Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t need long to realize that Park Yu-Min was telling the truth.
Honestly speaking, he didn ’t even need to carefully analyze what his friend had said to him.
Well, the orphanage kids were clinging to him with no thoughts of letting him go, after all!

A kid on each of his arms, two more stuck to each leg, then another two holding onto his back…
Kang Jin-Ho had to seriously wonder if he was the combination mecha, not the toys he had brought with him.
And there was another problem with this situation—the combined ’parts ’ clinging to his limbs had wills of their own and were acting according to their whims.

No matter how he thought about it, this combination was a failure.

Park Yu-Min had a cramped smile on his face as he asked, “You hungry? Wanna eat something?”

Kang Jin-Ho glanced back at his friend.
“…Do you want me to tell you what you have in common with my mother?”

“Nah, I think I already know.” Park Yu-Min shook his head.

“Anyway, I bought toys for the kids.
I couldn ’t figure out what to buy for the older kids, though.” Kang Jin-Ho gestured at the toys with his chin.

“Don ’t do this again in the future, Jin-Ho.”

“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly nodded after realizing how forceful Park Yu-Min sounded just then.

Park Yu-Min pressed on.
“And don ’t try to buy stuff for the older kids, either.
I only wanted you to stop by every now and then, you know? Buying stuff like this will only create expectations.
If you ’re thinking of doing this again, I ’m not gonna let you inside, Jin-Ho.”

As soon as Park Yu-Min put his foot down, the living room door behind him was flung wide open, and Cheol-Min quickly walked outside.

Now a bonafide university student, Cheol-Min smirked deeply and waded into this discussion.
“Yu-Min hyung! You no longer have the authority to stop Jin-Ho hyung, you know! We are already leeching off him anyway.
Keep complaining like that, though, and hangers-on like us will get kicked to the curbside faster than you can blink!”

“Urgh…” Park Yu-Min stumbled back and shuddered after he was hit by a logical bombardment.

Cheol-Min then addressed Kang Jin-Ho.
“Jin-Ho hyung, you can do whatever you want! Yu-Min hyung no longer holds the authority to decide anything in this place, you see!”

“Ohh!” Kang Jin-Ho nodded in understanding.

However, that only made Park Yu-Min ’s face turn red in a mixture of emotions.
“Is this mutiny?!”

Cheol-Min tutted.
“…Hyung, stop acting like a sergeant at the end of his military service and find your place to live, please! I can ’t figure out why a dude with money is still sticking around this place.
The aunties working here are finding you distracting, Yu-Min hyung.
They think it ’s weird to see a grown-ass man loitering around an orphanage.”

“W-what about you, then?!”

“…Of course I ’ll leave at some point, too.
So, I was wondering, hyung…
When you get a place of your own, can I stay with you for a while?”

“I ’d rather stay here instead of taking you with me!”

“Eiii!” Lee Cheol-Min pouted and turned toward the exit.

Kang Jin-Ho sneakily asked him before he got far, though.
“Can you help me with…
unloading these kids?”

“…Hyung, even I can ’t help you on that one.
You might as well give up now.
They ’ll leave you on their own once they get hungry.”

A quick look at bit.ly/3iBfjkV will leave you more fulfilled.

“Is that right?”

Lee Cheol-Min suddenly broke into a meaningful grin, then whispered into Kang Jin-Ho ’s ear.
“You should get clothes or phones for the older kids, hyung.
Or tablets…”

Got it.”

“Hey, Lee Cheol-Min! Stop that!” Park Yu-Min hurriedly yelled.

“Holy sh*t, Yu-Min hyung is pissed! I gotta run!” Lee Cheol-Min giggled and quickly dashed outside the building.

Park Yu-Min could only pant and huff unhappily.
“When will that kid ever grow up, I wonder?!”

Kang Jin-Ho silently chuckled.
This noisy, no, chaotic atmosphere in the orphanage was markedly different from the one that could be found at the Kang family residence.
However, it had something about it that put his mind at ease.
This was ironic, considering he had difficulty adjusting to the noisy, lively kids the first few times he came here.
But now, it all felt so natural to him.

“Uh-bba, uh-bba?”[1]

“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho looked at the girl clinging to his right arm and thought about patting her head only to realize his left arm was also currently sealed.

