Chapter 752.
Sequence 1

“Hey, let’s keep in touch when we leave.”

Boot camps friends forever.”

Yoon Hyungseok felt his eyes feel hot.

He gave up on going to college and jumped into the apparel sales business.
Unlike his initial plan of getting a small store in Hongdae, his friend and he started an internet sales business.
As he was quite confident in his face and figure, he also acted as the fitting model.
He created the site, and thanks to his friend’s experience with marketing, he gained quite a lot of profit in just one year.

He would wake up at early dawn, get some clothes from Dongdae-mun, take photos, package clothes, and pick up customer inquiry calls for the whole day, but he didn’t feel that exhausted since he felt proud that he was building up his foundation.
When the business gained stability, and he even expanded his warehouse and hired employees, he got his draft notice.
Hyungseok chose to enter the military service without hesitation.
Until the day he was drafted, he thought that military service was nothing compared to selling clothes.
He only thought about playing boy scout for two years and about how to continue his clothes business.

The impression he had of the military broke on the first day.

“You are not here to play around!”

Why was it so scary when that came from someone younger than him? It wasn’t just that either.

“Get out of your Civies.”

When he stood in a daze because he didn’t know what that meant, the instructor shouted at him to change his clothes.
When the other recruits next to him started taking off their clothes, they got shouted at again.

“Do you think this is society? Get changed right now!”

Hyungseok never had difficulties changing his clothes in his 22 years of life.
It was probably the same for the other recruits as well.
However, during that moment, everyone wasted time changing clothes as though they had all become idiots.
The one standing opposite him put the pants on front-side back, and the one next to him wore his top inside out.
He felt like he had become an idiot.

To sum up his bootcamp life in one word, it would be ‘horrible’.

The steaming weather gifted him with a sticky and terrible heat.
As Hyungseok was quite picky when it came to where he slept, he felt like he was going to die because he couldn’t sleep for two days, but on his third day, he fell asleep like a log.
Humans adapted to extreme environments in order to survive.

The colleague who grumbled about the terrible food at the boot camp on the first day was given the nickname of ‘shit glutton’ on the day the fifth week ended.
His colleagues laughed at the guy, saying that he would probably eat out of the food waste.

Another one, who was chubby when he entered, suffered from constipation during his first week, then on the last day, he became a man who went to the toilet earlier than anyone.
Not to mention that he had lost a lot of weight.

Hyungseok had also experienced some changes.
He thought that he would never be able to fall asleep on a hard surface but found himself dozing off in the middle of a dust cloud, and he usually never slept before 2 a.m.
because of his business but found himself under a spell that magically closed his eyes at 10.

Thinking about how he was going to be separated from his colleagues with whom he had spent five weeks training and eating, he really felt disappointed.
This was especially true for his colleague who he went to the same religious service with; alternating between the Catholic church, the Buddhist temple, and the Protestant church, to get choco pie[1] from all of them.
He felt like he would become life-long buddies with this guy.

“We will be able to make calls on our first vacation after getting stationed, so let’s call each other then.
This is my phone number.”

“This is mine.”

He exchanged numbers with his colleagues.
Hyungseok promised to meet them on their 100-day vacation[2] as he got on the vehicle leaving the Nonsan bootcamp[3].
Hugging his duffel bag, he was slightly uneasy that he was being separated from the rest of his colleagues, but thanks to his confidence from having endured 5 weeks of hellish training, he didn’t feel that nervous.
He thought that his station wouldn’t be more difficult than the bootcamp.

“Line up.
Don’t chitchat inside the train, okay?”

He got on the train under the guidance of a kind-looking staff[4].
Quite a lot of people were on that train[5].
Although it had been a little more than a month, the outside scenery felt foreign.
While he was imagining what kind of place he was stationed, he arrived at Cheongnyangni station.
Having gotten off at the station, Hyungseok got on a military bus without getting any time to rest.

“Choonsik, let’s’a go.”

Three Vs stacked on top of each other was the mark of a master sergeant he saw quite frequently in games.
A total of five people got on the military bus.
He didn’t know any of them, so he didn’t say anything to them.
One of them got off mid-way before the bus departed again.
Hyungseok saw a sign that said ‘Welcome to Pocheon’.
He was reminded of rice wine and grilled ribs[6].

“Boys, ge’off.”

The roads were well paved, and the military base was rather close to a nearby town.
The first impression wasn’t that bad.
The building he saw in the distance was also quite clean unlike the one at the bootcamp.
The air was good too, and the staff in charge of leading them here didn’t look bad either.
Maybe he got a good lottery.

