“You really deserve my respect, mayor-nim. I feel like I made a good decision voting for you at the last election.”
“Ahaha. Thank you very much for that. I look forward to your support again at the next election.”
“Absolutely. I am your fan, mayor-nim. Haha.”
We naturally had a good conversation for a while. There were things Ahn Jung Hee wanted from me, but there were also many things that I could earn from him as well.
But he was not the only politician here tonight.
“Aigoo, player Kang Hwi Ram! Congratulations! My name is Goo Bok Hee and I am the governor of Chungnam-do.”
“Ah, governor-nim. What brings you here……?”
“And I am Kang Sang Moon, a member of the National Assembly. It looks like player Kang Hwi Ram and I share the same ancestors.”
“Ah, is that so? Haha.”
“Nice to meet you. I am the mayor of Gongju……”
Politicians continued to introduce themselves to me. I thought that the mayor of Gongju and the congressman had traveled far, but there were Congress members from even farther away, such as in Cheonan.
It almost felt like a gathering of politicians from around Korea.
This made me feel good.
‘Yes! This is exactly what I wanted!’
I was not happy because I was networking with many politicians.
There were two ways of getting to know people. One was for me to go find them while the other was for them to come to find me.
I was hoping to use the second method. Once I become a celebrity and they get to know that I am a generous person, I wanted talented individuals to gather around me.
I would not reject them just because they were politicians. I would welcome anybody who could be of assistance.
I bowed and firmly shook all of their hands.
“Thank you for coming all this way. I should have visited you first. Please forgive me for my ignorance.”
“Haha, not at all. You are probably the busiest person in all of Korea right now.”
Maybe it was because they were politicians, but they were all great with their words. The conversation never seemed to end.
Furthermore, with so many politicians gathered together, the time quickly went by. Two hours had passed by without my realizing it.
“Mayor-nim, it is time to go.”
“Ah, is it already time?”
All of the politicians slowly started to leave once mayor Ahn Jung Hee left.
Thanks to that, I was able to escape from the rowdiness.
The people I really wanted to chat with were pushed to the back while I was chatting with the politicians.
The representative for all of them was Lee Man Bok.
I asked my sister Minji where he was.
“Where is teacher Lee?”
“Over there in the kitchen.”
I quickly headed over. Lee Man Bok was walking around while wearing a white chef’s outfit. He was responsible for the meal for this celebration.
It was not just Lee Man Bok. The students and teachers of the Dandelion School were all participating in making the food for the crowd.
‘Oh? That person is……!’
Teacher Lee Soo Bong of Poong Ryu Shik Gek was present as well. (TL: This group was described in ch 72: ‘They are famous for their organic cooking. They show up a lot on TV as well.’)
He was over 70 years old, but still personally handling the ingredients along with the students.
I could not stand still. I had to go and greet him.
“Oh! Welcome, President Kang. Long time no see.”
“What are you doing here? Leave the cooking to the students and get some rest.”
“Hoho, I am a chef. A kitchen is heaven for chefs. Please do not get in the way of my doing what I enjoy.”
They really were good people. Most importantly, their passion and dedication to their work were amazing.
I am certain that students learning from them will inherit this mindset. That alone should allow the students’ futures to shine brightly.
“Ah, you’re here.”
Someone was calling for me.
I turned around to find two people dressed up in suits.
They had chatted with me earlier. However, there were so many people that I couldn’t remember who they were. But I think they were either congressmen or a mayors.
“Our Gongju truly must be the hometown of world-renowned athletes. Player Park Chan Ho dominated the Major Leagues, Player Pak Se-ri dominated the LPGA, and now player Kang Hwi Ram is going to dominate the PGA.”
Ah right, they were the mayor of Gongju and the congressman.
I thought they left with Mayor Ahn, but I guess not.
They probably wanted to show their faces to Mayor Ahn, who is expected to run for president. They then escorted him out and then came back.
“Thank you very much.”
“There are many festivals planned in Gongju. The closest one is the Baekje Cultural Festival in November. Could you please stop by and shine some light on the festival?” (TL: Info on Baekje Cultural Festival: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=1057670 )
He seems like a very hands-on person. That type of request could have been made through the related department.
