“Aaah, so you were exempted.” (Jeong In-Soo)
Jeong In-Soo awkwardly laughed out.
Didn’t he already confirm whether Yi Ji-Hyuk went to the army or not back when he was still planning to entice the latter into joining the Capital Defense Command’s folds in the past?
He knew the truth, yet he had failed to predict an eventuality where he’d be so resentful of the fact that Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t get to experience the military life. At the time, he felt happy about potentially pulling the youth into the army, but….
‘If only he served in the army….’ (Jeong In-Soo)
Even if a person didn’t really understand the concept, just by going to the army would help you in realising how mighty was the position of a General was, and how highly respected such a soldier would be. But as Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t serve, he was now looking at a Major-General as if he was talking to a neighbour ahjussi.
Seeing how dark Seol Min-Beom’s complexion had become, the emotions Jeong In-Soo felt went past the level of pity and straight into heartache.
This man, Seol Min-Beom, he dedicated his entire life to the army. Not like the other rubbish, fake Generals who got to their positions through gifts and behind-the-door politicking, this man climbed up to the position of “Major-General” via his talent and dedication. So, to see him being treated this way, Jeong In-Soo felt his ire rise up gradually.
‘I need to hold back.’ (Jeong In-Soo)
If it was someone else, Jeong In-Soo would definitely not hold back.
He too was famed for being hot-headed within the Capital Defense Command. He might be incredibly polite towards regular civilians, but wasn’t he well known for being utterly merciless against ability users?
However, Yi Ji-Hyuk was the sole exception.
Sure, he had received the youth’s help in the past, but at the same time, Jeong In-Soo knew that the kid wasn’t doing this out of malice.
So, seeing that he couldn’t blame neither this side or the other, it’s natural that he’d find a third party to go after now!
‘You want to die?!’ (Jeong In-Soo)
Jeong In-Soo’s powerful, threatening glare stabbed deeply into Choi Jeong-Hoon next.
“Ha, hahaha….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon laughed awkwardly and avoided meeting the good Colonel’s glare.
‘Aigoo, this in intolerable.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
For some reason, it was a lot harder to deal with Jeong In-Soo compared to the Generals occupying far higher positions up the ladder.
He didn’t feel this uncomfortable when talking to Ministers or the President. For one, Choi Jeong-Hoon was building new bridges, as it were, with those people for the first time in his life, so it lacked a certain sense of reality for him. And two, the current him was wizened-up enough to fully utilise his current position to his advantage.
However, Jeong In-Soo was different.
Even before Yi Ji-Hyuk showed up, they had spent almost five years butting heads and apologising to each other regularly; Choi Jeong-Hoon even lightly poked him with a stick and extracted some benefits, too. In other words, these two men had basically grew up alongside one another.
It was slightly awkward to call Jeong In-Soo “Hyung-nim”, while using the official “Colonel” all the time also felt a bit heartless for the relationship these two men enjoyed.
So, such a man openly shooting him a glare like that left behind a bitter taste in Choi Jeong-Hoon’s mouth, and it certainly was a bit uncool to ignore that, too….
“Hahaha, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, even then, he’s a Major-General, so calling him ‘ahjussi’ is…..” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Jeong In-Soo nodded his head.
Right, those words were the minimum level of what had to be said in this situation. No matter how one sliced it, how could he even think of calling a Major-General as an ahjussi?
“What’s a Major-General? Is that similar to an on-site manager?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk) (TL note at the end)
Choi Jeong-Hoon shifted his gaze over to Jeong In-Soo and shook his head.
‘This is impossible.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
‘Forgive me for asking you.’ (Jeong In-Soo)
The Colonel also decided to give up on his quest to change Yi Ji-Hyuk somehow. Just one utterance, and he was done analysing the situation.
Rather than expecting a logical response from Yi Ji-Hyuk, it was far more efficient to isolate him away from the people with common sense in the first place.
“….I guess it’s expected of you to not know. Hold on for a minute.” (Jeong In-Soo)
Jeong In-Soo bowed his head a little and walked over to Seol Min-Beom.
“Senior-nim.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Fuu-woo.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Seol Min-Beom sighed out at length and nodded his head.
“I’m handing over the command to you. Do what you think is the best. If I remain here for a second longer, I might end up seeing something really unsightly.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“My apologies.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“However….” (Seol Min-Beom)
Flames began burning brightly within Seol Min-Beom’s eyes.
