TITLE: I LIKE YOU, KWON!
WRITTEN BY TWILIGHTELUSION
I LIKE YOU, KWON! – CHAPTER 40
“Park PD, could you possibly have been mistaken about Raina’s involvement in this? The girls barely have time to sleep, much less concoct such elaborate schemes to tarnish the reputation of your artistes. Isn’t it a little too presumptious to take it into your own hand and pressure the PDs from the broadcasting stations to cancel all the schedules?”
“So Kim sa-jang, you are of the opinion that your girl has done nothing wrong and I have wrongly accused and cost financial losses to your company by pressuring the broadcast stations to cancel all of Raina and After School’s schedule?”
“Park PD, don’t misunderstand me. What I’m trying to say is that unless you have concrete evidence to show that Raina was responsible, isn’t it a little too fast to act upon what could possibly be just YOUR artiste trying to get back at Raina for causing such a upheaval? Not to mention, Im Seul Ong-ssi and Son Ga-In-ssi also benefitted from this ‘scandal’ didn’t they? So why do we have to bear the blunt of this?”
CEO Kim looked pointedly at Seul Ong since he heard that it was probably Seul Ong who got someone to work on finding out the culprit. Even though Raina had confessed to causing the scandal, he wasn’t going to give in to JYP just because he is powerful.
“Let’s say if we are able to provide concrete evidence like you required, what would you do to Raina then?”
CEO Kim looked at JYP and for the first time since he entered the building, he could feel the sweat making its way down his spine. The tone that JYP used seemed to indicate that they have the evidence. But everyone in the industry is aware of how intimidating JYP can be but he doesn’t always live up to his threat.
“If you really can show us the evidence, I’d take Raina out of After School and I will terminate her contract with Pledis.”
“Kim sa-jang, isn’t that a little too harsh? She is just a young girl after all. Do you need to dash her dreams this way?”
“Park PD, you pretty much left me with no choice. If she’s really the one, then I’d have to remove her. Otherwise the rest of After School would be affected.”
JYP got up from the sofa and picked up the piece of paper that he had left on his table. When he turned to look at CEO Kim, he could literally see the sweat rolling down his pudgy face. He gave a cold smile.
“Here’s the evidence that you wanted.”
He sat down on the sofa again and waited for CEO Kim to look through the information that had been presented to them. CEO Kim’s face just got paler and paler by the second. Though he had Raina’s confession, he didn’t realise that JYPE has gotten real, concrete evidence against them. If they choose to sue them for slander, this is the only evidence they need. All the details are so clearly stated in the document.
But CEO Kim wasn’t going down without a fight. After School is very popular right now. To pull Raina out at this juncture would be disastrous.
“Park PD, you can’t possibly expect me to believe that this is real? You could have…”
Before CEO Kim could finish his sentence, Manager Park’s phone rang. He excused himself when he saw that the company PR manager was on the line. JYP knew it was probably Pledis side calling to let them know that netizens had tracked down the culprit. He waited for Manager Park to come back with the news.
The office was silent as everyone listened to the gradual increase in volume in Manager Park’s conversation. CEO Kim knew it was bad news. He turned to look at JYP who was seated comfortably in his seat. He shifted his glance towards Kwon, Ga-In and Seul Ong and saw a trace of guilt and regret they felt for their junior who’s about to lose her dreams forever.
“Would you settle for a public apology?”
JYP looked at CEO Kim straight in the eye.
“I do not need a public apology. Do what you say you would do. Take Raina out of After School and terminate your contract with her. Businessman to businessman, I would tell you that’s the best alternative. You know what the netizens…”
Manager Park rushed into the office then and whispered into CEO Kim’s ears. He relayed the information that the netizens had already found out the person who uploaded the photo was Raina and fans from 2AM and BEG side have all gathered near the After School dorm and at Pledis, demanding an explanation. He went on to say that there was actually a firewall preventing the netizens from finding out but that was removed 30 minutes ago. CEO Kim shifted his glance at JYP then and realised he had totally been played by JYP. There was no way Raina or Pledis could have gotten out of the office winning this round. He knew when to cut his losses.
