Chapter 41 — First Practical (1)
Kang Joon only asked about the parts that overlapped with work, and Seol Yeong only asked about the ethical parts. Digging up the past wasn’t something necessary, and it wasn’t a good thing either.
Kang Joon didn’t talk about what he wanted to do, why he made a Hunter team and was doing manager work. Because Seol Yeong didn’t expect an answer in return, she didn’t even ask about it.
Then, Kang Joon gazed at Seol Yeong as if it had suddenly occurred to him.
“I drank champagne, isn’t this drunk driving?”
“……Let’s hope what we drank was non-alcoholic.”
“It’s not too late to call a driver ….”
At Kang Joon’s meek attitude, Seol Yeong laughed as if struck by how ridiculous it was.
“A person that even cuts off human arms with ease, but you’re afraid of drunk driving crackdowns?
At most, it wasn’t even one glass but about two sips of champagne that he drank. Even if caught by the DUI testing, the possibility that they would just let them go was large.
“I should at least a refresh my breath.”
Despite the fact that it wasn’t measured by how his breath smelled, Kang Joon stopped the car in front of a convenience store and rushed in. Seol Yeong found such a pedestrian side of Kang Joon quite unfamiliar.
“Really…. such a strange person.”
He was a GR participant and a member of an anonymous Hunter organization, of which was now no longer a part of. No matter how much she thought about it, the image of him going in to buy a hangover drink for fear of a drunk driving crackdown after two sips of champagne didn’t match up at all.
It could really all be lies. It could be that everything that her brother had said was to set the competent manager up, and that Kang Joon was diligently picking up and serving up lies in order to play along. Watching Kang Joon who was hurriedly running through the rain, Seol Yeong for some reason couldn’t stop laughing.
“Are you an idiot? You could come over with the force field turned on.”
If Kang Joon activated the force field of the shield bracelet he always wore around, something like rain droplets, he could block completely. The clothes he painstakingly bought were soaked in that short while.
“I live with the mindset that my life span shrinks by ten minutes each time I turn it on.”
Kang Joon downed the hangover drink in one go.
Since a hunting device consumed energy every time it was activated, it was true that money was leaking out every time he used it. He should be viewed as the ultimate Hunter, but it was also strange that he was such a penny-pincher. Who knew whether it really had an effect or not, but Kang Joon just started driving.
After they arrived at Seol Yeong’s officetel parking lot, she calmly said to Kang Joon before she got off.
“The clothes, I’ll wash them for you, so take them off and leave them here.”
Seol Yeong got out of the car saying this.
“What are you doing?”
Seol Yeong watched Kang Joon who was sitting in the driver’s seat dazedly and knocked on the car window.
“Come on out.”
At those words that somehow seemed like a command, Kang Joon got out of the car with a muddled expression. Because Kang Joon felt a somewhat chilling sensation, he followed behind Seol Yeong cautiously. Watching Kang Joon’s dawdling movements, Seol Yeong heaved a sigh.
“See here, Kang Joon-ssi.”
“Do you think I bite or something?”
cried Kang Joon in his mind. As if she knew everything that he was thinking, Seol Yeong grumbled as she narrowed her brow.
“Kid’s aren’t my type, ok?”
“I’m not a kid, though.”
“In my eyes, you might as well be, so just follow me already.”
Seol Yeong exerted charisma from a peculiar place, and Kang Joon soon entered Seol Yeong’s officetel.
“But Kang Joon-ssi.”
“So older women aren’t your type?”
“See how you’re all panicking. This is why I’m saying you’re a child.”
Watching Kang Joon who was genuinely freaking out, Seol Yeong snickered as if it was amusing. Whatever one said, Kang Joon was still in his twenties, and Seol Yeong had unequivocally lived longer than him. They lived in a bleak world above all else, so however much he had been through the wringer, Seol Yeong was a step ahead in various aspects. Seol Yeong brought some loose-fitting clothes and laid them out before the bathroom.
