Going on a Trip (2)
Kang Jin-Ho's expression hadn't really changed all that much.
However, Park Yu-Min still kept his distance while cautiously observing his friend.
He thought he could see some steam rising up from Kang Jin-Ho's head.
Kang Jin-Ho finally said something, “Nowadays…”
“Y-yeah?” Park Yu-Min sobered up, wondering if he was mistaken about Kang Jin-Ho's voice trembling ever so slightly.
people online can be quite potty-mouthed, no?” Kang Jin-Ho muttered, his voice was clearly strained.
That's right.” Park Yu-Min grimaced a little.
It wasn't just Kang Jin-Ho's voice.
His whole body was trembling as he stared at the expletives-laden chat window on the monitor.
Park Yu-Min sneaked closer and quickly closed the disabled chat window.
“A-ahahaha… W-well, it's better for your mental health to disable it while playing this game, Jin-Ho.”
“I see…” Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.
“However, this game is a bit…
“It's just not your cup of tea, that's all.
No point in persisting with it in that case, am I right?” Park Yu-Min tried to smile, but it was cramped.
“Yes, it isn't my kind of thing.” Kang Jin-Ho sagely shook his head and stared at the monitor.
He could see his dead character splayed tragically on the floor, and flames began shooting out of his eyes.
“However, a man is supposed to not lose in a fight!”
“…Jin-Ho, it's just a game, not a fight to the death.” Park Yu-Min unabashedly mouthed some words that a pro gamer shouldn't say.
Kang Jin-Ho slammed his fist on the table.
“I shall keep fighting until victory is mine!”
“Don't do that with my account!” Park Yu-Min cried out tragically, but Kang Jin-Ho was already too far gone.
He could see or hear nothing but the mission in front of his eyes.
Realizing how severe the situation had gotten, the freaked-out Park Yu-Min hurriedly created a new account under Kang Jin-Ho's name, forcing the latter to use that instead to connect to the game servers.
Park Yu-Min stayed nearby to provide helpful tips.
“…You're supposed to back out of there.”
“Jin-Ho, why are you going there?”
Park Yu-Min began to sweat more and more with every passing minute.
It seemed his friend's enlistment had turned the dude into an exemplary soldier! This was totally the case of 'No Retreat, No Surrender'!
Never backing out of a battle, no matter who their opponent was, no matter how large their size was! Such an undying, unyielding spirit! A soldier would have been lauded for having such a spirit, but as a gamer? Such quality would never be praised.
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
“By the way…”
“How did you turn on and off the chat window?”
Park Yu-Min clamped his mouth shut.
'It's better for you not to see the chat, Jin-Ho.'
Judging from the pings appearing in real-time on the map, Park Yu-Min could already guess what the chat window would be like.
Rather than witnessing the spectacle of a blameless computer monitor being smashed to bits, he figured ignorance was bliss.
'I shouldn't have told him…'
Park Yu-Min sighed deeply while watching Kang Jin-Ho furiously flick the mouse around as flames erupted from his eyes.
One only had to look at Kang Jin-Ho's current state to know the meaning of 'Deflated soul has left body' syndrome.
Indeed, he was blankly staring at the ceiling as if his soul had abandoned him.
“Ji-No ish ded?” A little girl tilted her head before waving her little hand in front of Kang Jin-Ho's face.
“N-no, Jin-Ho's still alive.” Park Yu-Min gently pulled the child away.
“But, he looks ded, tho?”
“…He's definitely alive.”
‘Despite looking dazed, he's still alive, kiddo.
Of course, it's not wrong to say he's half-dead at this point…’
The child kept tilting her head this way and that.
It surely was a cute sight to behold, but to the current Kang Jin-Ho, it…
It should be a saddening one instead.
Park Yu-Min gently ushered the girl away.
Please go play with your friends over there, okay?”
“Okeyy~.” The girl waddled away to the playroom.
Park Yu-Min silently tutted away.
Even a little kid had mistaken Kang Jin-Ho for a corpse, it was damning evidence of the latter’s grim situation.
“Hey, Jin-Ho? Can you hear me?”
Dude, get a hold of yourself.”
Kang Jin-Ho shuddered grandly.
Park Yu-Min tutted again, this time louder than a second ago.
“…It's just a game, you know? Why are you getting so worked up over it?”
That was when Kang Jin-Ho's eyes flew open.
A complete and utter defeat! After acquiring the title of Crimson Demon, Kang Jin-Ho had never allowed defeat to taint his honor.