“Very well then, I would make a public announcement that Raina would be taken out of After School due to personal reasons. As for termination of contract, that might take some time to settle. Please give us that amount of time. In return, I want to be reassured that Pledis would not be sued for slander.”
“I understand. But just so, we have an understanding, please sign on this document.”
JYP pushed two documents towards CEO Kim. On the document, it was stated that as a form of ‘payback for the damages that an artiste of Pledis Entertainment had caused to JYPE, they are required to terminate Raina’s contract’. Once that is done, JYPE will no longer hold Pledis Entertainment responsible for the scandal and will not take any LEGAL action against the company.
CEO Kim took out his pen and signed his name reluctantly but he knew he had no choice at all. Especially if he wants to protect the rest of the members of After School.
“Looks like I would need to add one of the trainees to the group after all…”
CEO Kim thought to himself. Although he had been thinking of adding new members to After School, he had been dissuaded by Manager Park. But now, it looked like he didn’t have a choice.
Once JYP signed his name on the same document and have his secretary make a photocopy for filing, he gave a copy to CEO Kim. When both CEOs stood up, the rest of them all stood up as well. JYP and CEO Kim shook hands like two businessmen who have just concluded a deal. CEO Kim nodded at Jo Kwon, Ga-In and Seul Ong and took his leave with Manager Park.
Jo Kwon, Ga-In and Seul Ong witnessed the entire scene and realised that they just saw the dreams of a young girl being dashed by two businessmen. While it was Raina’s fault in the first place, they really questioned if there weren’t a better alternative. Belatedly, they realised their lives were as such -pawns to businessmen. And when they are no longer useful or commercially viable, they can be cast aside anytime.
JYP sent CEO Kim all the way down to the lobby and that gave the three of them some time to breathe. No one dared to bring up what they just witnessed but all had the same thought – what about them now?
Kwon and Ga-In exchanged a look and the fear that they had tried to keep at bay came rushing at them now. Seul Ong took out his phone to check for new messages and that was when he saw the message that Chang Min sent to them. When he saw that Nega Networks CEO had given his approval, he yelped in joy.
“Seul Ong hyung, what happened? Why are you so happy?”
“Kwon, check your phone.”
When Kwon saw the message, he was also very happy and had tears in his eyes. He walked over to Ga-In and just hugged her.
Kwon showed her the message that Chang Min sent to him. At first, Ga-In couldn’t believe her eyes.
“Jo Kwon, this is not a joke right? My CEO actually agreed to it? Agreed to us?”
“If the message was sent by Jin Woon, I would suspect it but since it’s sent by Chang Min hyung, I doubt he would actually joke around with something so important. I’m so surprised! I was worried that your CEO would be vehemently against it.”
“Chang Min hyung, where are you now?”
Seul Ong had called Chang Min just to clarify the news.
“Oh~ Seul Ong ah, we are outside the office building waiting for the BEG noonas and their CEO to arrive before going up. We just saw CEO Kim from Pledis coming downstairs with Jin Young hyung. How did that meeting go?”
“We will talk about that later. So, what you sent is true, Ga-In’s CEO really agreed to their relationship?”
“Yes, Narsha noona was the one who sent me the message. Apparently they have also worked out a plan to persuade Jin Young hyung. I feel much better knowing that we have at least one of the bosses on our side.”
“Alright then, we’ll see you later.”
Seul Ong ended the call and turned to the two pairs of questioning eyes.
“Chang Min hyung and Jin Woon are outside the building right now waiting for the BEG noonas and Nega Networks’ CEO. They would come upstairs together later.”
He turned to Ga-In then and gave her a smile.
