Joining the Military (5)
Kang Jin-Ho's K2 rifle spat out a flame just as the target began rising up.
It had just started to rise when it was forced back.
'What a hassle…'
He knew he could hit his targets while standing up, so this exercise in assuming different positions to shoot depending on the distance puzzled him to no end.
Who would always stick to lying flat to shoot at distant enemies or stand up against nearby ones in actual combat situations anyway?
Training to find an optimal shooting posture to snipe targets regardless of distance seemed like a far wiser way to spend time for Kang Jin-Ho.
He felt that this training wasn't meant to enhance the combat capabilities of the recruits but was only done for the sake of training.
It felt as if the real purpose of this was to waste everyone's time inconveniently.
'Why train us in this manner, then make us do real shooting lying flat on the ground?'
The entirety of the morning training consisted of charging forward and then aiming from various awkward positions.
But the afternoon target practice involved the recruits entering trenches and fixing their rifles on the tripods to fire.
What on earth was that waste of energy all about?
Kang Jin-Ho came across several more unacceptable quirks of the Korean military so far, but he chose not to express dissatisfaction with them.
That decision was partly influenced by his father's advice.
Mostly though, he knew he would get nothing in return for trying to change the system.
Despite the rising dissatisfaction level in his mind, Kang Jin-Ho's body still moved rhythmically as the targets were replaced in front of him.
All of his shots were on target and not a bullet missed.
“Recruit No.100, full marks!”
Kang Jin-Ho fired and accurately hit his targets twenty times out of twenty.
After getting the full marks, he climbed out of the firing lane.
The instructor jotting down the records of the recruits looked up from his desk to glance at Kang Jin-Ho.
“You got full marks?”
The instructor smirked.
“That's not bad, recruit.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Kang Jin-Ho exited the firing range, inspected his rifle, then took a seat.
While waiting, he quietly stared at the firearm in his grip.
'Was this why?'
Countless martial experts existed in Zhongyuan, yet only a few seemed to be barely hanging on in the modern era.
Kang Jin-Ho couldn't figure out why until he finally got the chance to shoot some live ammo.
Their disappearance was simple: regular experts could not defend against firearms.
Of course, high-level experts should be able to defend against guns pretty easily.
But such experts could only be counted on two hands back when Kang Jin-Ho was still living in Zhongyuan.
Not only that, but guns also had a massive advantage with their speed.
One would need at least one year of training to be halfway good at using swords to kill people.
There was a proverb in gangho that spoke of one hundred days for a blade, one thousand days for a spear, and ten thousand days for a sword.
It meant that you would need a hundred days to master a knife while a thousand days were needed to become proficient with a spear.
And to become an expert swordsman, you had to train for ten thousand days.
Kang Jin-Ho had never believed in that maxim.
Even then, he still thought that a minimum of a hundred days was necessary to familiarize yourself with a weapon.
What about a gun, though?
It had been only half a day since Kang Jin-Ho began his training with a firearm.
Sure, he did get his rifle way before that and received a class on its internal structure.
But that knowledge was meant for the upkeep of the weapon and not to help him out in combat situations.
So the actual firearm training he received amounted to only half a day, and that was it…
Kang Jin-Ho only needed that time to become more or less proficient with the rifle.
It was a similar story with the other recruits, as well.
They couldn't hit their targets 100% of the time as Kang Jin-Ho had done, but most were able to get over 50% accuracy rating already.
'50% isn't even the most impressive part, though.'
An arrow would barely travel the range of 200 meters.
However, one would shoot arrows as a means to attack a large group of enemies indiscriminately, and using bows required an even longer time to train than most weapons.
Compared to that, a gun could turn even a regular person into a killer in just half a day.
In that sense, firearms were like unstoppable sorcery.
To fight barehanded and win against some random idiot with minimum firearm training, one would have to be a martial expert with over a decade of harsh training under their belt.
A decade of training versus just half a day of simple instructions? Was there any need to even weigh the two options?
The ones who needed combat personnel would freely hand out their firearms, and those firearms would easily crush the martial art experts on the battlefield.
When additional troops were in need, the generals would choose to stick guns in soldiers' hands instead of training them in martial arts.
And just like that, martial art experts must have gradually disappeared from this world in that manner.
'When thinking about it objectively, that sounds about right.
