Sister Yi looked surprised.
“What are you doing here at this hour, Jin-Ho”
Kang Jin-Ho bowed his head at her.
I had something to discuss with you urgently.”
“I see.” The orphanage director still had no idea what was going on, but she still smiled gently as if Kang Jin-Ho's visit alone made her happy.
She pointed at a chair nearby.
“Have a seat, Jin-Ho.”
“I think there are refreshments inside the fridge over there if you're thirsty.”
“No, I'm fine, ma'am.”
“But, the weather has gotten warmer lately—”
“Director, ma'am.” Kang Jin-Ho interrupted her with a determined voice.
Sister Yi stopped talking there and waited for him to continue.
“What do you think about transferring to a different hospital”
“...A different hospital” She blinked her eyes in surprise at that suggestion.
Kang Jin-Ho nodded gravely.
Sister Yi recovered quickly and gently smiled back.
My illness is…”
“Yes, I'm aware.
I'm not suggesting it in the hope of curing you, ma'am.
The hospital I have in mind is closer to the orphanage and boasts better facilities than this one.
The hospital room is also for a single patient-only, so the children will be able to visit you, too.”
Even after listening to Kang Jin-Ho's explanation, Sister Yi still slowly shook her head.
“Jin-Ho, that's being greedy.”
“I have my own circumstances.
I've lived my life satisfying my greed, so it's not right to keep doing that right until my final moments, no”
“Are you saying you have been greedy before”
“Of course,” Sister Yi replied; her expression grew distant and became filled with longing as if she was reminiscing about her past.
Kang Jin-Ho didn't want to break her out of her reverie, so he kept his mouth shut.
She eventually resumed where she left off.
“Children are like...
My wish was to embrace those angels and give them home.
I believed that was my life's mission.
However, other people opposed it.
Maybe, there was a different way to go about fulfilling my greed.
Even then, I saw their opposition as simply yet another trial that I must overcome.”
“Ma'am, that doesn't sound very greedy at all...”
“Being greedy doesn't have to be as grandiose as you think, Jin-Ho.
Doing what you always want to do can also qualify as being greedy.
And many people have been harmed by my actions over the years, so you can even call my greed a terrible one, too.”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“I don't know what kind of harm you have caused, ma'am.
By my estimation, however, all the kindness you've shown to the orphans under your care will easily negate whatever harm you might be responsible for.”
Upon hearing Kang Jin-Ho’s firm reply, Sister Yi asked as a warm expression formed on her face, “Is that what you think”
“Thank you.” Her expression became peaceful at his reply.
“However, I still have no thoughts of transferring to another hospital.
I do not wish to inconvenience those people even to my last moments.”
No, Sister Yi.” Kang Jin-Ho's voice became even firmer and more direct, forcing Yi Hye-Suk to raise her head again and look at him.
“The people you should be worried about in your final moments are the children in the orphanage, no one else.”
“Yourself, as well.
Just think about the children and yourself.
There's no need for you to carry the burden of anything else.”
Sister Yi was slightly taken aback.
The image of 'Kang Jin-Ho' she had in her mind was someone who always stayed one step back while silently carrying out his duties.
He hadn’t been the type of person who would actively get the ball rolling.
Park Yu-Min had the same impression as well.
According to him, Kang Jin-Ho could perform any task thrown in his way with terrifying efficiency, but he had never been the type to step forward on his own accord to start something. Seeing him like this, Sister Yi wondered if everyone had the wrong impression of Kang Jin-Ho.
“...You think that's the better way, Jin-Ho”
I think you really need to do this.”
“But, Jin-Ho...” Sister Yi extended her hand, and Kang Jin-Ho carefully held it.
“Sometimes, it's better to let things be and allow it to run its course.”
“I'm grateful that you care about me so much.
However, there are things in this world that can't be dealt with by our powers.
Being unable to accept that will only make life difficult for yourself.”
“I understand, ma'am.”
“I hope so.
Some things become worthwhile simply by giving them your best efforts.” Sister Yi sighed and nodded as if she understood Kang Jin-Ho's intentions.
“I only have to do as you requested, yes”
She faintly smiled and nodded again.
To make it easier for—” Before she could finish, however, she suddenly broke out in a fit of coughs.
“Cough! Cough!” Sister Yi covered her mouth as she continued to cough.
That was when Kang Jin-Ho noticed dark-red liquid trickling down from between her fingers.
'...Was that blood from her lungs'
No, he was wrong.
