Ji ha sat in front of Harry as he kept on muttering and calling Hye jin’s name repeatedly asking her why she had to leave him. Ji ha face him a concerned look as she talked to no one in particular as the name gave her a spark. “Park Hye jin? Why does the name sounds familiar? Who is Park Hye jin?”
“Do you know who that is?” Ajumma asked her with a worried face
“I’m not sure.” She replied and just then her eyes went wide opened as she remembered something while Harry’s drunk gaze didn’t stop meeting her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Ajumma asked her noticing her reaction.
“Ajumma!” she exclaimed as she used her hand to indicate that she comes closer. Ajumma came closer to her and leaned in to listen.
“Ajumma,” she whispered. “Could it be by any chance…..” She paused and looked at him. “…because of the girl that dumped him?
“How sure are you?” she asked surprisingly.
“It’s possible. Look at this. She must have dumped him and he came here to tell his Hyung, but he left him here alone to free himself of her, then he got drunk unable to stop thinking of her. Don’t you think it could have happened that way?”
“Aigooo.” Ajumma shook her head as she pitied him. “What a young child.”
Just then, Park Woo jin rushed into the restaurant. Pausing at the entrance, he looked round and when he saw Harry, he hurried to where they were.
“Harry!” he called as he shook him awake. “Harry!”
“Uhn.” Harry stirred awake as he looked up at Woo jin. “Hyung! You’re here.”
“You rascal!” Woo jin exclaimed hitting his head. “What are you doing getting drunk here! Get up.”
“Don’t hit him!” Ji ha raised her voice. “Don’t you think he has gone through a lot already? Why hit him?”
Woo jin turned to look at Ji ha who stared at him in return. They both stared at themselves for a few seconds before he finally gave a quick bow while Ji ha did the same. “Who are you? Are you Han Ji ha?”
“That’s right.” She nodded. “Squad leader Park Woo jin?”
“How did you know.”
“Don’t be alarmed,” she laughed hitting his shoulder. “I’m not a stalker. I’m just a regular citizen. Actually I was the one that came to your police station to deliver this evening.”
“Ah!” he exclaimed recalling. “The delivery.”
“That’s right. Next time, you don’t leave your customers hanging like that. I had to wait for you but you didn’t show up.”
“But I told you not to wait.”
“How could I not wait when that person….” She paused pointing to Harry “….didn’t give me any money. Of course I had to wait. Anyways, now that you’re here, you can just pay up.”
Woo jin brought out his wallet and handed her the money for the delivery while he helped Harry out of the restaurant. Ji ha hurried after him as she was still curious about some things.
“Excuse me!” she shouted after him making him stop in his tracks. “Sorry to bother you, but I was curious about something. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but, who is Park Hye jin?”
Woo jin turned to look at her surprised. “What?”
“I mean……. He just kept on calling ‘Park Hye jin, Park Hye jin’. By any chance, did she dump him?”
Understanding the question she asked, Woo jin sighed. “You shouldn’t worry about other people’s business.” He replied before walking away.
“Tch! What was that? I was only trying to help. Whatever!” she muttered to herself as she went back into the restaurant. “Ajumma! Its time for you to close and go home.”
Ji soo’s apartment
After taking a glass of water, Ji soo was about switching off the light and retiring to bed when he suddenly heard someone imputing his pin. Knowing who it was, he walked to the dining table and watched as Ji ha entered the apartment. Glancing at the wall clock, he scoffed at how late she was. Closing the door gently behind her, she tiptoed to the couch, dropped the nylon bag she was holding on the table, removed her shoes as she jumped on the couch feeling exhausted. Sighing, she closed her eyes while Ji soo stood up from the dinning table and walked up to her.
“What do you think you’re doing here?” he asked.
Startled, Ji ha flickered her eyes open quickly and sat up. “Ya! You startled me!”
Folding his hands, he looked at her closely. “Ya? I asked you what you’re doing here? You should be at home and if not, your apartment.”
Looking up at him, she smiled. “Nampyun, why would want to send your wife away?”
“What? Nampyun? Wife? Who is your husband?”
“You, of course!”
“Ya! Ji ha, stand up now.”
Standing up, Ji ha picked the nylon she dropped on the table before walking to the dinning table. “I stood up already. Satisfied?”
“Go to your apartment and if not, go home.”
“Ah Wae?! Why don’t you like letting me stay here!”
“Why would you stay here? You should go home.”
“I told you my neighbor moved out and I can’t stay there alone, besides, Omma is angry at me, how do you expect me to go home?”
“If you can’t stay at your apartment alone, just apologize to mum and that’s the end!”
“The end? Why are you talking like this, Oppa, you know mom. Will she end it like that? Of course not.”
“Then why don’t you take the money I offered you and repay her with that. You keep on rejecting it. You can just collect it, tell her you saved it up to return it back to her and that’s all.”
