Yi Ji-Hyuk shoved his phone’s screen in Choi Jeong-Hoon’s face and demanded to know the phone number, causing the latter to feel deeply conflicted inside.
‘Should I just tell him?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Honestly speaking, the best way to resolve this situation was to dump everything on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s shoulders and wait till he utterly wrecked the current problem into tiny little pieces.
Indeed, if he handed over the phone numbers of the parties involved to Yi Ji-Hyuk, put on some ear plugs and go somewhere for a ten-minute-long smoke break, he was confident of this whole crisis sorting itself out by the time he came back to the office.
‘Aaand, I’d be sorted out as well, with my head rolling, too.’
He might be overreacting a bit regarding himself being sorted out, but still, there was little doubt that his own job security was at a serious risk here. Because, the total worth of Choi Jeong-Hoon was related to his ability to control Yi Ji-Hyuk.
If the higher-ups felt that, even though he was here, he still failed to put a leash on Yi Ji-Hyuk and got themselves badly burned, they would try whatever humanly possible to get rid of him and find a replacement asap.
If overseas governments, or people related saw that, they might get shocked to their core, but unfortunately, that was how the higher-ups of South Korea operated, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that nothing much would change in the future, as well.
“If you do this, I’ll get fired.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
In that case, the right thing to do was to come out clean and ask for his understanding.
“I just have to make sure you don’t get fired, right?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
That works too, I guess?? (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
If Yi Ji-Hyuk was protecting him, then Choi Jeong-Hoon was sure of never losing his job even if he disregarded all paperwork and watched the videos of idols performing the whole day at work while not even lifting a single finger.
‘Should I really give to him?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s body began shuddering from this powerful temptation.
He also knew that the current situation was an unsightly mess.
North Korea in a way was far more sensitive topic than Japan to the Republic of Korea. Historically and politically, far too much had happened between the two nations.
After Gates started appearing, the situation between the two Koreas became somewhat like a cow looking at a chicken, meaning there was no longer a need to reaffirm each other’s positions every single time. The South Korean government could just leave their northern neighbours alone to their devices. But now that they were being forced to get involved in each other’s business once more, the politicians were understandably falling into a panicked state by what that could entail.
They were too scared to provoke their northern counterparts, but at the same time, their pride didn’t allow them to lower their heads first. Choi Jeong-Hoon could read their minds so easily that it was beginning to royally irritate him.
So what they came up with was this tepid response, but the truth wasn’t so kind. They might be able to somehow overcome one or two events by sticking to such tactics. But could anyone guarantee that they would never have to deal with North Korea in the future?
That was why a properly-thought out special plan was needed here.
‘I know that already, but….’
Choi Jeong-Hoon stared at the ‘special plan’ before his eyes, his teeth clattering a bit.
Now normally, a ‘special plan’ of this kind meant that it was a solution one simply had to carry out regardless of personal sacrifices and enormous costs involved.
The problem here was that the special plan right before his eyes easily exceeded such parameters.
Sure, a certain number of sacrifices would be acceptable in the grander scheme of things, but this special plan, it….. So, like, the level of potential sacrifice to be made when letting Yi Ji-Hyuk loose was just far too steep for anyone to deal with.
“Groooooan….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon shook his head.
Sometimes, a man would suffer the sweet whispers of temptation. However, a man should also know how to suppress that, too. If it was getting too hot, one should turn on the aircon, rather than walk straight into a freezer. That’s what being a man was about.
“For now, let’s head to the location first. I’m well aware that you don’t like the way our higher-ups operate, but….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“No, I just don’t want to go there, that’s all.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Ah, so that’s what it was.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon easily accepted that explanation. Of course, there was no way that Yi Ji-Hyuk was sensible enough to mind the North-South relations.
“Even if you go there, I’m sure you don’t have to do anything much, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I don’t want to go in the first place, so what does it matter if I do nothing after arrving there?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon quietly walked over to Yi Ji-Hyuk and whispered into the latter’s ear.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Yes?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If you don’t go there, then that means you’ll have to go back home. Meaning, you’ll be staying with your mom and Miss Erukana.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes trembled as if an earthquake had erupted somewhere nearby.
“Can it be three nights, four days?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
His sudden about-turn flabbergasted Choi Jeong-Hoon somewhat, but then again, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s pleading eyes were just too pitiful to say no.
Choi Jeong-Hoon lightly patted him on the back and spoke reassuringly.