He probably just brought it up to have something to talk about it and build up his relationship with me in order to use me during the next election.
I did not look at it too negatively. Although I was saying, ‘use,’ recruiting celebrities to create his image and raise his popularity was something that all politicians sought to do.
I also did not have a bad image of these two people to start previously.
And, as the mayor mentioned, Gongju was my mother’s hometown. People might look down on me and say that I don’t know how to treat my roots if I ignore him.
But beyond that, Gongju was a special place for me. One of the candidates for the expansion of the Dandelion School was Wonnam-myeon in Gongju.
I had already purchased a large amount of land in a part of Wonnam-myeon. I bought any land that became available and paid extra in order to convince the current owners if there were any that I was really interested in.
I had 50,000 pyeongs worth of land already. (TL: 1 pyeong = 3.3 sq meters = 3.5 sq ft so 50,000 pyeongs is approximately 163,000 sq ft. In comparison, the largest home in the US, the Biltmore Estate, is about 176,000 sq ft.)
But I have not bought any important pieces of land yet. It would be the best place for the Dandelion School if I could manage to buy that land.
I suddenly felt a lightbulb go off in my head at that moment. Maybe the politicians could help resolve my headaches. It was because that land was public property.
‘Ah, the Governor of Chungnam-do was here. I could probably talk to him!’
However, it was only right to speak to these two first because it was a part of Gongju city.
“Gongju is my mother and my hometown. Of course I will help out for a festival back home.”
“Ahaha. Thank you very much. You really do have a big heart.”
“But may I also ask for a favor?”
“Of course. Please go ahead.”
They said that, but I could sense the nervousness. Both of their expressions changed slightly when I said the word, ‘favor.’
I felt like they would say it is complicated if I started with the talk about the land.
However, I planned to give them an offer that they could not resist.
It was the reason I wanted this land in the first place.
“To be honest with you, I have a close relationship with the Dandelion School. I heard that they plan to soon increase the number of students to over 10,000 and expand the school.”
“Ah, is that so? They will probably need a large amount of land for that.”
“Our Gongju is probably the best place to build such a school.”
They’re setting it up for me. Perfect.
“I hope that the Dandelion School can be in my hometown as well. I think that it is possible to make it happen.”
“Ah, is that so?”
“Oh, what great news……!”
The mayor and congressman’s eyes opened wide. They had come to develop a relationship with me, but now had a chance to return with a big gift.
“But there is just one issue. If we can resolve that issue, it will pretty much be guaranteed to be built in Gongju.”
“What is it?”
“We are the people you should discuss such issues with.”
The two of them seemed as if they were willing to take care of any issues for me.
It looks like I set the right mood to ask my request.
“The area they have selected for the Dandelion School is public land. Please help me purchase that land for them.”
“Ah, is that so? Where is it and how large of an area are we talking about?”
“It is in Jeongan-myeon. The area is a little more than 500,000 pyeongs.”
Their eyes opened wide once again. The area seemed to be much larger than they had expected.
I knew that it wouldn’t be an easy issue to fix, even if the governor was here.
But when there is a will, there is a way. The question is whether the will is there rather than if there is a way. My job is to help motivate them to develop that type of will.
“Please do not worry too much about it. They seem to have about 30 locations in mind for the Dandelion School. I’m sure that they’ll find somewhere that is willing to take them in if they look around.”
“Does that mean …… that the Dandelion School may go elsewhere outside of our Gongju……?”
“It is all in the great Republic of Korea in the end. Although I would be disappointed that it is not in my hometown, the future of the school and the students are more important than my greed for it to be in Gongju. Whether it is in Gangwon-do or even Jeju-do, that doesn’t really matter.”
It was not just a comment to threaten them. That really was the plan.
I just thought that Jeongan-myeon would be the best place to build it.
“We will ask our governor-nim about it.”
“I’m sure that the governor-nim will seriously consider it. The province benefits from having the Dandelion School remain here as well.”
Then I shouldn’t need to personally speak with the governor. I guess the governor may ask to meet with Lee Man Bok, Lee Soo Bong, or me in order to talk about it though.
“Thank you very much.”
* * *