Chapter 47: Can a high school dropout get a job there? (2)

“How do you do? I’m Choi Jung-Hoon from the KSF.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Ah, yes. Welcome to our humble abode. Please, take a seat, hmm, right over here.” (mom)

“Thank you, mother.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Park Seon-Duk’s eyes seemed to be swimming in a pleasant dream.

Seeing that, Yi Ji-Hyuk was overcome with a sense of betrayal.

Really now, how could this be true!!

Wasn’t her treatment way too different from when Seo Ah-Young first came to visit them?

Mom, you shouldn’t do that!!

Sure, fine, a man can look pretty and all that. But that doesn’t mean you should treat people differently like this, you know!!

Heck, you don’t even look at me, your own son, like that! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s exasperated inner monologue)

“Y, you work for the KSF?” (mom)

“Yes, mother. Although I’m not gifted in many ways, I have decided to dedicate myself to the KSF’s causes.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Oh, my. It must be really taxing on you to perform difficult duties for our nation’s sake.” (mom)

Yi Ji-Hyuk’s facial muscles twitched uncomfortably as he listened to this exchange.

Was his mom trying to imply that Seo Ah-Young was not performing her “duties” for the nation, but rather, did chores around the house or something?!

Now that he thought about it, if Yi Ji-Hyuk was as handsome as Choi Jung-Hoon, then, rather than mom lecturing him for playing games all day long, she might’ve bought him all those cool skins, instead!!

Seriously, with her current attitude, he might have gotten his hands on every single item available in the game by now!!

Just why did he have to be born with a face of an octopus?! Why, god!! Just why!

“I am tasked with providing logistics support at the moment. I believe it’d be quicker to ask me, rather than my team Captain, if you wish to learn more about our initiative.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Oh….” (mom)

“Allow me to introduce the new shelter we would like to take you and your family to.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

As if she was entranced, Park Seon-Duk fell deeper into the smooth voice of Choi Jung-Hoon, as he placed a pamphlet in her hands and began explaining.

Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t help but inwardly ask… why was this dude doing this sort of work? If he sold insurance, or those pyramid scheme things, he would’ve made a killing by now.

Wasn’t this a waste of talent? No?

After listening to Choi Jung-Hoon’s explanations for a long time, Park Seon-Duk nodded her head with an expression of understanding.

“It is indeed a wonderful place.” (mom)

Choi Jung-Hoon replied back with a bright smile.

“That’s correct, mother. You are making the most optimal decision for your family.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“However….” (mom)

“Yes, mother?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“…It still won’t do. I simply cannot allow my son to ‘work’ in dangerous places.” (mom)

Choi Jung-Hoon solemnly nodded his head.

“We dare not to underestimate the loving heart a mother carries for her child. I do understand where you’re coming from. However, the truth is…” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon slightly shifted his gaze towards Yi Ji-Hyuk.

“Mother and the rest of his family staying here, might end up burdening Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk instead.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Come again? What do you mean by that?” (mom)

“Mother, shelters such as ours weren’t constructed out on a whim. Oh, no. Right now, the family members of the recognised ability users face unseen discrimination. Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk’s identity as a user isn’t known yet, which means you and your family have escaped such treatment so far. But, this will not be the case anymore moving forward.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“I told you, I ain’t a dang ability user.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Choi Jung-Hoon completely ignored Yi Ji-Hyuk’s protest and continued.

“Also, in order for Mister Ji-Hyuk to do what he needs to do, it’s necessary that his family is safe and secure in a place with the best protection available.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“But, still….” (mom)

Seeing the hesitant Park Seon-Duk, Choi Jung-Hoon hammered in another nail.

“Mother, as I understand it, you’re going through a difficult time at the moment.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Excuse me?” (mom)

“I’ve heard that your husband worked for an energy company for a long time. Because of his background, I was thinking that getting a new job at the Korean Energy Agency might be a good idea.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“At the Korean Energy Agency….” (mom)

Yes, not just any company, it was a government-run enterprise!!

Park Seon-Duk’s eyes quaked quite violently.

“Yes, your family wouldn’t have to worry about the finances, since your son possesses such wonderful abilities. But, considering the fact that your husband is still relatively young, don’t you agree that him working for a good, reputable company would do wonders for the family’s reputation?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

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“Yes, that is true.” (mom)

“Plus, the schools there are quite excellent, I assure you. I believe that your daughter is at the age where she should start preparing for university entrance exams.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Well, my daughter doesn’t really enjoy a close relationship with education….” (mom)

….Just like her older brother….

Madam Park Seon-Duk held back the words that almost came out towards the end of her sentence.

