Chemistry Chapter 9
Afterwards, the talks continued on the subject of new projects and the demo. But everybody was distracted by the synthesis of samples being made inside of the composite storage room.
When the live demo was just about finished, Sunghwan Jo who was sitting next to Jungwu whispered to him sounding worried
"I don't think Jungwu ssi understands, but the project team leaders are famous for their pride. Why don’t you apologize quickly before they get even more angry?"
"Even if I’m not wrong?"
Gi Tae entered the conversation looking incredulous.
"Are you saying you’re some sort of genius or something? What makes you want to adjust the values in a chemical formula after just seeing them once?"
"But it wasn’t my first time. I saw them earlier while making copies for the meeting."
"What the hell…"
Gi Tae trailed off, unable to understand why he was so confident.
Sunghwan was worried that Jungwu was making a very big mistake and continued to say
"The problem isn’t just team leader Jung. You caught the attention of Professor Yoonseok. If you were to rank the most difficult characters of the entire Central Research Laboratory, the professor obviously comes first. If you get pegged by the regular researchers, then your days in the laboratory are as good as over."
Jungwu only smiled to reassure them. He didn’t know how things will turn out, but he was almost certain that he was not wrong.
'If I can’t do this then I wouldn’t be able to do what I was contracted to do and get fired eventually anyway.'
Jungwu took a glance across the room and saw Boyoung staring at him. She continued to observe him with her sparkling eyes.
He couldn’t help but think that the most difficult character in the whole laboratory was that woman, who was overly interested in anyone related to Professor Chun.
"I guess they’re here"
Sunghwan leaned back to look out through the conference room window towards the interior of the Research Center. In the midst of the meeting that was wrapping up, the doors flew open.
"We have brought it,"
Everyone’s attention was on the icebox the team 4 carried in. The box was placed on top of the podium, and the fine gray powder was revealed inside.
Team leader Jung dipped his finger into the powder and tasted the sample with the tip of his tongue.
"How is it team leader, is it good?"
A strange expression appeared on the team leader's face as he turned towards Jungwu.
"Hey, say something."
The other researchers couldn’t contain their curiosity and rushed forward to try the samples themselves. After several researchers had a taste, they pondered on the flavor
"What a familiar taste…"
"Right? It tastes just like regular sauce."
"Fascinating. I feel like if I were to put this over some meat, it would be…"
One researcher trailed off with his sentence after he remembered that team leader Jung was watching. The other researchers who tasted the original control sample from another icebox gagged, and cautiously looked towards team leader Jung.
"Team leader Jung, it's not that this has bad taste, it’s just a little bland and greasy…"
Team Leader Jung turned to face Jungwu.
"Your expressions are correct."
"C… correct you say?"
When a consensus was achieved, everyone’s attention naturally turned towards Jungwu who remained seated among the researchers.
Jungwu stood up when the team leader called him.
"How did you know the way to correct this?"
There wasn’t much he could say in reply. It wasn’t as if he could tell these talented researchers about the solar system made up of additives.
Jungwu smiled awkwardly and replied
"I guess instinct?"
The team leader made a tired expression. After struggling with the research for four weeks, he could understand that this flavor, this comfortable and compelling flavor, was a magic powder on par with MSG based additives like Ramen soup.
"What a completely utter… How could an intern have this kind of instinct?"
His conversation which implied defeat surprised the core researchers in the room.
Sangshik calmly faced Jungwu and said
"I will use your revised formula to make a new batch of samples and send it to KG Foods. If they accept it, then I will add in your name as a contributing researcher to the project. Let’s just call it even after that."
"Team leader, is it really that good?"
"This is insane. Who on their first day… Who scouted this guy?"
When the conference room begin to grow loud, one of the researchers sitting in the front row said
"Okay meeting is over, so go back to your stations, people."
"Professor, the intern managed to successfully revise a project that the Team 4 had spent over 30 days unsuccessfully developing. And in less than 30 seconds no less."
"Why are you acting so surprised? Isn’t this why we work together as a team in research? Weren't you all used to this kind of situation under Professor Chun?"
Among the muttering crowd, Yoonseok Shin stood up.
Once he began to move, the researchers moved out of the way like the Red Sea. Dong-gil who had been standing next to Yoonseok whispered something to him.
Yoonseok walked up to Jungwu's desk and then turned to say
"Did you say your name is Jungwu Han?"
"And you are going to participate in next week’s assessment?"
Jungwu's eyes locked with Dong-gil's. He grinned and raised a thumb.
"Yes I am"
"I look forward to it."
Yoonseok left after patting him on the shoulder.
Once Jungwu saw the other core researchers bow towards Professor Shin, he quickly followed suit.
The lunch time at the central research laboratory was far more classy and leisurely than he had expected.
There were researchers taking advantage of the fully furnished fitness gym and the indoor squash court. Others were reading books at a Cafe with soft background music.
Of course, Jungwu was in no position to enjoy his lunch time so gracefully as the others as he hurried towards the cafeteria clutching his grumbling stomach.