“As long as the Gates don’t open up too quickly, we might end up staying there for a while.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Let’s go!! Right now!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Please, calm down.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon wiped the corners of his eyes.
It must’ve been his first time seeing Yi Ji-Hyuk this eager to get a move on.
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s eyes stung and his heart ached, because this was like looking at a salaryman who used to think getting off work on time was the most important thing in life, only to get married and now, try his utmost best to find an excuse not to go home on time.
Yup, marriage can be this scary, everyone. (The Author)
“What the hell are they thinking of now?!” (Seol Min-Beom)
Commander of the 3rd Division, Major-General Seol Min-Beom, slammed his baton hard on the ground.
“The brass wants us to be mindful of those godd*mn Commies and be on standby?! Are they f*cking kidding me?!” (Seol Min-Beom)
“You know that’s not what they said, sir.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Hey, you stinking sons of b*tches. Who cares whether you’re the Capital Defense Command or not?! This is our jurisdiction! The operational rights are with us! Us! So, who the hell do you think you are to tell me where to go and what not?!” (Seol Min-Beom)
Colonel Jeong In-Soo’s head dropped helplessly.
“You b*stard, you think you being a CDC is a big deal?? You keep this sh*t up, and one day, you’re going to lose everything, you hear me?!” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Come on now, senior-nim. You know I’m not the one responsible here.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“If not, then who is, you b*stard?” (Seol Min-Beom)
Jeong In-Soo was this close to losing his mind here.
‘This is why I should’ve asked them for a star….’ (Jeong In-Soo)
As a measly Colonel, it was simply too hard trying to talk sense to a Major-General. And since the latter was a senior from the same military academy, the former couldn’t even raise his voice here, either.
“Sir, what can I do? It’s the orders from the higher-ups.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Hey you, even the Minister said that he can’t understand what the hell is up with this situation, didn’t he?!” (Seol Min-Beom)
“It’s not the order from the Minister, sir. It came down from even higher up than him.” (Jeong In-Soo)
Seol Min-Beom gritted his teeth after hearing that.
It didn’t take a genius to know who occupied the higher position than the Defence Minister. Before the election, that man said he was a hardcore extremist, yet after the election, he tried to save his skin so much so that folks by the frontlines felt as if their hearts would explode from all the built-up frustration.
“Godd*mmit.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Seol Min-Beom had been feeling pretty dissatisfied by the fact that, after these Gates started appearing, the national defence had shifted its focus away from protecting the nation’s borders to keeping its territories safe from the monster threats, instead.
One could argue that the importance of both the Defense Ministry as well as the Army had gone up since then, but in truth, most of the benefits had been sucked dry by the CDC, while commanders like himself at the frontlines were now demoted to geezers wasting money by performing useless exercises in the background, instead.
And it was the same story even now.
Even if it was a situation involving Gates, and even if the breakout of an unwanted conflict with North Korea was a real, potential threat, this area was still under his jurisdiction, so how could it be okay for them to ask him to relinquish his command?
Not just any place, but in Cheorwon, no less! (TL note at the end)
“If this is how you want to play, then why even bother with the army?! Why don’t you just dissolve the army and absorb us into the CDC, then?!” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Senior-nim.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Senior, my a*s! Why the hell am I your godd*mn senior, anyway?!” (Seol Min-Beom)
“My apologies, Commander.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“….Godd*mmit.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Seol Min-Beom put his baton down and sighed grandly. He got to vent some steam just now, but he was not foolish enough to forget that Jeong In-Soo couldn’t be faulted here. Indeed, what could they do against the orders coming from the higher-ups?
Seol Min-Beom’s hands were just as tied as his junior here.
If he dared to complain, then it was bye-bye, his head. Other than the inevitable ‘dishonourable discharge’, he couldn’t think of any other end result.
“I didn’t crawl all the way up to this position to see this nonsense.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Seol Min-Beom spat out yet another groan.
Although the incident had happened within his jurisdiction, the fact that he had to relinquish command and step back clearly showed how much the position of the army had fallen.
“Commander.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Call me senior, you b*stard.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“….Yes sir, senior-nim. My apologies, but you must cede the command over to us. I heard that the NDF is about to show up, sir.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“You mean, those mutants?” (Seol Min-Beom)
“….Yes, sir.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Hah, the world sure has changed a lot, hasn’t it? A General has to run away as if he’s being chased out by a bunch of godd*mn muties.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Sir, it’s not that you’re running away. It’s simply that you’re leaving for a while to avoid seeing potentially aggravating things, sir.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“It’s the same thing, you as*hole.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Seol Min-Beom shook his head before standing up from his chair.
