A month in the life of a chemical company team leader(6)

That afternoon.

Jeong-woo clenched the results sheet with a 97.83% match rate in his hand and rubbed his neck.
After hours of pulling his hair and looking down only at the bottom, his whole back felt stiff.

9:30 PM.

When he turned his head, he saw Bae Ki-tae and Cho Sung-hwan dozing off.
He asked them to come inside, but they were enduring it because they were close to a 98% breakthrough.

To raise the 0.17% match rate, he had to come up with another molecular combination formula.

It would be nice if it were a simple task like cutting a thread with scissors and then sewing it back together with another thread.

However, in chemistry, the threads were complex compounds, and the role of scissors and sewing was played by even more intricate catalysts and reaction experiments.


He yawned and rubbed his eyes.


A message came, and when he checked, it was from Song Boyeong.

[Are you still at the company? I’m on my way to buy some amazing dumplings.
Should I get some for your team too, Jeong-woo?]

A timely message when he was feeling hungry.

[Are you also working late, Senior Boyeong?]

[We started in earnest this week.
Seung-ju senior is the first to buy! ^^]

[I’d appreciate it if you buy some for us.
Please get three servings.]

15 minutes later.

Song Boyeong sent a text to Jeong-woo from the entrance of the KG Life Health Research Center.
From the dark corridor on the other side, footsteps were heard, and soon the door opened.


She extended a bag filled with the tantalizing smell of meat towards the open door.


The person who appeared was not Jeong-woo but another familiar face, a man.

“Jin-seong oppa?”

“Hey, Boyeong.”

Cha Jin-seong looked at Song Boyeong as if asking what brought her here.

“I brought some late-night snacks for my junior who’s working here.”

“There’s only the Audrey Project team working late tonight.”

“Yes, that team.
Han Jeong-woo.”

“You know team leader Jeong-woo? He’s quite talented.”

Upon hearing this, Song Boyeong smiled brightly.

Cha Jin-seong walked towards the elevator since he was leaving work.

“It’s so hard to meet each other even though we’re in the same building.
Except for you and me in our family, no one really understands the research work in the lab.
So I come up here occasionally.”


Song Boyeong stood by the elevator to see Jin-seong off and spoke quietly.

“I’ve left home.”

“I heard.”

“And my family registry…”

“Boyeong, even though I’ve almost cut ties with my grandfather, I still live my life.
Our values might differ, but he’s not a bad person.”

Song Boyeong lowered her head deeply.

“Like my little uncle and aunt, I’ll support you too.
If you have any problems, come find me anytime.
If you don’t want things to be known at work, then come to my place.
My wife also wants to see you.”


Ding Dong.

Jin-seong got into the elevator.

As Song Boyeong waved goodbye and the elevator doors closed, she took a deep breath.
She had hesitated to come here because she didn’t want to hear about her grandfather, but she had forgotten for a moment.

“Jin-seong oppa is still straightforward.
He doesn’t even give me a chance to make excuses.”

“Boyeong, senior!”

A voice was heard from the other end of the corridor.
Then she remembered, meeting her cousin was all because of Han Jeong-woo.

“Why are you coming out so late?”

As Song Boyeong approached with a sharp question, Jeong-woo showed an apologetic expression.

“Thank you for the dumplings.
Next time, I’ll treat our team to a feast.”

“You even make remarks that only a team leader can make.
So annoying.”

“Is it something to get annoyed about?”

“Just go to sleep.”

As Song Boyeong handed the packaged dumplings to Jeong-woo, she pressed the elevator button.

“Did Seung-ju senior tease you again? Today, he looked surprisingly normal.
His eyes are round too.”

“Round? That’s funny.
Seung-ju senior doesn’t tease me as much as you think.”

Jeong-woo smirked at Song Boyeong’s grumbling.

“I’ll treat everyone next Sunday, if nothing comes up.”

“Something will come up.”


“A friend of a friend.
You need to see them.”

Song Boyeong turned her head abruptly.

“Instead, tell me about the current situation of Dr.
Cheon Seung-guk.”


“Yes, or don’t say anything.”

“That… I might not be able to tell you.”