“Why would I take the money you worked for? The fact that you’re my Oppa doesn’t mean I can accept money from you just like that. I’ll pay her back when I get my pay this month.”
“But you used to accept it from me.”
“That was before I started working.”
“You can just accept it from me now and pay me back later.”
“Not like you would accept it when the time for me to pay back comes. I don’t have to live off you while working. My work is different from your work but it doesn’t matter. And it’s not like I don’t have my apartment. I’ll earn my money myself so that when you get married, I won’t be a burden to you.”
Sighing, he walked to the dinning table where she was. “And staying in my house is not a burden, right?” he asked looking at her closely. If there was anyone who really knows how to use his weakness against him, it was Ji ha. She kept quiet giving him a puppy look which never got past Ji soo. “You really know how to push a pin into my heart, don’t you.”
Lightening up, she smiled. “I love you too, nampyun! Opening the nylon, she got a plate and emptied the content of the nylon into it. “I got ddeobukki from the restaurant ajumma.”
Nodding his head, he watched her fill the plate and when he was sure she was done, he took it from her and walked away. “This would be your payment for staying here tonight.” He told her as he walked towards his room.
“Oppa!” she exclaimed as she went after him. “Don’t do that! I’m hungry!”
“There’s raymun in the fridge.” He replied as he hurried into his room.
“Oppa, I hate you!”
Smiling to himself, he opened the door. “Saranghae!” he exclaimed before slamming it shut.
Sooni Hawai Kitchen (SHK)
The next morning was very bright. The employees of Sooni Hawai kitchen resumed work after the brief weekend. The kitchen was divided into different sections where different chefs where assigned different works. Han Ji ha and her co-chefs and friends were in section B of the kitchen where ingredients of important course gotten by chefs in section A were sorted out accordingly before taken to section C of the kitchen where it is fully cooked and prepared. From section C, it is then transferred to section D, the main place where customers and guests were attended to. Section B was the most lively section in Sooni Hawai; Kang Do shik, a very cheerful guy who associates well with the other chefs, although he doesn’t seem to be closely attached to any, Cha Eun soo, a pretty young lady who also relates well, Oh Sae na, a talkative and a very troublesome lady, Go Ye jun, Ji ha’s closest friend and Jeon Ji hyun, a quiet and gentle guy who hardly talks but relates well with others, although the ladies in the kitchen liked everything about him from his physical features to his distinct character.
After they finished preparing the ingredients for the morning course, they passed it to section C before taking a break.
“Seems like we’re going to have a lot of guests today.” Eun soo commented as she washed her hands.
“I thought my hand was going to fall off from slicing so hard.” Sae na added as she stretched her hands up and down.
“If you start complaining just at the beginning of a new week, I wonder how the rest of the days would be like.” Do shik pointed out clearing the chopping board in front of him.
“Ya, Kang Do shik!” Sae na exclaimed. “Are you talking to me?”
Sae na picked up the knife she had dropped earlier and pointed it at him. “Are you telling me right now that you enjoy slicing?”
“Isn’t it better than cutting? Or you want to switch with me?”
“You guys should stop it already.” Ji ha cautioned as she grabbed a towel to wipe her wet hands. “Its too early to start arguing. We still have a lot of things to do. We’ll start the afternoon course soon.”
Just then, Choi Seung ho, their Sunbae and chief chef of their section came in minutes later with Go Ye jun who was going to be punished for coming late. Han Ji ha and her co-chefs begged him to forgive her as they knew coming late at the beginning of a new week attracts greater punishment, but he didn’t give in.
“Seung ho Sunbae, Just let it pass this once. She’s definitely not going to repeat it.” Ji ha pleaded on her behalf.
“That’s right, Sunbae.” Sae na added. “There’s probably a reason why she came late.”
Sharpening his knife, Do shik cleared his throat. “She got drunk last night, that’s why.”
Ji ha, Sae na, and Eun soo turned to look at him all of a sudden. “Do shik-ah!” They all exclaimed.
Startled at the way they called him in unison, he dropped the knife he was holding and shot them a stern gaze. “Wae-o?” he asked before turning to look at Ye jun whose look wasn’t different from his. “Am I wrong?” he asked her.
“Aishhh, seriously! Can’t you pretend to be nice for once?” Sae na blurted out.
“Sunbae, forgive her this once.” Eun soo pleaded ignoring them.
Seung ho cleared his throat after their whole drama before turning to look at Ye jun. “Looks like they all love you.”
“Sunbae, I’m really sorry. I promise not to repeat it.” Ye jun pleaded. “I’m truly and deeply sorry. I won’t repeat it. I mean it.”
Sae na noticed how silent Jeon Ji hyun was. “But… Ji hyun-ah, are you not going to say anything?”
