3. Intoxicated by the scent of woods (Part 4)

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Gaon, who had a long scroll spread out on her desk, looked for a long time at the correspondence written in the letters that were not currently used anywhere except Jungcheon. It was a letter that Hayul sent in advance before setting a trap in the mountain, but it was only after she had already been to the scene that it came into Gaon’s hands.


“I’m sorry, Sir. Several correspondences came from Myeonggye at once, but there was no direct message to the CEO and there was no specific mark, so I couldn’t check it right away.”


The content was not long. As Hayul said, all he wanted her to do was to set up a barrier in the passage between Myeonggye and the living world in order to capture the sinners who fled. Once again, Gaon slowly read the letter and a fine wrinkle formed between her eyebrows.


Why did he send such an important letter so lightly this time? Hayul, who usually sends a lot of letters to Gaon to clean up after his work and doesn’t even bother to use greetings on the letters, sends a letter so plainly this time. Therefore, Gaon did not readily understand why he had been relaxed while notifying such an important matter.


Although neither Gaon nor Hayul were largely tied to procedures, in fact, it is right to ask for permission in advance formally, in the event of an event that greatly affects the other’s territory of governance, such as this one. And so far, Hayul has never neglected the procedure.


In addition, when she first met Hayul in Taebaek, she didn’t think anything suspicious. But on the way back when she thought about it, there was a seed of doubt in her heart. First of all, the method he was using didn’t seem very effective in catching the fugitives. And there was also doubt that King Yama himself came forward to solve such a trivial matter.


These days, King Yama sometimes says things that she can’t understand…. Is it because he’s really bored? He had often said that it’s too boring to be stuck in such a position, but even so, he is not just a person who acts according to mood. He always has a smile on his face, so he doesn’t look so calculating, but Hayul is a man who puts meaning in every word and action. There is no way he would do something without any intention.


“CEO, did you wake up?”


Gaon, who had been thinking hard, wrapped the scroll around without regret when Hee-Joo’s careful voice came from outside the door. There must be a reason. But it’s already in the past anyway. Gaon doesn’t think long about things that she can’t solve alone.


“I’m up.”


“Then I’ll come in.”




Gaon glanced at the blood pressure meter Hee-Joo brought in, and calmly gave up one arm while sitting down. She was guaranteed a life expectancy until the end of her term, but it’s been a while since she erased the idea of asking why they are making such a fuss. Rather than listening to Hee-Joo’s nagging constantly, it is convenient to just do what she wants. It was a truth she learned from long experience.


“CEO, when shall we prepare the meal?”


“I’m going to the main house with you today. Oh, I think there was a schedule for a business meeting today….”


“Yes, the Vice President decided to pick you up at 10 a.m. The business report will be delivered by 8 o’clock by the Chief of Staff.”


Hee-Joo entered the dining room one step earlier than Gaon and moved in a hurry. The hands, which had been ready for a long time, moved in unison.


Gaon, who was looking around the perfectly prepared table before she sat down, quietly swallowed a sigh. Except for rice and soup, there were nearly 20 plates with delicious side dishes.


She doesn’t have to do this much in the morning…. Hee-Joo doesn’t know much about her taste even after being Gaon’s assistant for a long time, which is her (Gaon) fault. Gaon clearly knows how hard it takes to prepare such a table filled with food. So she tries to taste all the side dishes on the table at least once. Therefore, even if there is food that suits her taste, she doesn’t touch it several times.


Ms. Kwon is now over 60 years old, so it is time to prepare for her retirement. When the next person comes, she’ll have to tell them to prepare a simple meal from the beginning. As Gaon was eating side dishes one by one as usual, she paused for a moment when she saw Jangtteok*, which was made in a round shape like a full moon. Five pine nuts were each decorated in the shape of petals on the cute Jangtteok, which was the size of a bite.



[T/N: Jangtteok or Gochujang pancakes. The word “Jang” (장) means seasoning, like soy sauce (Ganjang, 간장), soybean paste (Doenjang, 된장), or chilli paste (Gochujang, 고추장). Therefore “Jang-Tteok” (장떡) means pancakes seasoned with some kind of sauce.]



Why is this so…. It’s not like I’m going to eat all of this, but I’m going to take just a bite. Gaon couldn’t help but sigh inwardly, thinking Hee-Joo’s time and effort were too wasteful, but she kept eating silently without saying anything.