“Make sure that our kids don’t get hurt. Even if just one fool gets injured out of sheer carelessness or through some unlucky coincidence, I’ll definitely make sure that your head will roll! You hear me?” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Yes sir, loud and clear.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Godd*mmit.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Seol Min-Beom shook his head again and handed the baton over to Jeong In-Soo. The item itself didn’t possess any significant meaning, but the action did signify that the command had been handed over to someone else.
“I shall keep my wits about and do my best, sir.” (Jeong In-Soo)
Jeong In-Soo said that, since he couldn’t say “Thank you” under the current circumstances.
Seol Min-Beom seemed to have understood where the Colonel was coming from, because he simply nodded once and headed towards the exit of the tent.
But then, his steps came to a stop right in front of Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Uh?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Euh??” (Jeong In-Soo)
Choi Jeong-Hoon and Jeong In-Soo gasped out at the same time.
Stopping in front of Yi Ji-Hyuk implied that he had something to say, but the thing was, this man wasn’t someone you should talk to unless you simply had to.
Especially so, for a guy like Seol Min-Beom!
“Are you Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Eh? Do you know who I am?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If I didn’t, I should just jump in the lake.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Seol Min-Beom spoke in a dissatisfied tone of voice and scanned Yi Ji-Hyuk from top to bottom before continuing on.
“Why hasn’t a young man such as yourself not joined the army yet?” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Well, it’s not like I didn’t want to, but the country said I shouldn’t, so what can I do?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oh, so you don’t mind joining, then? You aren’t saying that just because?” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Eiii, come on now, old timer. Joining the army is nothing much, you know. Think of it as going out on a camping trip for a couple of years and the time will fly by in an instant.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seol Min-Beom studied Yi Ji-Hyuk with a strange expression on his face.
At a glance, what he said sounded as if he was insulting all those soldiers working their butts off out in the field, but there was this hint, a trace of unquantifiable something, in that tone of voice that prevented the Major-General from loathing Yi Ji-Hyuk right now.
“Hmm…..” (Seol Min-Beom)
According to what he said, he was just a kid who hadn’t even served in the military yet. But the way he spoke or the way he acted had this scent of aged wisdom. Kind of like the ‘aura’ that one could get from a sergeant major who served for a long, long time – and such a relaxed aura belonging to someone who knew the military life inside-out could now be felt from the kid in front of the Major-General’s eyes.
“You are a strange fellow, that’s for sure.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“I’m not that strange, though.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“And you don’t want to concede a single word, too.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“I don’t like losing, you see.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seol Min-Beom shook his head.
“I don’t expect things like courtesy from you. However, you’re a man who holds the fate of this nation in his hands, so shouldn’t you be feeling at least some weight of responsibility?” (Seol Min-Beom)
“If acting all important did help, then I’d have done that already. But since it doesn’t, I might as well live as simply as I’d like to.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seol Min-Beom quietly stared at Yi Ji-Hyuk before closing his eyes.
This guy…. words didn’t go through to him.
“I see. Doesn’t matter, in the end. That’s not the important thing anyway. Your current attitude isn’t the important thing, either.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Suddenly, Seol Min-Beom took his cap off and bowed his head.
“Ah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Even Yi Ji-Hyuk was taken aback by this out of the blue action, his jaw dropping to the ground. What was the reason for this hardened General to lower his head like this?
“Please, raise your head, ahjussi. What are you doing?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seol Min-Beom kept his head down and replied.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of a person you’re. The truly important thing is that you’re the heart of the upcoming operation. That is why I request this of you. Please look after our kids out there.” (Seol Min-Beom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a sigh.
He really didn’t like this.
This type of people who thought that, even without offering up any potential benefits, lowering their heads and swallowing back their pride would be enough to pressure the other party.
These people thought that swallowing their worthless pride was something quite amazing and all that.
He really detested that.
No, he was irritated by the fact that these people believed their pride was their everything.
More importantly, because he fully understood that to these people who had walked on the path of integrity and had nothing to hide, they wouldn’t sell their pride even if someone offered them ten thousand gold pieces.
Yi Ji-Hyuk found these sorts of situations totally uncomfortable and he just couldn’t handle it.
“I-I get it, so just raise your head, will ya??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Will you do your best?” (Seol Min-Beom)
“What the heck, what kinda geezer are you??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Please answer me.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Tsk.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk walked over to an empty spot on the couch and sat down. And as if he couldn’t be bothered about whether Seol Min-Beom was bowing or not, he turned his head away.
The ones that began fretting first were the bystanders, instead.
