There are a lot of loud voices around me.
“Oh my god, where’s the doctor?! Call the doctor!”
“Young Master. Are you awake?”
“Where the hell is the doctor!”
“Doctor! Patient Go Ji-hun has regained consciousness.”
Ugh, shut your damn mouths, all of you.
I’m in excruciating pain, as if every single one of my body’s joints has been smashed to pieces.
Can I move? No, it’s hard to even open my eyes.
Gathering my consciousness as best as I can, I manage to blink once. My blurry vision slowly becomes clearer. A groan escapes from my throat. It’s the groan of a voice that I don’t recognize.
“Don’t go back to sleep. Keep looking at me, look at Dad,” says a voice.
Dad? This guy looks like he’s about the same age as me. What’s he talking about?
Still, it’s a really familiar face. Ah, his face is just like President Go Dae-man of the Gogwang Group when he was young. The face of someone who’s going to earn a lot of money.
I groan again. I don’t care about any of this. I just want to sleep. I feel like if I could just get some sleep, all of this pain and fatigue would disappear.
As I close my eyes again, a high-pitched scream comes from nearby.
“N-no! Young Master!”
“Where the hell is the damn doctor!”
“Mr. President! The doctor is here.”
“Please step out of the way!”
Seriously. I’m trying to sleep here.
Ugh, the doctor’s gone and flipped my eyelids. I scowl, but he takes no notice and continues to shake my body.
“Sir. Are you awake? Do you remember falling into the water?” he asks me.
“Slee… Fu…” I manage to whisper.
Unable to hear me, the doctor leans closer and shushes the others. They immediately fall silent.
I whisper slowly and clearly into the doctor’s ear. His expression stiffens, and the expressions of everyone gathered around me darken as well.
“What did Ji-hun say?” the man who called himself my father asks.
“That’s…” the doctor says sheepishly.
“Hurry up and tell us!”
“‘I-I want to sleep, so everyone fuck off…'”
I give a small nod and a satisfied smile.
Ho-un was right. My first attempt at life was thoroughly wasted, but fortune has indeed found me… though it’s done so in a way that I find quite unbelievable.
“So, can we please go over this one more time?” I ask the doctor.
“Of course,” he says.
The face looking back at me in the mirror is full of youth and charm. I see a figure that looks good even in a hospital gown, and I still can’t take my eyes off the face. The more I stare at it, the more I can’t help but to admire it.
“My name is Go Ji-hun?” I confirm with the doctor.
“Yes. That is correct,” he replies, his hand moving quickly to make a written record of everything I say and do.
I let out a sigh. “Jesus Christ.”
There’s only one Go Ji-hun that I know of.
The third son of the Gogwang Group.
Go Ji-hun was born to Go Dae-man, the heir to the Gogwang Group, and an actress who was up-and-coming at the time. Though Go Dae-man already had a wife and two sons, he lost his mind and fell head over heels for the actress, perhaps for political reasons.
He told his family that he would forfeit his place as heir to the conglomerate, and nothing more needed to be said.
The winds of his actions fed into a typhoon, and things ended with spilled blood. The actress was stabbed and killed by a robber.
The public and Go Dae-man believed that the Gogwang Group had killed her.
But the investigation process revealed that the perpetrator had no ties to the Gogwang Group, and everything returned to how it should have been. Go Dae-man returned to being the heir to the conglomerate and the father to a family. Go Ji-hun followed him to become the family’s third son.
It was the incident that became the topic of conversation of everyone in the conglomerate world.
After returning to the main conglomerate family, Go Ji-hun became extremely socially withdrawn and later committed suicide by drowning himself in the swimming pool at his house.
Someone who was born into a wealthy family but lived a life full of turmoil. That’s the Go Ji-hun that I knew of.
“Doctor. How old am I?” I ask.
“The date has changed, so you are now twenty-six years old,” the doctor replies.
Then this is nineteen years ago. My first year in prison.
I’m certain of this: Go Ji-hun is supposed to be dead.
No, he did die. The one alive right now is me, after all.
I look down at my scarred hands.
“I’m supposed to be dead as well,” I murmur.
“I’m sorry?” says the doctor.
The mood in the room chills in an instant. The expressions of the medical team and even the guards darken.
“Umm, i-it seems that he is suffering from retrograde amnesia,” the doctor stammers. “Sir, can you tell me your father’s name?”
