Debut or Die Ch.455

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The atmosphere at T1 Stars was tense. The agency had become independent of its parent agency, T1 Entertainment, and was no longer a subsidiary of a sprawling conglomerate. This sounded good on the surface, but in reality, it was fraught with uncertainty. The meddling higher-ups were gone, but so was the protection they provided.

“What do you think?”
“Manager… Should we look into this together? ㅎㅎ”

Among the staff, concerns about future treatment and jokes about job-hopping were exchanged. And the same went for the higher-ups. With the board members arrested due to political pressure, the remaining higher-ups were mostly specialized CEOs, department heads, and various team managers.

Everyone was on high alert regarding their movements. If those people decided to leave, the staff needed to act swiftly too!

“The head of the department will just go to another agency, right? Haha ㅠㅠ.”
“Isn’t it possible he won’t leave?”

However, there was still something to rely on.

“We still have a good lineup of artists.”

That’s right. Their confidence came from their roster of artists. A few groups had solid fan bases, toured regularly, and secured fame and steady revenue. And among them was a group that was especially valuable.

“TeSTAR also said they would renew their contract.”

TeSTAR!

An undisputed top idol group that had won the grand prize for three consecutive years. Moreover, since they produce their own music, the departure of higher-ups shouldn’t cause significant issues. The staff, who didn’t know exactly what went wrong between T1 and the subsidiary, were confident that the agency could survive as long as they kept TeSTAR.

“Ah, no matter what happens, TeSTAR’s label will continue.”
“Even if this place collapses, the label will survive.”

Some people even imagined that more staff would be absorbed into the label, or that the label would take over the agency itself. So externally, the atmosphere was as follows.

Let’s look at the anonymous employee community.

==========================
[Any Hyungs or Noonas Who Work in T1 Entertainment Subsidiary?]
I’m curious about the recent atmosphere. Is everyone happy about independence?
==========================

– Hahaha.

– It’s subtle.

– I mean, we’re just working, and there have been no major problems so far.

Instead of voicing complaints directly, the answers were ambiguous. It was a response stemming from genuine issues. But amidst that subtle atmosphere, there was still hope.

“…!”

The department head finally received a message in his office.

* * *
TeSTAR’s Park Moondae was a lunatic. At least, that was what the department head thought. Previously, he had thought of him as a cocky kid, but after being half-threatened into signing the label contract, that assessment was fixed. His timing in both words and actions was cunning and precise.

I should have known right away when I found out about his family background.

An orphan, and at that age, to rank first in a survival program… how sly could he be? Judging by his age alone, the department head had been too lenient and ended up making a mistake!

Who would’ve thought that kid would do something like that?

The department head tried to dismiss the embarrassment of the label contract by clicking his tongue. He had no idea that Park Moondae’s soft appearance concealed a much older adult inside.

Anyway, the time has passed since the label incident. TeSTAR had been working hard without causing any trouble, and Park Moondae hadn’t contacted him separately. But then.

“I hope you’ll read this.”

“…”

With stiff hands, the department head barely picked up the stack of papers that Park Moondae had placed down. Once again, key sections were blacked out, just like the documents used in the label blackmail.

Litigation materials.

The problem was that the documents weren’t just about TeSTAR.

“Ah, from page seven onward, it’s about other groups.”

Miri-nay and Spacer. The materials for the two groups that generated the most revenue after TeSTAR at this agency were neatly organized.

This is…

It was also about the agency’s unfair treatment. Just less damaging. In the case of Miri-nay, the unapproved tours and U.S. activities were the main issues, while Spacer’s primary issue was member neglect. Still, there was only one reason to create this.

“Well, we’re planning to file a class-action lawsuit next month. Or the month after that, at the latest.”

“…!”

It was a shocking declaration. Moreover, this was unethical! Especially for TeSTAR.

He barely managed to suppress his rising sense of crisis and shook his head skillfully. “No… showing me something like this won’t help.”

The department head tapped the papers and forced a smile. He was trying to conceal his anger.

“TeSTAR, last time, you added this to get a label contract, and if you do this again, it’ll be very difficult for the agency. If you make a proposal in such a tactless manner, who would want to work with TeSTAR?”

It was true. The subtle implication was that if a lawsuit were filed, it would somehow get messily linked to the label issue, and everything would be exposed.

“And with the other groups, this honestly isn’t a lawsuit issue, is it? It’s picking on the mistakes anyone could make while working. Judges aren’t fools.”

That was also partly true. But… Park Moondae remained calm.

“Winning isn’t important.”

What?

“The important thing is what this agency would look like if all three groups stopped working together.”

“…!”

“The funds won’t come in.”

That was the crux. As soon as a lawsuit was filed… activities would stop. And album sales and other product revenues would plummet. Fans wouldn’t buy them.

Instinctively, the department head imagined the situation. If this mid-sized entertainment agency, no longer a T1 subsidiary, loses all its revenue streams… It will be over.

The longer the lawsuit dragged on, the longer they wouldn’t be able to make any profit, but the fixed costs for buildings and other expenses would continue. However, T1, which had previously provided funding, had already abandoned the agency, so they couldn’t raise more money. Other investors wouldn’t want to dip their toes into an agency where the top three groups had filed a joint lawsuit. If so…

“It’s a short or long bankruptcy.”

Park Moondae declared.

“Then, since the agency is bankrupt, we’d naturally be free.”

“…”

A chill went down his spine. It was a strong premonition that comes when you hear a truth, a guess with a high probability of coming true. In summary, ‘We’re f*cked up.’ These guys could sink the agency just by filing a lawsuit.