“Human beings are capable of changing, once their environment also changes. You see, mother – effective education requires a good environment.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

It was here, Seo Ah-Young decided to provide supporting fire.

“He has aced the Higher Civil Service Exams, you see.” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Ahh…. That’s why you are so confident regarding this topic.” (mom)

Park Seon-Duk was now staring at Choi Jung-Hoon with eyes containing a certain amount of envy. Receiving such a gaze, he simply grinned brightly.

His teeth seemed to reflect light, from the way they shined so beautifully.

Seeing this spectacle, Yi Ji-Hyuk was trembling in his seat.

As a fellow man… His pride was wounded, somewhat.

It seemed that, this dude…. he was capable of pretty much anything and everything. Except for playing the Iron Fist well, of course.

“And, mother. Most importantly…” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon gazed at Yi Ji-Hyuk once more.

“Isn’t your son at the age where he should be finding a lawful employment?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Park Seon-Duk frowned deeply as she stared at her son.

Wowsers, look at how much her expressions has changed!

How can you look at your own son that way?!

Others might think your child was switched at the hospital or something!! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s disbelieving inner monologue)

“I am well aware of the perception the citizens hold, the one about the KSF suffering high mortality rates. However, that is nothing more than a misconception. It is actually the defence force members that suffer the high mortality rate, instead. As a matter of fact, the mortality rate for the agents of the KSF is even lower than that of an average corporation. Here, we’ve compiled the relevant data. Please take a look.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Seeing the rows upon rows of indecipherable numbers and figures on the thick pile of documents placed in front of her, Park Seon-Duk couldn’t help but simply nod her head along.

Although she couldn’t understand a thing on these scraps of paper, she at least needed to act as if she understood everything!

“I understand what you’re saying.” (mom)

Park Seon-Duk rubbed her face gently to regain her bearings.

“However, it is difficult to make our decision right away. I need to discuss it with my wayward husband first, and even my daughter doesn’t really want to…” (mom)

“Mother, I’m completely fine with it.” (Ye-Won)

Park Seon-Duk stopped rubbing her face, froze, and slowly, robotically turned her head towards Yi Ye-Won’s direction.

And she found her daughter sitting oh-so modestly as if she was the most well-behaved child in the whole world.

Modestly?!

Wasn’t this akin to seeing a cat learning how to swim?

Could the word “modest” be applied without irony to the girl named Yi Ye-Won?

‘Has she lost her mind?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Even Yi Ji-Hyuk was looking at his sister with an astonished expression.

He heard from somewhere that, when a person suddenly started doing something that he/she had never done before, it was a sign of impending death for that person. Well, could she have contracted an incurable illness or something?

“Well, he said the schools there are good, and I was hoping to concentrate on my studies a bit more.” (Ye-Won)

“You… want what?” (mom)

Yi Ye-Won studying? It’d be more realistic to claim that lions preferred to eat weeds instead.

Almost subconsciously, Park Seon-Duk swiveled her head and stared outside the window. Unfortunately, it was still nighttime so she couldn’t confirm whether the sun had risen from the West or from the East.

Without a doubt, though – the benevolent sun should rise up from the West in the following morning. She was quite sure of it.

“What the, why would you…” (mom)

Park Seon-Duk was about to voice her mind, but then, she stopped.

Because… she saw Yi Ye-Won’s eyes swimming in a dreamland while gazing longingly at the side profile of Choi Jung-Hoon.

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Park Seon-Duk understood everything right then. Couldn’t prevent those long, long sighs from escaping her mouth, though.

‘Yes, indeed. I am at fault, aren’t I…’ (mom)

The old saying went that, if one child turned out “wrong”, it could be the child’s fault, but with both of her kids seemingly misplacing a few screws in their heads, it had to be the parents’ fault for sure.

And so, madam Park Seon-Duk had no choice but to acknowledge her responsibilities in the matter.

“Mother, I truly wish to study hard from now on! Let us move there!” (Ye-Won)

“For now, you keep quiet.” (mom)

“But, mother!” (Ye-Won)

“TSK!!!” (mom)

Park Seon-Duk angrily glared at her daughter. Yi Ye-Won was just about to come up with a sharp comeback of her own, but then, remembered Choi Jung-Hoon’s presence, and she closed her mouth and stayed her hands in a very modest manner.

Seeing such a detestable behaviour, Yi Ji-Hyuk began silently pounding on his chest out of frustration, but even he was subdued in no time when Ye-Won glared at him with murderous, bloodshot eyes.

‘The king has donkey ears!’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk) (TL note at the end)

If Yi Ji-Hyuk watched this absurd event for any longer, he might develop a stress-related illness himself.

