ki-taek, whose face had become somewhat serious, appeared more composed than anticipated.
“Seo Chae-eun is involved in a scandal, a big one at that.”
Choi Sung-gun’s response came immediately through the speaker.
“Yes, it seems likely.”
“Is that a certainty or a guess?”
“At the moment, it’s fifty-fifty.”
Director Kwon Ki-taek, who let out a short grunt, pressed the accelerator on the open road, lost in thought. His immediate concern was about Choi Sung-gun.
‘CEO Choi wouldn’t be joking around this early in the morning unless he’s gone crazy.’
Moreover, Director Kwon Ki-taek had always thought highly of Choi Sung-gun. He was indeed a respectable figure. After all, most people in the entertainment industry, actors, and officials alike, knew Choi Sung-gun. He had a wide range of connections but had managed to maintain his network without any significant issues.
That in itself was an achievement in the entertainment world jungle.
Of course, Choi Sung-gun was also skilled. He had a good head for business and was perceptive. Despite having managed many successful actors in his prime, he boldly chose to go independent, bringing only Hong Hye-yeon with him, a calculated risk for the future. Recently, he had even managed to sign Kang Woojin, who is soaring unrivaled.
And he had done so amidst fierce competition.
Such a man wouldn’t spout nonsense to Kwon Ki-taek, a titan of the film industry. Likely, he had caught wind of something through his extensive network.
‘It’s not hard to delay the promotion for a few hours, whether I believe him is another matter.’
Nipping any potential trouble in the bud was crucial. For now, Director Kwon Ki-taek decided to tentatively trust Choi Sung-gun’s words.
“Let’s do that, I’ll put a hold on all the promotions we were about to start.”
“I’m heading to the distribution company now. Can you make it there?”
“Of course. I’ve just turned the car around and will discuss it with you in person.”
“How long will it take?”
After a moment of silence, Choi Sung-gun’s voice filled the speaker again.
“It should be less than an hour. Ah, and Director. This matter should remain only between us.”
“…Are you already taking action?”
“That’s right, for now.”
“Understood, I need to call the distributors, so let’s end this call.”
With a click, the call with Choi Sung-gun ended. As Director Kwon Ki-taek made a left turn, he immediately called the distributors of ‘Island of the Missing’. The recipient was quick to respond, and Director Kwon gave his instructions right away.
“Let’s stop all the publicity we were planning to start from today.”
Meanwhile, Choi Sung-gun, also in his car, let out a small sigh of relief.
“I had to bluff about a major scandal to stop the process. Did I overdo it?”
Now the fuse was lit. Regardless of whether it was well-founded or not, things had to move forward, even if it meant Kang Woojin’s instincts were wrong. However, Choi Sung-gun could only chuckle as he sped up.
“It’s done. Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I’ll even commit a deadly sin if I have to.”
Meanwhile, back at the ‘Island of the Missing’ distribution company, Director Kwon Ki-taek sat alone in silence in a medium-sized meeting room. The atmosphere was somber. Thus, the image of Director Kwon Ki-taek tapping his finger on the desk seemed rather stark.
Director Kwon Ki-taek’s face was full of thought and worry. Then, there was a knock.
The glass door opened, and in came Choi Sung-gun, his expression just as serious. He greeted Director Kwon Ki-taek, who was seated near the window.
“You came quickly. Please, have a seat.”
Director Kwon Ki-taek gestured to the seat across from him, prompting Choi Sung-gun to pull out a chair and sit. It was Director Kwon who started the conversation.
“So, shall we hear about this ‘huge scandal’ involving Ms. Seo Chae-eun?”
His tone was relaxed but serious. In response, Choi Sung-gun, maintaining his composure, began with his prepared statement.
“There’s not enough time to tell you everything. Briefly, I’ve received some disturbing information, and I judged that it couldn’t be ignored. I’ll discuss the overall situation separately after handling the matter.”
“Information. What kind?”
Of course, at this point, Choi Sung-gun didn’t have the information either. So, he expressed himself in vague terms.
“It seems like the media, including ‘PowerPatch,’ have sniffed something out. However, we need to check whether they are keeping it under wraps or waiting for the optimal timing.”
“How accurate is that?”
“As I said, it’s fifty-fifty. But even that level of ambiguity is somewhat uncomfortable to overlook. What do you think, Director?”
What’s there to say? It’s beyond mere discomfort. Every year, numerous films are released, and over 70% fail even without any buzz. Director Kwon Ki-taek knew this all too well.
“Yes, it is. Of course, the decision is yours to make. You don’t have to trust me. But I plan on doing what I need to do.”
