Translated by Translated by Raven
Edited by Edited by Raven
After the 12-hour long flight, we had to take a rental car to our destination. We headed towards Berlin, where the gala was being held. After sitting for hours I couldn’t feel my butt, I was beyond exhausted.
I was staring out of the window, looking at the passing scenery. The tall buildings on either side of the road stretched out under the murky sky. The streets were gloomy, which is quite different from Korea, where early summer is full of light. After what felt like forever, finally we arrived at the hotel where we were staying. I looked around in awe getting out of the car. Lim Soo-Wan, one of our coworkers, was waiting for us near the hotel entrance. Seeing us getting off the car he approached us excitedly.
“Hey, you’ve come a long way.”
Soo-Wan looked much better than us as he arrived in Berlin two days before the gala. He was dressed in a thin cardigan and skinny jeans. Director Ko was the first to shake Soo-Wan’s hand. He then turned to me and squeezed my arm.
“Ji-Eun, how was the flight? Did you have a hard time?”
“Yes… It is quite far away than I thought. By the way, congratulations senior!”
“Thank you. How about you go unpack and get ready? The gala starts at 5:00 PM, you will have to wait until tomorrow to sleep off the fatigue.”
Soo-Wan handed the keys he had prepared in advance and guided us to the elevator. The hotel Soo-Wan chose was a famous chain hotel close to the Concerto House where the gala will be held. For this reason, Asian lodging guests stood out everywhere.
When the elevator reached the 8th floor, everyone scattered towards their own rooms. Even though we all had an exhausting flight of 12 long hours, we had to be down at the lobby in two hours. I’m beyond exhausted and my limbs were hurting. I dragged my heavy suitcase towards the room I was given.
Suddenly someone grabbed my luggage from my grasp, I looked back and found Soo-Wan standing behind me with my luggage in his hand.
“It must have been a long flight, and you’re in high heels. Why did you show up dressed in a formal jacket and skirt?”
“I had a meeting before I came.” I said.
He followed me to the end of the hallway.
“Was it CEO Shin you had a meeting with?”
“No, it was something personal. Ah, my suitcase, please. Thank you, senior.”
I took my luggage from his grasp and inserted the key card into the slot, the door opened with a light click. I was about to enter the room, and suddenly Soo-Wan grabbed my hand.
Hearing his earnest words, I gave him a tight smile. It is a situation where I just wanted to simply die or to feel heartbroken. I had to hold my breath to stop making myself get emotional.
After calmly removing my hand from his grasp, finally, I could breathe.
“I was involved in the project as an assistant. It’s not like I did the whole design. You don’t have to feel guilty. It’s weird for me to even have my name on the award, right? I would not have known if the company name was not included.”
“I’m glad you think so…”
He stared at me without saying a word. An awkward air hung between us as we stood between the half-open door. I gave him a small wave and walked into my room, leaving Soo-Wan behind.
I pushed my suitcase into the corner of the room and took off my high heels. After rubbing my swollen and sore feet, I went to fill the bathtub with water. The room was small, barely fitting a single bed. Outside the window was a completely different atmosphere from Korea.
I just wanted to sleep off all the fatigue, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to do so. I forced my aching limbs to take off my clothes and then sat in the bathtub filled with hot water. My stiff muscles immediately got relaxed, it felt like heaven, I stayed like that for a while.
The work submitted by Lim Soo-Wan was the Gapyeong villa of the artist, Kim Eung-Soo, which was completed earlier this year. People often associate the word ‘villa’ with the rich, and the villa I designed was a kind of fortress full of perfect proportions.
Artist Kim wanted a building with a different exterior and interior. He wanted an exterior design that felt inviolable, and I designed it as he desired. In the process of this whole project, he enlisted Soo-Wan’s help to perfect the calculation of proportions.
In fact, Soo-Wan was responsible for the project. However, when he was unable to meet the deadline due to the parent company’s consortium building design, he handed over Artist Kim’s project to me.
To tell the truth, it was my first work after I had had my architect licence and it is a project that my name could not be listed. However, Kim knew who the architect behind his villa’s design was, I was happy with that.
Anyway, Soo-Wan will be awarded the prize for submitting the work to the Red Dot Awards. Of course, Soo-Wan was guilty and confessed, asking me for forgiveness. Still, the lingering discomfort did not go away.
After washing off the foam, I left the bathroom and wiped the water off with a fluffy towel. I dry my hair with a hairdryer and stroke the back of my head.
“You held it in well, Lee Ji-Eun.” I told myself.
Standing in front of the mirror, I took a final look at myself. To the evening gala, I wore an expensive black jumpsuit which I bought a few days back, paired with a camel-coloured handbag. My hair was tied loosely, and the chandelier-type earrings made my slim jawline stand out. The whole outfit I chose to wear for this gala looked very elegant, at least in my eyes. I grinned.
I came down to the lobby and walked over to my co-workers who were standing out in their tuxedos. Just as I entered the lobby, Director Ko and Lim Soo-Wan came down in advance to see if the preparations were completed. I was the first to catch their eyes.
“Hey…I thought you were a celebrity.” Soo-Wan exclaimed.
“Our Ji-Eun’s looks can kill people tonight. How come you still don’t have a lover? Why don’t you dress like that all the time?” Director Ko said, smiling at me.
“These clothes don’t look comfortable as they seem to be.” I gave them a tight smile.
“By the way, you two look great.”
The director shrugged at my compliment and laughed.
“You see, the suit is new.”
“So why hasn’t everyone come down yet? They were even late to the airport too.”
Director Ko couldn’t stand it anymore and called the missing staff. While Director Ko was gathering everyone in the lobby, I excused myself to go to the washroom. I was busy looking for my phone in my handbag while standing in front of the ladies washroom. Suddenly the door to the men’s washroom opened and a man came out.
