Life, Once Again! - Chapter 305
“So we have to go with this small-claims filing?”
“Before that, you should make a call one last time.”
“There’s no way that man will pay us just because we call him. He practically wants us to do it.”
“We can negotiate now, so it’s better if you try anyway. He’ll probably change his mind if you bring up the word court. Also, the fact that someone got paid means that they still have some budget left over, so if you act strongly, he’ll probably pay the overdue wages. He might act like that again, but you’ll be able to make up some money for immediate bills, so you’ll have to go on a strike or something like that if he does that again.”
Maru finished speaking and had a look at the staff. They all looked hesitant. Mr. Kim also fell into thought as he put his hand against his chin.
“That lawyer back there told you that?”
“Do you think you can ask him to help us if something goes wrong?”
“That probably won’t be possible. He just gave me advice for this, not a proper consultation. If you want him to help us, you’ll have to pay him, so I don’t think that will work out.”
“Why? He sounds like a good man from how he’s helping us out. I think you can ask him.”
“Being a good man and free service are two different things. Also, I’m not that close to him, so I’m not comfortable with asking him for something like that.”
“Then I guess we’ll hire him officially once things go bad. He’ll help us more if he’s doing it for someone he knows.”
“That… probably won’t work out either.”
“As far as I know, you might have to pay him what you get paid for the case.”
“…Looks like he’s someone famous.”
“Yeah, well. He does belong to Lee & Kang Law Firm.”
“Lee & Kang Law Firm? I’m not knowledgeable about things like that. Is that like some super corporation or something?”
Someone told him that it was the number one law firm in the country.
“Then I guess it’s not happening. But it’s good that we now know a way. People like us don’t know how to stare into books and only know how to work to get paid. Since he said it’s not hard, let’s make the call. If he still feigns ignorance, then I guess we can only do this the hard way. Is everyone okay with that?”
The staff nodded at Mr. Kim’s words. It seemed that everyone gained the courage when they found out that they didn’t need to go to court. The scary thing about going to court was that being called there and doing that required time. An ordinary person’s life would crumble with one lawsuit. Being required to show up to court, calls telling them to negotiate, and the energy and money required if the lawsuit drags out long enough. This was why most ordinary people could not win against companies. If the companies decide to hire lawyers and drag things out indefinitely, the plaintiff would be exhausted and end up negotiating even if it’s the company that’s clearly in the wrong. This was common.
Mr. Kim called the president of the subcontractor company with his phone. Perhaps thanks to having found a way out, he did not get agitated and started with the greeting. As the conversation continued, he exercised more effort into his words and mentioned the lawsuit: that they were prepared to do it as a group, and that they had already talked to a lawyer about it. There was a little lie mixed in, but it probably did not matter. After all, the subcontractor was the one holding their money.
“Today’s shoot finished without a hitch, but I don’t think I can say the same thing for tomorrow as well. I have made our intentions clear. If you do not send us the overdue wages before tomorrow’s shoot… we’ll go to the KPU and go on a strike. I plan to drag this out until the end, so think about it carefully. Also, the lawyer that’s helping us says he belongs to Lee & Kang Law Firm. So think about that carefully as well.”
Mr. Kim hung up with a smile on his face.
“Do you think that will do?”
“I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.”
At that moment, director Lee, who was watching from afar, picked up his phone.
Director Lee approached them slowly. He took the phone off of his ears and switched on the speaker mode to make the other party’s voice clearer.
-I got a call just now, and he told me something about talking to a lawyer. Is this true?
“Ah, yes. I was next to him.”
-Wait, so you just watched him do so without taking any action?
“What power do I have to stop him? He says he’s a famous lawyer.”
-Why is there a lawyer at the shooting location? Is it really true? Are you sure he didn’t make something up?
“This is an independent school you know? It’s the school where all the rich kids go to. Maybe that lawyer’s child goes to this school.”
At the beginning, Mr. Kim watched the two make a call with a sour face, but his expression loosened the more he listened to it. Director Lee started leading the conversation so that he was inducing the president to pay the staff, and the president eventually had to accept before ending the call.
“Producer Lee. Why are you changing your attitude now?”
