Chapter 308: Ah, so this is what national disgrace is like (3)

“Uwaaaaaaaah-!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Argh, what now?!”

“What was that?!!”

Yi Ji-Hyuk screamed and shot up, causing the surrounding people to look at him in shock.

“What the hell? Was he dreaming?”

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“Seriously man, it’s one thing after another.”

Yi Ji-Hyuk hurriedly scanned his vicinity before groaning under his breath. A slender hand gently pulled him back by pushing down on his forehead. He didn’t resist and lied back down.

“Were you dreaming?” (Affeldrichae)

“…..Godd*mmit.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk cursed out loudly.

His brain and body not constantly refreshing was nice, but thanks to that, he had to suffer from this rubbish, icky feeling, too. Nightmares that came to visit him every once in a while was more than enough to sour his moods. Moods that were no longer protected by anything.

“It’s all in the past.” (Affeldrichae)

“Yeah, sure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head.

It was all in the past. This place was not the same hell as ‘there’.

That d*mn stinking Berafe.

The world that only held nightmares for him. Every time he recalled that place, it felt as if his mind was shattering into fine dust.

“Darling, were you dreaming?” (Erukana)

Yi Ji-Hyuk began shuddering.

She was supposed to be the Succubus Queen, yet when her husband next to her was suffering from a nightmare, she showed no care in the world. But she was feigning interest now?

“Don’t look at me like that. Affeldrichae was taking care of it so I didn’t need to interfere. I mean, the degree of importance is different, right?” (Erukana)

“Groan….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk yelled out, still feeling dirty.

“Isn’t there a rest stop or something nearby?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Choi Jeong-Hoon sighed and spoke up.

“You insane fool….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“What was that??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Ah, my apologies. I meant to say that in my head only.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon smiled awkwardly, causing Yi Ji-Hyuk to grit his teeth.

Looks like I really need to set aside a date for that guy, too! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

“This isn’t South Korea, so where can we even find a rest stop?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Stopping and taking a break somewhere is what a rest stop is!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….Colonel.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Jeong In-Soo nodded his head.

“Let’s take a short break here and solve our toilet issue, too.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Alright.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

The bus came to a stop on the side of the road. Yi Ji-Hyuk jumped out and immediately shoved a cigarette in his lips.

“Hah….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

He still felt dirty even now.

“And it happened such a long time ago, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Just how long must he suffer from it?

Apparently, a man who had to serve in the army would sometimes dream about his military days until well past his 60th birthday. That story seemed so true to him at the moment.

“Wait, this thing won’t torment me until I’m also past 60, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Just thinking about it made his entire body shudder uncontrollably.

“Are you alright, darling?” (Erukana)

Erukana approached him and embraced his shoulders.

“H-mm….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“You’ve grown a lot weaker, haven’t you?” (Erukana)

“….Well, I’m almost up there. Just how old am I, anyway?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“But, your physical age is still young?” (Erukana)

“Even there, I’m broken all over.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk shrunk his shoulders like an old man and Erukana burst out laughing.

“Darling, you’re still way younger than me, so aren’t you exaggerating it a little too much?” (Erukana)

“We’re different species, though.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“H-mm….” (Erukana)

Erukana snorted and began rocking Yi Ji-Hyuk side to side.

“Will you unhand him already??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Ng?” (Erukana)

She looked behind her to discover the trembling Jeong Hae-Min glaring at them.

“Weren’t you taught what public decency is back in the demon world? What do you think you’re doing, in front of other people?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“…..You expecting decency from a demonic being?” (Erukana)

“Uh?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Now that she heard it, that sounded logical, didn’t it?

“E-even still, when in Rome, do as the Romans do! Don’t you know that?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“And where is Rome?” (Erukana)

“…..In Europe?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“And where are we?” (Erukana)

“……Well.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“In that case, it doesn’t matter, no? Hehehe.” (Erukana)

Erukana hugged Yi Ji-Hyuk even tighter, causing the hellfire to lit up within Jeong Hae-Min’s eyes.

Her target was changed in an instant.

“Hey!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“N-ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Aren’t you embarrassed by this?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“You think I don’t have a sense of shame?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“If so, why are you letting her get away with this??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….What choice do I have?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk sucked in the cigarette smoke before letting it out.

“She won’t listen anyway even if I say something.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“What about your brute power?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“…..I can’t win.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Ehck??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head.

“You won’t get it even if I explain it to you. I can never win against her.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Seriously??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Yup.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Jeong Hae-Min then got closer to whisper in his ear. She was right next to him and he could hear her just fine, so he wasn’t sure what the meaning of this action was, though.

