Yun Yeong-Min’s trembling eyes were now fixed on Yi Ji-Hyuk.
What the freaking hell? Why was this dude acting like this now?
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, I wasn’t talking to you, but to Choi Jung-Hoon.” (President)
“I’m gonna ask again. So, like, I can leave now, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Of course you can’t.” (President)
What will we do if you leave, too?
Can’t you see everything we’ve been talking about has to do with you? (President’s inner monologue)
“I don’t have anything to do here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, the Americans are requesting for your assistance right now?” (President)
“Buuut, I’m not planning to go?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Really? You really aren’t going?” (President)
“Yup, I ain’t going.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yun Yeong-Min ended up smirking right then.
Enough was enough – just how lightly was he being thought of here?
Anyone with even a passing interest in the matter would know that Yi Ji-Hyuk held a favourable view of Christopher McLaren, and that he had been helping the Americans without hesitation up until now.
So, did he really think that such a threat would work in this case?
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk. I’m aware that you’ll answer their request for aid anyway.” (President)
“Who said so?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Why don’t we stop wasting each other’s energy over something unnecessary? What is it that you want?” (President)
“I said, who said something like that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Excuse me?” (President)
Yi Ji-Hyuk leaned his back against the couch and fished out a cigarette from his pocket. Chief Secretary saw that and spoke while extending his hand awkwardly.
“Smoking isn’t allowed in here.” (Chief Secretary)
“So what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk asked back in an unimpressed tone of voice, prompting an immediate turn-around in the Chief Secretary’s attitude.
“Here’s your ashtray.” (Chief Secretary)
He quickly found a brand-new ashtray and handed it over as an outpouring of sharp, criticising glares landed on him. However, Chief Secretary remained unperturbed as he kept his head up.
So what if I did?? All of you can’t say anything either, so why are you glaring at me for? (Chief Secretary)
Yi Ji-Hyuk lit his cigarette up.
“Hah, seriously now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He took a long, long drag before puffing out the smoke. Frowning deeply now, he shifted his gaze back to Yun Yeong-Min.
“So, you want us to stop wasting our energy on unnecessary matters, is that it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yun Yeong-Min didn’t reply. It vaguely felt as if he had said something he shouldn’t, and that led to the young man feeling pretty unhappy right now, but the President of South Korea couldn’t figure out just where he made a slip of the tongue.
“That is…. eh….” (President)
Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at the stuttering Yun Yeong-Min with eyes reserved for when staring at an idiot, before breaking out in a smirk.
A geezer like that was the President of this nation?
He had seen his fair share of wise rulers, and just as many despots, too. And he also saw enough terrible rulers utterly driving their nations into the ground.
However, one would still be hard-pressed to find a dude like this one when it came to those occupying the position of ‘king’.
You see, no matter how much of a dumba* one was, the process of inheriting the throne would pretty much filter out the absolute worst of the lot. Whether one was a wise, benevolent ruler or a tyrant, they were still in many ways far more excellent than regular people.
You ask, why did such excellent people end up as tyrants?
Because the position of ‘king’ came with unspeakable amounts of stress, that was why.
Now you wouldn’t normally find a king becoming a moron as soon as he ascended to the throne. They would hang around for two, maybe three years before going kablooey in the head after being unable to cope with the stress, and end up as a proper lost cause. That was the normal chain of events.
Driving a nation into the ground was not something any regular Joe could even try. Things like that only happened because the ‘king’ possessed the type of drive incomparable to what regular people had.
If that drive was heading in a ‘good’ direction, that would become a grand achievement, and if it unfolded in a bad direction, then it’d be recorded as another dark moment in history.
However, this so-called President was neither of those.
When in water, be like water; when in alcohol, then be like alcohol.
It was so, so easy to see this guy’s attitude of doing nothing but watching other people do their stuff, quietly avoiding any collateral damage before looking for a way to sneakily get himself a slice of the pie. And that was getting on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s nerves.
‘How did a dude like this become a President??’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Was the election rigged or something?
His lips twitched hard with the desire to ask, but he knew not to say stuff like that in front of the person in question. Well, Yi Ji-Hyuk was a rather sensible man, after all.