She was literally vomiting the blood that had pooled within her stomach.
“Nurse!” Kang Jin-Ho shot up to his feet and cried out, but Sister Yi held him back.
“Jin-Ho, it's okay.”
“But, ma'am! For now, we must...”
“It's really okay, Jin-Ho.” Sister Yi successfully stopped him, then pulled out a tissue to wipe away her lips.
“There's no need to inconvenience those who are busy.”
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes, thinking that she was rather foolish for worrying about other people in her current state.
However, that was how Sister Yi had lived her entire life, so Kang Jin-Ho had to stop himself from complaining.
“Where were we... Ah, yes.
If transferring to a different hospital is for the best, then yes, let us do that.
You probably suggested it since you have something on your mind, yes”
Let's do that, then.” Sister Yi nodded even as her complexion remained sickly pale.
Kang Jin-Ho quietly stared at her, then slowly got up.
“Once all the necessary procedures are finished, I'll come back and guide you to the new hospital.”
“Because of me, you can't even enjoy your precious vacation.
I'm sorry, Jin-Ho.”
“Don't say that, ma'am.” Kang Jin-Ho bowed his head deeply at the still-smiling Sister Yi, bade goodbye, then left the room.
While standing in the corridor, he began to wonder about something.
'Why am I so...
obsessed about her welfare'
He had no thoughts of pretending to be a good man at this stage in his life.
After all, his hands had long been stained with the blood of the countless people of Zhongyuan.
He might be living a different life now, but he had never once thought that his past sins—all of his negative karma—would simply vanish into thin air.
He certainly couldn't dismiss his previous life as just a passing dream and move on.
No, he must carry the burden as how they were meant to be.
Despite his stance, Kang Jin-Ho still believed that the woman deserved a better end than this.
That was because Sister Yi was the first 'true' saint he had encountered after returning to the modern era.
A person who had given themselves up in the service of others...
Whether it was now or back in Zhongyuan, such people were nearly impossible to find.
Kang Jin-Ho strongly believed such people deserved rewards fitting their actions.
Unfortunately, the reality was often bitter and unforgiving.
Kang Jin-Ho knew oh-so-well that the kinder you were, the more wretched your end could be.
Maybe, that was the reason why At least, for the person he could see and touch, he wanted to reward them with just a little better... something—if possible.
I'll do what I can.'
After all, wasn't there a saying about how “Man proposes, God disposes”
Kang Eun-Yeong finally came home when dinner time arrived..
Kang Jin-Ho greeted her back.
She gleefully jumped up and hugged him tightly, making him wonder if he had made the right call by letting a still-immature kid work in the world of adults so soon.
Kang Eun-Yeong grinned brightly and explained, “I wanted to come home yesterday, but my schedule was too packed, and I just couldn't find the time.
“Really” Kang Jin-Ho's expression stiffened a little.
He didn't like the fact that his sister's jam-packed schedule had prevented her from coming home.
“W-wait, Oppa, it's not what you think!” Kang Eun-Yeong noticed the look on her older brother's face and hurriedly tried to solve the looming crisis.
“I asked the managers to give me as much work as possible, you see! It's kinda like, uh... Yeah, make hay while the sun shines! That's right!”
“Hmm...” Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes, evidently still unhappy about this situation.
“Eun-Yeong, take a seat for a second.”
“Yes, sir...” Kang Eun-Yeong obediently settled down.
She sat in a hurry, but of course, that was understandable.
One word from Kang Jin-Ho was all that was needed for Kang Eun-Yeong's idol concept and schedules to change literally overnight.
Having witnessed this demonstration of total power from the front row, Kang Eun-Yeong knew just how much influence her brother had.
Simply put, Kang Jin-Ho could kill her career in the entertainment industry stone dead.
In that case, how could she not prostrate and grovel on the floor
Kang Jin-Ho waited until his sister was seated and looked into her eyes.
“Eun-Yeong, you’re going to attend university, right”
Kang Eun-Yeong pouted deeply.
“...Do I have to, oh dear brother”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly turned his head and stared at his parents in the living room.
Kang Yu-Hwan spoke first, “I vote yes, she must attend.”
Baek Hyeon-Jeong swiftly followed suit.
“I also vote yes.
She's definitely attending.”
“...You will be attending university.” Kang Jin-Ho immediately utilized the opinions of his parents to his advantage.
“But! Honestly, I won't learn anything properly by attending a university while working as an entertainer, you know!” Kang Eun-Yeong retorted with a pout.
