Chapter 284: Check first before stretching legs (4)

“This is a rare occasion of fellow countrymen having a meeting, so why do you keep your mouth shut like some little girlie? What would a man with no gumption be good for?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“You talking about me?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk pointed to himself.

“Looks like at least you understand Korean.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Yi Ji-Hyuk saw how Rhee Jin-Cheol was trying to pick a fight with him and smirked provocatively.

“Did you just laugh at me?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“E-heeei!!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon waved his hands around and turned his gaze to his side to whisper to Yi Ji-Hyuk in low voice.

“Please, calm down. These people have a different way of looking at things than us.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“By the way….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Yes?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Why are they all wearing military uniforms? That’s a uniform, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Ah, that. Well….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

The folks on the other side of the line were all kitted out in the same “Mao jacket”. Yi Ji-Hyuk must’ve found the sight rather strange.

“The North don’t have a separate branch for ability users, but they are incorporated with the Army, you see.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Uh? Why?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Well, they are all organisations under the Korean Workers’ Party, you see.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“The Korean Workers’ Party??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Choi Jeong-Hoon immediately realised that at this rate, he’d end up explaining the founding history of North Korea, as well as the fantastically tall tale of Kim Il-Sung’s origin. So, he quickly tried to pacify Yi Ji-Hyuk.

“I-in any case, just think of them as regular soldiers. I’m sure you have a few questions regarding this but we simply don’t have the room for a detailed explanation, so I’ll tell you everything later on.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“But, I’m curious right now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Please. Stop.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon grabbed his hands and pleaded ardently, so the ever-gracious Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head good-naturedly.

“Well, okay. Let’s do that, then.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Thank you.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon wiped the sweat off his forehead.

He was facing off against a bunch of North Koreans, yet here he was, scared more of his own ally. Could anyone even understand the absurdity of this situation?

Problems were freaking everywhere. Seriously, everywhere!

Choi Jeong-Hoon shifted his gaze back to the North Korean soldiers.

“In any case, please state the reason why you asked to see us.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

He said that his rank was a Senior Colonel.

In South Korea, that’d be on the same level as ‘Colonel’. It’d be the same story whether it was the North or South – climbing up to such a position would never be a cakewalk.

In that context, the man before Choi Jeong-Hoon’s eyes came across as far too young for the rank of Senior Colonel.

Wasn’t he only about the same age as Choi Jeong-Hoon himself? Indeed, his age was more in line with the rank of ‘Captain’.

Which meant that either this guy was a son of a high-ranking official, or he relied on his ability alone to rise through the ranks really quickly.

If none of those were correct, then there was a chance that the ranking system within the “Brigade of People’s Ability Combat Force” worked differently to other organisations.

‘What is our intelligence agency doing?’

Before coming here, Choi Jeong-Hoon had never even heard of this ‘Brigade of People’s Ability Combat Force’. He only knew of North Korea’s ability user-related agency, the ‘Joseon Special Ability Division’.

This would be the entrance of a brand-new organisation and new characters to the world, then.

‘This isn’t good….’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Of course, just like how South Korea had the KSF but they still went and created the NDF, the North could’ve gone and created the Brigade of People’s Ability Combat Force as well.

The thing was, though, not having any concrete info and needing to carry this conversation along with just his assumptions alone was proving to be a bit of a difficult task for Choi Jeong-Hoon.

It was already a bit cumbersome to talk to the North Koreans that were known quantities, so imagine doing that with unknown opponents, instead.

“Well, huh. You’re speaking of some strange things there. Didn’t I say that I merely wish to chat to my South Joseon comrades?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“But haven’t we chatted enough already?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Listen, comrade. Don’t be so curt like that now. That’s not the way to talk to one of your compatriots.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Would you listen to this snake-like b*stard? (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)

A slight frown formed on Choi Jeong-Hoon’s face.

It was then that Yi Ji-Hyuk decided to butt in.

“Well, fine. It’s cool. But, hey….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Rhee Jin-Cheol’s gaze landed on him next.

“Why did you go and set fire to someone else’s land?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Hahaha.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Rhee Jin-Cheol laughed heartily.

“I did that to draw your attention, so please don’t be too stiff about it.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“Listen here, dude. I’m asking you….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk clenched his fists tightly and spoke up.

“How dare you set fire to our noble motherland?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon grasped Yi Ji-Hyuk’s shoulder and whispered once more.

“They don’t understand what you’re referencing here.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Ng? But why not?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“They don’t have TVs. Only the South Koreans will get your reference.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Ahh, you’re right.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

He glanced at Rhee Jin-Cheol’s face, and sure enough, the North Korean Senior Colonel seemed rather confused. To think that South Koreans knew the stuff broadcast by the North Koreans better than the North Koreans themselves – if that wasn’t irony at its finest, than what was?

Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head and took a step back.

“What an odd comrade you have there.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Yup, I agree.

Very odd, actually.

But you gotta count yourself lucky there, pal. If this guy decides to go full-on ‘odd’ mode, then we’ll be holding your funeral today. (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)

“Please refrain from using the same method to call us the next time. If you try to provoke us that way again, then we won’t be able to take it lying down.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Oh? What will you do then?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“Should we demonstrate it for you?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon’s glare tangled with Rhee Jin-Cheol’s in mid-air.

‘Euh….’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

The former’s back was getting soaked in sweat.

Now that their gazes were locked like this, Choi Jeong-Hoon could definitely sense it. This man in front of his eyes was a killing weapon.

Until today, he thought that a person being able to actually sense killing intent was nothing more than some stuff from a martial arts novel, but right now, he could feel something like that from this North Korean man.

But, wasn’t it less like killing intent, but closer to animosity, instead?

The desire for pure violence so keen that it might slice Choi Jeong-Hoon’s head off in a blink was now rubbing against his skin.

However, he couldn’t afford to back off here.

If it was him alone, he’d not be able to continue this staring contest, but with Yi Ji-Hyuk by his side, there was nothing to fear.

If Rhee Jin-Cheol pounced forward, then Yi Ji-Hyuk would smash him and his four goons apart in a single breath.

“Well, now. You spoke with a soft voice so I thought you were a bit of a pansy, but you do have some backbone, don’t you. I’m seeing you in renewed light here.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Rhee Jin-Cheol withdrew his glare first and chuckled.

Choi Jeong-Hoon didn’t think he had won, but did feel that he endured it somehow.

“We did that without thinking too much, so please be more understanding. Besides, it’ll be weird to come this close and shout at you people to listen to us, no? Let me say this since we’re all here and all. We have some people watching us too, so that’s why we did that. Don’t be too small-minded, comrades.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Choi Jeong-Hoon nodded his head.

He wasn’t planning to worsen the situation any further. It’s just that, he didn’t want to let this simply slide, that was all.

“In that case, let’s call it a day. Is that everything you wanted to talk to us about?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Nah, still haven’t got to the main topic yet.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“Main topic, is it?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon’s eyes narrowed to slits.

“Well, looky here…. Those doors are about to open up, so what’re your plans? It’s not gonna be enough trying to defend each side, you know?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“But, that’s what the agreement is, isn’t it?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Comrade, you look like you spent some time out in the fields like us so you should know this very well. Blocking the b*stards coming our way will mean that fires and waters and whatnots will splash a bit to your side too. If someone on your side gets hit by that, it’s going to be a serious problem, no?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“Hmm….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon nodded his head.

“Indeed, that might be an issue.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“So, what do you think about working together? I’m saying, we move together while we sort this mess out.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Choi Jeong-Hoon stared at Rhee Jin-Cheol with unreadable eyes. What was the North Korean man’s real goal in suggesting this?

“Wouldn’t it be difficult?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Difficult about what? Aren’t we all compatriots here?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“Who’ll take the command, then?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Doesn’t matter which side takes it, honestly.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

“But then, who’ll take responsibility if something goes wrong?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Responsibility? You don’t want to cooperate because you’re scared of that?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Seeing him try to subtly goad Choi Jeong-Hoon here, there was little doubt that Rhee Jin-Cheol was thinking of something underhanded. That didn’t mean he was thinking of going along with it.

“Alright, then. You people take the command. We don’t need it. Is that fine?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Choi Jeong-Hoon shook his head.

“Let’s just stick to being cautious. We are not thinking of taking command of your people, nor do we want it.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Hoh, I thought you had some backbone in ya, but I guess I was wrong. Got it. We’ll just stick to each side minding their own business. But, don’t you regret it later.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)

Choi Jeong-Hoon stared at the distancing Rhee Jin-Cheol’s back.

“What is he scheming?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at him smirked.

“Can’t you tell?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“You can tell?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“It’s so plain to see. He’s getting ready to cover his tracks.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Pardon?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“You’ll see. It’s going to get really amusing soon.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Choi Jeong-Hoon couldn’t understand what Yi Ji-Hyuk was saying and simply tilted his head.

“This is my speciality, actually.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

A meaningful smile crept up on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lips.

In any other situations, Choi Jeong-Hoon should possess far keener insight than Yi Ji-Hyuk but when it came to humanity’s penchant for malicious schemes, it’d be difficult to find someone as well attuned as the latter in this world.

After all, didn’t he experience an environment filled with precisely that for over one thousand years already?

He looked at the departing backs of the North Korean soldiers and clicked his tongue. A person was supposed to look first before stretching his legs.

