“What do you mean, you’re leaving??” (President)
Yun Yeong-Min urgently shouted out, but Choi Jung-Hoon simply formed a very meaningful smile.
“Your recommendation of a measly civil servant knowing his place and quietly vacating from an occasion like this one…. I’ve definitely learned my lesson, sir. I shall never forget the golden rule you’ve taught me and make it my life’s shining signpost to follow for the rest of my life.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Will you look at how this punk is yapping on?
Look! Look at that face!
I can easily see how p*ssed off you are, yet your mouth is still capable of muttering such buttery-smooth words without hesitation! (President’s inner monologue)
Yun Yeong-Min felt the need to control this spiralling situation. He needed to get a hold of it no matter what.
“It seems that I’ve made a slight mistake just now.” (President)
Plenty of people believed that politicians were far too proud for their own good, but that was actually a common misconception.
The pride of politicians was an active skill only activated when they judged there would be no potential damage to themselves. Indeed, when benefit and ego were at odds, then a politician would always choose the former over the latter, as that was the virtue they all ascribed to.
“Oh, no, not at all.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
As if he was in a hurry, Choi Jung-Hoon waved his hands around.
“No, sir. It’s me who made a mistake. I’m only grateful that you set me on a correct path without getting angry at me. Honestly, the level of the mistake I committed is severe enough to get an immediate dismissal from the post, yet you’ve been so gracious like this. All I can say is that the future of our nation is in good hands.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yun Yeong-Min’s two eyes were twitching almost uncontrollably now.
Did this punk just make fun of me? (President’s inner monologue)
“I said, it’s my mistake.” (President)
“Mister President.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon shrugged his shoulders.
“To a person holding the public office, there can never be a thing like ‘mistake’. I mean, what would admitting to one’s mistake solve, anyway? No, sir. The important thing is how one goes about repairing the situation.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
In order to calm his boiling innards, Yun Yeong-Min had to summon up every ounce of his energy. A measly little low-ranked civil servant who’d not dare to even meet his gaze in normal situations was riding on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s coattails to say whatever the hell he pleased.
‘Why did he have to…..’ (President)
Yi Ji-Hyuk was at blame here, too.
Why did that punk give such a man his backing?
Shouldn’t the person backed for real not Choi Jung-Hoon but the President of the nation instead, namely himself??
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!” (President)
“I, can’t, hear, you~.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk dug his ear canal leisurely before addressing the Chief Secretary.
“Don’t you guys have any snacks here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“W-we do.” (Chief Secretary)
“Can you bring me some? Also, more Cola, please.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Cola’s here already. Drink this.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Jeong Hae-Min and Yi Ji-Hyuk began sharing a cosy little chat over by the couch. Yun Yeong-Min watched that scene unfold as tears of blood dripped out of his heart.
‘Why is such an insane b*stard blessed with power?’ (President)
The heavens were just too inconsiderate; out of 50 or so million Koreans, why did it have to be that punk?
And why did the person being protected by such a guy have to be this punk?!
“What is it that you want?” (President)
The President figured that arguing with these two would change nothing. In that case, might as well quickly do what they want and get them out of his hair right away.
“What we want, is it…..” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon slowly opened his eyes wider.
“What do you mean by that, sir? We don’t want anything at all. Please, we beg you to understand that it is our fervent wish to work tirelessly for our country and that’s why we all came here as soon as we could.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Hey, you punk!!
Everyone in this office already knows that Yi Ji-Hyuk came here to tell us to stop calling him up!
And you dare to lie with such a straight face?? (President’s inner monologue)
Yun Yeong-Min felt like chucking the unused ashtray at the younger man’s face, but by sheer superhuman-like will, he stopped himself.
“I-indeed. I know. Of course, I am aware. Yes.” (President)
If only it was the leader of the United States or China – at least he’d not feel this aggrieved right now.
Yet, it was just a regular civil servant! Someone Yun Yeong-Min would be able to get rid of with just a snap of his fingers now needed to be treated like a President from a global superpower nation?!
‘Was the position of Korea’s President this low?’ (President)
Yun Yeong-Min felt the corners of his eyes sting a little.
“It’s not that there is something we want exactly, sir. Except that, well, that’s what life is like, sir. Just like what Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk has alluded to earlier, when a person repeats performing hard labour without reward over and over again, he’d eventually lose his motivation to continue on. It’s not as if one’s fervour can substitute for actual compensation. I believe that a person sacrificing so much for the sake of his mother nation needs to be compensated accordingly. Don’t you agree with me, Mister President?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“O-of course. What, what I want to know is what that compensation should be.” (President)
“Isn’t that something the person giving it should figure out? I’m sure it’s not something a person receiving has to worry about?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“C-Chief Secretary!” (President)
When the President urgently called out to him, the Chief Secretary lowered his head and sighed so that no one could see him.