She thought she wouldn’t hear anything again today.

“You might get a quicker answer if you ask Dr.

It was the first time Jeong-woo answered without making an excuse, and Song Boyeong’s eyes widened in surprise.


“The one from the Pharmaceutical Bio Center, senior Moon Chae-eun.”

“The super beautiful doctor? The one selected through special recruitment like you?”

“Why do you emphasize on her being super beautiful?”

Ding Dong.

As Song Boyeong entered the elevator, she snorted.

“Since I also know people in Germany, I’ll find out on my own.”

“If you find out, let me know, share the news.”

“Forget it!”

Song Boyeong, who lost her temper once more, pressed repeatedly the elevator close button.

“Why is she angry?”

Jeong-woo returned to the fragrance room, scratching his head.

The relationship between Dr.
Moon and Dr.
Cheon Seung-guk was a part not covered by the strict confidentiality agreement.
There was no reason to gossip about it, but he decided it was okay to tell Song Boyeong.

‘Maybe she got upset about the rumored rivalry between the two most beautiful researchers at the lab…’

Objectively speaking, Jeong-woo thought it was hard to compare them.
Song Boyeong had a cute and lively charm, while Dr.
Moon exuded the allure of a sophisticated city woman.

‘Ah, who am I to rank them anyway.’

He chuckled at himself for entertaining such irrelevant thoughts on a busy night.


“Anyone up for some dumplings!”

Bae Ki-tae and Cho Sung-hwan, who were dozing off, immediately opened their eyes.

「Day 12」 – Fragrance Room

Yawning, Jeong-woo glanced at the clock and shook his head upon seeing it was 4 AM.

He had spent the entire night pondering.

Two of his team members had left before the subway stopped running, but he unknowingly ended up staying here all night trying to break through the seemingly unyielding 98% barrier.

“Is it addiction to work or is it just fun?”

At this point, he couldn’t quite tell.

Even though he had given up his ambitions and was now living with less effort, he strangely felt a surge in work efficiency.

He wondered if Dr.
Moon might feel the same way while working so diligently.
He didn’t know what kind of research she was dedicated to, though.

‘Oh, I should get an IV infusion today… Huh?’

Due to exhaustion, his mind was hazy, and now even the world of cottonseed extract looked distorted and seemed to waver just by gazing at it.

It reminded him of the vibrating molecules he had observed when he was tipsy.


He touched the bottle of the extract.

With a gentle ripple, the vibrating molecules vanished, revealing a clear boundary between the moving and stationary molecules.


As his mind cleared, the strange wavering disappeared.
However, the memory of it remained vivid.

‘If this is it, I can significantly increase the match rate.’

A clear boundary.
He had never seen a simpler molecular composition ratio before.

Jeong-woo’s hands got busy.

8 a.m.

Entering the fragrance room with a bright spirit, Cho Sung-hwan noticed Jeong-woo lying face down on the table like a corpse and flinched.

It was clear that Jeong-woo hadn’t left for home yet, so he silently approached and started organizing as he did every day.

While doing so, he noticed the information window on Jeong-woo’s laptop monitor, displaying the substance library information.

[Cottonseed Synthetic Fragrance – 99.13% similarity]

“What’s this?”

The match rate, which had been struggling below 98% just yesterday, had dramatically increased.

You’re here, Sung-hwan.”

Jeong-woo raised his head groggily.

“Oh, I woke you up.”

“No, I had to wake up anyway.
We have a visit from Michèle during the morning.”

“The client’s CEO is coming in person?”

“They requested a new sample.
This one…”

Jeong-woo tapped the monitor with his fingertips.

“…is done as of today.
Any further deviations are meaningless.
I’ll explain later.”

The news of Michèle’s visit stirred up the entire fragrance center.

After cleaning up neatly and finishing shaving, Jeong-woo walked towards the fragrance room and sensed the tense atmosphere, which made him hesitate for a moment.

Last week, rumors about the heated conversation between her and the fragrance design team had already spread like wildfire.

Cultural differences and different perspectives on fragrances.
Jeong-woo could somewhat understand, but the people here were a bit different.