“Wash up and come out.”
Kang Joon went into the bathroom as if being hustled and stood stupidly as if entranced by something. When he snapped out of it, to think he was in the company president’s officetel, in the bathroom holding a change of clothes and a towel.
‘The world really is chock-full of the unexpected.’
“Want me to wash your back or something?”
“N-no! It’s fine!”
Seol Yeong shouted while changing her clothes in the master bedroom, and Kang Joon replied urgently.
‘Even if one enters a tiger’s lair, one survives if they get their head on straight!’
Kang Joon had currently entered the tiger’s mouth. If he even for a moment, he might be eaten up. Kang Joon saw that there was even a toothbrush in the toiletries that Seol Yeong had handed him, and his complexion became all the more pale.
He just had to wash his body, but telling him to brush his teeth as well.
Why is she telling him to brush his teeth. Kang Joon mulled it over for a second, but soon came to a conclusion.
‘To make space for personal feelings at work is a stupid thing to do.’
In many ways, nothing good would come of it. Taking on the attitude that he would refuse sharply like a knife in case he saw some ominous movements, Kang Joon came out after washing up half-heartedly. The clothes Seol Yeong had given him were a white cotton T-shirt and black sweatpants. Meanwhile, Seol Yeong had also changed into comfortable clothes herself. Seol Yeong brought the clothes Kang Joon had neatly folded up in the bathroom and came out.
“Those clothes right now, wash and return them later. Now go. I’m a bit tired.”
Saying this, Seol Yeong naturally let Kang Joon out of the house.
“You worked hard today, too.”
Although he hadn’t been hoping for anything, at the feeling of being somehow betrayed, Kang Joon stood there blankly. Feeling keenly the sensation of being beguiled by a fox, Kang Joon trudged toward the elevator.
Kang Joon didn’t know what it was, but Seol Yeong tested Kang Joon using a very small tool.
She didn’t ask him anything, and she didn’t directly say anything. Seol Yeong walked into the shower room and smiled enigmatically looking at the toothbrush that Kang Joon had unwrapped but not used.
In the case that Kang Joon had used the toothbrush, her attitude would have changed. To use the toothbrush was to be prepared for a situation that called for kissing, and if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have used it. Seol Yeong had seen the unused toothbrush as she entered the bathroom, and guessing Kang Joon’s intentions, she had let him out to not make him feel uncomfortable.
Not creating a situation where words of rejection had to be said in the first place was the optimal way not to give each other stress or harm. When people aged, although one couldn’t say for sure, they got wiser in their own way.
In general, people came to realize the ways not to receive or inflict harm. Before coming up to her house, it was just playing around, but handing over a toothbrush was her showing sincerity in her own way.
And it seemed that Kang Joon had given a reply that wasn’t a reply to that sincerity. As an end result, a burdensome situation hadn’t been created, so there was nothing to lose on each side.
Kang Joon would have resolved to something as he ripped the packaging of the toothbrush, and he would have resolved to another thing as he eventually decided not brush his teeth.
When she imagined the sight of Kang Joon pondering over whether or not to brush his teeth, laughter inadvertently came out of her.
“He’s really a child, after all.”
After washing up, Seol Yeong laid on the bed in comfortable clothes.
The rain was still pouring violently,
And she felt the rainy night was a bit lonely.
A month of training at the Battle Station, and the three of them had now cleared C-rank Hard Mode. Considering that they were currently a Hunter team of level F, it was definitely an outstanding achievement. Seo Aran was not, as Kang Joon said, proficient, but was gradually becoming accustomed to the thing called teamwork, and Ji Won became proficient in using his own strength.
More remarkable than anything was Choi Ji Na’s growth.
Going beyond slowing down the enemy troops with psychic powers, Choi Ji Na climbed to the level of knocking them over or inflicting blows. With this level, it seemed there wouldn’t be any problem even if they were immediately deployed in the field.
It had been quite a while since they advanced to the level of on standby for immediate field deployment. But there was one important thing.