“What the hell? Aren’t we supposed to evacuate from this place? Why are we wasting time sitting around here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Seo Ah-Young replied as if she wasn’t perturbed at all.

“There’s still time.” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Hey, aren’t you guys being way too laid back today, compared to the last time?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Looks like you’re not aware of it yet. A Gate doesn’t open up as soon as it manifests. Also, it’s the defence force that’s tasked with setting up the defensive perimeter against Gates, not us. You see, it’s the right call for us, who’d be leading the operations, to wait until the defenses are up and running, instead of ruining the preparations with half-baked commands from our side.” (Seo Ah-Young)

“That’s how society works, you see.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

The two of them matched each other’s beats so perfectly.

As Yi Ji-Hyuk began inwardly clicking his tongue, Choi Jung-Hoon resumed his attempt at swaying Park Seon-Duk’s mind.

And she showed signs of being almost convinced by the arguments.

Even she had to admit now that she needed the KSF’s help in order to guarantee the family’s safety. Seeing this, for some reason Yi Ji-Hyuk was feeling a bit annoyed – probably by the fact that someone else had successfully persuaded his mom instead of himself.

“It’s all good and nice, but….” (mom)

Park Seon-Duk finally opened her mouth to speak.

“You want to… hire my child. The KSF wishes to employ my son, is that it?” (mom)

“That’s correct, mother.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“The KSF is a government entity, yes?” (mom)

“Of course. That’s why it has very good pension payout as well.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Because of that, there’s something I don’t quite understand, so I have to clarify it with you.” (mom)

“Yes, mother. Please ask.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Can a high school dropout get a job there?” (mom)

“……..”

At this unexpected obstacle, Choi Jung-Hoon became a bit lost, and he glanced at Seo Ah-Young.

“Hmm…. Not sure….” (Seo Ah-Young)

However, even her answer was unsatisfactory.

 

*

 

Doh Gah-Yun’s current assignment was quite a simple one – to maintain surveillance on Yi Ji-Hyuk.

Unfortunately, it was decided that being in a close proximity to the target would stimulate him unnecessarily. So, Gah-Yun’s current position of the so-called stakeout had been fixed to the front foyer of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s apartment, instead.

Since all she had to was to hide her presence and wait, it wasn’t a difficult job to her. Only if she disregarded the terrible boredom plaguing her all the time, though.

However, something rather annoying had popped up on her radar recently.

‘What is wrong with her?’ (Gah-Yun)

From a short while ago…. No, before that…. To be more specific, from a few days ago, there was this one person that started getting on her nerves somewhat.

It was a girl, who was sitting behind a bush next to the front entrance of the apartment at this particular moment.

She was a bit too young to be called a woman. But, also a bit too mature to be called a teen girl. A high schooler who straddled the boundary between an adult and a teen, that’s what this girl was.

‘Her name was Kim Dah-Som?’ (Gah-Yun)

According to Gah-Yun’s recollection, that seemed to be the case. Since she and the KSF had performed extensive investigation on everyone that approached the target, she was certain of the name being correct.

Indeed, this girl was the very same one who gifted the target with cookies quite recently.

Wasn’t she supposedly a classmate of the target’s younger sister?

However, that was not the problem here.

No, the real problem was with this young girl occupying the entrance to the building, as if she had built her own house here, since that day.

On top of this, she had managed to evade detection quite thoroughly, although it wasn’t clear whether she was doing that deliberately or not.

‘Amazing talent.’ (Gah-Yun)

Kim Dah-Som wasn’t an ability user, yet not one person utilising the apartment’s entrance could spot her presence.

Indeed, she was definitely a normal person without any abilities, yet she seemed to accurately judge the range of a person’s field of vision, and managed to find the blind spot every single time. Now that took real talent.

And also… she hasn’t made a single sound ever since she got here.

To be able to completely cloak her presence from the others, even if she wasn’t trying to… That was a talent worthy of high praises. Especially so, from Doh Gah-Yun’s point of view, who happened to be in a similar line of work as well.

Still, that problem remained…

‘Just what is she doing here?’ (Gah-Yun)

What could possibly be her purpose?

She wasn’t even the snail bride, so… (TL note at the end)

Doh Gah-Yun found Kim Dah-Som’s actions utterly incomprehensible. Gah-Yun’s brain, her way of processing information, could not come up with a logical explanation behind Kim Dah-Som’s behaviour at all.