“It seems like you plan to move quietly. If I wait for CEO Choi, when can I expect the results?”
Choi Sung-gun, who had been silent for a moment, answered.
“If fast, today. At the latest, three days. We’ll have some news within three days.”
A very confident answer. Soon, Director Kwon Ki-taek, who had been relaxed, smiled faintly.
“Three days, huh? Can you do it alone?”
“I have to do it alone.”
“Alright, three days it is. I suppose we can delay it for about three days, as CEO Choi says.”
“Thank you. I’ll get going then.”
Choi Sung-gun stood up immediately, perhaps having another appointment. Director Kwon Ki-taek stopped him back.
“But CEO Choi, you said it’s fifty-fifty. What if the information you’ve obtained is incorrect?”
Stopping in his tracks, Choi Sung-gun smiled faintly.
“Then I guess we’ll just have to be grateful it’s over and move on. I’ll take the blame for the delay. I’ll apologize.”
Director Kwon Ki-taek shook his head as if a bit tired.
“Why go to such lengths? Heh, you’re quite the actor, CEO Choi.”
Later that same day, around lunchtime.
Inside the van of Kang Woojin, who was in transit between schedules. Choi Sung-gun was absent from the usually three-person team. Kang Woojin, who had been quietly looking at the empty passenger seat, wondered.
‘Did he find out something?’
His curiosity was piqued. A message from Choi Sung-gun that morning fueled this.
-CEO: It’s started.
A very brief message. What had started? Of course, Woojin, who knew less than half about the entertainment industry, couldn’t guess.
‘Well, should I just focus hard on my tasks?’
Instead of simply cheering on, all he could do was ignite his passion and work hard. It was funny to see Kang Woojin worrying about their highly competent CEO.
At that very moment, Choi Sung-gun was.
“That’s settled—next, the editor-in-chief of ‘PowerPatch.'”
He was very busy. He had just been contacting influential figures in the media. He had casually dropped hints over the phone to those he didn’t need to meet in person, and scheduled meetings with those he had to see face-to-face. This included Kim Hak-hyun, whom he had seen yesterday.
“Once I see the editor of ‘PowerPatch’ and a few others, the news will break from somewhere.”
While ‘PowerPatch’ was the most likely source, he couldn’t ignore the other media outlets. Choi Sung-gun was executing his plan meticulously. Soon, his car reached the vicinity of Gangnam Station.
Choi Sung-gun parked his car in the parking lot of a high-end sushi restaurant.
As he got out of the car, he immediately checked the time. Then, he entered the sushi restaurant and told the staff at the entrance.
“I have a reservation under Choi Sung-gun.”
“Just a moment—ah, yes. Please, this way.”
Perhaps because it was precisely lunchtime, the sushi restaurant hall was crowded with customers. Choi Sung-gun was led through the crowd to the private rooms, and the staff opened the second room’s door for him.
Upon entering the room, Choi Sung-gun saw a man sitting alone. He was quite large and had a broad face. He was the editor-in-chief of ‘PowerPatch.’
Soon, Choi Sung-gun put on a business smile.
“Oh my—Editor Kim. You’re already here?”
The man known as Editor Kim from ‘PowerPatch’ put down his phone and smiled wryly.
“Hurry up, CEO Choi. I’m starving.”
Perhaps due to Editor Kim’s urging, Choi Sung-gun quickly took the seat across from him. At the same time, Choi Sung-gun asked for the menu.
“What will you have?”
“Why bother choosing each item? How about we go with a set that comes out all at once? A set meal.”
“Ha-ha, sure thing.”
As soon as he made the decision, Choi Sung-gun, who had finished placing the order to the employee who came in, rubbed his hands as if looking forward to it, all the while checking the facial expression of Editor Kim.
‘He doesn’t seem to be in a bad mood.’
Then it’s probably fine to get started. Choi Sung-gun then picked up his water glass and spoke.
“Let’s see, it’s been quite quiet around PowerPatch these days, hasn’t it? Why? Nothing interesting coming up?”
“You scratch around as soon as you see me, don’t you? What do you mean, nothing? Huh? We had a big scoop just last week.”
“Ah, it’s common for idols to date these days.”
“Then why don’t you give us a scoop, CEO Choi? Does Kang Woojin not have anyone he’s seeing?”
Suddenly bringing up Kang Woojin, Editor Kim received a long sigh from Choi Sung-gun.
“I’m not crazy. Besides, our Woojin is too busy with acting, very busy.”
“Is that so? He’s practically devouring almost everything right now. Wow, but where did you get such a catch? I know you know, CEO Choi, but lately, it’s been crazy over here because of him.”