“So, three of you are artillerymen for the brigade HQ, and you are 322’s HQ[7].”

The three people assigned to the artillery brigade’s HQ entered the building right next to the drill grounds.
It was a worn-out building that was only 2 stories tall.
Hyungseok inwardly sighed.
For some reason, he felt like the personality of the people in that base would be directly proportional to how worn out it was.

“You follow me.”

He followed the master sergeant who had his hands grasped behind his back.
The place the master sergeant walked to was a newly built building.
Hyungseok inwardly cheered.
He had the vague hope that his military life would be much more comfortable than the three before him.

“First sergeant, this one’s for HQ.”

“Thank you.”

Hyungseok entered the administration office.
Only the man titled ‘first sergeant’ was inside this strangely quiet room, his legs crossed.


“Private! Yoon Hyungseok!”

“Nice voice.
I’m in charge of the supplies here, so let’s get along.”

“Yes, sir!”

“Want some coffee?”

The first sergeant patted him on the shoulder before leaving.
When he peeked out, he saw a vending machine right in front of the administration office.
Hyungseok received the coffee the first sergeant gave him with both of his hands.
He was treated so well and was even given some fragrant coffee.
He felt like his lips were going to curve upwards.

“Aight, Hyungseok, you hurt anywhere?”

“No, sir!”

“Where do you live?”

“I live in Anyang, sir.”

“Anyang, huh.
Nice place.
What did you do before you got drafted?”

“I sold clothes.”

“No college?”

“No, sir.”

“You’re quite smart.
Yeah, it’s much better to focus on other things if you don’t feel like you can keep up with studying.
Let’s see.
Looks like you’ll be assigned to signals.
Everyone around here is a good guy, so you won’t have trouble in your military life.
You saw the building right? It’s clean and neat.
You just need to stay here comfortably for 2 years before getting discharged.”

“Yes, sir!”

“How lively.
I’m sure you’ll do well.”

Hyungseok sipped some coffee.
The pressure given to him by the word ‘station’ completely disappeared.
This building was considered new compared to the building he lived in at his bootcamp, and the staff seemed so nice as well.
He felt like he could spend the next two years comfortably.
He was once again reminded of the 3 people who were dragged to the tattered building.
They were so pitiful.

“Looks like people should be returning from work.
Sit here and watch TV for a while.”

As soon as those words ended, Hyungseok immediately turned his head to the TV.
Actually, he was dying to watch it, but he held it in because he felt like he would get chewed if he watched without permission.
Although it was a news channel, he found it so interesting because it had been a month since he last watched anything.
He blankly watched the TV for a while.

He heard footsteps getting louder.
It wasn’t just one or two people.
Hyungseok took his eyes off the TV and sat upright.
As soon as he ‘postured’ himself, people walked by in front of the door to the administration office.
He could smell grass and mud.
There was also a sour smell that he never smelled before, even back at bootcamp.

“Oh hey? We got a new guy.”

“Where’s he assigned?”

“Is he transport?”

“Surely he’s not, senior.
He’s admin no matter how you look at him.”

“Hey, he’s in geodesy[8].
I can tell.”

“He’s in signals, so mind your own business.”

He felt like a piece of meat in the butchery.
Prickly gazes stayed on his back for a long time before disappearing.
Hyungseok gulped.
The warm air of the administration office instantly turned chilly.
He gulped in order to clear his throat.
He had to be overthinking.
He recalled how the first sergeant said that everyone here was a good person.

“Oh, you’re here? Hello, I’m the company commander.”

A man with the lieutenant mark entered the administration office.
Hyungseok abruptly stood up, getting ready to salute, but he sat down again when the lieutenant waved at him to sit.

“Hm, you’ve talked to the first sergeant, right?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Then that’s fine.
Let’s say we did the talk with the commander.
You hurt anywhere?”

“No, sir!”

That was the question he received the most today: You hurt? Did people look after the soldiers’ health?

“Okay then.
I hope we can get along.
Oh, you’ll be in signals.”

The company commander disappeared through the door leading to the commander’s office on the other side of the administration office.
Just as he was thinking that the commander was a rather jolly man, another person entered, wearing a white tank-top and navy pants.
The man said ‘sergeant’ as he entered the office, and the rest of his words were so murmury and fast that he couldn’t understand a thing.
He seemed to be saying ‘Sergeant OO, came for business’.

“You new?”


“Ah, okay.
You’re new.”

For a moment, Hyungseok felt a chill run down his back.
The man’s scanning gaze was scary.