He’s only called in a situation like this one! Only in situations as bad as this!
“Yes, Mister President.” (Chief Secretary)
“What are the things we can do for Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (President)
“There is a list that has been compiled before, sir. First thing on it is to confer him with a medal, sir.” (Chief Secretary)
“A medal? Ah, yes! That’s right! We already have one prepared, haven’t we? Why don’t we bestow that first?” (President)
Choi Jung-Hoon smirked briefly after hearing the word ‘medal’. In fact, he was laughing at it so openly that others were feeling embarrassed by it.
“A medal, is it? Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, they want to give you a medal.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Can I eat it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I don’t think you can.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Then, I don’t need it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, there you go.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
And they said that the glib sister-in-law is worse than the vindictive mother-in-law! (President’s inner monologue)
Yun Yeong-Min was almost overcome with this inexplicable desire to crack open Choi Jung-Hoon’s head right there and then.
“I-in that case, what is it that you want?” (President)
“You should know this already, so why are you being like this, sir?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking! You don’t want money! You don’t want medals! Then, what is it that you want from us?” (President)
“H-m-mm….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
As if he couldn’t help it anymore, Choi Jung-Hoon pulled out a stack of blank A4 papers from his bag.
“It’d be more preferable to have them drawn up in M*crosoft Word, but well, for the time being, let us agree on a couple of basics as a start. First of all, all immunity from the…..” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
What kind of rubbish was this?
He isn’t even a member of parliament, so what immunity is he talking about?? (President’s inner monologue)
If such a thing was given to an ability user, then the nation’s citizens would rise up in revolt with foams bubbling out of their mouths. And Yun Yeong-Min would watch the lame duck situation develop in real-time with his own two eyes! (TL note at the end)
“How can I grant something like that?! Say something that will make logical sense!” (President)
“You can’t?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“What would the citizens say when they find out about such a thing?!” (President)
Choi Jung-Hoon grinned slyly and whispered softly.
“Well, sir. You don’t have to tell them, then.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“What did you say?” (President)
“There is no need to make it public, is there? Only the people involved have to know. That’ll be all, no?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
What’s up with this guy?
He was acting all sensible and the like a minute ago, but now that the negotiating table’s been set up, why is he starting to emit the distinct scent of a con man? (President’s inner monologue)
‘He’ll go places in the future.’ (President)
This type of person should be a politician, not some bureaucrat.
Indeed, this type of person would shoot through the ranks when given a district to manage and some back-up cash.
‘W-wait, that’s not it.’ (President)
Now wasn’t the time to review the potential of a politician but to resolve the current situation.
“I can’t do something like that.” (President)
“Sir?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I’m the President elected by the nation’s people. No matter how urgent the situation is, I can’t deceive the citizens.” (President)
Choi Jung-Hoon began looking at Yun Yeong-Min in a renewed light.
Now that he thought about it….
Although the current President had been roundly criticised for being empty-headed, thoughtless, holding radical ideologies, and lucky enough to have been elected to his office, he was also known for not having a single corruption scandal.
‘He’s needlessly upright in stuff like this.’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Being incorruptible and driven when you were incompetent were demerits, instead.
Indeed, if the President had been someone deeply corrupt, then solutions could be reached somehow whether through the threat of impeachment or something similar.
“So, you don’t have any desire to support us in that regard?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“That cannot be done.” (President)
Choi Jung-Hoon frowned slightly.
Things weren’t unfolding in the way he had envisioned.
Fortunately, though, there was someone to help him out.
The office’s phone began ringing. The Chief Secretary quickly answered it and alternated his gaze between Choi Jung-Hoon and Yun Yeong-Min.
“It’s from Christopher McLaren.” (Chief Secretary)
“Please, put him on speaker.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
The Chief Secretary shot a quick glare at Choi Jung-Hoon before pressing the speaker button on the phone.
“This is Choi Jung-Hoon speaking.”
– “It’s Christopher here. What happened?”
“My apologies, but it seems that helping you this time might be impossible.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “What do you mean? Things looked positive not too long ago, didn’t it?” (Christopher McLaren)
“It is regrettable, but our President has refused to accept the proposed compensation for assisting you this time. We can’t work for free, now can we, sir?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “What do you mean, for free?! We’ve done so much for you guys already! Besides, haven’t we agreed to pay you the right amount this time as well??” (Christopher McLaren)
“The financial side of things are quite enough for us. But, what Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk wants isn’t that.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “Okay, so what does he want then?” (Christopher McLaren)
“It’s actually pretty simple. Things like immunity, as well as some other related matters.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “Wait, what? Such things haven’t been given to him yet?” (Christopher McLaren)
“I’m afraid so.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Realising that the situation was moving in a strange direction, Yun Yeong-Min shifted his head and asked the Justice Minister.