Unfortunately for her, Baek Hyeon-Jeong came prepared with a comeback.
“Nowadays, entertainers get whatchamacallit, 'special admissions,’ to attend universities without problems, Eun-Yeong.”
“That might be true, Mom, but honestly, how many of them make use of their majors I think it's just a waste of time if you ask me.
Nothing more than getting a nice plaque and stuff, that's all.
Besides, do you think a working entertainer will have enough free time to attend university I believe that focusing wholeheartedly on my career instead of wasting time like that is far more constructive!”
Kang Jin-Ho acknowledged that Kang Eun-Yeong's argument had some merit.
Attending a university course was meant to prepare you for your future, but an already-active idol attending a drama, or music course to learn to become an entertainer Wasn't that somewhat weird
An established entertainer or an actor in other countries wouldn't suddenly stop working one day just to attend courses in drama.
This bizarre situation could only happen in South Korea, as the country’s culture had placed too much importance on diplomas earned from attending universities.
Kang Yu-Hwan asked in a slightly concerned voice, “Even so, Eun-Yeong.
Don't you think it's better to attend one”
Kang Eun-Yeong resolutely shook her head.
“I don't think it's as simple as that, Dad.
I've been a trainee since the beginning of high school, and I never got to study properly, you know In that case, I don't think I will learn anything by attending university.
I just don't have the foundation, I think…”
“Mmhm...” Kang Jin-Ho nodded, thinking that this problem wasn’t as simple as it initially looked.
Both sides of the argument had their fair points.
“Let's take our time and think about this.”
Maybe, the whole family needed more information before they could come to a decision.
“However...” Kang Jin-Ho didn't give up and drew a clear line on the sand.
“You're a singer, right”
am So” Kang Eun-Yeong replied in an uncertain voice.
“As far as I know, you don't know how to compose a song, or write lyrics.
You are just someone who sings someone else's songs, and dances according to someone else's choreography.”
“Holy cow, and you call yourself my oppa...” Kang Eun-Yeong grumbled unhappily.
Even though Kang Jin-Ho wasn't wrong, wasn't his attack too merciless and sudden
Kang Jin-Ho ignored her and continued, “I'm not saying that's wrong.
However, it also means you lack the ability to maintain your fame without other people.
“But Oppa, plenty of my seniors have enjoyed long-lasting careers while doing exactly that, you know Sure, it'd be nice to compose and write my own material, but...
I don't think I have the talent for it.”
“In that case, making alternate plans for the future won't be such a bad idea.
If you're still unwilling to do that, then it must mean what you desired all along wasn't to sing on a stage but to be under the spotlight.”
Kang Eun-Yeong was unable to respond to that.
That was because a part of her didn't care whether it was through acting, singing, or just prancing around on a stage as long as she could become famous.
Kang Jin-Ho crossed his arms.
“I won't tell you to become a world-class singer.
However, remember this: you won't be able to rely on your youth as a weapon to continue working as an idol ten years from now.
Only a handful of people can survive as idols after ten years in the scene.
Knowing this, I'd like you to build your career with an eye out on the future.”
“I understand, Oppa.” Kang Eun-Yeong made a grave expression and slowly nodded.
“However! Please note that this sister of yours is very saddened that her brother's first words after a month of being apart are incessant nagging.”
“I'm not nagging you.”
“Yes, yes.” Kang Eun-Yeong lay down on the living room couch as if she was too tired to even sit upright.
“Aigoo~. My future is one thing, but right now, I'm dying of starvation, Mom.”
Baek Hyeon-Jeong dusted herself off and got up.
“Alright, let's have dinner, then.”
“Ehehe~, Mom, I really missed your cooking.”
The Kang family settled around the dinner table.
While enjoying the food, they talked about various things happening in their lives.
Kang Jin-Ho didn't really partake in the conversation; he simply munched on his food.
Only after the meal was done and the coffee brewed by Kang Yu-Hwan had been served as desserts did Kang Jin-Ho break his silence.
“Everyone, there's something I'd like to discuss with you.”
“Mm” Kang Yu-Hwan heard how serious his son sounded and focused his attention on Kang Jin-Ho.
“I see that you have something important on your mind.
What is it”
It is important to me.”
Kang Jin-Ho took a breath, then spoke in a firm, resolute voice, “I'd like to set up my own foundation.”
“Mmmm” Kang Yu-Hwan's eyes opened wider at that unexpected announcement.