Time to learn that one shouldn’t complain after their ankles got sliced off because they didn’t know where they were stretching their legs.

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In the meantime, Jeong In-Soo cautiously approached the two men.

“Those b*stards really can’t be trusted.” (Jeong In-Soo)

Choi Jeong-Hoon wordlessly glared at him, causing the Colonel to cough and clear his throat.

“I wasn’t trying to save my skin here, but…. I’m the commander of this operation. As a commander, it can’t be helped.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Sure. I learned it well today.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Come on now. I’m telling you, that’s not how it is.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Yes, yes. Thank you for the lesson.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“K-h-heum.” (Jeong In-Soo)

Jeong In-Soo awkwardly smiled and patted Choi Jeong-Hoon on the back.

“In any case, you did well. You showed some real backbone. And also, good job not getting sucked into their strange demands, too.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Thank you.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“….I’m sorry. Fine. I’ll treat you to soju later.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Buy me beef steak.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Why don’t you skin a flea for god’s sake?! You think I don’t know that you get paid better than me??” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Beef! Steak!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Eii, you son of a bi*ch.” (Jeong In-Soo)

Jeong In-Soo shook his head.

This guy, he wasn’t originally like this, so since when did he become this sly?

“By the way, what are those b*stards really thinking about?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“I wonder about that myself.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“It’s obvious they are trying something underhanded here, but….” (Jeong In-Soo)

“I agree with you.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Jeong In-Soo narrowed his eyes.

“It’s my opinion, but…” (?)

“Ah?! What the #%#@!!” (Jeong In-Soo)

Jeong In-Soo was shocked by a sudden voice from his behind and yelled out loudly.

“Senior-nim. You haven’t gone home yet?!” (Jeong In-Soo)

“You think I can leave when things are like this?” (Seol Min-Beom)

Seol Min-Beom joined the trio, looking somewhat sheepish.

“As for those North Koreans….” (Seol Min-Beom)

“Sir?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Getting involved with them is a bad idea. Doesn’t matter if your intentions are good or not, you’ll walk away a loser in the end.” (Seol Min-Beom)

“I’ll remember that.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Especially so, now that you can consider yourself as a high-ranking officer. You gotta be more mindful of politics now. You mustn’t give others enough rooms to take shots at you. Do you understand what I’m saying here?” (Seol Min-Beom)

“Sir, yes sir.” (Jeong In-Soo)

But, shouldn’t you be on your way now, sir?

You’ve already handed over the command, so I don’t understand why you’re hanging around here, sir. (Jeong In-Soo’s inner monologue)

Jeong In-Soo couldn’t get rid of this uncomfortable feeling. It was as if his teacher was behind him right now. Kind of like, as if the department head chose not to go home even after clocking off, and stuck around in the office to observe his subordinates while playing a round of Go or something.

“Battalion Commander-nim!!” (adjutant)

It was then, an urgent voice came from behind them.

“The Gates are opening up!” (adjutant)

“Mm?” (Jeong In-Soo)

For sure, the Gates were gradually dyeing in the crimson colour, starting from the furthest one away.

“Aren’t they all huddled together so nicely….” (Jeong In-Soo)

In order to lessen the tension in the air, Jeong In-Soo muttered out whatever popped up in his head.

The mere fact that they needed to carry out an operation so close to the North Korean border was placing an unfamiliar burden on his shoulders.

“Get ready!!” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Sir!!” (adjutant)

The adjutant ran towards the temporarily command centre. Jeong In-Soo looked at Yi Ji-Hyuk to his side and spoke.

“Let’s get going, too.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Sure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

The latter was guided by the Colonel to the command centre as well.

“Uhhh? Why are you taking Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk away??” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“What now? Do you need his presence, then?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Well, not particularly, but….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Sure, there are a few of them, but aren’t they all around level 5? If Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk needs to step up for stuff like this every time, then sooner or later he’ll be asked to go around the whole country every single day. One shouldn’t deal with these sorts of situations that way, young man.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Y-you’re right.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Then, do your best.” (Jeong In-Soo)

Eh?

H-hang on, Jeong In-Soo Colonel-nim.

You’re the commander of this operation, right?

Excuse me??

Colonel-nim?? (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)

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Jeong In-Soo headed off towards the command centre while sharing jokes with Yi Ji-Hyuk.

“Hah….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Now abandoned all alone, Choi Jeong-Hoon sighed in sorrow.

“Even that man’s gradually losing his marbles. I’m telling you.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon roughly turned around and stared at the NDF agents.

< 284. Check first before stretching legs -4 > Fin.

(TL: I’m not 100% on the reference either, but it’s possible that the line came from one of the many hilarious North Korean state broadcaster’s utterances. More specifically, from that old lady who seems to be the de-facto mouthpiece for the regime.)

- my thoughts:
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