“Director Kim. I have a family to feed just like you. I have kids at home nagging me to pay their school tuition, and my wife tells me that she has to pay interest for the loan. I can’t not receive the money that the president is giving me. And also, it’s not like I treated you badly, did I? You watched me as I asked the president to solve the wage issue several times.”
Director Lee apologized in a small voice. Mr. Kim sighed and turned around.
“I understand your situation. But know that I only understand it.”
Director Lee no longer said anything and turned back around with a bitter expression.
“Are you going to continue shooting now that your wage issue is solved?” Maru asked.
“I will. They’re the kind of people that will nag at us to do work since they paid. Well, it’s not like we’re doing this because we don’t like the drama. As long as they pay us properly, we should do our work properly as well.”
Mr. Kim thanked Maru as he stood up. The other staff members expressed their appreciation as well. Director Lee told everyone to pull out since it looked like they wouldn’t be getting any more work done today. The main actors weren’t waiting at the set either. They were probably waiting inside their cars or something.
The managers, who had been keeping the actor’s places, bid farewell to the staff and quickly left. The people from the TV station also started packing up the equipment. Some of them even told the other staff members to cheer up. They just worked for different entities and in actuality, were just laborers who earned daily wages just like them.
“Go back home. I’ll send you all a message after I look at the time schedule, so send a reply if you want in. Also, you should tell me beforehand if you woke up late. I’ll have to find replacements.”
The leader scattered everyone after thanking them. Maru took off the gym uniform and gave it back. The staff bid him farewell as he gave it back. Although it was for just one day, it seemed like they’ve taken a liking to him. Maru smiled back. He hoped that everything went well.
“Hey, over there!”
Mr. Kim approached him. He was inviting Maru to an afterparty for giving the subcontractor a blow. Although Maru was thankful, he had a prior engagement.
“Sorry about that. I have someone I have to meet.”
“Is it that lawyer from before?”
“I guess it can’t be helped then. But hey, you are a student, right?”
“I’m in my 2nd year of high school.”
“It won’t be easy living in this industry. Though, from the way you act, I guess you’ll cope with it better than me. Are you going to come again? If you are, I’ll talk to the leader and have you come next time.”
“I’ll definitely contact you if I need to.”
“Alright, alright. Be careful on your way. Anyway, thanks for today, for helping us out even though we’re complete strangers.”
“My wage depends on it as well. I hope we can meet each other on set more often.”
“Alright. Oh, I’m Kim Jangsoo.”
“My name is Han Maru, sir.”
Jangsoo patted his shoulders and told him that he did well. Maru then bid farewell to the other supplementary actors he had been spending his time with for the day.
“Well done. Also… thanks for provoking me back there,” Woojoo spoke awkwardly.
Maru shook his head.
“I’m sorry. I think I did take it a step too far.”
“No. It wasn’t that surprising that you did. I should have been more calm about it, but it looks like I took it too easy. It’s a bit embarrassing but, I feel like I realized something thanks to you.”
“Well, I’ll be thankful if you think about it that way.”
“Are you going to come for the next shoot?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Come if you can make it.”
“Okay, I will.”
Maru left amidst the people that were carrying equipment. The sun was going down already. He took out his phone and called lawyer Park. When he told him that the shoot was over, he replied that he should wait there for a moment.
Just as he was watching the people that were pulling out, he saw students rushing out of the main building of the school. Many of them were wearing backpacks. This was a rare scene in an academic-focused school on a weekday. Maru wondered if they didn’t have any self-study sessions after school. He walked a little so that he was in front of the main building. He saw cram school vans lined up outside the school gates. Students got on those vans. The vans then disappeared off into the distance. That scene was repeated several times. It was like they were carrying off all the students in the school.
“Incredible, isn’t it? They say cram schools are all the rage these days, rather than schools.”
Lawyer Park had appeared behind him. His eyes were very complicated as he looked at the students.
“Your daughter must be going to one as well, is she?”
“She’ll probably go after dinner. Don’t you go to one?”
“I seem to have no fate with studying.”
“Why? You seem smart.”
“I am smart, but not in an academic kind of way.”
“Is that so?”