Park Yu-Min noticed the troubled look on his friend ’s face and chuckled before pacifying the clinging children.
“Guys, guys! You ’re troubling Jin-Ho, you know? It ’s time to let go, guys.”

However, the children displayed some hints of rebellion at his order.

Park Yu-Min narrowed his eyes a little and quietly threatened them.
“If Jin-Ho feels troubled, he might not come back here anymore, you know?”

His threat worked, and the children quickly released Kang Jin-Ho.
They all took a step back and wordlessly looked up at him, which roused this inexplicable sense of guilt in Kang Jin-Ho ’s heart.

As such, he cleared his throat and spoke in a sincere tone of voice.
“D-don ’t worry.
I ’ll keep coming back.”

Bright smiles bloomed on the children ’s faces, and they rushed back at him.
Thankfully, though, they didn ’t try to cling to him this time.

“Come, kids.
Let ’s go and play with our toys, okay? This way.
Come on, now.” Park Yu-Min expertly directed and ushered the kids into the playroom, then smirked back at Kang Jin-Ho while sighing in relief and wiping his forehead.
“Anyway, you didn ’t have to buy anything, Jin-Ho.
Just you showing up would have been fine, you know.”

If I showed up empty-handed, would the kids leave me alone this quickly?”

“Unlikely.” Park Yu-Min shrugged his shoulders, acknowledging that Kang Jin-Ho had made a wise decision this time.
“Were they expensive? Those toys, I mean.”

Kang Jin-Ho replied flatly, “No, not really.”

“…Is that so?” Park Yu-Min chuckled and nodded away.

Kang Jin-Ho was good at almost everything, but he still had a fatal flaw in the form of an out-of-whack financial sense.
In the past, he was a bit hesitant about receiving expensive gifts, but that side of him seemed to have gone away lately.

Park Yu-Min decided to probe a little further.
“But, they seemed expensive to me, though?”

“I ’m telling you, they were not.” Kang Jin-Ho grumbled a little unhappily.

But then, the front door suddenly opened, allowing the toy store manager to peek his head inside.
“Dear customer! We ’ve safely secured the stock inside the building ’s storage.
And I ’ll personally escort the remaining stock next week, sir!”

Kang Jin-Ho briefly nodded.
Thank you for your hard work.”

“Of course, sir! Well, then.” The toy store manager politely bowed his head, then exited the premise.

Park Yu-Min ’s expression stiffened at how polite that manager was, and he glanced at Kang Jin-Ho.
“So, not expensive, eh? Even though that uncle was so polite and all?”

Kang Jin-Ho coughed to clear his throat.
“It ’s hard to survive these days with bad customer service, after all.”

“Even then, wasn ’t that a bit overboard?”

“Nah, I bought a lot of stuff from him.
I ’m sure he ’s just grateful that I ’ve taken care of his unsold stock.”

“…Do you think I ’m an idiot?”

Kang Jin-Ho suddenly began pushing the discarded empty toy boxes to a corner while pretending as if he couldn’t hear anything.
“Hmm, where was the recycle bin, again?”


“So, it was an orphanage…” The toy store manager muttered as his eyes took in the Seongsim Orphanage ’s building.
He had been thinking that the scion of some wealthy family had a business with a kindergarten located in an affluent neighborhood and decided to buy all those expensive toys; however, that assumption turned out to be wrong.
The manager sighed and reflected on himself.
“…Yeah, this is how you ’re supposed to throw money around.”

Perhaps as a sign of being human, the manager subconsciously felt a little put off by the sight of some young punk throwing money around.
Now that he knew who those toys were meant for, though? He began to admonish himself for jumping to conclusions.

To that loaded young man, the cost of buying toys had to be just pocket change.
However, now that the manager thought about it, he couldn ’t remember the last time he tried to donate something.
Had he ever spared a couple of cents from his wages for a worthy cause before?

“…Maybe I should at least try to donate beans or something?” the manager mumbled while climbing into the truck.
He thought about how he should bring more than the remainder of the purchased toys the next time he was here.
Maybe snacks would be great?


Kang Jin-Ho spoke up in an exasperated voice, “We ’re only popping outside for a minute, Yu-Min.”

Park Yu-Min shook his head.

“It won ’t take long, I promise.”

“I said, no.”

“Why not? I ’ll be accompanying them all the way, so…”

“You know, I made a mistake asking you to stop by here, Jin-Ho.” Park Yu-Min groaned loudly.

