“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Who would even bother to give him a call?
Since he had been excluded from the upcoming operation, they shouldn’t have a reason to call him.
As for those connected to him in some way, all of them were pretty much on the NDF’s payroll, and they were probably too busy with the preparation for the operation so no one among them would be free enough to phone him.
Yi Ji-Hyuk took a look at the name appearing on the screen and tilted his head.
“N-ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He confirmed that the name on it was ‘Choi Chang-Hyuk’ and smirked deeply while answering it.
“Hello?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Uh, hey. Ji-Hyuk-ah, it’s me.” (Choi Chang-Hyuk)
“Ng. Sure. What’s up?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “It’s about the class reunion….” (Choi Chang-Hyuk)
“Okay?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “We decided to do it.” (Choi Chang-Hyuk)
“Oh, really?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk was somewhat mystified. Of course, it’d be a fun distraction if the class reunion was indeed to go ahead, but he didn’t expect the others to agree to it.
He too knew how to read the atmosphere, so he understood that for some reason, his alumni avoided him like a plague.
‘I still don’t know why, though.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It wasn’t as if he bullied or tormented anyone in particular, so why were they avoiding him like this?
Whatever the case might have been, Choi Chang-Hyuk called first saying they were going ahead with the reunion, so Yi Ji-Hyuk wanted to give him an ‘A’ for effort, at least.
“So, you are going ahead with the class reunion, eh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Uh, ng.” (Choi Chang-Hyuk)
“Hoh-oh. Sounds like fun. When?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Probably around tomorrow or the day after. We still haven’t decided on the exact time. When we do, I’ll give you a call.” (Choi Chang-Hyuk)
“Ng. Got it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked and ended the call.
“What’s gotten into him?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Mom was calling out to him.
“Are you going to a class reunion?” (mom)
“Ng. Sounds like the guys want to meet up. Well, you know how popular I am.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, while dressed like that?” (mom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s gaze naturally drifted lower.
“I shouldn’t?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Mom’s face began trembling uncontrollably.
“You want to stand in front of others while looking like that?!” (mom)
“Mother, a really famous German brand Ad*das designed this set of clothes for the most optimum performance….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Would you like to get the most optimum beating from your mother, too?” (mom)
“I’m sorry.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk began pouting again.
These tracksuits satisfied all criteria including comfort, performance as well as simple and functional design, so why couldn’t she understand that?
It was then, the front door opened and Ye-Won entered the house.
“Ng? Is oppa going somewhere?” (Ye-Won)
“He’s apparently going to a class reunion.” (mom)
“Wow! That sounds like fun. But why is our dear madam so unhappy?” (Ye-Won)
“….He wants to go there looking like this. Like this!” (mom)
Mom began tugging at Yi Ji-Hyuk’s clothes.
“Fut. Please don’t look down on these high-performance clothes crafted out of finest materials, mother. They won’t stretch from such a lukewarm pulling attempt.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s not something to be proud of.” (mom)
Yi Ye-Won looked at Yi Ji-Hyuk with eyes reserved for insects.
“You wanna wear that to your class reunion?” (Ye-Won)
“What’s the matter?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oppa, just what do you think a reunion is?” (Ye-Won)
“An occasion to meet up with your old pals?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk.” (Ye-Won)
Yi Ye-Won wagged her finger.
“You see, a class reunion is kinda like meeting your ex-boyfriend again.” (Ye-Won)
“Well, they are my friends, and they are also boys, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“In your case, it’ll be ex-girlfriend.” (Ye-Won)
“My ex, is it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Right. The moment you break up, a fierce battle to see who’s living a better life begins. You might be gorging on Saewoo-kkang and soju in reality, but if you know your ex is definitely going to check out how you’re doing, you gotta upload pics of yourself eating steaks and buying expensive handbags on Inst*gram and Fac*book.” (Ye-Won) (TL note at the end)
“And if you can help it, it’ll be even better if you upload pictures of you travelling to exotic locales or dining out with an expensive glass of wine on the side. To show the fool that you’re having the time of your life!” (Ye-Won)
“B-but why go so far??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Only then will you be able to show the b*stard that you’re living a wonderful life after breaking up with him! This is the matter of pride, you know?? Pride!” (Ye-Won)
Yi Ji-Hyuk fell into a pit of confusion just then.
What on earth was she going on about??
“Is there a reason to do something like that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The fool broke up with me so if his life is better than mine, that’s going to p*ss me off, right?” (Ye-Won)
“….I see.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It seemed that he didn’t really need to comprehend her. This whole thing wasn’t in his wheelhouse, anyhow.