Ji hyun looked up at her and then at Seung ho. “He’ll release her if he wants.” He replied before continuing with what he was doing before he was called.
“Whoa!” she exclaimed. “As cool as always!”
Ignoring what just happened, they kept on pestering Seung ho to release her and he had no other option than to release her. Thanking him profusely, they promised to take him out some other time. Giving them a stern look, he proceeded into giving them the information he had for them before Ye jun came late.
“From now on,” he started after clearing his throat. “We’ll start working in pairs just like those in other sections. Each person will have a partner and whatever work you’ll be doing, you two will be doing it together.”
“Really?!” Sae na exclaimed happily. “I was wondering when we’ll be paired together like others and here is the good news. Finally! Sunbae, I’ll work with Ji hyun!”
“Me too!” Ye jun also exclaimed.
Sighing, he ignored them and continued. “From now on, Kang Do shik and Go Ye jun, you two will work together.”
“Eh?!” Do shik and Ye jun exclaimed at the same time.
“Why me! Why do I have to work with Do shik, Sunbae.” She voiced out as it was very clear and obvious that she really disliked Do shik.
“I want another partner.” Do shik also voiced his concern for the wrong pairing.
Nevertheless, Seung ho ignored them and continued. “Oh Sae na!”
“You’ll be Choi Seung ho’s partner.”
Smiling, Sae na nodded and just then, she opened her eyes wide in surprise. “Eh?!” she exclaimed. “Sunbae, that’s you!”
“Jeon Ji hyun and Cha Eun soo, you two will work together.”
Ji hyun and Eun soo kept quiet as the others stared at them when they gave no complaint. It was very obvious that Eun soo was very lucky to be partnered with Ji hyun even though everyone knew she was the only one that never considered Ji hyun as charming as the other ladies did.
“Sunbae,” Ye jun called breaking the silence. “It’s unfair! I can’t work with Do shik!”
“Me too! How can I work with you, Sunbae.” Sae na also pointed out. “Do you even work?”
“Ya! Sae na-ya. You’re talking to Sunbae. He’s our senior.”
Eun soo and Ye jun were about hitting Sae na when Ji ha interrupted them as she walked into their middle. “Ya! Are you going to keep on complaining!” she scolded before turning to Seung ho. “Sunbae, you paired everyone and left me out. Who is going to be my partner or am I going to work alone while everyone works with a partner?”
“That’s right!” Ye jun agreed. “Ji ha doesn’t have a partner.”
“Han Ji ha,” Seung ho called.
“You told me you wanted a hoobae, didn’t you.”
Ji ha cleared her throat. “Well……yes, I did. But that was before the whole issue of having a partner came up. Or…..” she paused moving closer to him. “….is there a new person joining us?”
“That’s right. We have a new person joining us and starting from today, he’ll work under Ji ha.”
Smiling happily, she held his hand tightly. “Really? I get to be a Sunbae? Omo! This is actually real! I’m having a hoobae!”
“Daebak! When did Ji ha meet with you, Sunbae? I also want a hoobae!” Ye jun said glancing at Do shik. “That would be better than a partner like him.’
“We had a private talk.” Ji ha replied hitting Ye jun’s head.
“Ya! That hurts!”
“Private talk?” Sae na asked.
“That’s enough!” Seung ho ordered slamming his hand on the table to get their attention, startling them in the process. “You all should get back to work and start preparation for the lunch course.”
“Yes, Sunbae!” All exclaimed in unison excluding Ji hyun.
“Oh Sae na!” he called.
Seung ho left the chefs to work while Sae na followed behind. Cha Eun soo walked up to Jeon Ji hyun to ask what to help him with while Kang Do shik and Go Ye jun gave themselves long and hard stares wondering why they had to be partners. Sighing, Ye jun left Do shik and walked up to Ji ha offering to help her instead.
“You must be lucky.” She commented helping Ji ha in washing the vegetables.
Ji ha picked up a knife to begin her work. “What do you mean?”
“Having someone working under you, and having someone you can order around just like Seung ho Sunbae, you must be really lucky.”
“I guess. “ she sighed. Just then, she remembered what she went through the previous night in Ye jun’s drunken state. Picking up the wooden spoon in front of her, she hit her on her forehead.
“Ya!” Ye jun exclaimed surprised at her action. “What was that for?”
“You!” Ji ha raised her voice pointing the spoon at her as if to hit her with it again. “Why did you get drunk last night?”
“What?” Ye jun asked trying to feign ignorance, but seeing the look on her friend’s face, she leaned closer to her. “How did you know?”
Dropping the wooden spoon, she concentrated on cutting the vegetables in front of her. “What do you mean by how did I know? You don’t remember?” she asked and Ye jun shook her head. “I don’t expect you to remember with that dull brain of yours.” She added hitting her head again. “The next time you get drunk and put me through what I went through last night, you’ll be in trouble. Anyways, did he prepare hangover soup for you?”
