Life, Once Again! - Chapter 304
“I did hear that you entered JA.”
“As a matter of fact, I did.”
Maru looked at the middle-aged man in front of him, Lawyer Park. He had lost weight compared to when they met last time due to the school matter.
“Is there a problem?”
Lawyer Park asked the middle-aged woman. The woman alternated between Maru and lawyer Park before making an elegant smile.
“It’s nothing for you to worry about, lawyer. Looks like there was a commotion due to a misunderstanding. Sorry about making you worried.”
“How the hell is this a misunderstanding?” Mr. Kim, who had been listening, spoke as he glared at the woman. The woman didn’t become angry when facing Mr. Kim, and as such, spoke calmly unlike before.
“Excuse me. Let us stop now. Bear in mind that there’s a limit to my patience as well.”
The woman glanced at Mr. Kim before going towards where the students and the parents were standing. Mr. Kim, who had been condemned one-sidedly, was about to shout back at her in anger, but the people around him held him back. Mr. Kim didn’t seem to have any intentions of having a big fight so he just turned away his head in anger and just ignored her.
“Sorry for your inconvenience. Well then. Let’s go back inside, everyone,” director Lee grabbed this opportunity to speak.
The TV station staff went back inside the cafeteria first. Director Lee dragged Mr. Kim by the arm and was practically begging him to go back in. When he did so, the others started walking as well.
“Lawyer Park. We’re about to go.”
The woman smiled and pointed at the path leading behind the cafeteria. There was a path to the hill. The students were returning to the main building. It seemed that there was some business that had to be attended by the parents alone.
“Go ahead. I’ll be right behind you.”
“Eh? What do you….”
The woman panicked slightly and looked at his expression. The other parents standing behind her made awkward expressions as well.
“Are you sure you don’t need to go?”
“Help me out a little here. They’ve been dragging me with them since morning, and I’m about to have a headache.”
“They’re glaring at me though.”
When lawyer Park seemed like he had no intentions of moving on, the woman entered the cafeteria after telling him that they’d be waiting inside. The parents were staring at Maru and the lawyer from behind the glass door.
“Uhm, do you owe them money or something? They look quite uneasy.”
“It’s not about money, but ties.”
“Ties, you say?”
“I’m somewhat acquainted with the head director of the school. They’re talking about raising a new building in the empty lot in front of the hill, and they want me to help them out on that.”
“The Parents Association does stuff like that too?”
“Well, they are all people who have one authority or another. Thanks to that, it’s a pain in the butt. I came here to see how my daughter’s school was doing during vacation, and I feel like I shouldn’t have come.”
Lawyer Park looked at the cafeteria before sighing.
“That sounds tiring.”
“I’ll just take care of it and go back and rest. Rather than that, what was that just now? It looked quite serious.”
“There was a dispute thanks to wage issues.”
“Ah, everything in the world is about money problems.”
Maru stared at lawyer Park for a brief moment. This man, who was loosening his tie as he looked at the main building, was the man to go to for help. What was a better way than going to a lawyer for consultation for a legal matter?
“I think you have something to say to me,” lawyer Park asked.
Maru thought about it for a moment before shaking his head.
Although they were having a conversation right now, strictly speaking, Maru wasn’t sufficiently close to him that he could ask him for help. He would’ve never gotten to know this man if not for Junmin. Asking someone to do something for him was just being shameless. Moreover, being a lawyer was this man’s job. He got paid for doing his work. Maru thought that borrowing his expertise without proper compensation was no different from extortion, so he decided not to say it.
“This came across my mind the last time we met, but you look like you have a lot of thoughts.”
“My talents are lacking, so I have to make up for it in other parts.”
“There’s no way Junmin would employ someone that lacks talent. Rather than that, if you’re being considerate of me, I’d like to tell you that you don’t have to for today. I’m on holiday right now, after all. If I consult you as a lawyer, annoying stuff like non-disclosure agreements and whatnot will have to follow, but I can consult you as just an ordinary civilian and as an acquaintance of a friend of mine. Instead, I have a favor to ask of you as well.”
