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Chapter 25: Chapter 25: Korean Father (2)

"A choice will be offered to Player Kim Hyukjin."

I already knew what the Seoul Station Dungeon's first clear reward was.

'Number one is gold.'

Actual wealth would be given. I even knew exactly how much it was in grams. It was a regular exam question.

'3.75 kg.'

In grams, that was a whopping 3,750. I knew why it was that number, too. That number was necessary in story dungeons that progressed the story, not just one-time dungeons. It would be used later.

'But right now, it's meaningless to me.'

Of course, it was true that my heart was racing. Nearly 4 kg of gold had a value of 200 million won, or approximately $200k.

As was befitting of a 'number' related to a later scenario, Senia personally read out the number.

"You can acquire a pouch filled with 3.75 kg of gold."

A hologram appeared before my eyes. It was visible only to me. I was given a choice, to take the gold or not. An ordinary person would probably choose the gold without looking back.

'200 million won.'

It was a quantity I'd never had in my life—no, never even seen. On the TV or the Internet, everyone and their mother was a wealthy person with millions and owned buildings worth hundreds of millions. But me? Much less millions, I didn't even have a few thousand. For me, even a few dollars was money I was loath to part with.

'But where this gold came from is uncertain.'

The 'System' hadn't properly taken root in society yet. If someone came out with a lump of gold of uncertain origin they picked up somewhere, it would be difficult to properly prove its worth.

'It would already be a relief if it didn't get taken by the state.'

The Players Association would be established, and the big corporations would start dipping their feet into the Player world with Sungshin at their lead. After that, related legislation would start to be enacted.

In the early stages of Playing, as unreasonable as it was, many Players were forced to donate their rewards to the state, as 'taxes'.

'What was it again? 'Goods that came from an unknown world are dangerous, so they will be confiscated' or something like that.'

The country seized the pouch, armed with such ridiculous nonsense and even justifying themselves by calling it 'taxes'. It was complete hogwash according to the common sense of ten years later, but that was how it was right now, during the early stage of Playing.

'So the gold is a no-go.'

It was an attractive reward, but I suppressed my greed.

"And the other choice?"

"The other choice is a Recovery Elixir."

Another hologram appeared.

[Choose a reward]

Pouch of Gold (3.75 kg gold)

Recovery Elixir

Type A – ?

Type B – ?

Type C – ?

It was exactly as I remembered. Originally, Seo Joohwan was the person who got this dungeon's first reward, but he was no longer standing in this position.

'The future has changed.'

It had changed, but many things had also stayed the same. The rewards were the same. If that was the case, then my decision was also set.

"I choose the type B Recovery Elixir."

"There is no knowing what kind of item the type B Recovery Elixir is. If your luck is bad, it could be something truly useless. I do not recommend it at all."

It was basically a gacha. Any 'healing medication' that fell within the 'recovery' category could come out. Worst case, it could even be medication to treat athlete's foot or cold medicine.

"I…"

"Will you change your choice?"

But I already knew what the type B Recovery Elixir marked as '?' was.

"Still choose type B."

[The 'Nameless Observer' is curious about your choice.]

[The 'Lady of the Scales' expresses doubt at your choice.]

[The 'Whispering Devil' finds your choice amusing.]

They had to be very curious. If I didn't know what Seo Joohwan had done, if I didn't know the future, I wouldn't have chosen to gamble over the gold.

As for my teammates, Yoohyun acquired 'Iron Gauntlets' with 'Agility +1' and Sunhwa got a headband with 'Constitution +2'.

'They're pretty good.'

Beginner grade items with stats as effects were pretty effective, after all. In any case, the Seoul Station Dungeon was cleared.

I had also definitely heard the notice saying so.

[The 'Dungeon Break' of the 'Seoul Station Dungeon' has been sealed.]

Now, the Seoul Station Dungeon was in no danger of 'breaking'. That was a big relief. In the past, Players were unable to stop the Seoul Station Dungeon from breaking. Dungeon breaks occurred three times, and as a result, thousands of casualties came about.