Go Ji-hun’s father, that’s –
“Go Dae-man,” I answer.
The individual who turned the Gogwang Group into the greatest conglomerate in Korea. The media portrays his personality in a good light, so he has a pretty good reputation for a businessman.
Of course, his past scandal has left the public an impression that he’s a man of passion.
Ah, Gogwang’s stocks should be soaring right about now. This is the period of time where Gogwang Electronics’ mobile device business was booming.
“What about your mother’s name?” the doctor asks.
“The person over there, Lee Mi-sook… Ms. Lee Mi-sook,” I say, correcting myself.
Lee Mi-sook, Go Dae-man’s lawful wife.
Most of her parents’ family members wear the badge of the National Assembly. She has a beautiful, elegant appearance that makes it difficult to believe that she’s a middle-aged woman. Even the way she sits on the sofa and drinks coffee is graceful… although I don’t think this is the kind of situation to be having a hot drink without a care in the world.
“Y-Young Master! What about me? Do you remember who I am?” asks a man who has been at my side the entire time, pushing his face towards me.
His face is a mess, with tears and mucus smeared all over it.
A little alarmed, I shake my head.
How the hell am I supposed to know who you are?
The man begins to cry as if his heart has been broken.
The doctor pats the man’s shoulder. “It seems that the shock of the amnesia has made him a little confused. I do not believe that it is a cause for great concern,” he says comfortingly.
A moment later, the door slides open and a familiar-looking man enters.
President Go Dae-man.
He has a soft appearance, but I can feel the charisma in his eyes.
So, he had the power to make people gravitate towards him even when he was still young. It feels like he has an invisible aura that creates a suffocating air around him.
He takes a look around the hospital room, then gives one short command: “All of you, leave.”
The medical team gives a polite bow before exiting quietly.
There is a rather large Gogwang Seoul Hospital logo on my pillow and hospital gown. It seems fitting that Go Dae-man would choose a hospital that is operated by the Gogwang Medical Foundation.
“You and Chief Kim, too,” Go Dae-man says to Lee Mi-sook.
Lee Mi-sook glares at me and Go Dae-man for a moment. “I’ve had to cancel plans because of your wonderful son, and that’s the first thing you say to me? To get out?”
“I apologize,” says Go Dae-man.
“Don’t bother saying words you don’t mean.”
Are they really a married couple? A brutal, terrifying air chokes the room.
Lee Mi-sook walks out the door, leaving the room and its ice-cold atmosphere behind.
It seems that the man whose eyes are swollen from crying so much is Chief Kim. He gives me a worried glance as he follows the lady out.
Go Dae-man and I are the only ones left in the room.
He approaches me, and then strikes me across the cheek.
Shit. I’ve only just woken up, and this is what I’m greeted with?
Go Dae-man straightens his shirt and catches his breath. He looks like anger has filled his entire body, all the way to the ends of the hair on his head.
“Why did you do it?” he asks me.
“I’m sorry?” I say.
“Why did you try to kill yourself?”
No clue. How would I know?
But seeing how this man treats his son who basically died and came back to life, I’m starting to get an idea.
“You are pathetic. You spent your entire life rotting away, and then you decided to end it,” Go Dae-man says.
What the hell is he on about?
I raise my head a little and make eye contact with him.
His eyes, betraying his emotions, are moist with tears. That’s right. Even if he’s the president of a conglomerate, he’s still a father to his child. The child of the woman he loved most, no less.
“When you sat in the corner of your room and refused to do anything, I still believed in you. I believed that you would get a hold of yourself after some time had passed. That you were thinking of something for yourself,” he says.
I thought that Go Ji-hun was just living a quiet life, but he’d become a complete shut-in… despite having a handsome face like this.
“I thought it was all my fault. I trusted you out of remorse for my own actions,” Go Dae-man continues.
The death of his mother that was too violent to accept. Cold treatment from a family he wasn’t related to. All of these things had trapped Go Ji-hun.
A sharp gleam suddenly appears in Go Dae-man’s eyes. “But I see now that I was wrong.”
“I’m sorry?” I say.
“You spend your whole life living like a cripple, and the first thing you choose for yourself is suicide.”
“I shall respect your decision. From now on, I will think of you as my son who died.”
What kind of unexpected development is this? I managed to be born again as the son of the president of a conglomerate, and now I’m being treated as if I’m dead?
This is a problem.