‘Anyway, I need to hand over the samples and send them as quickly as possible.
I should clearly set the boundaries regarding the research direction.’

As he entered the fragrance room, Bae Ki-tae and Cho Sung-hwan were waiting nervously.

Jeong-woo looked at the table where the finished samples were placed and said to Cho Sung-hwan.

“Sung-hwan, could you bring me one disinfected bottle? You can tell Manager Yoon about it.”

“Are you refilling the samples?”


Then he glanced at Bae Ki-tae.

“Also, contact the fragrance design team and ask them to come over for a moment.
It’s a request for cooperation in their work.
If Shin Ki-woo says anything, respond with, ‘We helped you with the new product, and you can’t spare 10 minutes?’”

After giving instructions, Jeong-woo received a text message while tidying up the lab.
It was from Jang Tae-seon.

[I’m on my way to the parking lot for a meeting.]

30 minutes later.

Michèle, accompanied by the agents and Jang Tae-seon, entered the fragrance room.

Jeong-woo greeted her with a bow and said, “Welcome.”

Michèle’s gaze went straight to the samples on the table.

“I was surprised when I received the call in the morning.
I didn’t expect it to be ready so quickly.
So, I am concerned.”

“Instead of a long explanation, why don’t you try it yourself?”

As Jeong-woo handed her the bottle with the sample, Michèle grasped it.
While she was slightly opening the cork of the cottonseed synthetic fragrance, Jeong-woo noticed that a considerable number of fragrance center staff had gathered in the hallway.

He wasn’t sure if they were here to watch Michèle or to see what she had to say today, but the influence of this foreign CEO was palpable.

“This is…”

After smelling the fragrance, Michèle looked at Jeong-woo.

Jeong-woo pulled his laptop closer to Michèle so she could see better.

“99.13% match rate.
Isn’t this enough to conclude that the scents are the same?”

Michèle’s expression turned subtle as she deeply inhaled the fragrance again.
Then she spoke.

“The remaining 0.87% is missing.
This is not perfect.
Our company cannot use such synthetic fragrances.”

Startled by Michèle’s straightforward response, Jang Tae-seon, who had been waiting at ease, looked at Jeong-woo.
Jeong-woo smiled lightly and gestured for him to wait before speaking to Michèle.

“Chemically, it may not be the same extract.
However, the fragrance… could it really be that different?”

“It is different.”


“Are you underestimating my level of perfuming?”

“I’m absolutely not.
The CEO’s sense of smell, which can detect changes down to the level of one in a million, is truly remarkable.”

Michèle looked at Jeong-woo with a puzzled expression.

Jeong-woo pointed to the sample she was holding.

“That’s true.
It’s the natural fragrance extracted using the supercritical extraction method from the actual cottonseed sample given by the CEO.”


Even though Jeong-woo didn’t understand what French word she had said, Michèle’s expression clearly conveyed that she didn’t understand what I said.

“And this.”

Jeong-woo handed her another bottle on the table.

“This one is the synthetic fragrance that shows a 99.13% match rate, which was completed today.”

Unable to believe it, Michèle accepted the sample and opened the cork.
After smelling the fragrance, she couldn’t say anything for a moment.

“Is this better?”

Jeong-woo briefly glanced at Shin Ki-woo standing in the corridor.

“Just to avoid any doubts, we conducted a cross-verification with the top fragrance experts in Korea.
I omitted attaching the certificate, but there are about five witnesses.”

Then, he nodded slightly at Shin Ki-woo.

Michèle looked at Jeong-woo and asked.

“Why is there such a difference?”

“Firstly, synthetic fragrances don’t have any contamination.
Natural materials, on the other hand, may have traces of scent altered by microorganisms.
That’s one difference.
And, do you know that the type of container for the sample can also affect the fragrance, CEO?”

Michèle focused on Jeong-woo’s words and nodded slightly.

“Even though you may not be aware of it, your nose is.
The scent that blends with the molecules of this sample bottle.
The synthetic fragrance bottle is the one you brought.
It feels more familiar, so it’s more tolerable.
To put it meaningfully, it’s mixed with memories and emotions associated with that bottle.
Well, that’s probably why there’s a difference.”