There were no jobs.
Even if there were three caskets full of beads, it had no use unless it was at least threaded through some rope, but in this saturated state of the Hunter industry, even if there were three cities full of Hunters, they were resting because there were no jurisdictions . Currently their members were undergoing repeated training until they perfectly mastered C-rank Hard Mode, and Kang Joon was sitting in the break room mulling over whether there was something he himself could do.
“Heyyy, Kang Joon-ssi. It’s been a while.”
“Ah, Team leader Choi. It has been a while.”
It was Team leader Choi Jeong Woon from CheongMok Agency. With a smiling attitude, he casually sat in front of Kang Joon.
“Looks like you’re going through simulations?”
“Yes, well, I guess so. And Team leader?”
“We also have about three teams, so instead of letting them laze around, I brought them so they wouldn’t lose their edge.”
Choi Jeong Woon was in charge of three Hunter teams, and those three teams each had a manager assigned to them. Therefore, Choi Jeong Woon was in the position of a higher rank that didn’t require direct management.
“More than that, it’s also that we came along because I heard Kang Joon-ssi was here.
That Choi Kang Joon came to the Battle Station everyday with his team members wasn’t even scarce information. He handed him a box of drinks and a handsomely wrapped present box. Seeing as the size was big, it was approximately the shape of meat.
“About the case from last time. I couldn’t give you proper thanks.”
“N-no, well…. it’s fine. Gifting something like this…. It would be more than enough over the phone.”
“No no, it might be materialistic, but giving thanks like this is better. It’s more comfortable for me. Kang Joon-ssi should also keep that in mind.”
During the Ji Won search mission, Kang Joon credited CheongMok Agency’s Team leader Choi Jeong Woon as the provider of decisive proof when he was interrogated by the military. He didn’t talk about the Acula case in detail, but through this, Hero Management received the President’s acknowledgement, and CheongMok Agency received a plaque of appreciation. Through this, CheongMok Agency government credibility was also increased, so they had accomplished quite an achievement.
What he handed him was juice, and a highest-grade Hanwoo beef set . Setting aside how expensive it was, the amount also seemed like a lot.
“We received a lot of bonuses, so I won’t feel comfortable if I don’t do at least this much.”
Team leader Choi Jeong Woon didn’t dig deeper on how Kang Joon had figured something out just by looking at a photo. He, too, knew at least that Kang Joon wasn’t an ordinary manager, and it seemed like he had selected the side of maintaining friendly relations instead of extorting something from him.
In many ways, Kang Joon, too, wouldn’t have been able to capture Ji Won right away if not for Team leader Choi’s information, so it was no different from helping a neighbor out .
“Speaking of which, didn’t they give Hero Management something like a separate jurisdiction?”
“As expected, probably since there’s only one Hunter team, it seemed they were a bit skeptical, separately from the degree of government credibility.”
Hero Management performed a clear service to the country, but because there was only a single Hunter team, the government was also hesitating on granting jurisdiction. The fact that it was a single team itself wasn’t a problem; the fact that the registered team rank was an F was the problem.
Their rank was low because they had no achievements, but to raise their rank, they needed to rack up achievements. Thanks to this ironic situation, they were unable to do this or that.
This thing called the jurisdiction system was like tenant farming. The tenant farming rights of the giant field called Korea was distributed to each management company. Then there were cases where, in turn, the management companies with the tenant farming rights traded them, and there were also cases of delegating the tenant rights once again to other tenant farmers.
If one went deeper, the management market was messy to the extent of being vicious; therefore, there were management companies without a single actually supplementary Hunter that only delegated jurisdiction and collected the fees. There were management companies that, in practice, had not a single Hunter under their possession.
Like the landlords of the past, they were scoundrels that despite not having a single farming tool at home, took half the profit. If it was thought of that way, the current condition was nothing new.
Mainly entrepreneurs holding onto strong connections to government departments did such dirty work.