“A class reunion is the same in that regard. Everyone’s pretty much on a level playing field back in school, but after entering society, a reunion becomes a battlefield to find out who’s made it in life and who didn’t.” (Ye-Won)
“Is that how reunions are like?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Obviously!! If not, why would you go out of your way to meet up with people with no connection to you anymore?” (Ye-Won)
Yi Ji-Hyuk could only lament here.
To think that a cultural event of such deep meaning as ‘class reunion’ would become so debased to this extent. If all the alumni associations in this country heard this, they would fall over themselves in sheer horror at her declaration.
“But you wanna go to one looking like that?” (Ye-Won)
“I won’t let that happen.” (mom)
“Definitely not!” (Ye-Won)
It was as if one person was saying all of these.
“That’s the fashion sense of a neighbourhood thug!” (Ye-Won)
“You aren’t even a jobless bum, so why? It’s not like your job description is a source of shame, or you don’t make enough money, now is it? Despite how well off you are, people will still diss you and look down on you if you walk around dressed like that. Besides, you don’t even have a car. Others will probably show up in theirs.” (mom)
“…..My friends are all still in university, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Even university students own cars in this day and age.” (mom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t endure the assault anymore.
“I-in that case, I’ll just put on the clothes I bought while shopping with Dah-Som earlier!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No can do.” (Ye-Won)
Yi Ye-Won unhesitantly cut him off.
“Why not??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hng. I admit that Dah-Som has a pretty good taste, but too bad, a class reunion isn’t like that.” (Ye-Won)
“……?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I can already tell what she chose for you. She probably chose the brands on the mid to low end of the scale. But, that simply won’t do.” (Ye-Won)
“Okay, so what then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You gotta go with ‘expensive’!! No matter who looks at you, they must go, ‘wow, those should cost an arm and a leg’!! That’s the kind of clothes you gotta wear! All top brands, and nothing else!” (Ye-Won)
“………..” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk was genuinely getting dizzy here.
“D-do I really need to do that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The reply this time came from his mother.
“My son.” (mom)
“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Honestly, I’m not a fan of such things, myself. They might be called famous brands or some such, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay so much money to buy clothes, now does it? I’m definitely not in favour of the idea.” (mom)
“You think so, too?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s complexion brightened instantly.
“N-ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Mother was apparently not finished with her words.
“I can’t stand the thought of other people looking down on my child.” (mom)
How should this be classified as, a mother’s deep love for her child or a simple case of vanity?
Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t help but ponder as he stood on this crossroad where both options seemed to bizarrely intertwine with each other.
“Get ready.” (mom)
“F-for what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“We’re going on a shopping trip.” (mom)
Maybe it’s a prudent idea to cancel the class reunion altogether?
“Did we own a car like that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk was taken by surprise at the black saloon car parked in front of the house.
“It’s your father’s car.” (mom)
“Dad was driving that??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“How do you think he commuted to his work until now??” (mom)
“Oh….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You father, he used to be somebody once upon a time.” (mom)
That prompted dad to cough loudly.
“Dear, nothing much has changed since then.” (dad)
“He even earned a good living back then, too.” (mom)
“Dear. I still earn a good living even now.” (dad)
“Well, let’s get going, anyway. By the way, have you seen your father?” (mom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk could only sigh after witnessing his father despairingly hold onto the bonnet of the car.
Oh, the man with his head lowered. I feel you…. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head and climbed into the car.
This must’ve been his first time after coming back home where the whole family travelled together in one vehicle like this.
‘Now this feels strange.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He recalled his father giving him a ride to school in the past.
Yi Ji-Hyuk, not wanting to go to school no matter what, and his mother dragging him by his ear and shoving him inside the car – and his father dropping him in front of his school.
‘It sure was a normal life, that.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
After monsters showed up in the world, so many things went out of kilter. Yi Ji-Hyuk used to think his family hadn’t changed all that much, but the truth was, they must’ve been affected in some way.
They parked the car in the department store’s parking lot and climbed outside.
“M-mm. I’ll be around here, so when you’re finished, give me a call.” (dad)
“Aren’t you going with us, dad?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Father shook his head at Yi Ji-Hyuk’s question.
“I hate shopping, son.” (dad)
Me too, dad. Me too.
Mom gave her permission with a slight nod, and dad quickly walked away in the opposite direction in cheery, airy steps.
Escaping like that just to save himself.