‘Impossible to understand.’ (Gah-Yun)

She could see that this girl had some sort of relationship with Yi Ji-Hyuk, but it was impossible to figure out what Kim Dah-Som’s end game was. If this girl displayed some sort of hostile intentions, then Gah-Yun would’ve promptly taken her out, but that hadn’t happened so far.

So, what was Kim Dah-Som ultimately aiming for, when she decided to brave it outside Yi Ji-Hyuk’s place for the past four days?

Just as Doh Gah-Yun wondered whether she should break cover and approach Kim Dah-Som or not, she could hear a commotion rapidly developing right behind her.

‘What now?’ (Gah-Yun)

She turned around to see what was what, only to find a Gate that was going through a rapid transition of blue colour to red.

Doh Gah-Yun shuddered greatly from the shock, before she quickly pulled her phone out and stabbed the emergency button on screen with her fingers as if she was trying to break the darn thing.

And then, without hesitation, she pounced on Kim Dah-Som to drag her away.

Because… all ten the Gates were changing their colours incredibly quickly.

This was the moment when the disaster began unfolding in earnest.

 

*

 

“So, that is why, mother….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon was in the middle of brilliantly luring the other party, and then slightly scaring them, and then, luring them back in again.

His words were… He confidently declared that being a high school dropout wouldn’t be an issue, and if it were, he’d resolve it by simply hiring Yi Ji-Hyuk on a ‘special circumstances’ contract. He then scared mom by saying, if she missed this chance, he wouldn’t be able to foretell what might happen in the future. How crafty!

Yi Ji-Hyuk was this close to clapping his hands in admiration while watching Choi Jung-Hoon singlehandedly tackle this matter like a champion footballer and carry it towards the goal area.

Heck, the talk had advanced so much by now that it had long past the stage of whether moving would help him out or not, and into everyone wanting to appreciate Choi Jung-Hoon’s slick oratory skills, instead.

‘What a perfect snake-oil salesman.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

It was truly a wonderful thing that this man had passed the Civil Service exam with flying colours. If he hadn’t, and was led down the dark path, he might have ended up causing a serious financial catastrophe in this world, that’s for sure.

Ppiiiieck!!

“What the?!” (Seo Ah-Young)

Suddenly, Seo Ah-Young jumped up from her seat. Her smartphone was glowing red while noisily beeping out from her pocket.

“It’s an emergency?” (Seo Ah-Young)

Without saying anything else, she ran towards the window.

Even Choi Jung-Hoon got up and ran there, too.

“It’s opening already?! So soon?? But, it hasn’t even been ten hours yet!!” (Seo Ah-Young)

Seo Ah-Young shouted out in a despairing voice.

“But, how is th….” (Seo Ah-Young)

Before she could finish her sentence, someone jumped out of the open window she was looking out from.

“M, mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?!” (Seo Ah-Young)

Leaving behind the shocked and shouting Seo Ah-Young to her devices, Yi Ji-Hyuk jumped down to the ground, seven floors below.

And while doing so, he shouted towards the rapidly-reddening Gates just over yonder.

“My family is still here, you sons of b*tches!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Blackish aura began pouring out from his body like a pair of wings.

 

< 47. Can a high school dropout get a job there? -2 > Fin.

 

(TL: I have to say, I found the attitude of mom early in the chapter a bit weird, since this isn’t the first time she meets Choi Jung-Hoon. Ditto for Ye-Won, as well. Either the author forgot that, which is highly improbable, since it wasn’t that far back anyway, or he decided to deliberately overlook that for this sitcom-like setup.)

 

(TL: In case you don’t get the “king’s ears/donkey’s ears” reference, it’s an old folk tale of a certain king with long, floppish ears, who is naturally embarrassed by this appearance and hides them by growing his hair really long. Only his hairdresser knows the secret. So, the king warned him never to spill the beans or else. Frustrated by keeping this secret to himself for many, many years, the hairdresser couldn’t hold it any longer. The folk tale deviates slightly from here depending on the regions, but the one in Korea says the hairdresser – it’s “hatmaker” in Korea, actually – went to a local bamboo forest where no one lived, and shouted out “the King has donkey’s ears!” repeatedly, which made him feel a lot better. Unfortunately, the wind carried his voice through the trees, and sure enough, everyone got to hear it and learned the king’s secret. Incensed, the king then ordered the forest to be cut down at once.)

 

(TL: as for the snail bride thing… it’s another old school Korean folktale that tells the story of a poor man who marries a maiden that came out from a snail shell. No, really. In the end, he loses her by breaking a taboo. It’s a longer story then the “king and his donkey ears” so rather than me explaining it to you here, please Google it and read the whole thing for yourselves.)

- my thoughts:
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