At Jeong-woo’s revelation about the container switch, Jang Tae-seon was left speechless.
The fact that it was so well-received made Michèle unable to say anything.

“The remaining 0.87%.
Our chemists can work on it and make it exactly the same.
But it’s unnecessary.
A fragrance within the margin of error.
Compared to the daily changes in fragrance, that 0.87% is extremely minute.
But to restructure it on a molecular level, it will take at least another month.”

Jeong-woo concluded and added one last thing.

“If this is still unsatisfactory, I’m sorry, but we’ll have to stop this project.
I can’t tolerate a method that I know will be a waste of time.”

“…Stop? Non.
We can’t.
This margin of error.
I insist on it.”

Michèle said, surrending.

A series of actions: showcasing their abilities, convincing the other party, and taking control – all of this unfolded before the people in the hallway who had been watching anxiously, causing a sudden commotion.

“It seems like communication is good with the French lady.”

As Jeong-woo held his place, a disheartened Jang Tae-sun looked at him with a gaze that seemed to say, “Is that what you call communication?” Jungwoo met Jang Tae-sun’s eyes with an expression that said, “It’s a connection exclusive to those with a keen sense of smell.”

Michèle gestured to the agents, and the bags were placed on the table.

“I brought the two samples as requested.
Can you handle two at once?”

“I’ll get back to you by next Friday.”

Jeong-woo confidently replied.

Even IFF or Givaudan can’t produce fragrances this quickly.”

Michèle praised, mentioning world-leading fragrance manufacturing companies.
Jeong-woo shrugged and pointed his finger at Bae Ki-tae and Jo Sung-hwan.

“My team members are getting more accustomed to it.
We found a decent process today too.”

As Michèle was about to leave the room after finishing her business, Jeong-woo remembered something and spoke up.


Michèle turned her head.

“You mentioned that the floral fragrances from this center are uniform and can be smelled everywhere.”

“That’s right.”

As Jeong-woo brought up the sensitive topic, Jang Tae-seon, who was preparing to leave, paused.
He looked at Jeong-woo with a look that said, “What now?”

“Just as perfumes are an art with elegance and distinct characteristics, fabric softeners also have their purposes.
Such as disinfection, removing detergent residues, preventing static, and deodorizing.”

Surveying the microbiologists, deodorization experts, and fragrance design team members gathered in the hallway, Jeong-woo spoke slowly.

“The ammonium compound used for sterilization.
It generates ammonia quite easily, you know? That pungent bathroom smell.
No matter how excellent the Audrey perfume is, it can’t simply eliminate this fart smell.
However, we can do it.
We’ll change it to a standardized but reliable scent.”

Michèle seemed to ponder the chemical attack on fragrances.
She made a thoughtful sound, “Hmm.”

“There’s a new product called ‘Chaffrin’ launching this time.
Try spraying it when you encounter a challenging situation with human gas accidents.
You’ll be surprised.”

“I’ve had enough surprises.
I thought this research center was extraordinary, not Wonderland….”

Without saying anything further, Michèle looked around at the people gathered in the hallway before silently walking away.

“Check it out.”

Jang Tae-seon approached Jeong-woo as he greeted Michèle.
He made a gesture of “We’ll talk later, definitely!” and quickly followed after Michèle.

After the CEO’s visit, Jeong-woo loosened his tightly tied tie and slumped into the chair in front of the table.


After staying up all night and having a lively conversation, he felt drained of energy.

“Ki-tae, Seong-hwan, could you please refrigerate the second batch of samples we received today?”

“Yes, Team Leader.”

As the two hurriedly moved around the fragrance lab, someone walked up to Jeong-woo.
He turned his head and greeted them with a warm expression.

“I called you suddenly earlier, but thank you for responding so willingly.”

Silently observing Jeong-woo, Shin Ki-woo finally spoke.

“When our product launch is over… may I support this project? Team Leader Han Jeong-woo.”

Jeong-woo smiled.

“It’s an ongoing recruitment.
We still need eight more people.
You’re welcome to join in advance.”

点击屏幕以使用高级工具 提示:您可以使用左右键盘键在章节之间浏览。

You'll Also Like