Only twice before in his life did he feel the heartache of defeat—the first was when the top experts of both the orthodox and unorthodox sects ganged up on him to cause his second death.
And the other time was during his high school a few years ago when Park Yu-Min had taken him to the cleaners in Galaxy Craft.
However, this time…
This defeat held a special meaning.
He had lost every single match against a series of random opponents.
'This can't be happening…'
Kang Jin-Ho tried to analyze the cause of his defeat in minute detail.
His master once taught him that all humans had experienced defeat in their lives at least once.
And that defeat would determine whether you were the type to learn and move forward, or you were the type of person to simply give up and die.
When Kang Jin-Ho suddenly went quiet and began thinking about something, Park Yu-Min freaked out and tried to change the topic.
At this rate, they could end up witnessing the birth of a new pro gamer! Of course, Kang Jin-Ho debuting as a pro gamer could be an amusing prospect, but the timing didn't seem right.
“S-so, Jin-Ho! When are you planning to go back to university?”
“You know, going back to your studies.”
“Oh, that?” Kang Jin-Ho nodded slightly.
“I was thinking of going back during the second semester.”
“Huh? What will you be doing until then?” Park Yu-Min asked, silently praying that the answer wouldn't have anything to do with gaming.
“I was thinking of going to China for a little while.”
I want to find something there.”
“Hmm…” Park Yu-Min slowly nodded away.
He would have asked, “Why China?” if it had been any other person, but Kang Jin-Ho was different.
Kang Jin-Ho had never done anything without a good reason, so he should have one this time as well.
Park Yu-Min stopped nodding and asked, “Okay.
When are you departing, though?”
“Either tomorrow or the day after.”
“Huh? Wouldn't getting a passport take longer than that?”
“I have my ways.” Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders.
Hwang Jeong-Hu arched his brows.
Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
“Why do you want to go there? Especially so soon after your discharge? You wanna just up and fly off to another country so soon?”
“Well…” Kang Jin-Ho made a weird face, thinking that only a grandfather would say something like that to his wayward grandchild.
However, Hwang Jeong-Hu wasn't finished yet.
“Since you're done with your military service, you should be at home resting your weary soul while eating home-cooked meals or something.
So, why are you going to China?!”
“…Well, I have something I must find there.”
“Does that mean you must personally go there?”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly nodded, prompting a lengthy groan to escape Hwang Jeong-Hu's mouth.
He just couldn't figure out the behavioral pattern of this young man.
After easily enrolling into Jaegyeong Uni as if he was interested in joining Jaegyeong the Corporation, Kang Jin-Ho suddenly decided to enlist after only one semester.
Then, one day after his discharge, he now wanted to travel to China for some reason.
Why did it feel like Kang Jin-Ho never operated according to logic?
“Hmph. Well, if that's what you want.
However, I hope you're not thinking of starting something in China.” Hwang Jeong-Hu narrowed his eyes.
Kang Jin-Ho clamped his mouth shut.
“China isn't Korea, Jin-Ho.
We won't be able to cover you if something goes wrong on that side.
Not because we're not willing, of course.
No, it's because our influence means little in that place.”
“I'm well aware, Chairman.”
“Good to hear that.
However, I'm still not convinced if you are really aware…” Hwang Jeong-Hu groaned at length and shook his head helplessly.
The 'Kang Jin-Ho' he knew shouldn't go around causing trouble.
In all honesty, the incidents Kang Jin-Ho had been involved in so far hadn’t been started by him.
It would be more correct to say that trouble had a way of zeroing in on him instead.
'However, it's how he responds that's the problem here.'
Indeed, the problem was not with Kang Jin-Ho causing trouble since he wouldn't do that.
No, it was with his mindset of how he never tried to avoid trouble if it came knocking on his doorstep.
If trouble showed up, Kang Jin-Ho would use all his might to utterly crush it.
In Korea, Hwang Jeong-Hu could use his influence to mitigate the fallout from such actions.
However, doing the same in China was next to impossible.
Not to forget, China was comparatively less… 'sensible' than South Korea.
Who knew what could happen by carelessly unleashing Kang Jin-Ho in such a place?
“Jin-Ho, do you really have to go there?” Hwang Jeong-Hu asked one more time just to make sure.
“Mm…” Hwang Jeong-Hu rubbed his chin as the gears in his head spun quickly.
This young man was his lifeline.
Which meant Hwang Jeong-Hu should resort to every method at his disposal to ensure Kang Jin-Ho's safety.
“Very well, I understand.
It can't be helped if that's what you want.”