“Your unnies and boss are fantastic! Apparently they have worked out a plan to convince Jin Young hyung. So don’t worry anymore. We will get this straightened out.”
Ga-In nodded, knowing that her unnies probably managed to persuade their CEO. She was very afraid of disappointing her CEO because she looked upon him as a father figure.
Just then, JYP came back into the office alone.
“Now, we have to settle the issue between Kwon and Ga-In. Kwon, you should know that at this present moment if you were to go public with your relationship, it might have adverse effect on 2AM right? Are you willing to see what you have been working so hard for thus far go down the drain? What about the rest of your members?”
“Jin Young hyung…”
Seul Ong wanted to say something but was stopped by JYP’s glare. He knew that it was not his turn to speak yet. But now he was really worried, because JYP was using the one thing that would cause both Kwon and Ga-In to waver.
“Jin Young hyung, I know what you are saying. Yes, I do realise that if I were to go public with our relationship at this moment, it will affect 2AM. But at this present moment, I am not asking you to allow us to go public with the relationship. I’m asking you for permission to be together with Ga-In noona. You know as well as I do that we could have dated secretly without telling you but because the scandal broke out, I had no choice but to come clean about our relationsip. So all I’m asking for is your permission and if you are willing to give us your blessings, we would be doubly delighted. But even if you do not, it doesn’t change my stand – I love Ga-In noona and I want to be together with her.”
“Kwon ah, you are at the peak of your career right now, do you think you would actually have time to maintain a relationship? Ga-In, what about you? I heard that there are plans for you to have a solo album, are you sure you want to be in a relationship right now?”
“Park PD-nim, you know I respect you a lot and while it’s rumoured that I might have a solo album, nothing is set in stone yet. But being an artiste only made me understand the kind of schedule that Kwon has right now and I won’t pressure him to spend time with me or meet up with me. I can assure you that I would not do anything that would cause JYPE, 2AM or Kwon any inconvenience. If you do not give us your permission, I’m sorry to say that I won’t break up with Kwon.”
“Even if it affects BEG?”
“If it affects BEG, I believe that’s my responsibility and not JYPE’s right, Park PD?
Everyone turned to see the little entourage that followed CEO Noh into the office. JYP was shocked to see that CEO Noh had brought the other BEG members with him and that Jin Woon and Chang Min were in their midst as well.
In that moment of silence, Jin Woon and Chang Min went to stand beside Kwon and Seul Ong and the BEG members also went to stand beside Ga-In. When JYP turned to look at them again, he saw a fortress of 8 who were determined to stay together.
“Noh seon-saeng, you are not telling me that you approve of their relationship? They are very young and at the peak of their career…”
“Jin Young ah, when you were their age, did you not fall in love too? How did you feel when your boss then absolutely refused to let you be with the girl? When you had to give her up, how did you feel? These children are not asking you to let them go public with the relationship right now, they are simply giving you the measure of respect they believe you deserve as their boss, and their mentor by wanting your permission and blessings. Is it that difficult to give it to them? Don’t you know your own boys? 2AM members are one of the most sensible bunch I have seen in today’s idol world and you can’t trust Jo Kwon to make the best decision? He trained for 8 years, do you think he doesn’t know the consequences?”
By this time, Ga-In had tears in her eyes. She was so touched by what her boss had just said. She wished she could go up to him and give him a hug but she knew it was inappropriate. JeA, who was holding on to Ga-In’s hand gave it a squeeze and when Ga-In looked at her, she smiled at Ga-In, telling her without words to trust in their boss, their ‘appa’. Ga-In nodded in acknowledgement.