Smiling, she nodded her head. “Uhn. It was really nice. I took it before rushing down here.”
Ji ha smiled and glanced at Do shik who was cutting meat ribs. “Kang Do shik, that guy, he actually listened.”
Ye jun gaves her a puzzled frown. “What are you saying?”
“You really don’t remember?” she asked looking at her while she shook her head negatively. “You were at Do shik’s apartment last night.”
“What! Do shik’s apartment? How? I can only remember going to your apartment.”
“My husband’s apartment.” She corrected.
“How then did I get to Do shik’s apartment?” she asked still surprised.
“I carried you there when oppa kicked me out because of you!”
“Then why Do shik’s place! Of all places!”
“Because there was no other place I could think of!” she replied before holding the wooden spoon up again. “Oh oh! See this girl! You should thank me for carrying you all the way there and you should thank him for bearing with you and even preparing you something to take this morning.”
Do shik turned to look at them coincidentally, making Ye jun cover her face feeling embarrassed. Ye jun was about leaving when Ji ha called her back.
“Ya! Ye jun-ah!”
Pausing, she turned back. “Wae?”
“Delete his password. My husband I mean.”
“From where?” she asked taken aback.”
“How am I supposed to do that? I didn’t know it was your brother’s apartment. You two shouldn’t share the same password! How am I supposed to delete it from my memory?”
“I don’t know. Just find a way never to remember it.”
“How is a person supposed to forget a simple six digit password just like that? Why don’t you ask him to change it instead.”
Just then, Sae na rushed in panting like she was being chased interrupting them in the process. Panting heavily, she called them together. “Guys guys! You can’t believe this!”
“What is wrong with you?” Ye jun asked her.
“You can’t believe this! Director Jang is meeting with the manager of Arirang! I saw them with my eyes when I went with Sunbae!”
“Are you serious?” Ji ha asked with keen interest.
“Are you saying Director Jang has finally agreed for us to participate in the competition?” Do shik asked.
“That’s what I’m saying, but I’m not sure of what they were talking about.”
“It’s obvious that they’ll be talking about the competition.” Eun soo replied.
“Omo!” Ye jun exclaimed. “That’s going to be great! Ji ha, this is what you’ve been waiting for, isn’t it?”
Ji ha stared at her not wanting to believe what she said. Ever since she started working at Sooni Hawai kitchen, participating in the competition with other chefs had always been her priority especially when she knew that Arirang holds competition twice in a year. However, Director Jang, owner of SHK had stopped her chefs from participating in Arirang’s competition. Her reason was because they flawed in their last competition and went home with the fifth position and since they’ve never won for once,she stopped registering them for the competition. Ji ha was later accepted as a chef only to be devastated to learn that SHK stopped participating in the competitions which was one of the main reasons she chose SHK.
“That’s impossible.” She replied as she continued with what she was doing trying not to show how happy she would be if it were true. “How does she meeting with Arirang’s manager mean she has agreed to allow us participate in the competition. Why would Director Jang change her mind all of a sudden.”
“I’m really serious.” Sae na defended. “I saw both of them together.”
“Ji ha is right.” Do shik supported. “Seeing them together doesn’t mean Director Jang has agreed to it. Who knows if she turned it down.”
“That’s right.” Ye jun also agreed.
“Whatever!” Sae na dropped the topic with a wave of her hand. “Anyways, the new guy joining us has arrived. He should be coming with Sunbae anytime soon.”
“A guy?” Ye jun asked.
Sae ana nodded. “He’s really tall and handsome.”
“How tall is he?” she asked again.
“Stop saying nonsense and get back to work!” Do shik interrupted.
Ignoring him, Sae na looked at him and then at Ji hyun. “He’s as tall as Ji hyun.”
Ye jun looked at Ji hyun and then at Ji ha who was very busy with the vegetables in front of her. “Uhn. Ji ha, what are you going to do? I’m sure you won’t like to give orders to someone you’re looking up at.”
“Ji ha is not that short.” Eun soo pointed out.
“But Ji hyun is taller than she is.” Ye jun noted.
Just then, Seung ho came inside and caught them talking while they went dead silent immediately at the sight of him.
“Are you supposed to be talking or working? Or do you want to spend extra time working?” he scolded while they all replied in unison excluding Ji hyun.
“Then do your work well!” Clearing his throat, he looked towards the door as a guy stepped in. “Everyone, welcome our newest member.” He said before turning to the guy. “Say hello.”
Ye jun, Eun soo and Sae na stared at him while Do shik and Ji hyun gave him quick glances. Ji ha raised her head up only to open them wide in surprise when she saw Harry. Slaming the knife she was holding on the table angrily, she exclaimed. “You again?!”
To be continued.