Kang Jin-Ho came up with a hypothesis on why martial arts were sidelined and why they eventually disappeared from society.
But there was still a problem with his theory.
Martial art experts definitely existed, yet that truth had been wiped out of the history books.
History had the tendency to remember everything, yet records of martial artists didn't seem to exist at all.
it was a different world altogether?'
If martial artists existed in this world before, their history should've been passed down to later generations.
However, Kang Jin-Ho failed to find any mentions of real-life martial artists in this era's historical literature.
In that case, it might not be so far-fetched to assume that the Zhongyuan he had experienced was in a completely different world.
Of course, that still didn't resolve all of his questions, though.
'There are still martial art experts in this era, after all.'
Assuming that Zhongyuan was in another world, how should he explain the presence of experts in the modern era? People that shouldn't exist did exist.
And those that existed long ago disappeared without a trace from history as if they never existed in the first place.
Two contradicting propositions relentlessly swam around in Kang Jin-Ho's mind, giving him a strong migraine.
He massaged his temples.
He already knew that agonizing over these questions would not get him anywhere close to actual answers.
A fellow recruit sitting next to Kang Jin-Ho cautiously asked, “Hey, man.
Did you really get full marks?”
“Yeah, I did.” Kang Jin-Ho glanced at him and nodded.
The recruit revealed an astonished look.
This recruit couldn't help but think…
'What the heck is up with this guy?'
His bunk was right next to Kang Jin-Ho's bunk, giving him a pretty good vantage point to observe the latter's daily routine.
His conclusion after a few days of observation? The human being named Kang Jin-Ho was an inexplicable creature beyond the scope of human understanding.
The boot camp operated according to the 'field manual.’ However, you would learn from experience that sticking to the field manual could make your life much more miserable.
As a matter of fact, one would start thinking that the field manual was never meant to be followed to the letter, but it simply existed to serve as a bare-minimum guideline that soldiers should at least pretend to uphold.
However, Kang Jin-Ho had always rigorously followed the field manual.
His combat boots were always in their shiniest state, while his clothes in the locker were so sharply pressed that one might cut themselves on their edges.
An assistant instructor tried to persuade Kang Jin-Ho to stop doing that since such a strict culture was a thing of the past.
But Kang Jin-Ho politely refused, saying that doing this helped him feel calm instead.
The recruit would get goosebumps simply by looking at those sharply-creased and perfectly-ironed clothes.
Every single personal item in Kang Jin-Ho's possession was placed exactly where the field manual dictated, and he also didn't seem to own a single unnecessary item.
Even his lifestyle was what you would expect…
At the end of the day's training, it would be normal for the soldiers to get some much-needed rest.
But Kang Jin-Ho was different.
He would simply sit cross-legged and close his eyes in meditation.
Other recruits tried to engage him in small talk, but he didn't really respond to their attempts.
If that was all he did, then well, it wouldn't be a problem, but…
Training alongside Kang Jin-Ho was probably one of the unluckiest things you could encounter in life.
This was especially true for recruit Number 101.
His turn would always come behind Kang Jin-Ho in training, and that experience was killing him inside every single day.
The irony here was that Recruit No.101's performance on average didn't really fall behind his peers.
It was just that Kang Jin-Ho was often training right next to him or before him, thus making No.101 look like an incompetent loser in the instructors’ eyes.
Imagine how bad it would look after hitting the target twelve times while another recruit right beside managed to hit the bullseye twenty times in a row.
Truth be told, No.101's performance was more than good enough to pass.
Yet there was nothing he could do about being unfairly compared to the Wunderkind No.100.
Recruit No.101, Ji Yeong-Hwa, asked Kang Jin-Ho one more time, “Hey, man.
Is this your second time in the boot camp or something?”
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you sometimes see guys get kicked out of basic training and have to re-enlist.
Is this really your first time?”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted softly.
“Yes, it's my first time.”
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head again.
“What would I gain by lying to you? Why won’t you believe me?”
'You should do believable things first before asking to be believed, dude!'
Ji Yeong-Hwa cried out in his head.
Kang Jin-Ho's combat level clearly didn't belong to that of a recruit but a seasoned veteran ready for an overseas deployment.
So why on earth did he insert himself into other people's tutorial sessions and torment them like this?!
Ji Yeong-Hwa quietly muttered, “We need a balance patch, pronto…”
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
“What does that mean?”