Suddenly, lawyer Park raised his right hand nervously. One girl, who was walking out of the school door with her arms locked around other girls, looked at lawyer Park before pouting at him. The girl changed her shoes before walking towards the school gates. The girls that were locking arms with the pouting girl looked back at him.
“So she’s your daughter.”
“She’s one impetuous girl. She’ll never listen to my words.”
“Perhaps she’s mad at you because you won’t let her become a celebrity?”
“Do you think just anyone can be a celebrity? You need talent to be one. Rather than that, that girl won’t even greet her father, huh.”
“Well, that’s what father-daughter relationsh.i.p.s are mostly like. She’ll cling to you like you’re the only one in her world when she’s young, but once she starts wearing school uniforms, she won’t even look at you in the face.”
“…Hey, why do you know all this?”
“Ah, well, my father sighs all the time.”
Maru just laughed it over. Lawyer Park said that fathers must be similar across the board and nodded.
“Let’s just get something to eat. My girl says she likes her friends more than her dad, so I guess I can’t help it.”
“She’ll open up to you once she matures.”
“She does open up to me from time to time. Though, that’s when she wants me to buy her something. At times like those, she’s like a deceiving fox just like her mother, geez.”
Although lawyer Park was complaining about his daughter, he had a smile on his face the entire time. Maru understood how he felt. Parents felt satisfied with their kids just growing up safely.
Maru updated him on the overdue wages matter as they walked to the parking lot. Lawyer Park stopped walking in front of a rather old car. It looked like quite an old model. It was a middle-class sedan that was produced in the country.
“It looks a little dirty, doesn’t it? I haven’t cleaned it in quite a while.”
“No, that’s not it.”
“Then is it because it looks less expensive than the car next to it?”
“Honestly speaking, it was a little unexpected.”
Maru looked at the other cars parked in the same row as he spoke. The rather old South Korean car looked very out of place like a wrong piece of a puzzle amongst the lineup of cars costing in tens of millions to hundreds of millions of won. It was also unexpected because someone of his financial status could drive a much better car than that.
“I changed my car once and I got into an accident in just two days. It was a big accident as well. I almost died back then. The same thing happened to the next car I bought. I thought I was jinxed so I came back to this one. I got somewhat attached to it as well.”
He got in the car with a smile. Maru nodded his head. Jinx was a rather scary thing. If he got into an accident twice, then he would probably not want to buy another car.
Maru got in the passenger seat as well. The first thing he saw was the prayer beads and a cross hanging off the rear-view mirror. On the right of the dashboard was a family photo. He had to be quite a family man if he had a family photo on a place like that.
“I realized that the one that helps you is the best, whether it be God or Buddha,” said lawyer Park.
He started the car and undid the parking brake. Just as he was about to start driving, a Mercedes-Benz parked right in front of them flashed its rear light before starting to leave its parking space. Although the parking lot’s passage allowed two cars to drive side by side, the Mercedes-Benz was leaving the parking space horizontally, so lawyer Park had to stop.
“Do you think that person’s a beginner?”
“I think so.”
The Mercedes-Benz started repeatedly going forward and backward. Maru kept watching that car as it moved forwards and backwards. Just then,
“Do you want some chewing gum?” Lawyer Park asked.
When Maru replied yes, Lawyer Park told him that there should be some in the glovebox. Maru reached out and opened the glovebox. There were all sorts of things inside.
“Ah, I guess I haven’t cleaned it in a long time.”
Lawyer Park smiled and reached out to the glovebox as well. Maru also looked inside to look for it. Just then, the car shook with a loud bumping sound. Both of them raised their heads to see what was going on and saw that the rear of the Mercedes-Benz was right in front of their vision.
“Geez, I was just worrying about that too….”
Lawyer Park sighed. He waited for the other party to come and apologize. However, there was no response from the other car.
“What the heck?”
Lawyer Park scratched his head and left the car. Maru left the car as well.
 I think I mentioned this before, but schools hold self-study lessons after school hours for high school so that they can study. The vast majority of students choose to stay behind for those self-study hours unless they have a separate schedule, like some event or hagwon(cram schools). Some schools also give the option to students to have dinner at school as well.
 Yes. Cram schools/academies run their own vans to take the students to and from their site, if they have the financial leeway. They have their own logos plastered on the vans and everything.