After setting up camp in the orphanage, Kang Jin-Ho stayed put since early morning and didn ’t bother to leave despite not having anything to do around there.
He entertained the kids until they lost their interest in him, then messed around with his phone to pass the time, only to play with the kids again.
This cycle seemed to have repeated itself a few more times until the evening rolled in.
And he still didn ’t display any signs of leaving.

Only after the older kids came home from their long day at school did Kang Jin-Ho reveal his true intentions, though!

“I ’m taking you all to a department store,” said Kang Jin-Ho.
Since he had bought toys for the younger kids, he naturally wanted to buy something else for the older ones, too.

However, Park Yu-Min vehemently opposed it.
“Hey! These kids aren ’t charity cases, you know?! Why do you keep wanting to buy them stuff?!”

Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow and earnestly asked, “Isn ’t it fine for me to buy them something?”

“Stop trying to use your money for everything, and why don ’t you—” Park Yu-Min stopped himself from finishing that sentence.
He originally wanted to tell his friend to show his sincerity through the gifts of his heart rather than monetary means.
But saying that could push Kang Jin-Ho into constructing a jungle gym or something in the front yard of the orphanage instead! This dude was the type to do what he said he would do, after all!

“I ’m not trying to use my money that way.
I simply wanted to get them items that would help them out.” Kang Jin-Ho tried to speak in a calm tone.

“Regardless of what you say, it ’s still a no.” Park Yu-Min still flatly refused.

Kang Jin-Ho glanced to the floor and noticed all the older kids sitting wordlessly, unable to butt in.
They were obviously worried about hurting Park Yu-Min ’s feelings, but…

’It must feel like I ’m snatching away gifts out of their hands… ’

If Kang Jin-Ho hadn ’t said anything, it wouldn ’t have mattered.
However, since he had already said it, he had to take action.
He resolved himself and took a stand.
“Even if it ’s you, you cannot stop me.”

“Even if it ’s you, Jin-Ho, you cannot get past me.”

The glares of Kang Jin-Ho and Park Yu-Min collided midair.
For the first time ever since their original encounter all those years ago, these two stopped maintaining a peaceful united front and decided to wage war.

“In that case, it can ’t be helped,” said Kang Jin-Ho.

“Mm?” Park Yu-Min ’s puzzled eyes locked on his friend.
Kang Jin-Ho wasn ’t the type to give up this easily, so what was going on?

“I ’m challenging you, Yu-Min.”

“…Challenging me?”

The loser will stop talking about this.
The winner takes all.”

“…And what will we be competing in?” Park Yu-Min suspiciously asked.
He was no dummy, of course.
One should only accept a challenge after knowing the method of the competition itself.
Even if Kang Jin-Ho was basically an omnipotent freak of nature, there were still some things Park Yu-Min felt reasonably confident in winning against his friend.
Such as Galaxy Craft or rock-paper-scissors!

Kang Jin-Ho grinned.
“That game from yesterday.”


Park Yu-Min suddenly shuddered.
“…Let ’s do it.”

His pride was at stake here.
Park Yu-Min was currently a challenger for a spot in the top rankings and was already ranked in the top 50 among the Korean players.
If Park Yu-Min hadn ’t tried to master and devoted all of his time to one character, his stupendous skills would have already guaranteed him a spot in the top ten.
But now, a measly diamond tier actually dared to throw a gauntlet in his direction!

“The match type?”

“One-on-one in mid-lane,” said Kang Jin-Ho right away.

The two men stared at each other and slowly nodded.
The pride of a man was at stake in this match.

Park Yu-Min issued an order without taking his eyes off his challenger.
“Go and set up two computers in the boys ’ room.”

“Yes, hyung!”

The boys sensed that a battle between men was about to take place, so they hurriedly rushed inside the boys ’ room to set up the computers.

Kang Jin-Ho, I hope you ’re not thinking of going back on your words,” Park Yu-Min cackled ominously.

“You better not cry after losing, Yu-Min.”

You can ’t win against me in games.”

“I said, you better not cry.”

Sparks shooting out from their eyes clashed in the air.
Park Yu-Min inwardly resolved himself to mercilessly break Kang Jin-Ho ’s spirit in half for impudently challenging him.