CheongMok Agency was also managing a few districts, but it seemed their profit was in many ways unclear. Watching Kang Joon who was wracking his brains, Team leader Choi said as if feeling sorry for him.
“Kang Joon-ssi, if there really is no other way, try asking President Seol to apply for dispatch to North Korea.”
“Yeah, it’s dangerous, but they’re always lacking manpower over there.”
“We also decided to send about two teams as a test. If we settle properly, we’re also thinking of going all in, go all out on the North Korean side.”
Even during the monster situation 20 years ago, North Korea didn’t properly receive international aid because issues of sanctions overlapped. Therefore, they suffered devastating damage, and due to this, they gave up numerous rights such as giving up nuclear weapons, etc. and received aid from international organizations.
“They do take half in the first place without asking or arguing, but all the energy crystals collected by North Korean dispatch teams are tax-free.”
The North Korean government took 50% of the energy crystals of the deployed Hunter teams no matter what. It was mayhem no different from a bombing, but due to this, the country of dispatch itself didn’t demand taxes or other fees from the involved Hunter teams. Of course, they didn’t have the justification to collect taxes either.
Anyways, if a Hunter team brought in energy crystals from abroad, from the government’s position, there wasn’t anything to object about, so a North Korean dispatch permit wasn’t something so hard to get.
Normally it was natural not to spare a glance at something like a 5:5 stipulation, but on many levels there were a lot of places that needed countermeasures taken in North Korea, and it was utter chaos  with even field monsters roaming around. To the degree that the safe zones themselves were separately built, if they had the skills, even after giving up half, they could rake in the crystals.
Therefore, it was the place that freelance Hunter teams or management companies aiming for a thousand gold in one go  thought of as the ultimate means.
North Korea was still weathering through with the socialist system, but it was a paradoxical situation where they were ironically surviving due to capitalism.
“It’s a bit bothersome, true, we have to return all the equipment there, to the Armed Forces Command Department or whatever and pick it up every time a situation arises. And they’re really picky about settling the crystals as well, but…. Well, if there’s really no other way, I’m just saying you should think about it.”
“Yes, thank you.”
The Republic of Korea was lax about the Hunters arming themselves. More than crime committed by humans on humans, it was the government’s judgement to prioritize the threat of monsters. Of course the crime rate of Hunting devices being used did rise by that much, but thanks to the substantial threat of the monsters, requests to amend the weapons laws were, as of the present, almost non-existent.
Kang Joon walking around with an Aether sword secured at his thigh like it was nothing was also thanks to the laws regarding Aether equipment use. In many ways, it was indeed an age where a fist was closer than the law.
However, in the case of North Korea, the domestic Hunters were accepting because they had no choice, but they were assuming they were a potential threat.
“Ah, looks like it’s already time. Then work hard. Last time I was really grateful!”
“Ah, Team leader Choi. I’ll be sure to enjoy it. Thank you.”
As if the station use time was up, Team leader Choi went off somewhere in a rush, and Kang Joon expressed a subtle smile as he watched Team leader Choi get farther away. It seemed certain that he was in many ways a good person. Actually, he wasn’t kind to such a great extent, but in today’s world, there were too many people that didn’t even maintain that amount of simple manners.
After parting with Team leader Choi,
[It’s not possible.]
As soon as he asked probingly about dispatchment to North Korea, Seol Yeong’s answer was like a knife.
[It’s too dangerous over there. Kang Joon-ssi, have you never been to North Korea?]
“I couldn’t go because the entry procedures were too meticulous.”
As they were basically the same as a multinational freelancer team, Kang Joon had never been to North Korea while affiliated with Union. In many ways, Kang Joon was also not Superman, so what he didn’t know, he didn’t.
According to Union’s judgement, North Korea wasn’t such a particularly vulnerable area.
[Over there, no less than ten teams go missing each year. Setting aside the problem of death, the problem is that they go missing.]