Hwang Jeong-Hu knew very well that Kang Jin-Ho's mind couldn't be changed once the latter was set on his ways.
Hwang Jeong-Hu leaned back against his chair.
What do you need my help with?”
“I'd be grateful if you could sort out my passport as well as the visa application.”
“Mm? That doesn't sound hard.” Hwang Jeong-Hu slowly nodded.
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head.
“Yes? Is there a problem?”
“Don't you think we need a sound pretext to expedite the issuing of your visa?”
“What era do you think this is? Even I can't create a passport or a visa out of thin air just because I feel like it.”
“…In that case, what should we do?”
Hwang Jeong-Hu smiled brightly.
“We need to create a suitable cover story for your trip to China, even as just paperwork, so…
How about making it look like you are joining Jaegyeong as an employee…”
“…I'm fine with waiting, Chairman.”
“Huh-uh. Listen until the end, will you? Since you're still a university student, formally hiring you is not feasible, but as an intern? That's a good cover, don't you think?”
“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho furrowed his brow.
“…I think that much will be fine.”
“Mmhm. Indeed, it'll be fine.” Hwang Jeong-Hu smiled in satisfaction.
He was happy about creating yet another thread connecting him to Kang Jin-Ho in this manner.
Kang Jin-Ho's personality meant that if someone forcibly put a collar around his neck, he would choose to rip off the throat of the one who had put it there rather than cut the rope and escape to somewhere safe.
The best way to approach people like that was to be patient and to gradually get closer and closer to them like fabric slowly being dyed.
“Only by doing so will we be able to ask for cooperation from the Chinese companies on friendly terms with Jaegyeong.
The Chinese don't really like the idea of another country's businessmen doing whatever they want in their country, so providing support through a third party should be the right call in this case,” Hwang Jeong-Hu explained patiently.
Kang Jin-Ho silently nodded away.
Whether Hwang Jeong-Hu was being truthful or simply trying to tie Kang Jin-Ho down—it didn't matter…
As long as he could go to China as soon as possible.
Hwang Jeong-Hu continued, “And…
Are you planning to go there alone?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Mm? Do you know how to speak Chinese? Like, Mandarin?”
“Of course…” Kang Jin-Ho coolly nodded.
“Really? May I remind you that many different tribes and cultures, therefore many different languages, co-exist and intermingle in China? In other words, simply knowing Mandarin or Cantonese won't always get you out of a tight spot.”
Kang Jin-Ho frowned a little.
Now that he thought about it, didn't he realize how much the modern Chinese language had evolved from its ancient counterpart while studying Hanmun during high school?
After observing Kang Jin-Ho's uncomfortable-looking expression, Hwang Jeong-Hu tutted loudly as if he had seen this coming a mile away.
“Tsk, tsk… I knew this might happen.
Don't worry, I'll have a trusty interpreter ready, so take that person along.”
Kang Jin-Ho mulled this offer for a second or two, then slowly nodded.
This seemed a bit unnecessary, but accepting Hwang Jeong-Hu's consideration wasn't such a bad idea.
“However, being accompanied by a stranger could get uncomfortable, Chairman.”
“No need for that kind of worry.”
“You think I haven't considered things like that? Of course, it's someone you know, so no need to be worried, Jin-Ho.”
In that case, I accept.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded again.
Hwang Jeong-Hu revealed a content smile.
Take care of yourself while in China, okay?”
Kang Jin-Ho was about to leave, but then stopped.
“By the way, Chairman…?”
“Mm? What's the matter?”
Kang Jin-Ho seemed like he had a question of some kind on his mind, but he eventually shook his head.
“No, it's nothing, Chairman.”
“Mm? That's a bit of a letdown.”
While the two men were finishing up their conversation in the chairman's office, the 'trusty interpreter' mentioned by Hwang Jeong-Hu was receiving his new orders in a different office.
“…C-China, sir?” Jo Gyu-Min asked, his voice noticeably trembling.
“Why China, out of the blue?”
Director Baek Yeong-Gi laughed loudly.
“Chairman wants you to accompany and assist Mister Kang Jin-Ho.
And he's planning to visit China, so we want you to follow him as an interpreter.”
Baek Yeong-Gi tilted his head in confusion.
“Mm? I see in your resume that you got the evaluation of first grade in both the Hanja and Chinese tests, though?”
“…Director, sir.” Jo Gyu-Min opened his mouth to say something that a salaryman should never say to his superior.
faked it a little.”
A strange silence descended upon the director's office.
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