“You want me to help you run away from those people?” Maru looked at the back before speaking.
“Run away doesn’t sound cool, so let’s name it tactical retreat. That woman over there is so wild, so I can’t bear staying with her.”
Lawyer Park made a refreshing smile. Maru felt this the last time they met due to the matter at his school, but this guy was quite easygoing. He gave off a heavy pressure when consulting him about legal issues, but outside that area, he laughed and joked like a completely different person. It seemed like the strict atmosphere was a form of work as well for him.
Lawyer Park told him to wait before walking towards the cafeteria. Not long later, he came back out. The other parents followed behind him and walked up the hill behind the cafeteria while expressing their disappointment.
“What did you tell them?”
“I told them that you were a child that needs desperate legal advice thanks to a serious issue, and that I can’t ignore you. I also told them that that was it for me today. This is one thing that’s good about being a lawyer. You get to sound serious no matter what you say. I can cut off any annoying matters by saying it’s a legal issue.”
Lawyer Park took off his suit jacket and spoke.
“Well then. Let’s hear it already.”
The two bought some coffee from the vending machine next to the cafeteria and talked about what happened between the staff. Lawyer Park, who had been listening without saying a word, smiled faintly.
“A colleague of mine was once in charge of a civil case related to this, and I helped him out from time to time. That’s when I found out about this. Do you know how the TV station’s content production is structured?”
“I heard a little. The TV station would outsource it to a subcontractor, and the subcontractor produces the drama.”
“Yes, that’s precisely it. Before that was a thing though, the TV stations used to produce their own content. However, the government ordered them to mandatorily outsource some of its content production to other companies starting in 1991. What do you think the reason is?”
Maru scratched his brows. Three public TV stations, self-production of content. Massive amounts of capital. Just from those three elements, it was pretty easy to figure out.
“The biggest reason must be the prevention of monopoly. There’s no way the TV media would grow in market size if the three public TVs are monopolizing everything. If they use subcontractors, the cost of production would go down and the quality would go up thanks to market logic. Ah, there’s the additional benefit of creating workplaces for people. After all, there would be more workplaces than if the three public TVs are monopolizing everything.”
“…Do you want to help me sort doc.u.ments? I think you’re better than most of the new recruits at my company. Anyway, it’s just as you say. Since the government instructed them to outsource their production, the TV stations got on board and delightfully started outsourcing their content production. Actually, it’s easier for the TV stations as well. They are relieved of their responsibility, yet they still hold on to the authority after all.”
“They are relieved of their responsibility?”
“Well then. Let’s say that a drama season is being produced. Numerous content production companies would bring them storyboards in hopes of competing for that spot. The TV stations then would browse through those storyboards. However, what’s more important than that is the production budget. Then, it goes like this: company A requires 30 million per episode and possesses two star actors, while B also requires 30 million won per episode but only has one star actor. What happens then? It’s given to A of course. Do you get why the value of actors is rising dramatically?”
“Because they need those stars in order to compete with other subcontractors, meaning they would be competing for the actors as well, leading to an increase in actors’ values.”
“Yes. That means the subcontractors need to cast as many stars as possible in their dramas. That’s a problem in itself, but there’s an even bigger problem. I told you how the TV stations are relieved of their responsibility, right? I mean it. The TV stations are just giving the budget to the subcontractors and are not dealing with any of the problems that occur after that. Why? Because the subcontractor already has the production budget. The problem occurring between the subcontractors and the people they decide to hire is fundamentally the TV station’s problem, but they’re avoiding all responsibility with the excuse that ‘they already supplied the production budget’. In the end, the strong is just watching from the top while the two weaker ones are fighting each other at the bottom. This country’s problem is always not due to hierarchical violence, but violence within the same level.”
Lawyer Park made a loathing smile as he continued.