The man left the office and shouted.
When he did, shouts could be heard from all around.
A man came out of the room right in front of the administration office and shouted ‘ready for announcement!’.
Signals, Geodesy, Transport, such names could be heard as well.

“Good job on the maintenance work today.
There will be extra snacks tonight, so get one guy from each room to come to the office.
Also, signals, come get your new guy.”

As soon as the man said those words, a man who had slightly scary-looking eyes came into the office.

“Private Han Maru has come to the administration office for business.”

“Oh, our dear Super A-tier is here? This guy’s your junior.
Take him with you.”

“Yes, sir.
Let’s go.”

Private Han Maru has finished business and will return – this man, named Han Maru, said such at the entrance before turning around.
Hyungseok quickly followed him with the duffel bag.

Han Maru entered a room that said ‘wireless comms’.
The room was very clean, unlike the worn-out one he used at the bootcamp.
The lockers were also made of metal, not wood.

Just then, the people he did not notice because of the good facilities entered his eyes.
Starting with the three people lying down on either side of the TV, there was a person who was sitting upright in the place right next to him.
He felt his knees shake.
He finally realized how foolish it was to think that this couldn’t be harder than the bootcamp.

“Hey, shit.
You’re fucked.
You’ll be fucked if you can’t do better than Han Maru.”

“Hey, that’s going too far.
It’s hard to do better than our Super A-tier Maru.
Hey, private first classes, go undo his duffel bag for him.”


He felt like he was looking at a well-lubricated machine.
It felt as though a word from the person lying down next to the TV moved everyone else in the room.

“Hey, new guy.”


Hyungseok unknowingly uttered those words in a daze.
At that moment, Hyungseok realized what it meant for the world to be frozen stiff.
Even his heart skipped a beat.

“Yeah? YEAAAH?”

“Duude, let me see you after your chick period[9] is over.”

The only thing Hyungseok could do was blink.
If someone didn’t tap him from the side, he would probably have forgotten to breathe.
Hyungseok looked at the man that tapped his flank.
Han Maru – that name was engraved into his head.

“I’m sorry!”

He shouted, but he felt that it was too late.

“Private first classes, are you going to take all day to undo his duffel bag? Are you not gonna eat?”


“Let’s be quick, alright? Wired, you can go eat first.
Sarge Choi, I’ll feed them first.”


“Are you going to PX[10], sarge?”

“I heard it’s fried croakers tonight.
I’d rather eat choco pie than eat that shit.”

“Maybe I should go to the PX too with sarge Choi.”

“You buying?”

“Forget it.
You’re gonna be leaving soon, and you’re a total miser.
Boys, let’s go.”

Hyungseok thought that the two people talking comfortably with each other lived in a different world.
It felt like the status difference between him and those two was akin to that of a serf and a noble.

The sergeant that passed next to him pushed his shoulders.
Hyungseok immediately made way.
The sergeant snorted once before shaking his head.
After the wired comms people left, Han Maru came over and spoke in a small voice,

“Say your name and position if a senior taps you.”

“Ah, yes.”

“Leave out the ‘ah’.”


“Make your voice as loud as possible.
Just remember that for now.”

Hyungseok gulped.

[1] Every Sunday, bootcamp soldiers are (practically) required to attend a religious service.
The Korean military currently acknowledges four main religions, 3 of which mentioned previously, and 1 of them is Won-buddhism.
Attending one religion’s service for the first time, they would give you choco pie as a first-time gift.
The variety has increased over the years though, and you get more than just that depending on where your bootcamp is.

[2] Also called ‘New Recruit Consolation vacation’.
It’s called 100-day vacation because it happens around 100 days after ENLISTING (not after getting stationed).
Again, this has mostly changed in the recent years, and soldiers are able to dynamically adjust and reschedule their vacations according to their and their base’s schedule.

[3]The largest bootcamp base in Korea.
Nearly 70% of all Korean recruits are trained here.

[4] A non-soldier.
Includes both NCOs and officers.

[5] A train specifically assigned to carry soldiers away from bootcamp to various parts of the country.

[6] Rice wine is a specialty of Pocheon, while grilled ribs became popular in the 70s as food for soldiers and their visitors on their outing.

[7] In this specific case, this brigade has several artillery battalions under its command, one of them being “322”.
322’s “HQ” means the “HQ” Company within that battalion.

[8] The field of measuring the Earth accurately.

[9] A week or two of adaptation period for newly assigned recruits, where they aren’t assigned to any duties including night shifts.

[10] Stands for Post eXchange.
Basically, a military convenience store.

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