’Wait a sec.
Isn ’t this a bit… ’

There was no getting away from the fact that Kang Jin-Ho was only a diamond-tier player.
However, he achieved that simply by charging ahead blindly at the expense of tactics or strategies.
And that knowledge was making Park Yu-Min a little uncomfortable.

’Since it ’s a 1v1, there are no teams involved here…! ’

Recalling the sight of Kang Jin-Ho utterly slaughtering the opposing team ’s laners like some kind of a berserk monster began to make Park Yu-Min feel nervous.

“Hyung, we ’re done here!”

Park Yu-Min glanced at the boys.
All of you, out.
For the sake of fair competition, I will not allow anyone to drop hints while we ’re playing.
And none of you is allowed to spectate, either! You ’ll distract us that way.”

“Got it.”

Kang Jin-Ho and Park Yu-Min glared murderously at each other while stepping inside the room, then the door closed shut behind them.
And that brought in a bout of heavy silence into the living area.

One of the boys cautiously piped up after a while.
“You think they have started already?”

Don ’t get close to the door, though.
Yu-Min hyung might bite our heads off.”


About thirty minutes after the two men had disappeared into the room…


The door was roughly yanked open, and Kang Jin-Ho emerged outside.
His forehead was caked in thick sweat, a sure sign of how intense the battle was.

The kids guessed how the battle had unfolded from Kang Jin-Ho ’s stiff expression and could only sigh in disappointment.

Kang Jin-Ho scanned them and quietly called out.

“…Yes, hyung?”

“Call for enough taxis for everyone!”

A loud cheering exploded from the kids the moment those words left Kang Jin-Ho ’s lips.
It was as if he had won a pro-gamer tournament!

Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t stop there and continued with a weighty voice, “We are all going to a department store!”

His expression was as solemn and determined as that of Yi Seong-Gye after choosing the path of ’Wihwado Retreat ’.

The kids screamed and yelled in happiness while changing into their outerwear.
Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded at this sight, then glanced behind him and murmured, “You were a worthy opponent, Yu-Min.
Now, get some rest.”

Park Yu-Min was slumped on his chair, his soulless face staring blankly at the monitor.
He muttered to no one in particular in a voice filled with sorrow.
“That crazy son of a…”

The man who once declared that even if he lost in a video game—he would never taste defeat in a battle triumphantly strode away from the doorway.


For the first time in ages, Jo Gyu-Min was leaving work on time.

“The matter with the opening the business has been more or less taken care of, so…”

The store ’s interior was more or less finished already.
Jo Gyu-Min started whistling leisurely while getting a feeling that the number of things that needed his attention had dropped off a cliff lately.

“Well, then.
Should I catch a movie today?” Jo Gyu-Min grinned as he stared at a free movie ticket in his grip.
It was supposed to expire later today, and as luck would have it, he got off work rather early.

The experience of catching a movie alone had this unexplainable charm.
And no, Jo Gyu-Min wasn ’t going to the cinema alone because he had no significant other in his life to watch a movie together—that was definitely not!

As he stepped into the corridor, his phone began to buzz loudly.

“Mm?” Jo Gyu-Min ’s expression stiffened ever so slightly after confirming Kang Jin-Ho ’s name on the phone ’s screen.
“…It can ’t be, right?”

‘Dear Lord, let it not be something bad.

“…Hello?” Jo Gyu-Min cautiously answered the phone while forcing a smile on his face.
“I ’m sorry?”

His expression quickly morphed to resemble Kim Gu ’s after his country was taken away from its people.[3]

“The department store is going to close for the night?” Jo Gyu-Min blinked his eyes in stupefaction.

‘Look at the time, man! Of course, it ’ll close for the day!’

“Y-you want to extend what? B-but that might be diffi—sorry? You ’re with the kids from Seongsim?” Jo Gyu-Min chuckled helplessly, then glanced at the movie ticket.
He crumpled it, then replied with a genuine smiling face this time, “Of course, it ’s possible, Mister Jin-Ho.
If not, I ’ll make it happen!”

This is supposed to be “Oppa, oppa.” ☜

Yi Seong-Gye, known as Taejo of Joseon, was a general of the Kingdom of Goryeo and the first king of Joseon.
The ’Wihwado Retreat ’ refers to a historical event that led to the eventual downfall of the Goryeo dynasty.

Kim Gu was the last President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, a government-in-exile that opposed the Japanese Occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

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