Damn it…

The department head swallowed a few mixed Korean and English curses internally and spoke as nonchalantly as possible. He had to calm them down for now. “This is too far-fetched. Haha, um, can’t TeSTAR leave if you don’t renew? Why go through something so tough?”

Reading perfectly into the unspoken plea to stop this and just negotiate good renewal terms, Park Moondae nodded. “We’re trying to help the other groups. As sunbae.”

This crazy b*stard! After making so much money, what kind of grudge does he have to pull off something like this?

As soon as they say they won’t renew, their reputation will be ruined.

The department head, who had picked up enough entertainment industry know-how, decided to mobilize public opinion to finish them off. And just as he was about to issue a disguised warning…

“That’s why I’m telling you first, Department Head.” Park Moondae added quietly. “You were good to us during the label incident.”

There was a hint of goodwill in his voice.

“I’m giving you a chance to escape first.”

“…”

“Before we file the lawsuit.”

The department head was momentarily confused. There was no particular hint of disdain or arrogance from Park Moondae. He seemed to genuinely be speaking after a lot of thought, even though it could be risky for him.

…That’s right.

If he had come up with such a plan, talking to an agency official was a risk. The fact that he said it despite this… might really have been goodwill!

No matter how much money he had made, he was still just starting out in society. He imagined that Park Moondae was feeling guilty toward an adult he had already fooled once with an additional contract.

…Of course, that’s not the truth.

This guy took the bait. Park Moondae thought this as he looked at the department head.

They had never intended to file a lawsuit! TeSTAR had already discussed this internally: suing the agency would significantly damage the artist’s image. In industry terms, they’d be ‘blacklisted.’ However, the department head, who didn’t originally work in the entertainment industry, lacked the experience to grasp those details. Instead, he caught onto the signals that Park Moondae was giving.

“I don’t want to hurt anyone, especially those I know.”

It was a still somewhat naïve, untainted sentiment. So, the department head broadly understood the situation.

Common sense dictated that TeSTAR wouldn’t gain much from a lawsuit… He must have taken the lead for other groups and now can’t back out, huh? Since he stood up for others, he was now worried about ‘another person’ who could get hurt! So his words grew stronger reflexively.

He could see a way to handle this.

“Hey, switching jobs isn’t a joke… Do you think switching companies will happen overnight, Moondae?” He intended to press on until TeSTAR backed out of the lawsuit.

Park Moondae then blinked. “Is it difficult?”

“It’s impossible, realistically. I mean, when exactly do you plan to file the lawsuit?”

“Hmm.”

Park Moondae stayed silent long enough to make the department head anxious, then slowly spoke.

It was like a lifeline.

“Come to think of it, instead of filing a lawsuit… what if we do this?”

“…!”

“How about this?” Park Moondae frowned as if he had just thought of something, then suggested a few words as if deducing.

At that moment, the department head’s mind cleared up. If that were done!

“…If we do this, it should buy us some time and not cause any issues with your portfolio or anything like that.” Park Moondae finished speaking and stared directly at the department head. “You know this too, Department Head. There’s no future for this agency anyway.”

Because T1 gave up.

Yes, the director already knew that. He had been contemplating whether he could still make something out of TeSTAR, but now that things had come to this…

…Right. All business is about timing. The one who makes the first move suffers the least and gains the most.

The department head made up his mind and spoke.

Park Moondae then smiled faintly.

* * *
It was the next evening.

“Hyung~ what did they say?”

Ryu Chungwoo ended the direct call from the higher-ups at the agency with a broad smile. It was a smile filled with surprise and satisfaction. “They want to talk about the group’s name… Looks like they’re willing to sell the trademark rights.”

“…!”

“R-Really…?”

“Yeah.”

“WOW!!”

The living room quickly filled with excited noise at the sign of a successful operation. Bae Sejin swung his arms in excitement.

“Did it actually work?”

“Yep.”

Didn’t I say it would?

I chuckled and recalled my conversation with the department head. That selfish b*stard. I knew he’d take the money and run.

I didn’t make an extraordinary proposal. It was something like this. This agency is going to go bankrupt anyway – take one last shot before it collapses.

“The trademarks would end up being auctioned off after bankruptcy anyway. Instead, you’re better off transferring the trademark rights to the groups before then.”

If the agency goes bankrupt, we can buy the trademark rights at auction. But I was giving the department head a chance to cash out beforehand. He could create an image of a benevolent agency that gives artists their names and enjoys a short-term profit. The department head would complete the last page of his portfolio and escape before the agency collapsed. As for us? We provided an excuse to justify our gains.

“The other groups will feel reassured to stay with the agency under those conditions. Even if the agency goes bankrupt, they can take their name elsewhere.”
“It’s better for us to buy them now than wait for the agency to collapse.”

In other words, it was a win-win situation.

“…Then?”

“Yes.” I grinned. “We don’t need to file a lawsuit.”

“…!”

“Oh!”

“Then we can leave smoothly without renewing our contracts!”

“Okay~ awesome!”

With everyone giving high-fives without context now that we only needed a new agency, Seon Ahyeon cautiously raised his hand.

“Um, so… will the other groups, stay with this agency, if they can’t file a lawsuit?”

“…!”

I chuckled. And I remembered Gold 2, who seemed ready to bite his nails off with worry after declaring, ‘Let’s go all out!’

“No.”

I promised to help them escape, so not doing so would be a fraud.

“It’ll happen gradually.”

An agency escape story.

Now, all that’s left is to wait.

these chs are commissioned if you would like your series to be translated you can contact us on discord
https://discord.gg/NjqvcWRvbD

Please Read At manhwa-freak.org First So We Can Continue To Update More Chapters….

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Chapter 455