[Yes, the people that keel over are also a problem, but there’s something wrong about Hunter teams regularly going missing. I also understand your thoughts, and I think of this as really regretful, but even so, North Korea isn’t possible.]
“Hmm…. I guess so.”
[Yes, more than anything, the current Hunter team, on many levels, are beginners. We can’t send those beginners onto the battlefield.]
It was an attitude of saying that even setting aside the other problems, the safety of the Hunter team was the first and foremost the top priority. It was true that there were many strange rumors going around about dispatchment to North Korea. Kang Joon also wasn’t of an attitude that they absolutely had to go to North Korea, so he hung up and quietly fell into thought.
‘Hunter teams going missing on the regular….’
But Kang Joon didn’t ponder any further than that. He had already washed his hands of business regarding Union, and those sorts of problems occurred countless times on the face of the earth. If something was fishy, they could not go and be done with it. There was no need to go so far and open that can of worms . It was now about time for the day to start coming to an end, and everybody exited the Battle Room positively exhausted .
“You worked hard. Let’s return.”
Choi Ji Na was worn out and let out a lagging voice, Ji Won replied bravely even while being tired, and Seo Aran slightly nodded her head. While holding up and displaying the Hanwoo beef set that he was gifted, Kang Joon grinned.
“Today we’ll have A grade Hanwoo.”
The one who was genuinely surprised and exclaimed in amazement was none other than Seo Aran. As if even she herself didn’t think that she would make such a loud noise, her face lit up bright red, and she lowered her head. Kang Joon snickered because it was a cute sight.
“Do you like meat dishes?”
Aran answered in a voice as tiny as a mosquito with her head lowered.
When he thought about it, Aran didn’t even eat things like vegetables that much.
In the first place, the team members weren’t Hunters that adhered to the ‘money hunter’ concept. Aran was originally a Templar candidate who had no desire for money, Choi Ji Na was the magical girl of justice, and Ji Won was the victim of Mutant experiments, so no one had particular complaints.
If they were a professional Hunter team, they would be a total nuisance, nagging at the manager and the company by asking about when they would be able to go out in the field and collect energy crystals.
On many levels, even if he hadn’t set out to do so, Kang Joon was more than satisfied with these team members being gathered together. On many levels, they were talents optimized for Hero Management. As he was driving, Kang Joon braked suddenly due to the car in front coming to an abrupt halt.
“What the hell?”
The dazed passengers all snapped out of it, and Kang Joon saw the emergency siren on the building’s rooftop emit a threatening red light. In front of them, it was already filled to the brim with cars.
[Warning, in the vicinity of the Hyundai Market Entrance intersection, currently a C-rank Rapid Core situation is predicted to take place.]
At those words, Kang Joon’s expression hardened into ice.
 it’s a rly common thing in Korea for businessmen or party goers or whatever to call up a proxy driver to drive their car for them because they’re drunk, it’s called daeriwoonjun <대리운전>.
 a saying that was changed a bit from the original that means nothing is complete/useful unless put together in final shape <구슬이 서말이라도 꿰어야 보배다.> literally meaning beads only become a treasure when strung together.
 Hanwoo <한우> beef is raised in Korea and regarded as the finest and rly precious, so his gift is actually pretty luxurious.
 sangboosangjo <상부상조> is a four letter idiom from Chinese characters, literally meaning: each other, to help, each other, to help.
 substituted ‘utter chaos’ for abigyuhwan <아비규환> which is yet another four letter idiom thing from originally Chinese characters meaning either this Buddhist hell or many ppl in miserable situations crying out in despair.
 ilhwakcheongeum <일확천금> is– u guessed it! another four letter idiom, this time I just translated it literally, just means instant/sudden success.
 substituted equivalent english idiom for <긁어서 부스럼 만들다> meaning itching and making.
 <녹초가 되다> is an idiom for totally exhausted, literally means turn into melted candle.
JEN: We’re finally getting back to the action next chapter!! deez chappies so long tho i cri, so much research and footnotes too