The conversation turned to Kang Woojin for a while. Then, sensing the timing, Choi Sung-gun subtly changed the topic.
“Ah, right, I’m just curious about this. What’s going on with Seo Chae-eu recently?”
“No, I’ve just been hearing some whispers here and there. Probably just silly rumors, but it’s strange how they all come around at the same time. Even Kim Hak-hyun, whom I met a few days ago, said the same.”
“Uh-huh, is that so? It’s something even CEO Choi heard?”
“No, it’s not that noisy. Just caught bits and pieces of it here and there. Hahaha, you seem clueless, Editor Kim. So it’s probably just some gossip?”
Choi Sung-gun gently prodded Editor Kim. He scattered little tidbits of bait. However, he didn’t do it for long. Just enough to tickle, short, striking, and then retreating quickly.
By the way, did you meet the acting trainer I introduced to you last time? Was it for your youngest brother?
There was no need for seriousness. Then, Editor Kim, while expressing his thanks, slightly hardened his expression. Of course, it was because of the topic of Seo Chae-eu that had briefly come up before. Editor Kim also knew well that Choi Sung-gun was a heavy hitter in the entertainment field.
‘So, there are rumors about Seo Chae-eu?’
About an hour later.
At ‘PowerPatch,’ a large media outlet near Gangnam Station. Inside the ‘PowerPatch’ office, which occupies two floors of a large building, specifically the noisy entertainment department bustling with reporters.
Editor Kim, with his broad face, briskly walked in. He was in quite a hurry. He then looked to the right side of the office and shouted someone’s name.
“Hey! Lim Sang-moon!!”
Then, a man, his face dark with fatigue and deep dark circles under his eyes, turned around. A somewhat familiar face. He was one of the reporters who had been following Seo Chae-eu.
“Ah, chief. You’ve had another delicious meal by yourself.”
Editor Kim, who approached quickly, spoke to the reporter named Lim Sang-moon in a relaxed manner, then tapped his head lightly and whispered coldly.
“To my office.”
No explanation was given. Editor Kim simply strode toward his office. Soon, Lim Sang-moon, who had been scratching his head, let out a small sigh.
“Damn, what now?”
With no choice, Lim Sang-moon followed Editor Kim, and the moment he closed the door behind him,
Editor Kim pressed his broad face close to Lim Sang-moon’s. His eyes were full of urgency.
“Is the story you’re digging up still far from complete?”
Startled for a moment, Lim Sang-moon tried to evade.
“Digging? What are you talking about? I haven’t been working on anything lately?”
“Don’t give me that crap. I know everything, I’m your head. I know you’ve been following Seo Chae-eun around these days, so just spill it.”
“Isn’t it about habitual propofol use?”
At this point, Lim Sang-moon seemed to concede that Editor Kim knew everything, exhaling a long breath.
“Damn, I told those bastards not to talk. They don’t have any cover.”
“The moment it comes out of your mouth, there’s no cover, you idiot.”
“···Tsk. No, I was just waiting for the fruit to ripen fully. There’s a lot to gather. I thought you’d want me to publish it right away if I told you.”
“Screw that. How far have you gotten with that?”
“I’ve roughly organized things about Seo Chae-eun’s part, and I’m collecting more from hospitals and unrelated parties.”
Hearing the answer, Editor Kim gave a low order.
“Blow it up. All the side stories and everything.”
“No! Boss, this is why I didn’t tell you. I’m really going to hit them hard, so please just wait a bit! Not much, just until July!”
“Shut up and do it now.”
“I have everything planned! If we blow it now, we’ll only get Seo Chae-eun, and the rest will just slip away! The side stories are also quite juicy.”
“Listen, I know you have a plan, and that’s why I’ve been patient. But it’s no good now. You know CEO Choi Sung-gun, right?”
Lim Sang-moon blinked rapidly.
“Choi Sung-gun? Of course, I know him. But why mention him all of a sudden?”
“I just had lunch with him, and he mentioned Seo Chae-eun in passing. Said it seems like there’s some nonsense about her going around at the ground level. If it’s reached that guy’s ears, it’s probably already made a few rounds.”
“Is that… true?”
“Of course! You think I’m lying to you? It doesn’t seem to have spread much yet, so spill it before anyone starts rumors. You are a reporter, not an artist; don’t forget that.”
With a cold voice, Editor Kim warned.
“Wrap it up quickly and throw it before this afternoon. Make sure Seo Chae-eun’s name hits hard. You’ve landed such an exclusive scoop; why don’t you do this one solo?”
Lim Sang-moon, a bit dazed,
Spun around, kicked the office door open, and ran. His destination was his desk.
He was about to release the big exclusive he had been nurturing.
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