“You really can’t win? But, you defeated demon kings and all, right? What’s different about her?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….I told you, you won’t get it even if I explain.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk smiled bitterly.

Sure, she wasn’t on the level of completely undefeatable, but it was also true that Erukana was Yi Ji-Hyuk’s ‘perfect’ enemy. The thing was, the basis of all of his magical energy belonged to Erukana in the first place, so their match-up was a pretty bad one.

He’d not be able to display even half of his usual power.

However, explaining all this to Jeong Hae-Min would be a very tall order. How was he to explain the nature of demonic magical energy to someone who was completely clueless about it?

“Forget it, then.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk threw the cigarette away and stubbed it with his heel.

“You mustn’t litter, you know!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Even in North Korea?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….Ng?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Did North Korea also have the crime of misdemeanour, too?

Jeong Hae-Min tilted her head.

“Anyways, let’s get back inside.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around and headed towards the bus, but then, she suddenly grabbed his arm and clung onto him.

“And what’s gotten into you this time?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“L-let’s go together.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Groan….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

He shook his head helplessly and entered the bus while Erukana and Jeong Hae-Min tightly clung onto both of his arms.

“Are we there yet??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“We’re almost there.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“If you just let us ride in a helicopter or something, we’d have arrived there by now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“…….Ah!” (Jeong In-Soo)

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Jeong In-Soo looked quite stunned just then, and Yi Ji-Hyuk simply stared at him in a less-than-impressed facial expression.

“I hope you weren’t planning to say that you didn’t think of it before.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Well, uh….” (Jeong In-Soo)

Jeong In-Soo smiled awkwardly.

“We genuinely hadn’t thought about it. There had never been a time where he needed to traverse North Korea in such a manner before, so….” (Jeong In-Soo)

“…………”

“Now that I think about it again, that mode of transport is several times more dangerous compared to a bus, isn’t it?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“What a nice-sounding excuse.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Still, we’re almost at our destination so it all worked out fine, yes?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Hah….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head again and settled down on his designated spot. This trip up north was turning out to be displeasing in variety of ways.

*

“When are they supposed to arrive??” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“According to the report, they have crossed the checkpoint, sir. They should arrive soon.”

“And when will that be??” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

The top commander of Joseon Democratic People’s Army, Kim Ryong-Seong, was getting even more agitated.

“Aren’t they a lot later than scheduled? What about the idiots sent to guide them here?? What are they doing?” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“W-we can’t seem to contact them properly….”

“Those stinking sons of b*tches.” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

Kim Ryong-Seong gritted his teeth.

The biggest problem of the Democratic People’s Republic of Joseon was that the evaluation of every action taken could only be performed by the Supreme Leader himself and no one else.

So, there were many instances of some people suddenly enjoying a quick rise in their career even after they ignored the orders of those just above them in rank, which was a result of their actions being judged as loyal in nature to the Supreme Leader.

Such a situation was never going to be healthy for an organisation’s long-term sustainability.

The excessive-loyalty competition that ignored the command structure was always going to muddy the goal of the party.

This time was no different.

‘If only I knew this would happen….’ (Kim Ryong-Seong)

Kim Ryong-Seong spat out a long sigh.

The ability users from South Joseon crossing over was an uncommon and extraordinary event happening for the first time ever since the Supreme Leader’s authority had become a permanent fixture.

Meaning, it was an ideal time to prove one’s loyalty.

He figured that some sort of problems would occur for sure, but not even he guessed that things would go down in such a manner.

“Those sons of b*tches, arrest them all immediately. I’m going to execute them all!” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

Kim Ryong-Seong fervently prayed that nothing happened to the South Joseon’s ability users. Although the ones coming here to resolve the North’s crisis wouldn’t get done in by things like that, there was always the ‘one-in-ten-thousand’ chance.

“Comrade commander!”

“What is it now?!” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“The bus from South Joseon has apparently arrived in Pyongyang!”

“Really?” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

Kim Ryong-Seong’s expression brightened instantly as he shot up from his chair.

“The report says the vehicle has approached the defensive line set up near the road.”

“Tell them to relax the line and let the bus through. And send the word out that any fool hoping to provoke them will be thrown to the re-education centre by me personally! Got that?!” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“Yes, comrade! It shall be done!”

Only then could Kim Ryong-Seong sigh in relief and settle back down.

“Well, that’s one problem sorted out.” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

He was so preoccupied that he couldn’t even properly pay attention to those coming here to help. Indeed, he should’ve paid more attention to the important combat force arriving here to lend them a crucial aid, but he left them alone thinking that someone else would do that in his stead. Which led to this situation.