Jeong In-Soo was right, though.
He was already old, so he might keel over from hwabyung if he ended up seeing the NDF muties go on a rampage right before his eyes. So, maybe it was a far more constructive usage of his time to go home and knock back a few soju shots rather than stick around and witness that ugly sight for himself.
“Do your best, you dumb*ss.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Sir. Don’t worry about….” (Jeong In-Soo)
It was right then – the flap to the commander’s tent set up right by the operational area was flipped open and two men strode right inside.
Jeong In-Soo’s eyes trembled.
“Uh?Ahjussi?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…..Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Jeong In-Soo)
The good Colonel smiled awkwardly and extended his hand out to Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Wow, nice to see you again!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Same here.” (Jeong In-Soo)
Unfortunately, Jeong In-Soo’s grin quickly became a wry one.
If this was any other place, he’d have welcomed Yi Ji-Hyuk with open arms. He believed that he owed this youth that much, and even if he didn’t owe the kid anything, he still held a good impression of the youth on the basic human level.
However, the current situation wasn’t so good.
He definitely held no desire to let the old warhorse behind him get involved with the hot-blooded organisation called the NDF.
Seol Min-Beom was basically a dyed-in-the-wool soldier so there was no way he’d tolerate the NDF that, when nicely put, operated under utter freedom. Or, as some might say, with utter disregard for rules and regulations.
“You must’ve been busy? It’s pretty hard to see you nowadays.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s not that I’m busy, but you are, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk. It’s been awhile since the NDF is mobilised for a domestic Gate situation, you see. Although I have run into other NDF agents every now and then, this must be the first time seeing you again since that day.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Ah, you’re right.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
When Yi Ji-Hyuk thought about it, this made sense.
He hadn’t shown up to take care of any local Gates opening up recently. First of all, it was just too bothersome, and secondly, such a situation no longer required his presence.
The NDF’s agents had grown stronger by being around Yi Ji-Hyuk. They were now able to deal with a level 6 Gate while experiencing no collateral damage even if he wasn’t around to help them out.
So, there was no need to mobilise him in the first place.
Currently, Yi Ji-Hyuk was being treated as a highly effective but also rather defective bomb with unplannable side effects. Earlier on when the Korean forces lacked the means to deal with the various Gates, they couldn’t care about defectiveness or whatever and had to deploy him to avoid dying a dog’s death. But now that the NDF was more or less fully capable of dealing with most of the Gates showing up, it became a wise strategy to stick him inside an office to minimise the risk to everything else.
Choi Jeong-Hoon stepped forward.
“It’s been a while, Colonel.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Indeed.” (Jeong In-Soo)
Completely different to how he greeted Yi Ji-Hyuk, Jeong In-Soo’s voice was stiff.
Choi Jeong-Hoon didn’t feel bad or anything like that, though. It was already an accepted fact that the relationship between the Capital Defense Command and the KSF was quite poor.
Still, he couldn’t be considered as having a bad relationship with the people from the CDC. Indeed, Yi Ji-Hyuk was the abnormal one for being all chummy with Jeong In-Soo, a rapidly-rising star within the CDC. Choi Jeong-Hoon hadn’t put a foot wrong here.
“Who is the Commander, Colonel?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Jeong In-Soo shut his mouth.
Technically, it was him, but if he answered like that, there was a real risk of hurting the pride of Seol Min-Beom standing behind him.
Just as he began pondering how he should answer this, the Major-General’s deep voice resounded out first.
“I’m the Commander of the 3rd Division, Seol Min-Beom. Do you not know to perform a salute when entering a command post?”
The flustered Choi Jeong-Hoon quickly sneaked a glance at Yi Ji-Hyuk. This was a mistake on their part, sure. However, what would Yi Ji-Hyuk be thi……
“I was exempted from the military, so I didn’t know about that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seol Min-Beom was rendered speechless as he stared at Yi Ji-Hyuk.
Now the truth was, to a fool who didn’t go to the army, it didn’t matter whether you were a commander or general, you were still an ahjussi to him.
“So, like, ahjussi. You’re in charge?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seol Min-Beom squeezed his eyes shut.
He should’ve left when Jeong In-Soo told him to leave earlier.
The price for ignoring one little advice was proving to be rather painful.
< 280. What kind of concept is this -5 > Fin.
(TL: Cheorwon is a country in South Korea’s Gangwon Province, and it’s located right next to North Korea.)