'Approximately 2300 deaths and 800 seriously injured.'

The number of slightly injured people couldn't even be counted. I was actively changing the future, the future I knew. I didn't know how long my knowledge would apply. If I were to allow things to continue the way I knew, I might have had to turn a blind eye to the dungeon break.

However—

'If I did that, I wouldn't even be human.'

I wasn't some impressive hero or saint, but I thought it would be too cowardly not to stop a tragedy I could easily prevent. I had already experienced the Cataclysm of April 27th, 2028, in Jongno. Countless people had died before my eyes. If I could prevent more deaths, it was only right to do so.

I didn't have any grandiose goals or desires to be a hero.

'I just…'

My goal for this life was simple. I wanted to live like a real person. Like a real person, with a little more happiness. In the Tutorial Field, I had to turn away from many people in order to live, and I wanted to live without doing that as much as humanly possible.

[A level up point has been used.]

[Current level: 19]

A notice came in at the same time as my level up.

[Leaving the 'Seoul Station Dungeon'.]

So Yoohyun asked me for my number, which I simply gave.

"I'm happy I got hyungnim's number."

I had no idea why he was so happy about it, but whatever. We exchanged numbers.

"Great. Hyungnim, have a safe trip back!"

As a Player, the most famous person was So Yoohyun. He would probably be the subject of the media's attention, and I told him to go along with it so that history would flow as close to the future I knew as possible. That way, I could make use of all the things I knew.

'I didn't exist in that future.'

But now, I did. I didn't know how or what this huge variable would change. Preventing the dungeon break was the right thing to do, but there was no need to change things beyond what was necessary. Plus, I still lacked the strength to protect myself.

The Great Explorer, 'Jackson' said it like this: a hidden sword is more frightening than a visible one. Until I had the means to be able to prove myself beyond reasonable doubt, I would hide myself, at least from the media. There was one person I did have to prove my worth to.

I walked in plain sight towards a certain building.

'The Sungshin headquarters.'

It was a massive 92-floor building in Gangnam. This was what Seo Joohwan had done in the past. He ran to the Sungshin headquarters and yelled 'I can treat the President!' And as surprising as it was, Seo Joohwan was indeed able to meet the President of the Sungshin Group.

Though, well, I didn't know I would end up meeting that spoiled brat here.

"Ah, fuck, what the hell."

What happened was this: I ended up getting into the same section of the revolving door with this kid—he looked like a middle school student. That appeared to greatly displease him. He blatantly blocked his nose with a silk handkerchief, as if not wanting to breathe in the same air as me.

When we got into the headquarters building, he grabbed a man who happened to be passing by and impolitely flapped his mouth. They were quite a distance away from me, but I could still hear everything.

"What's with that dirty guy? Who the hell comes here looking so piss-poor? This is Sungshin's headquarters, dammit."

He was wearing what appeared to be the uniform of a prestigious private elementary school, and it looked like silk. Even his uniform looked good and utterly exuded glamor.

"If I didn't have my Hermès handkerchief, I wouldn't have been able to breathe."

Ah. That handkerchief was that Hermès or whatever brand name. I chuckled to myself, actually more dumbfounded than angry. Did that kid really have any idea what he was saying?

'Song Jinchul.'

This no-good ass of the chaebol family was very famous.

'Goodness, so he was like that from a young age.'

He would later go on to cause small and big scandals alike due to alcohol and women. He was from the chaebol third generation that was often said to be problematic. More specifically, he was the youngest grandson of a chaebol family. What was it again? He kept pushing back the talent plates examination that could be done at 14, saying it was fine, and finally did it at 19, or something like that.

'I think I heard he had like 44 talent plates.'

When he finally had the exam done, it was about the time for his talent plates to close, but he still had a whole 44 plates. The world was truly unfair. Someone like me had 'No Talent' and was someone who didn't have talent even though I desperately wanted it, yet this guy had a whopping 44 talent plates even though he loudly protested, saying it was a pain.