“Alright, let’s put aside all the sentimental and emotional reason, commercially, do you think it’s a good time to ‘break them up’? If you do not allow them to be together, the first thing I would do would be to take Ga-In out of ‘We Got Married’. I would not allow her to be on the show and having to smile when she’s feeling all miserable inside. Are you not aware how famous and well-loved the two of them are? Do you want me to run the statistics by you? In the public’s eyes, since you seemed to care about that a lot, they are the perfect couple. There are fans who WANT them to be together FOR REAL. Both you and I know how rare that is. If you say no, I can assure you I would call WGM PD immediately with the demand to withdraw once the present contract ends in 3 weeks. I’m sure you are aware how many companies want them to be the spokesperson for their products? Are you willing to forego that income?”
“Noh seon-saeng, you can’t be serious? Would you really do that? Take Ga-In out of ‘WGM’?”
“Well, I would have to compensate her by giving her a solo album but that’s not an issue with me. Jin Young ah, I have seen these girls struggle to keep their dreams of doing music they want alive and if it’s within my means, I’d make sure they get what they want. If earning more money means making them miserable, I’d definitely not do that. You should know me by now. Does it really make you happy to refuse them? Keeping them together is going to be commercially viable to you, isn’t that what is important?”
“Noh seon-saeng, you make me look like I’m a money-grabber!”
“I know running a big company like JYPE is not easy so no, I don’t see you as a money-grabber. Instead I see you as a smart businessman. You know I’m a man of my word. Losing those CF deals might hurt my pockets but they are not essential for me to keep the company afloat either. Ga-In might scream at me later since that money could have been her dowry but I’m sure she’d get over it when I make sure her solo album is a success. So, how about it? Yes or no?”
JYP looked around him. He knew how hard Jo Kwon and the other 2AM members worked and at this present moment, he could not afford to lose the trust of his most popular group, or at least the group who’s bringing the most money. It was with a measure of regret that he realised he shouldn’t have ‘given’ them to Big Hit Entertainment.
Then he looked at BEG and CEO Noh. He acknowledged the talents of the 4 girls, and knows that whether as a group or solo, all 4 of them would do well and Nega Networks really would not suffer. In fact, after hearing the way their CEO stood up for them, they would probably work harder. Though he didn’t like the idea, he had to admit giving them permission didn’t cost him a thing but the reverse might cost him more than he’s willing to pay right now.
He turned to look at Jo Kwon and Ga-In and he saw all the rest taking a step closer, making the fortress tighter.
If I were to say no at this moment, I would lose the respect and trust of 8 people. Not to mention any possibility of collaboration between JYPE and Nega Networks. I’m sure if they could have a joint concert, it would be a sell-out given the present circumstances.
“Alright, fine, I’d give you my permission. However, know that I would not tolerate the relationship being exposed. If that should happen, I would demand compensation from the two of you. You have witnessed what happened just now so know that if I can make you, I can break you as well.”
He turned to CEO Noh and the tone he used was that of a businessman to another business, not a junior to a senior anymore.
“Noh seon-saeng, you know I have a lot of respect for you. So I’m not going to demand that this goes down on paper. I want you word that in the next 6 months, you would continue to let Ga-In be on ‘WGM’. Should your company break this verbal promise, I have the ability to make sure that BEG would not be able to survive. Do I have your word?”
“6 months, it is then. I’m sure Ga-In finds ‘WGM’ enjoyable since that is the legitimate playground for the two of them to date without being questioned. You have my word. But Park PD, you should also know that I’m not a man without my own network. I could do a whole lot worse and not just to 2AM. Remember you are a big company after all with many artistes to look out for.”
The two men looked at each other, as if willing to the other to look away first. Finally, as if realising that the other is not an enemy unless provoked, smiled. CEO Noh shook JYP’s hand and patted his back. He then turned to look at the 8 relieved faces, especially Ga-In and knew that he had done the right thing.
“Come! Let’s go for tea! My treat! Park PD, you would give me the honour of giving you a treat right?”
“Of course, let’s go!”
So 2AM and BEG, together with their boss headed off to Hyatt Hotel for High Tea. People who saw them that day wondered if something major was going on. Speculations were abound but when neither company gave any indication that there was more, people simply put it down as ‘one of those gathering’.