From Choi Jeong-Hoon’s perspective, it’d been wonderful if Yi Ji-Hyuk just said “Yes, I will” and let it end there, but unfortunately, this guy wasn’t into histrionics like this one.
“Should I kneel down, then?” (Seol Min-Beom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk yawned and stretched his arms.
“Ahjussi.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seol Min-Beom didn’t reply and quietly stared back at Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“I think you’re mistaken about something here. You trying to pressure me won’t make me act the way you want, you know? Don’t you get that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m not trying to pressure you, but rather, I wish to make a request.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“A sudden request made with all of your heart is not a request, but pure pressure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That was not my intention.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Well, in that case, I can safely ignore it, yes? Okay then. Have a nice day.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk ended up breaking out in a smirk.
“I’m telling you, if you were going to make that I’ve-eaten-poop face just because I didn’t hear your request, you shouldn’t have asked me in the first place. Ahjussi, you may have thought that you looked cool just now, but you know, it was all just out of left field to me.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Sorry about that.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Whether you request me or not, I’ll just do what I want, anyway.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seol Min-Beom stopped requesting and turned around to leave.
“Senior-nim…” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Then let me ask of you.” (Seol Min-Beom)
“Sir.” (Jeong In-Soo)
After Seol Min-Beom left the tent, Yi Ji-Hyuk leaned against the back of the couch and whistled loudly.
“Uh-whew. Now that I didn’t need.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Why did you do that, though? I mean, he asked you for a favour by going so far as to bow himself to you. Just saying a simple yes would’ve sufficed.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Here’s a question. Which is right, lying to someone saying that you’ll do it when you’re not going to, or be honest and tell it like it is?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Even then….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon found Seol Min-Beom rather pitiful just now. He shifted his gaze to where the Major-General had gone off to with a concerned expression on his face.
“Still, you could’ve been more respectful to him, you know. He’s a General.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“What about it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon stared with an unimpressed face at Yi Ji-Hyuk.
This was the reason why a man should join the army!
That man was a bloody two star! A two-star General!
Not just one star, but two! What will I do with you when you’re asking me, ‘What about it’?!
You think you’ll get a proper answer when asking ‘What about the President’??
Besides all that. How can you not know about Major-General even if you didn’t serve in the army?
Isn’t that like, common sense?? (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“Why are you glaring at me like that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s nothing.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon shook his head in resignation. He might as well just shoot himself and be done with it. It was meaningless to argue with Yi Ji-Hyuk regarding common sense.
“In any case, we have the command now, so let’s discuss what we will be doing from….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Just bomb the Gates to hell when they open up. Simple.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s not as easy as…..” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Before Choi Jeong-Hoon could finish his words….
His and Yi Ji-Hyuk’s gazes instantly shifted to outside the tent.
“An explosion?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“A Gate?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
But, there should be some time remaining before they were scheduled to open up?
Yi Ji-Hyuk shot up from his seat.
“H-mm….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was not impossible for a Gate to open up quickly, sure, but if something like that happened, then someone observing the situation would’ve sent the word beforehand.
So, if it wasn’t related to Gates, then he could only think of one other possibility for an explosion like that.
“Are they trying to pick a fight knowing that I’m here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
With a face filled with annoyance, Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly trudged outside the tent.
Choi Jeong-Hoon watched that and crossed himself.
He might not have anything to do religions in his daily life, but when he thought about what Yi Ji-Hyuk would do next, he definitely needed a Cheongsimhwan pill and religion ASAP.
“So, then….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon spat out a long sigh.
“I should check first before stretching my legs first, then.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Stretching one’s legs in Yi Ji-Hyuk’s direction would result in one’s ankles being sliced off.
And now, it was North Korea’s turn to understand that.
Choi Jeong-Hoon took a deep but quick breath and followed after Yi Ji-Hyuk.
< 281. Check first before stretching legs -1 > Fin.
(TL: ‘Major-General’ in Korean is “소장”, while ‘on-site manager’ is “현장소장”. As you can see, the latter’s last two words are exactly the same as the former. Hence Yi Ji-Hyuk’s confusion.)
(TL: The original idiom for ‘Check first…’ in Korean goes like this: “Check where you’re planning to lie down first then stretch your legs.” I thought it’d be too unwieldy to include the whole thing in both the chapter title as well as Choi Jeong-Hoon’s dialogue, so I tried to trim it down a little.)
(TL: Finally, the author seemed to have forgotten the name of the Major-General, as he kept going between Seol Min-Beom and Seol In-Beom during this chapter. I chose to stick with the former.)