Song Jinchul spoke to the middle-aged man bowing and scraping in front of him. "Is he a janitor? Tell him to go around with something decent. Dude's so frickin' unfashionable it's disgusting. How can a person wear absolute cheap shit from top to bottom like that? It's so nasty to breathe the same air."

He was definitely saying those words about me. To be fair, he wasn't wrong—I had neither expensive clothes nor shoes. I did my best to be cleanly dressed, but in the eyes of a chaebol family's youngest grandson, it looked like I was wearing cheap shit. I figured that was just how it was. Compared to the future Song Jinchul, the current Song Jinchul simply seemed cute.

The man bowed deeply. "Understood, Young Master. I will be sure to give him a firm warning. I deeply apologize for making you feel uncomfortable. We will be more careful going forward."

"That's right. Take care of these things better, hear?"

"I will be doubly sure to keep that in mind."

In the meantime, I checked Jinchul's information once.

[Unawakened]

Name: Song Jinchul

Age: 14

State: Calm / Conceited / Disdainful

Disposition: Arrogant / Destructive / Selfish

Summary: Self-Proclaimed Chosen One

Is unawakened.

The state/disposition/summary only show the most representative and can change according to the situation.

Because Eye of Perception's proficiency is not high enough, viewing more detailed information is impossible.

As I thought, his name was Song Jinchul. Maybe because his grandpa was in the office, he was in a calm state. His disposition was arrogant and destructive, and his summary was set as 'Self-Proclaimed Chosen One'.

'He's the same age as Sunhwa.'

So to summarize the year 1 middle school student Song Jinchul, he was a self-proclaimed chosen one who was arrogant, destructive, and selfish, to boot.

'Let's not bother with him.'

What I had to pay attention to wasn't the young Jinchul. I did want to squash the sucker's nose in once if I had the chance one day, but it wasn't the kid I should be cursing, but the chaebol second generation that had raised him to be that way.

What kinds of things had this young 14-year-old seen and learned to be like that? This wasn't the kid's fault, but the fault of the adults.

Jinchul went up in the elevator, and the middle-aged man who had been bowing to him walked towards me.

"How may I help you?"

"I can treat the President's illness."

Seo Joohwan had apparently said the same thing. The man's face went hard upon hearing me.

"There have already been over ten people who have come here claiming that."

"But no one managed to actually do it, right?"

After all, the President's illness was none other than male-pattern baldness. The name of the 'Type B Recovery Elixir' I picked was actually 'Extremely Effective Hair Growth Solution'.

"The President is a strict person. Can you take responsibility for your words, sir?"

He was totally looking at me like I was a scammer. There wasn't a trace of faith in his eyes. That was only natural. Over ten people had already done something similar. Despite that, seeing as he was still taking me upstairs, the Sungshin President was apparently rather desperate.

"Allow me to guide you there. Please follow me."

He turned briskly and walked away. His back, which had bent so severely towards Song Jinchul, didn't look very happy.

State: Doubtful / Humiliated / Persevering

I could see the wrinkly back of the middle-aged man's hand. There was a big wedding ring on his left hand.

Summary: A Korean Father

Of course this man didn't want to bow and scrape and hear curses from a mere 14-year-old fledgling, either. It was all in order to live as a father in Korea. That was why he endured this humiliation. It wasn't right, but everyone lived like that, as wretched as it was.

'Fight on.'

I got into the elevator with the man. I didn't know if the President had given the order to let me up, but I was taken directly to his office.

Knock, knock.

"President. I have brought a guest."

I went inside, coming face to face with the first generation president of the Sungshin Group, Song Kiyoung. He started with nothing and turned Sungshin into the massive company it was now. He was a self-made businessman who established the number one company in Korea. Later, he would play a leading role in the creation of the Players Association and become the first generation Players Association Chairman.

"Nice to meet you. I am Song Kiyoung."

And when I saw him, I was greeted with a slightly unexpected situation.

'Huh? What?'

____


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