I wrack my brain to try and recall everything I know about the Gogwang Group scandal. I guess leaving things this way would be fine, but screw it. This is a second life that I’ve gained after already dying once. The fact that I have good looks and youth means that I’ve already got more than I had before, so I can afford to take a risk.
“I saw my mother in a dream,” I say.
Go Dae-man’s thick eyebrows furrow in an immediate reaction to the mention of the woman he loved so much that he would have sacrificed everything in life for.
“I wanted to give up on everything. Everything was so messed up to the point of no return before I even knew it,” I continue.
But I’m talking about myself. I’m talking about my own life that was ruined, just as I’m describing. Just like Go Ji-hun, I had plenty of times in my life where I wanted to die.
“What are you talking about?” Go Dae-man says.
“You know what I’m talking about,” I say.
“So, this is the path you’ve chosen in the end?”
“This is the path I was given. What could I do, spending every day holed up in my room?”
“YOU PATHETIC – !” Go Dae-man roars, his voice ringing like thunder.
“But Mother spoke to me,” I continue.
He looks angry enough to tear someone limb from limb.
Shit. My heart is pounding.
“She told me to go back. She told me that it’s not too late for anything, and I have to continue living,” I say.
“And?” Go Dae-man presses.
“I want to keep on living. People don’t realize what they had until they lose it all.”
“Do you intend to live on like an animal that does nothing? If so, you are better off dead.”
What a heartless man. How could he say something like that to his own son?
“Not at all,” I reply, gritting my teeth.
“If you are thinking of joining the company…”
“No. I have no interest in company work.”
I don’t have the ability or interest for that. There is only one thing that I wish for.
“I’m going to be a police officer,” I say.
I’m going to catch that man, the one who tossed me into an abyss of misery in my previous life and make the justice that I believed in into a reality.
“I said, I’m going to be a police officer,” I repeat.
Completely unprepared for my reply, Go Dae-man stares at me as if trying to bore a hole through me with his eyes. As if he’s trying to read the thoughts in my mind.
I look straight back at him, not avoiding his gaze.
“Is this because of your mother?” he asks.
It’s my turn to be confused.
Oh yeah, Go Ji-hun’s birth mother was killed by a robber.
I wasn’t expecting him to ask that, but oh well. As long as I get what I want, it doesn’t matter how I do it.
“Don’t do something so futile. Go to university. Once you have graduated, join the company and work under your brothers,” Go Dae-man says.
“Do you think I’m not capable of being a police officer?” I ask.
I suppose it’s not that surprising. Not just anybody can become a police officer. And someone who’s been spending his life in the corner of his room is obviously going to be considered incapable.
Honestly, it’s surprising that Go Dae-man is even suggesting that I join the company. After neglecting his son his whole life, he’s offering me an opportunity to compete against his brothers.
But the Go Ji-hun he knows is dead, and I’m here in his place.
I give Go Dae-man a quiet smile. “I’ll show you. I’ll definitely become a police officer.”
“Where do you wish to go, Mr. President?” Go Dae-man’s secretary asks tentatively from the front seat of the car.
There is a mountain of documents that weren’t taken care of left at the office, because Go Dae-man stopped his work and rushed to the hospital immediately after receiving notice that his son had regained consciousness.
Go Dae-man thinks for a moment. “Back to the office,” he says.
“Yes, sir,” says his secretary.
Go Dae-man never puts off his work and deals with every matter thoroughly. He is a man with an attitude that is suited for being the president of a conglomerate, suited to having responsibility… though this also causes late nights for his secretary.
The car stops at a traffic light, in front of a pedestrian crossing.
A family crosses. The child is laughing happily, walking between his mother and father and holding their hands. It’s a sight that would make anyone smile.
Go Dae-man is unable to take his eyes off the child.
“Let me ask you something,” he says to his secretary.
“Have you ever seen Ji-hun smile?”
“… I don’t believe I have, sir.”
The president’s secretary always accompanies him, but she has rarely met his third son face-to-face.
After all, he always stayed in his room and didn’t even go to school. It was only when he turned twenty when he started to at least take walks around the neighborhood.
Go Dae-man nods slowly.
He and his secretary are in the same boat. He is unable to recall the last time his son smiled or even the last time they ate together.
And yet, his son smiled with a bright look in his eyes when he said he would become a police officer.
Almost as if he became a different person after he came back from the brink of death.