“And you, come this way.” (mom)
Mother’s hand roughly grabbing the scruff of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s neck was truly merciless. And her hand vividly emitted the experience and power of someone who had personally raised a half-insane son too out-there to be called mischievous, and a daughter who clearly had her priorities all mixed up.
“Urgh.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a lengthy groan as he got dragged inside the department store.
“So pretty.” (Ye-Won)
Mom was beaming brightly, while Ye-Won looked quite impressed.
“And they say that a man is half made up of clothes and hairstyle.” (mom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk normally resembled a neighbourhood thug when kitted out in his usual tracksuits. But when he was dressed up in formal suits, he came across as a completely new person.
“This is crazy uncomfortable, you know?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
However, Yi Ji-Hyuk was scowling pretty deeply right now.
Something just felt too tight here.
This sensation of something getting in the way when he raised his arms was seriously uncomfortable to him.
“Can’t I just buy new tracksuits or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You want me to make you run on tracks at home, then?” (mom)
“…….I’m sorry.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Mom proceeded to make him wear several different sets of suits, and just before he hit his absolute limit and passed out, she finally settled on one.
“How much did you say it was?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Of course, he didn’t hear the number wrong.
Considering Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hearing, there was no way he’d hear it wrong. No, the problem here was, the number did enter his ears, but his brain just didn’t want to register it.
“Dear customer, it’s three point three million Won.” (TL: Around $2770 USD)
“…………………….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smiled gently and turned around. And then, spoke to his mother in no uncertain terms by emphasizing each syllable.
“I am not buying!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Y-you don’t want to?” (mom)
Mom must’ve been shocked silly by the price as well, because she was willing to agree with Yi Ji-Hyuk here.
“M-mom, now that I think about it, this style is a bit too old fashioned for oppa to wear. I mean, this brand is for older uncles, right?” (Ye-Won)
“I-is that so?” (mom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk walked out of the store while shaking his head. Some random piece of clothing cost over three million Won? Just how frightening a place could these department stores be?
“Can we go home now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Not yet.” (mom)
Mom spoke resolutely.
“I don’t know about famous brands, but we must still buy you decent business suits!” (mom)
“She’s right, oppa. That was too expensive. I mean, you’re going to wear it only a couple of times before leaving it to rot inside your closet, right?” (Ye-Won)
“That’s true, but….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk narrowed his eyes.
Now that I think about it, didn’t you buy a five million Won handbag earlier? So, you wanna prance around with a bag worth five million, but can’t bear to spend three million on clothes for your own older brother?? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
It wasn’t as if he planned to buy them anyway, but he still got somewhat riled up nevertheless.
“Hahaha. Too expensive, right? Right?” (Ye-Won)
“Urgh.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head.
What was the point of having billions of Won in the bank account when you were still a commoner underneath?
Without some sort of a fundamental shift in one’s thought process, it seemed likely that he’d never get to wear anything outrageously expensive for the rest of his life.
After that, he had to endure more desperate battles to emerge with clothes, some new shirts, ties, and dress shoes. While panting laboriously, he sagged to the floor like a soggy napkin.
“L-let’s go home. Please, I beg you.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
This place was hell.
Why didn’t it have any windows, or even a single clock?
How could a building this size not have a single window built in? What about ventilation, for instance??
Yi Ji-Hyuk realised why people came down with panic disorder and began pleading with his family.
“Please, let’s just go hooooome!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hold your horses. After we look at these first!” (Ye-Won)
“Can’t you wait a minute?? Why are you whining so much like this?” (mom)
It was a fatal mistake to let them come to the ladies’ apparel section.
He shouldn’t have been fooled by their seemingly-innocent sounding suggestion of stopping here for a minute or two. He lacked experience so he got easily duped by the two females and their shrewd tactic, and as a consequence, had to wander around the same place for the past two hours straight.
“This is why we came here, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, of course not. We’re here to buy you clothes, oppa.” (Ye-Won)
“You’re mistaken, son.” (mom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk gritted his teeth.
So, this thing about class reunion or whatever was all just a ruse, wasn’t it!! How despicable!! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Just before he could roar out at the top of his lungs, though, a weird noise could be heard coming from the outside.
“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
What was that?
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head and headed in the direction of the noise, only to remember something.
“Ah. There are no windows here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Son of a….
< 355. There is no place for you during this operation, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk -5 > Fin.
(TL: Saewoo-kkang is a very popular shrimp-flavoured snack in South Korea. Make that insanely popular, since I can also get it all the way on the other side of the world, too. It’s famous due to its great taste and low price.)