“Do other countries do that?” (President)
“Well, sir. Mm….” (Justice Minister)
The Justice Minister scratched his head.
“Some countries did grant partial immunity towards selected ability users, sir. It can’t be helped, really. If you lock up important ability users in prison because they committed some small offence, it’d be very difficult to fill up the void left behind in the manpower, so….” (Justice Minister)
Wait, now that I hear it, that does kinda make sense?? (President’s inner monologue)
Yun Yeong Min tilted his head.
When he thought about it some more, what meaning was there for Yi Ji-Hyuk to enjoy immunity from prosecution?
Even if this guy committed a crime, he couldn’t be confined to a prison, anyway. There was no prison sturdy enough to keep him locked up, to begin with. And there was no policeman brave or capable enough to arrest him, either.
And in a very unlikely case of both of those conditions being met and Yi Ji-Hyuk was indeed thrown behind bars, the losses to South Korea would be immeasurable.
– “So, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk don’t want to move because of something that small?” (Christopher McLaren)
“In a way, yes. That’s about it.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “May I speak to your President?” (Christopher McLaren)
“You’re on speaker. And he’s currently listening in.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “Mister President, can you hear me?” (Christopher McLaren)
Yun Yeong-Min frowned again. He was the President of a nation, while the person on the other side of the line was just a director of an American government agency.
Just from one’s stations alone, that American had no right to demand to talk to a President. However, that was only true when looking from outside; Yun Yeong-Min knew better than anyone what the dynamic of this ‘relationship’ was like.
“I can hear you.” (President)
Christopher McLaren possessed the similar amount of political clout as the American President, while Yun Yeong-Min was just a leader from a small nation.
The only reason why the latter got to enjoy higher status was simply because he rode on the back of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s acclaim. In a situation where he was at odds with Yi Ji-Hyuk, like right now, he had no real power to refuse Christopher McLaren’s words.
“Please speak.” (President)
– “Currently, the American President is being held hostage as we speak. I can’t help but think that cooperation from your country is not up to the acceptable level in the current situation. If something untoward happens to the President of our country, are you confident of handling the associated fallout?” (Christopher McLaren)
This was clearly a threat. And not something that should be said to a President of another nation.
However, the situation was such that one couldn’t argue about common courtesy. The American President was being held hostage, and only Yi Ji-Hyuk could resolve that crisis.
But then, he couldn’t provide assistance because of Yun Yeong-Min? If something bad did happen, then all blame would fall squarely upon him for sure.
“No, it’s not that we aren’t trying to assist you….” (President)
– “No need for a lengthy chat. Please just grant everything Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk wishes for. If not, you’d be held liable for the ensuing aftermaths.” (Christopher McLaren)
Yun Yeong-Min quietly bit his lower lip.
This was the issue with ‘power’. If only he had power, he’d not be subjected to such humiliation….
Feeling utterly dejected now, he was about to say he’ll do it, but then Yi Ji-Hyuk suddenly butted in.
“By the way, ahjussi?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Is that you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Who the hell are you to speak to the President of my country like that??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “….Eh? I was just trying to help you….” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s brows shot up real high as he began shouting at the phone.
“I’m asking you, why were you being so dang rude to him?? He’s the President of this country, you know?! Is America that high and mighty now? Ah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Hul.” (Christopher McLaren)
“I’m the only one who can kick him down! How dare you order around another country’s President willy-nilly?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
A powerful earthquake rocked within Yun Yeong-Min’s eyes, then.
< 258. Uh? Does that mean I can leave, too? -3 > Fin.
(TL: In case you don’t know, a President would end up in a lame duck situation, which is real BTW, when he or she is about to be replaced. For more info, check out Wikipedia’s ‘lame duck, politics’.)
(TL: Some announcement, as well – I’ll be slightly rejigging Choi Jung-Hoon’s name from the next chapter onwards. I’ve come to learn that the official Korean romanisation rules state that certain Korean letters need to be spelled in a certain way. The “Jung” of Choi Jung-Hoon will be changed to “Jeong”. Choi Jung-Hoon → Choi Jeong-Hoon.)
(Other names need to be looked at as well, but I’m currently not too motivated to change them wholesale as I think they are pretty much spot-on in terms of pure “correct” pronunciation.)