STORYHansaneega@Lee Jongbeom
Corrupt OfficialLeverages the pain of others to climb the social ladder.Believing that life is short, he is a corrupt public official who only values power, money, and immediate gratification. This figure of authority only has eyes for whatever profit he may make at any given moment. “The people are animals.” “What crap are you spouting?” “Oh, I must be drunk. The classic I saw on my great-grandfather’s computer in his study suddenly popped up in my head.” “Oh… ‘Inside Men’? That’s a great one. Well, that is true.”   The magistrate Kim Eung Ji, who could basically be called a king in these parts, nodded as he burst out in laughter. Obviously, the people were animals, right? No matter what those above them did, they forgot things quickly, and they brownnosed the people with power. The punk who spoke just now was the same. What a pity to live a life where you stick yourself to a lowly magistrate and suck up?   I’m someone who has to play in a bigger pond.   When he looked at his face in the mirror, he definitely looked like someone who would do something big. First off, he was handsome. Though he did gain a few as he grew older, his physiognomy laid everything out for him.   If I’m going to give the chancellor something… What I have right now isn’t enough.   A bigger pond. In other words, the center of this country. He wanted power to influence everything. So he needed a gift that was large enough to catch the eye of the chancellor.   “Sir? Increase the taxes to 70 percent…?” “Yes. Why? Do you think you can’t do it?”   So he increased taxes. It was high enough that even the collector was shocked, but the magistrate didn’t even bat an eye. He could just send another one if this one couldn’t get the job done. Weren’t there a ton of bastards lazing around with nothing to do? And the place was full of guys who were unnecessarily talented at doing bad things.   “No, I’ll do it. Of course, I must.” “Okay, then get going.”   Still, it was better for the guy who always did it to do it. And that bastard’s name was also Jing Su Won. It would be better to leave it to a guy who came from a family of collectors.   “Okay then, let’s have some fun!”   When he establishes his place in the capital, he won’t have time to play like this with his pants off. He’ll be completely immersed in the country’s affairs, so he had to have fun in advance. That way, he wouldn’t lose focus when he has to do the important work. He made an excuse that sounded ridiculous to even to himself and was about to have fun when a constable ran in panting.   “What is it?!”   He hastily yanked his pants on. The way the constable’s eyes were avoiding his gaze was odd.   “What? An amhaeng-eosa?”   There were dozens of guys who were so much worse than he. So why would they come here? What should he do? Should he just bring them to the hostess bar? Surely, it’d work. Plan A, bring them to the hostess bar.   “It’s a woman?”   Discard plan A. She might cut his throat if he brought her here. Plan B, bring her to a host bar...? Where was the most popular host bar in his village? He could find a place with good-looking ones from Seoul... While he was thinking about these things, he got into his car and checked on the titanium plate under his shirt just in case things happened to go south. When he arrived, he saw the collector sprawled on the floor.   “And where is the inspector?” he asked, but no one knew.   What the heck? Did something urgent come up or something?   It looked like she’d gone somewhere, which was fine. Still, he waited a few days just in case, but no one came. No matter how he looked at it, she really must have left! Or left for somewhere farther with a heart attack!   “Great! Let’s get the pants off and partay!”   The moment he was about to get down in the hostess bar to celebrate his freedom, he heard a sound.   “Who turned on this prehistoric music?! I told you I liked EDM, didn’t I?!”   He was about to blow his top, but there was no point. And then he heard the sound again. And the next moment, Kim Eung Ji was dragged to the platform. He was sure of how there was no one who was dragged here with less than him. He had his pants off when he was brought here, so he only had his shirt on.   That was the first time.   The corrupt official looked out at the platform he was now used to. When he first arrived, he was incredibly confused, but he wasn’t anymore. They say there’s a way out even if the sky falls. He had realized then that all the old sayings were right.   It was Sameyong Daesa if he remembered correctly.   He was the one who helped Eung Ji. How would it have turned out if he was alone? Wouldn’t he have floundered and died? He had come to realize that he was absolutely nothing without the constables he used to order around with just a jerk of his chin.   And the second was...   When he was dragged back to the platform, things were a bit different.   Fix the way you think if you happen to go back.   It wasn’t just because of what Samyeong said. He knew what those words meant, but his greed didn’t just disappear. Wanting more than what he had was just his nature, so there was nothing that could be done. However, he surely could get a bit closer to that.   Even if it seems like you’ll take a bit of a loss... I’m saying it may help you when you die.   It felt like he’d found the truth to life. He always lost his mind at the benefits in front of him. It meant he learned how to hold himself back for an even bigger fruit of his labors in the future. Couldn’t he say he fixed the way he thought as Samyeong said?   Um... That...   It was already his third time here. Now he could dare say he had gotten used to the platform, too. And then he saw a woman standing nearby. No, she was too young to be called a woman. She was more like a girl. Eung Ji’s eyes caught the token on the girl’s shoulder. The token he wouldn’t want to see even in his worst nightmares.   An amhaeng-eosa...   She wasn’t someone who could be taken lightly just because she was young. In some ways, she was his mortal enemy, so he hid without realizing why he was hiding. Then he saw something rather odd. The girl was looking around like she was lost or something.   Surely, she wouldn’t be acting like that if it was her third time here, too. Technically speaking, she had fewer things to fear than he did. Just a tap on her token would summon enough soldiers to destroy whatever that gets in her way. There was absolutely no reason for her to look that pathetic.   Perhaps...   The phenomenon called Stroke was said to twist time and space. Even if it was his third time, it might not be for others. The official knew more than anyone how vulnerable one can become in this strange place. Watching her keep looking around and walk around gingerly, his doubts were no longer doubts.   Poor thing.   What was he to do about that girl? He knew the homeostasis from deep within people who were brought to the platform could be damaged. She was an enemy to him in the first place, and he did consider killing her, but he thought of something else too.   What if I help her here... and I wipe out my debt?   Even though it didn’t make sense, couldn’t he get help in reality if he helped the amhaeng-eosa get out of this place safely? Kim Eung Ji had made up his mind.   And there was no need to hesitate for the corrupt official to dash out and call the amhaeng-eosa.   “Um, it looks like you need help, no?”   It would probably be a very strange match, but it was to help her nonetheless.