“Also, one more thing. The subcontractors are fighting each other trying to hire star actors, but look, the budget hasn’t changed. From the 30 million they received, they have none after paying the star. What do you think is the easiest payment you can reduce?”
“Human resources fee.”
“Correct. They just shave down that money. No, they just delay it entirely. ‘Delaying’ is not a crime. Like that, they will air the episode first and fill in the losses gained through ads and stuff. Only then can they get paid.”
“What if it’s not profiting?”
“What do you think they’ll do then?”
What can they do? There’s no money to pay. No, it was likely that they wouldn’t want to pay either. There’s money in the pocket, so how to avoid legal responsibilities in this case?
“What if they go under and set up a new company….”
“I see a splendid potential scammer in front of me right now. If a legal person is judged as having gone bankrupt, the government pays any debts for it in their stead up to a certain amount, so they handle it with that for the time being. After that, they will set up a new company, not under their name this time, but they will still hold practical power. The matter I helped out back then was similar to that as well. Laws are not there to help the just, but for the knowledgeable to use as they wish, so many people just get conned even if they are watching out.”
“Is that even okay?”
“Legally, there are no problems at all.”
“That’s good, the law, I mean.”
“Then what can I do? It doesn’t seem like they want to pay us, and if we just go on a strike, I think the producer will just hire others like he said.”
“I told you that the law is there for the knowledgeable to as they wish. There shouldn’t be a lot of overdue wages for the staff. If it’s under 20 million won, you can sue them, though it will be a civil case with a small-claims filing. What’s important here is that you don’t need to go to court. A family member can take the suing party’s place instead. It’s a system created by the people that actually had some consideration for the ordinary civilians. Also, don’t do it alone, and do it in groups. It will take a long time for the payment order.”
Lawyer Park drank the coffee. He crumpled the empty paper cup and threw it into the trash can next to him.
“That’s the consultation I can give you as an a.d.u.l.t. I’ll take the coffee as payment.”
“Thank you. I’ll go talk to those people about it.”
“Tell them to do it fast. It can take up to two months until they are actually paid. They should have some of the budget left if they’re still in the beginning stages. Considering the financial things, they should be able to pay for the employment considering the flow of money. The company wouldn’t be able to just feign ignorance and not pay. I mean, they’re still shooting after all. They wouldn’t want problems occurring between them and the TV station so they will get things done and pay the staff.”
Lawyer Park put on his jacket.
“I wish my daughter was as smart as you. She’s nagging me about wanting to become a celebrity these days.”
“The family circ.u.mstances allow it, so why don’t you let her?”
“It’s me that has the money, not her. I’ll just get her a house once she reaches twenty and be done with her. Only when she realizes how hard it is to earn money would she stop wasting money.”
“If I get her a house, she’ll think that it’s only natural for me to do so. I mean, kids these days are scary.”
“She has a father that’s doing well, so it’s not surprising that she wants to act like a child.”
Lawyer Park looked at his watch.
“Do you have anything to do after the shoot?”
“Really? Then why don’t you have dinner with me?”
“Weren’t you going to eat with your child?”
“She already rejected me saying that she already has an appointment with her friends. When you get married in the future, get a son, not a daughter. At least you get to drink together when he grows up. I have time left over, and I don’t want to eat by myself, so I think I’ll borrow you. You have my number, don’t you? Call me once it’s over.”
It was a rather sudden invitation, but there was no reason to refuse. He was a person that would benefit Maru greatly if he could get close to him, so it was Maru who wanted to ask him out instead.
“Then I’ll call you once the shoot is over.”
“Alright, alright. But hey, are you good with drinking?”
“Good, as expected of a guy Lee Junmin has under his wing.”
Lawyer Park turned around while showing a refreshing smile. Maru bowed to him before returning to the cafeteria.
 I have no idea what this legal stuff is about, and the South Korean law obviously has differences to laws in other countries/states, so this may sound iffy for some.