post-Renascence
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Warning - Spoilers ahead.

There are two parallel plotlines in 'DIASPORA', for which reason the drama has often been criticized as being too confusing and difficult to follow. The first concerns Yu-hwa and Jo-gyeon, who first meet when Jo-gyeon interviews her for his article on her appointment to the EARA bureau. He asks her if she anticipates any conflict of interest, considering Mirae's near monopoly on Korean trade thanks to the Pan-Korea Express. She confidently replies that the first company she plans to investigate is Ilshim Shipping, a Mirae subsidiary. They run into each other again, while Jo-gyeon is carrying out his own private investigation of his father's death. The two proceed to develop an informal partnership: Jo-gyeon shares information about the East Asian economy and Yu-hwa shares information about the Mirae group. Jo-gyeon leaves a deep impression on Yu-hwa: for the first time, she begins to think that the work she is doing is meaningful. Similarly, Yu-hwa shakes Jo-gyeon out of his fixation on avenging his father's death. At first, seeing her as a distraction, he tries to push her away (much to her confusion), but as ever, Jo-gyeon does nothing by halves, and once he falls, he falls hard.

Nonetheless, for perhaps the first time in his life, Jo-gyeon has conflicting feelings, and his tentative relationship with Yu-hwa becomes strained when Jo-gyeon realizes that it may have been someone within the upper ranks of the Mirae group that had his father killed. As he continues to investigate, he begins to uncover the secret his father had stumbled upon nearly two decades ago. The president of the Mirae group, so instrumental in the reunification process that led to the building of the Pan-Korea Express, had also been purchasing illegally all of the nuclear weapons formerly possessed by the DPRK. On record, the missiles were supposed to have been dismantled; in reality, they had all been acquired by Mirae's military supplies division. Some had been sold on the black market, but most were stockpiled at the northern border. For what purpose? Jo-gyeon learns that it was Kim Won-seung himself who had ordered his father to be killed and that his own life may be in danger.

Meanwhile, Yu-hwa's father is displeased to find his daughter scrutinizing the operations of the Mirae group so closely and asks her to resign her job. Somewhat to her own surprise, she refuses. Kim Won-seung tells her that in this age, nations are ruled not by states but by corporations, and that if she has any ambition, she should take her place in the corporation. Initially, she refuses but Jo-gyeon persuades her that she will be able to have a greater effect if she could reform the corporation from the top. As she takes a closer look at the corporate empire that her father has constructed, she begins to realize that her father's ambitions do not end with governing Korea alone. In fact, his plan is to expand into the entire East Asia region, using military means if necessary. At this point, she also discovers who really killed Jo-gyeon's father--and is forced to question whether he has only used her from the beginning as a means of revenge.

The second storyline concerns Yu-hwa's childhood friend, In-seok, and Project Renascence. Despite his father's objections, he receives permission from the board of directors to proceed with the project, which proposes to accomplish what humanity has been hoping to achieve for decades: establish a new colony on Mars. Although there are over ten space stations in orbit by now, no one has been able to come up with a way to support a human population on another planet. In-seok believes though that Renascence will succeed, given sufficient funding and brainpower.

Key to his project are the A.I. systems that will monitor and regulate the complex feedback processes necessary to maintain a sustainable environment on Mars. For this purpose, he recruits Jo-hee, who is considered one of the world's leading A.I. experts. From the beginning, there is friction, although they only communicate by voice and email. Jo-hee is unfailingly polite but close-mouthed when it comes to sharing the details of her systems. In-seok finds it maddening. While the two heartily detest each other, Jo-hee stays on with the project because she finds it interesting, and In-seok doesn't dare to fire her. Eventually, Jo-hee realizes that she needs to join the rest of the team to integrate her part of the project with theirs. In-seok and Jo-hee meet in person for the first time and much to their chagrin, find each other attractive. They become generally inseparable, often staying late into the night to discuss the project. In-seok, usually in a state of nervous excitement, finds Jo-hee's quiet, attentive personality soothing. Jo-hee, usually reticent about her opinions, finds herself opening up to In-seok's enthusiasm and freely debating with him over the benefits and disadvantages of expanding into space.

Finally, In-seok tells his father of his intention to propose to Jo-hee, and as expected, Choi Sang-bok reacts with vehement disapproval. He had expected In-seok to marry Yu-hwa, which would set the grounds for a merger between the two companies. In-seok defies his father and storms out of the house; in retaliation, Choi Sang-bok threatens to cut off all funding for Renascence if In-seok does not cut off all relations with Jo-hee immediately. In-seok is at a loss for what to do: the project has become his passion, but he can't abandon Jo-hee either. He decides to approach Kim Won-seung, who is after all his father's chief rival, with the proposal to transfer the project with all the progress it has made so far to Mirae. Kim Won-seung sees the achievement of building the first Mars colony as the stage on which he could jumpstart his own ambition to expand into East Asia and agrees to fund Renascence.

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