He was only just now freed from his duties.
'Work at the Research Center requires more labor than I thought. Ow, my neck.'
After the weekly meeting was over, Jungwu was dragged off by a Sunbae from team three to do lab assistance. He had to observe and record chemicals spinning in a centrifuge once every 10 seconds. It was work that required patience rather than technical expertise, so he had to concentrate and watch carefully for a long period of time.
"One fried meat please."
After filling his tray with rice, soup, and other side dishes, Jungwu searched for a place to sit and eat.
Boyoung gave a satisfied smile as she walked out of the cafeteria.
It was the happy time of the day which indicated that only half a day’s worth of work remained on the schedule. She was humming as she made her way towards the elevators when she was interrupted by her cell phone’s ringtone.
-You didn’t have lunch yet, right? I found a restaurant that makes really great Spaghetti.
Boyoung frowned in annoyance at Dong-gil's suggestions.
"I finished eating just now"
"Lunch only takes 5 minutes to eat"
-If you eat that quickly, you’ll get fat
-Sorry sorry haha
Boyoung was pacing in the hall when she spotted a guy heading towards the far side of the cafeteria with a tray of food.
It was Jungwu, who she had no opportunity to speak to once the meeting was over due to him being surrounded by senior members of the research center.
-But you skipped breakfast and brunch, right? Wanna grab a coffee or something?
"I have something urgent to take care of. Enjoy your lunch!"
Boyoung put down her cell and ran over to the cafeteria entrance.
Jungwu took one bite of the Doenjang soup and nodded in satisfaction.
The quality was incomparable to his University cafeteria. He felt that the atmosphere of this place also added to the perceived quality of the food.
'No need to get overexcited. This how lunch is going to be from now on.'
He was laughing with the knowledge that he wouldn’t have to worry about what to pick for his next meal when a tray of food was placed before him.
"Are you eating alone?"
Jungwu looked up to see who it was and instantly became wary when he saw that it was Boyoung.
"Why are you so surprised?"
"It’s nothing Sunbae."
"I hope you don’t think I’m following you or something. I just happened to see Parachuter ssi sitting alone, and I thought lunch would be tastier with company."
Boyoung smiled as she picked up her spoon. She made a determined look as she put the spoon in her mouth, but didn’t lose the enthusiastic smile as she continued to look at Jungwu.
'Awkward. Such unnatural behavior.'
It wasn’t like there were any other temps around. Eating with just the two of them while sitting across from each other; Jungwu could easily guess what she wanted. Just thinking about being harassed about Professor Chun like he had been in the morning sped up the pace of his eating.
As he expected, Boyoung already wanted to start asking questions, so Jungwu took the initiative before she could push him into a corner.
"…About professor…. Yes? What is it?"
Being ambushed with a question broke her chain of thoughts, and she blinked a few times.
"Sunbae why are you so obsessed with doing a research with Professor Chun?"
Jungwu stared at her with a 'let's hear the reason' look.
"Are you serious? If Nobel Prize is going to be won for Chemistry in Korea, it's definitely going to be won by Professor Chun."
Nobel Prize. It was a word that was far too removed from reality to feel real to Jungwu.
"You're aware that a maximum of three researchers are also named along with the main recipient of the Nobel Prize right?"
"I think I understand now."
Boyoung looked happy to be talking about Professor Chun.
"There are still some theories he announced in Germany that remains a mystery among the German scientific community."
"It means the majority of chemists still don't understand the core fundamentals behind his theories. But I read them all. I am the only one in our country to do so I think."
Boyoung said, looking extremely proud of herself.
"And I have begun to understand a portion of his theories."
Boyoung beamed at Jungwu's complement. Meanwhile, Jungwu put the last bit of food in this mouth and quickly chewed.
'I did it.'
His plan to have her go on a monologue worked. While he was planning to say a suitable farewell and escape from her, he saw her beating her chest and looking uncomfortable.
"I guess the cafeteria food is not agreeing with you"
"That's not true. I, as well as Professor Chun, really love this cafeteria. We often ate together."
Boyoung forced herself to take another bite.
"You don't have to force yourself if you don't like it…"
Jungwu stopped mid sentence. When he saw Boyoung's lips, it looked like he was zooming in as if looking through a microscope.
What's going on now
It wasn't like there were any spectacular chemical reactions going on. But perhaps due to the influence of the midweek meeting and witnessing food additives being shown in the form of chemical constellations, he noticed the debris on her lip assume familiar star formations.
"Oh it's lenthionine."
"On your lips."
Boyoung's eyes grew wide in surprise.
"Hey, food can get on your lips as you eat!"
She took a napkin and wiped her lips, but didn't see anything on the napkin, so she raised an eyebrow.
"Are you making fun of me?"
"How strange. Lenthionine is usually found in Shiitake mushroom as the active ingredient of the aroma… but Sunbae's lunch doesn't use any mushroom at all."
Boyoung flinched when she was found out.