Suk-Ho’s friend was an extremely obese person with a beard and all tangled hair—he looked more like an artist than a businessman running a bar.
“This is my friend from college.”
Gun-Ho stood up to meet Suk-Ho’s friend/business partner.
“Hi, I’m Gun-Ho Goo.”
“Hello, I am Han-Young Bang.”
He had a high-pitched voice like a woman, which contrasted with his large body. Gun-Ho and Han-Young greeted each other with a handshake. Han-Young’s hand felt very soft. Gun-Ho became self-conscious and felt embarrassed about his rough hand due to his prolonged manual work in a factory.
Once Han-Young went to the kitchen, Gun-Ho resumed talks about his business ideas with Suk-Ho.
“If I open a restaurant, which area do you recommend?”
“You should do a lot of legwork before you could find the right location. Even though we have too many restaurants in this country, there are certainly popular restaurants which are crowded with people all the time. There is a Thai restaurant downstairs in this building. They are doing very well.”
“A Thai restaurant? The owner should know how to cook the food he is selling, right?”
“Recipes are simple. The food should be delicious, of course, but the location is crucial. Where do you live now?”
“I am in Noryangjin.”
“Noryangjin? Noryangjin is good to have a restaurant. That area is filled with people who are preparing for whatever exams, and they all could be potential customers. I’ve seen a Vietnamese restaurant on TV, selling pho in Noryangjin. That restaurant made a huge success there. The owner is a Vietnamese woman married to a Korean man. The restaurant is smaller than my bar and they said they were making 90 million won per month.”
“90 million won per month? Wow!”
“Not every restaurant in Noryangjin made such success. There are restaurants in the same area sold to another person because the previous owner went bust. Well, you should have a lot to think about. You want to take your time and research enough before you actually open your own business.”
“Thank you for your time and advice today, Suk-Ho.”
“I enjoyed talking with you, Gun-Ho. If you start your business and making money more than 15 million won per month, you can survive.”
“15 million won per month, then I should make 500,000 won per day…”
“It is not easy to make 500,000 won daily. If the area is not established for business, many businesses in that area barely make 200,000 won per day. You could easily see the change of ownership of a business overnight.”
When Gun-Ho was continuously talking with Suk-Ho, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet entered the bar while carrying a big box.
“Delivery for fresh produce, sir.”
“You can place it on the table over there.”
When Suk-Ho stood up, Gun-Ho stood up along with him.
“You seem to get busy now. I’d better go. Thank you again for today.”
“You are leaving? Come visit me often. Here is my business card.”
Gun-Ho took Suk-Ho’s green-colored business card and walked out of the bar.
Gun-Ho decided to explore the areas in Seoul, where businesses are already established with high traffic of young people.
“Let’s try the area around Hongik University.”
Gun-Ho took the subway and got off at the Hapjeong Station on line 2. He walked toward the Hongik University after making a right turn at Bobo Hotel. While walking down the street, Gun-Ho saw a lot of stores with beautiful interiors, as well as many students passing by.
“This is indeed a nice place. The female students are all pretty.”
Gun-Ho stopped by a café to drink some coffee. He used to hesitate to enter a store like a café, but he now lost his inhibition probably because he had 500 million won in hand.
“The store names are so distracting. They are stranger than the ones in Gyeongridan Street. ThanksBooks, Dorothy, St.Coqs… If I open a restaurant, what should I name it?”
Gun-Ho kept walking down the street while thinking of various things.
“Right. Let’s opt-out the studying option for the level-9 government job exam. With the starting salary of less than two million won, it will take forever to succeed in that career. In this capitalist society, money is ruling.”
Gun-Ho arrived at the three-way junction on the Hongik Club Street.
“I see some of the small bars here. Solo, Gwangdong… Maybe I can start with a small bar. What is that? Lotpongi? Well, a small bar doesn’t require a large space. Let’s ask a realtor about it.”
When Gun-Ho saw a realtor’s office with its door open, he entered there. It was his first time being in a realtor’s office.
“Hello, welcome. What can I do for you?”
A man in his 50s was reading a newspaper in his chair. He stood up when he saw Gun-Ho entering the office. There was a lady in her 40s working at her desk.
“I am interested in a small bar. I’d like to know how much it cost to open one.”
“Well, it depends on the bar you are interested in. Why don’t you have a seat here?”
Gun-Ho hesitated a bit before he sat on a sofa.
“We actually have one that just came on the market. How much should I match?”
“I need to know how much you want to spend in order for me to find one that is matched to it.”
The realtor scanned Gun-Ho from head to toe while responding.
Gun-Ho had 500 million won in hand but he didn’t want to invest it all now, in case the business wouldn’t go well. In addition, he was concerned that if he spent a large amount of money, people might be wondering about the source of money. Gun-Ho thought 100 million won would be adequate.”
“How much is the one that just came on the market?”
“That one is located on the street across the LohasTower office-tel and its location is really good. That street has heavy traffic of students and residents of the office-tel. Would you like to take a look?”
“What about the price…”
“It is 18 pyung. The price is 150 million won including the premium. If you are interested in it, I can negotiate the price for you.”
“Let’s go take a look first.”
The realtor didn’t wait for Gun-Ho’s response and prepared to visit the property by wearing his jacket. He talked to the lady at her desk before he headed out of the office.
“I will be right back after showing the property to this customer. You should stay here until I come back. The person who wanted to see the room might call soon.”
Gun-Ho and the realtor headed to the bar that recently came to the market. The realtor said while walking,
“It is impressive to see a young man who could invest 150 million won in a business.”
Gun-Ho blushed and didn’t respond to the realtor.
They entered the street across the office-tel after passing the Far East Broadcasting Company. It was a small bar in an isolated area. It seemed to be the least decorated store among others in the same area. Gun-Ho walked in the bar. The owner and a kitchen worker woman were trimming leeks.
“Hello. I brought someone who wanted to take a look at your store.”
The owner seemed shy. While the owner was just standing there without saying anything, the realtor started a sales pitch passionately as if he owned the store.
“Look at this. It is 18 pyung large, but it looks bigger than its actual size. The owner will leave all kitchen appliances. The building owner is very nice too. He is an elder of a church. You will get warm water constantly, and it comes with a private bathroom. You can’t easily find a property like this one.”
Gun-Ho was baffled. He couldn’t believe that this tiny and shabby bar cost 150 million won. Gun-Ho asked the owner, “Are you moving your business to somewhere?”
Instead of the owner, the realtor answered Gun-Ho’s question.
“The owner here used to run a BBQ restaurant. She is moving to Sinchon Town opening a larger restaurant. This bar is doing well too. We don’t see many people on the street right now but you have to wait and see at night. This area will be filled with people at night. This is part of the famous Hongik University Street after all.”
Gun-Ho pretended to look around the store.
“Thank you for showing. I appreciate it.”
Gun-Ho walked out of the store. The realtor followed Gun-Ho and poked Gun-Ho in the waist. He then whispered into Gun-Ho’s ear in a low voice.
“I will try to make it down to 140 million won for you. I can talk to the owner. If that works, just add small money to the commission for a drink, okay?”
“Huh? Oh, okay, okay.”
Gun-Ho just said it without thinking. The realtor continued talking skillfully.
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