He was a man whose photographs failed to live up to, just as Director Ko had said. Dressed in a tux, his hair was side-swept and gave off a soft, glossy lustre. His height and well-defined eyes, which stood out even among westerners, captured my eyes. I was dumbstruck for a moment and was looking at him as a fool.
Two secretaries standing at the entrance approached, the Greek god in front of me wiped the water off his hand with a handkerchief and handed it over to one of them. Upon realising I was staring at him this whole time, I guilelessly shifted my gaze to my handbag. I belatedly remembered who the owner of the hotel chain was. The fact that it was a hotel built by SR Industrial Development and owned by the Seoryang group suddenly came to my mind.
“Not just Airlines, hotels too in the hands of large corporations? Wow.” I murmured to myself.
I shook my head thinking it was good not to get involved again. As I turned to walk inside the washroom with one arm wrapped around me, the man who was leaving stopped and turned his head towards me. In a fleeting moment, our gaze struck before he drew it away, like a coincidence.
He obviously narrowed his eyes and asked the secretary something. Even standing a few feet from him, I could feel a massive wall around that man that made him seem inaccessible.
It was annoying.
Pushing the door to enter the restroom, I shook the man off my mind.
* * *
“She’s a designer from Shin’s architecture office. I checked the passenger’s list.”
Lee-Hyun’s head turned at Secretary Kim’s words. He stared at the restroom the woman had disappeared into, then stepped forward.
“Get in touch with Lim Soo-wan.”
“Yes. And there’s a call from Samcheong-dong.”
Lee-Hyun’s jaw clenched, and he lowered his gaze as Secretary Kim handed him the phone.
Staring at the name on the screen, his gaze turned cold. When the call went unanswered, the phone rang again. Lee-Hyun pressed the answer button with a calm expression.
“What’s the matter?” He asked.
“The missus has fallen. I think we need to go to the hospital.”
“I think she overexerted herself.”
“I’ll send Chief Ahn, so follow my orders. Control the press first.”
“But if you don’t move quickly, the child will…”
“So what do you expect me to do?”
“…No. It was a slip of the tongue, sir. When Chief Ahn comes, I’ll take care of it.”
Lee-Hyun almost threw the phone after he hung up.
“Send Chief Ahn and Driver Park to Samcheong-dong and control the media.”
“Yes. I’ll contact them right away.”
When Kwon Lee-Hyun walked towards the central hall, the paparazzi hiding in various places immediately jumped out and pushed their cameras towards him. Lee-Hyun, who was already expecting them, did not stop it.
The Best of the Best Red Dot Awards was awarded to the state-of-the-art residential and commercial complex in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province. It has improved the dignity of the city beyond the limits of residential and commercial apartments.
The CI of SR, led by Kwon Lee-Hyun, was a huge success, but this led to the overheating of the presale market.
As a result, news articles with all sorts of colourful headlines followed him, encouraging the speculations – price-fixing, deepening deflation, and discord between labour unions. In comparison, the official appearance of the third generation of a wealthy family could be freely permitted.
“Rendezvous at the venue. Don’t stall too much.”
The blatant stares towards Kwon Lee-Hyun were blocked by the secretaries. Lee-Hyun, who got into the car waiting outside the lobby, looked at the camera and smiled.
“Let’s go.” He told the driver.
* * *
The concerto house was as magnificent as a mediaeval temple. Friedrich Schinkel, an 18th-century architect, was known for his Greek-style architecture and a person who had a profound influence on modernist architecture. I always wondered why so many architects respected him, but right now standing in front of a magnificent pillar, I understood why and felt the same.
“I heard that the tomb of Friedrich Schickel is also in the city of Berlin. If I have enough time, I think I should go.”
Managers Yoon and Soo-Wan, who stood by me, admired what I said and asked why.
“I don’t think there’s any bone dust left…”Soo-Wan jested.
Hearing that I gave him the side-eye.
“It’s just that… it’s amazing you want to go to a cemetery. It’s like going to the Royal Tomb of King Muryeong.” Soo-Wan corrected himself. I couldn’t hide my chuckle.
“Well, knowing and seeing are two different things. Visiting to see something like that is kinda cool.” Managers Yoon said.
“I know right? Besides, it’s well-preserved and…I just wanna go.”
I let out exclamations over and over again.
The red carpet that began from the stairs continued into the venue.
In the massive hall, attendees from all over the world chatted among themselves while enjoying champagne glasses. There were a lot of Asian attendees. Director Ko began to distribute business cards printed in English prepared for the event. He doesn’t even rave about the champagne that he likes so much. Instead, he approached designers he’s encountered through the media and appealed to the architecture scene in hard English.
“The CEO should reward the director.”
I grinned at Manager Yoon’s words, who poked my ribs.
The awards ceremony that began long after lasted over two hours. Even those who cheered passionately at first waited for their names to be called in the end, and the sound of applause felt like a courtesy. Even Director Ko dozed off. What I had in my mind was, the world-class awards ceremony was no different from listening to a boring university lecture.
As I was looking around stupidly to pass the time, I noticed not just me, everyone was fed up, and their concentration began to fizzle out. Suddenly Lim Soo-Wan’s name appeared on the giant electronic screen. The model he made and the architecture picture taken by a photographer is proudly displayed on the screen.
The office staff stood up and cheered. Soo-Wan, who met my eyes, held up his plaque and bouquet and waved at me. I also gave him a warm round of applause. My hands hurt from clapping by the time I sat down. I felt a strange gaze and turned my head to look who it was, and there was Kwon Lee-Hyun, who sat watching the awards ceremony with a blank face.
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