“No, it's nothing.” Ji Yeong-Hwa sighed grandly and stared at the distant skies above.
“This world is so unfair…”
Unfairness existed in video games, too, but developers tried their best to maintain the game's balance.
Yet this game of 'Military Grunt Quest' seemed to be broken and incredibly unfair.
At the very least, the game should avoid pitting one against a super-high-level player during the tutorial, no?
Ji Yeong-Hwa groaned in defeat.
'Fine, I can accept that.
The balance might be out of whack.
He could forgive this level of imbalance after imagining the sheer difficulty of getting the balance right for over six-point-something billion people on Earth.
In that case, at least the appearance patch should come as standard, no?!
What was anyone supposed to do when the high-level player with nonsensically OP stats also came equipped with devastating good looks? Ji Yeong-Hwa tried hard to soothe his bitter heart, then stared at Kang Jin-Ho observing the scenery before them without any expression on his face.
“This world is so unfair.”
Kang Jin-Ho glanced at him.
“It's nothing.” Ji Yeong-Hwa kicked the stock of his rifle a couple of times in frustration.
Unfortunately, an instructor passing by caught him doing that, and the poor recruit had to madly roll around in the dirt for a while.
One of the most puzzling things Kang Jin-Ho had discovered in the boot camp was getting time off during weekends.
Sure, a working week consisted of five days in the modern era, but the idea of fresh-faced recruits getting weekends off seemed rather unthinkable to Kang Jin-Ho.
This unexpected time off left him in deep despair.
Normally, the recruits would welcome the chance to get some rest with open arms.
Unfortunately, Kang Jin-Ho wasn’t what you'd call 'normal.’ For instance, the recruits would be happy about the prospect of resting their bodies that had suffered from a week of abuse.
However, Kang Jin-Ho didn't feel much fatigue.
Of course, his physique was different from his peers.
He would obviously not feel tired from such a soft training regime.
Even if he did feel some fatigue, his physique would automatically recover from it in no time at all.
Hence, the weekend was nothing more than days of boredom Kang Jin-Ho had to overcome.
He chose to sit down cross-legged and meditate to pass the time.
However, it seemed that some people found his actions quite the eyesore.
Kang Jin-Ho opened his eyes at a hostile voice addressing him.
It's the weekend, yet what the hell are you doing, man?”
Kang Jin-Ho frowned slightly at the recruit trying to pick a fight with him.
The recruit, with an impressively large frame, was glaring daggers at Kang Jin-Ho.
Scary-looking tattoos rippled on his skin beneath his vest.
The recruit's face seemed familiar.
He must be the guy using the next bunk.
Kang Jin-Ho never held much interest in his fellow recruits, yet he still remembered this guy's face.
It was all because of how often they ran into each other.
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head at the recruit emanating naked hostility in his way.
“What is it?”
The tattooed recruit growled.
“Stop squatting on your ass like that.
Can't you see that everyone is uncomfortable because of you?”
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes and stared at the recruit.
His wordless glare led to the recruit's expression crumpling in anger.
He suddenly began charging toward Kang Jin-Ho.
“H-Hey, man! What are you doing?”
The other recruits quickly rushed in to stop the tattooed man.
He angrily roared, “What am I doing?! Am I the only one who finds that punk an eyesore? Look at all the sh*t he does, guys! Being oblivious has limits, know what I mean?! How many times did we get screwed over by that punk? Ah?”
“Come on, man.
Being good at something isn't a crime, you know.”
“You think I'm mad because I suck?! No, I am not! Be like everyone else and do it in moderation, and we'll all be happy campers, but that bastard wants to save his hide at our expense and keeps showing off! Look at him now! We're all trying to relax, but he's f*cking meditating? Let me ask ya, how uncomfortable do you all feel with that bastard around you?!”
Only then did Kang Jin-Ho figure out what was going on here.
He uncrossed his legs and got up.
“It seems that I've inconvenienced you somehow.”
“Hey, did you all hear that punk? See how he talks as if he’s looking down on you? Hey, you dipsh*t, come here! Come over here, I dare you.”
Kang Jin-Ho's eyebrows quivered slightly.
He wanted to resolve this misunderstanding through dialogue if he could, but a barrage of insults was quickly evaporating that thought out of his mind.
“Hmm. What will you do if I go over there?” Kang Jin-Ho began walking over to the tattooed recruit.
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