“You are so right. I don’t want to waste my energy with unnecessary things, so I ain’t going. It’s not like something good will happen to me if I do go, anyway.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yun Yeong-Min’s eyes widened greatly.
This man was being dead serious?
But, that couldn’t be. His logic said that Yi Ji-Hyuk was either currently insane or simply putting on airs. That was all.
But, even then….
He knew that South Korea’s position was different compared to the past. He also understood that Yi Ji-Hyuk was the one and only, impossible-to-figure-out, most important resource in the entire world.
Even then, he shouldn’t be ignoring the request sent by the big shot from America.
What kind of a nation was the United States of America?
Whether it be financial or military, it was the only nation that could wipe the floor with their enemies even if the whole world decided to go after them.
It was indeed not an exaggeration to call the current era ‘Pax Americana’.
The world’s system was created with America as its centre, and the system itself was designed for America.
Sure, South Korea might enjoy much higher acclaim nowadays, but it’d be crazy to think that it now stood on an equal footing with the U.S.
But, surely, one should still be able to put on some airs since Yi Ji-Hyuk was a necessity in dealing with the monster threats?
Indeed, that was why the Korean government (or its President, at least) was putting on airs right now.
Such as, when requests came in, they’d beat around the bush for a bit before saying okay, and then rip the other party off with enormous monetary compensation under the pretext of sending Yi Ji-Hyuk over.
Compared to the past when they had to give up a portion of the land and do whatever the Americans wanted without any compensation whatsoever, one could call the current situation a ‘sea change’.
However, to go even further than this?
‘No, that must not happen.’ (President)
If economic sanctions were imposed tomorrow, the Republic of Korea would be finished instantly. This country was just too intrinsically tied to the U.S. in terms of economy and military. If the Americans decided to sanction them, then Korea would crumble in a single moment.
Of course, the U.S. would suffer some damages, too. However, one couldn’t compare a finger getting lobbed off to a head being cut off, now could you?
This young man should be aware of this already, so why….
“Are you really not going?” (President)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head at an oblique angle.
“Yep.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Have you thought about how much suffering the citizens might endure because of your actions?” (President)
“Hey, ahjussi.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yun Yeong-Min frowned deeply.
After hearing that for a while, he was now getting properly riled up. Just who in their right minds would keep calling a President ‘ahjussi’?
“I’m asking this cuz I just can’t figure this one out.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
What was he trying to say now?
“Is being a politician all about clinging onto a single citizen and nagging him to do this and that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Isn’t politics originally supposed to make sure that the citizens don’t end up doing what they don’t want to do in the first place? And when overseas people demand your citizens to go out there and put their lives on the line, shouldn’t the leader of the nation take the lead in casting a shield to protect his people from such unfairness? Or am I wrong?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yun Yeong-Min shut his mouth.
What Yi Ji-Hyuk said had accurately pointed out the core of the subtle battle of wills that were taking place until now.
In principle, there was no real reason for Yi Ji-Hyuk to go overseas to lend his aid. Under the situation where the nation’s government didn’t possess the forceful means to send him overseas, him actually going there to help out in the name of ‘national interest of Korea’ was solely out of his own decision and no one could say anything about it.
“B-but, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk….” (President)
“You can keep your buts for all I care.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t feel like listening to Yun Yeong-Min’s rubbish any longer.
“So, like, after I went over to the States the last two times, what nice things happened to me? Do you know?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, the benefit to the whole nation….” (President)
“Forget about benefiting the nation and tell me straight, how was I benefited from going there?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yun Yeong-Min couldn’t answer. More specifically, he didn’t know the answer.
He only had to worry about the national interest. Why should he worry about what sort of benefit Yi Ji-Hyuk received through those events?
Honestly speaking, this was not his fault. Which President out there would think about such things in this world, anyway?
The thing was, a President had a crap ton of things to do, which was different from what most people might envision. So, wouldn’t it be completely impossible for a President to look after every single citizen out there while also performing his official duties, now would it?
“I, I’m not too sure….” (President)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes narrowed down to a slit.