“My head almost rolled off my neck just now. One mistake, and I would’ve been a goner.” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“Shouldn’t we report this to Comrade Supreme Leader?”

“For now, let’s report this to the Comrade Chairman of the State Affairs Committee, instead. Then let him be responsible for reporting to Comrade Supreme Leader.” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“But do we must….?”

“You should watch yourself. If you do something unnecessarily eye-catching in times like this, then having ten lives won’t be enough for you. Get my drift, comrade?” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“Yes, sir. I’ll remember that.”

“We only have to do what we need to do. You try to show off, hoping to achieve something big, and you might end up eating tomorrow’s breakfast in the concentration camp. If you don’t want to go to Yoduk prison camp, then keep your head down.” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“I understand, sir.”

Kim Ryong-Seong nodded his head and shouted at the outside of his office.

“Get me a car!” (Kim Ryong-Seong)

“Sir!”

Then, he picked up his phone. He needed to report this quickly and head out to greet that man named Rhee Ji-Hyuk.

He hoped that no one was stupid enough to provoke the South Joseon people.

His urgency grew by a notch.

*

“Wow~.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk stared outside the bus’s window, his jaw dropping wide.

“They are better off than I thought?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“You think so, too?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Even Jeong Hae-Min was constantly nodding her head, looking surprised herself.

“When I saw them on TV, I got the impression that they had to dig out tree roots to eat and survive that way, but don’t they look fairly okay from what we can see?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“You’re so right.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Choi Jeong-Hoon grinned wryly.

Since when did TV stations show such sights of North Korea?

If only one looked on with a little more interest, then one would know that they displayed the streets of Pyongyang most of the time.

“Doesn’t that thing look taller than ’63 Building’?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at the gigantic Ryugyong Hotel and gasped out in admiration. This structure wasn’t all that much when compared to, say, the skyscrapers found in New York, but still, it was quite surprising to see a building that tall amidst Pyongyang’s skyline.

“You must be talking about Ryugyong Hotel.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“That’s a hotel? Oh, are we going to stay there?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Actually, it’s completely empty inside.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Ehng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“The North did want to finish constructing the interior, but ran out of money. So, they just ensured that it looks nice on the outside, at least.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“….What the heck.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head after failing to understand it. Choi Jeong-Hoon maintained his wry grin and explained further.

“That’s how the country called North Korea operates. The reason why Pyongyang comes across as well-off compared to what you thought is because everything this nation possesses, its capabilities, its finances, they are all concentrated in this city. If we leave this road and go somewhere else, completely different reality will unfold before our eyes.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“H-mm….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk continued to scan outside the window, looking more intrigued than before.

“There’s not much vitality to speak of.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

There were a fair number of people walking on the streets, but no signs of vibrancy or vitality could be felt from them.

“Actually, things have improved significantly compared to the past. With the advent of Gate incident, North Korea has met with a rather favourable turn of events, you see.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Favourable turn of events?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“The international sanctions have disappeared. Since other nations are too busy trying to protect their own borders, they simply don’t have the leeway to punish the North regardless of what it does. Thanks to that, sanctions are not reinforced, and from what I hear, they seized upon the opportunity created by the current chaotic times and made a killing by manufacturing drugs.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Are you saying that a government is busy making drugs??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“It’s kept low-down, hush-hush, but well, it is known to be their… ‘national project’, as it were.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Wowsers, what an interesting country this is!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk began studying the view outside in a renewed light. Still, he didn’t really hate or detest this place. If someone asked him which country was better between North Korea and all those kingdoms he saw in Berafe, then he wouldn’t even waste a second answering that question.

‘This place should be much better than a medieval kingdom, at least.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

It simply had to be.

Sure, they might enjoy magic-related civilisation, but only the upper-ist of all upper classes could enjoy such luxuries. And precisely because of magic, general social development fell far behind and the lives of Berafe’s commoners were worse off than compared to Earth’s denizens during the B.C. era.

People here at least wore proper clothing, didn’t they?

“We’ve arrived.”

The bus came to a stop and its door opened up.

< 308. Ah, so this is what national disgrace is like -3 > Fin.

(TL: ’63 Building’ is a famous landmark in Seoul’s Gangnam district. It’s 63 stories tall, hence its nickname.)

(TL: Ryugyong Hotel is an actual, real building in Pyongyang. Google it to revel in its splendour – sarcasm – and read more about its history in Wikipedia.)

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