“Nothing good happened, you see?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was then, the Chief Secretary raised his hand.
“What’s wrong now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, I heard that you have received quite a significant amount of monetary compensation so far?” (Chief Secretary)
“I never needed it, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Pardon?” (Chief Secretary)
“I realised that there’s this thing with money. Once it gets past a certain amount, it just becomes zeroes in the bank account and nothing much will change with my life. You see?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
But, how could that be true?
If that was the case, why did the CEOs and Chairpersons of huge corporations work their butts off, then?
The more money you had, the better you felt about it, and you’d grow even more avaricious in accruing greater wealth.
“I don’t need any of that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Well, if the guy himself said that, what could anyone do?
“So, like I was saying, I don’t get to see much of a benefit for myself after going over there to help out, you know?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yun Yeong-Min’s complexion grew poorer and poorer.
“A citizen working for one’s nation isn’t for the sake of profit for himself, am I wrong?” (President)
“Why don’t you refund your salary and donate all your wealth back to society first before talking to me?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Busy yapping on about some stupid nonsense here. If you’re so desperate to work for your country, you should set an example first by giving up all your wealth to the nation’s tax coffers or something. Why are you demanding something that you aren’t willing to do yourself? Busy p*ssing me off.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The corners of Yun Yeong-Min’s eyes began twitching uncontrollably.
This… didn’t sound wrong, logically speaking, yet why did he feel so terrible after listening to these words?
“So, you don’t want to do it?” (President)
“Yes.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Chief Secretary!” (President)
“Sir?” (Chief Secretary)
The Chief Secretary awkwardly stepped forward.
“What kind of legal punishment is available for a person refusing to obey the Presidential order issued for the national interest?” (President)
The Chief Secretary hesitated and stuttered greatly, apparently at a loss as to what to say next, before spotting the President’s eyes.
What is up with those sparkling eyes??
Have you gone insane, too? (Chief Secretary’s inner monologue)
“T-there is no such thing, sir.” (Chief Secretary)
“There is none?” (President)
“Of course, sir. There is no such law!” (Chief Secretary)
“….Ah, so there isn’t one?” (President)
Yi Ji-Hyuk facepalmed.
This is definitely the Blue House, so why….
Wait, maybe I’m at the wrong address?
I never imagined I’d be having such a conversation inside the Blue House, though…. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“Hah….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
In any case, politicians would always be the same regardless of what era it was.
“Whatever. I’m not going, so do whatever you want. Well then, have a nice day.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“W-where do you think you’re going?!” (President)
“Home.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, we haven’t finished talking here!” (President)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked derisively.
“Hey, ah, ju, ssi~.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You talk to a lawyer about the legal stuff, and when you want to talk to a chairman, you go through his secretary first. So, if you wanna talk to me, you shouldn’t try to contact me directly first, no?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I-in that case?” (President)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shifted his gaze over in a certain direction.
And Yun Yeong-Min ended up seeing it, too.
He saw the dark aura emitted by someone he previously thought of as nothing more than an unimportant ‘passerby civil servant No.1’.
“M-Mister Choi Jung-Hoon??” (President)
Choi Jung-Hoon smiled oh-so brightly and looked back at Yun Yeong-Min.
Was the latter completely mistaken when he immediately took that smile as ‘You told me to scram earlier so why are you pretending to be so chummy now, you stinking geezer’?
Choi Jung-Hoon ignored the President and instead looked at Yi Ji-Hyuk. The latter understood what the former was saying with those eyes and simply grinned in reply.
Okay, got you.
“If you wanna say something to me, leave it with this dude here first. He’s like my proxy and stuff, you see?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I ain’t gonna answer any direct calls. You saw how Christopher McLaren also calls him first, right? If you keep bothering me, I’ll just leave.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yun Yeong-Min’s shoulders drooped powerlessly; he turned around to face Choi Jung-Hoon next. When the latter met the former’s gaze, he grinned brightly again and opened his lips to speak.
“Well, then. As you have ordered me earlier, I shall leave as well, Mister President.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
This dude’s still so good at ending on a high note.
<257. Uh? Does that mean I can leave, too? -2 > Fin.
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