“Ms. Kwon. I appreciate your sincerity, but you don’t have to work this hard to prepare the meal.”


“What? What do you mean, My Lord? Don’t you like the food?”


“No, it’s not like that…. There is rice and soup, so if you just put two or three side dishes on it…”


“The food…, It doesn’t taste good?”


“…No, everything is delicious. I just think Ms. Kwon is having a hard time…. I said that I don’t need so many side dishes. Do as you always do.”


After that day, Hee-Joo put much more effort into the food. Gaon could clearly see that her words unintentionally backfired while trying to save trouble. However, she had no choice but to shut up about the meal. I should’ve just eaten what I liked then. Then, even if Ms. Kwon would be upset for a while, she would have suffered much less for decades. However, at that time, it was difficult for Gaon to say various things to a new assistant.


Eating soft and chewy Jangtteok, Gaon regretted a little for the first time in a long time. She originally likes crispy texture, especially the type of pancake that is crispy enough to hurt the roof of the mouth, but she has not been able to eat crispy foods at home for more than 40 years because she was not honest with her tastes at first. Now she can’t even tell Hee-Joo the truth, until she retires. Till then, she has no choice but to eat the food she is given.


At the same time as she felt a little disappointed, she remembered the potato pancake she ate the day before yesterday. When the texture of potato pancakes, which had a crispy sound every time she took a bite, Gaon suddenly felt sorry for Hee-Joo. It was like that day in the restaurant.


“I’m feel sorry for Ms. Kwon. I couldn’t eat breakfast properly because there’s too many foods and the foods also taste a bit bland. But she would be upset to see me eating outside.”


“The food in the restaurant tastes better. Restaurants cannot be maintained without customers, so they have no choice but to use seasonings to create a savory taste that captivates the taste. Perhaps Ms. Kwon uses only natural ingredients, so the taste is less stimulating.”


“That’s why Ms. Kwon doesn’t like me eating outside.”


“Yes, you can always eat healthy home-cooked meals and eat snacks with me only once in a while. I’ll do this for you anytime.”


Having a young friend is nice. Gaon smiled faintly, recalling Ji-Won’s neat face, who had been smiling handsomely throughout the business trip as her companion. Previously, she had not been able to take a good look at his appearance, but since her business trip to London, they had gone to many restaurants and ate delicious foods, so she got used to his presence. It was the first time while having dinner in London that she noticed that Ji-Won had such beautiful features.


He must be popular with women. He has a strikingly nice appearance, a gentle and attentive personality, and a heart like a child…. She feels refreshed whenever she’s next to him. What do children call a handsome guy these days?


“I heard the Chief of Staff is here, Sir.”


“He has arrived?”




Gaon put down the hot teacup she was holding and slowly rose from her seat. She is just a nominal representative of a company, and there are people who actually work for her. But since she is the final decision maker of a company, she should be aware of the minimum flow.


As Gaon began to concentrate with a serious face, there was nothing left in the quiet office except the sound of the paper turning and rubbing together. The afterimage of a young man with a pleasant smile had already been blown away.






“Uhhhhh? Where is this…”


Dok-Yeom, who barely lifted his heavy eyelids, looked around with his unclear view. After struggling to revive the memory, he finally recognized that it was Ji-Won’s house, but he couldn’t remember how he came to this room from the living room.


He could vaguely remember that the two of them poured three glasses of liquor into Hae-Soo’s mouth and then threw him to the guest room to stay the night.


“What are you going to do now?”


“What do you mean what we’re doing? Is there any other way? You just have to stick to us now since you came here.”


“Until when?”


The last memory of yesterday was that Ji-Won did not answer the question, but poured another glass of alcohol into his mouth.




Dok-Yeom opened the door with a frown on his face, as he couldn’t resist his thirst. His head was pounding as if it was about to break even if he just breathed. Before he left the room, he thought he could hear some humming sound coming from the other side. As he opened the door, he heard clear voices that could be identified as Ji-Won and Hae-Soo’s.


“Shouldn’t you at least pretend to be polite and have a bite?”


“I’ve never seen such a shameless bastard. You are talking about politeness? Is it polite to boil a salt porridge and put it into someone else’s mouth?”


“Of course it’s a little salty, but…, But I got up early in the morning to cook it so diligently….”


Ji-Won’s eyes, which were already fierce, became more fierce due to Hae-Soo’s words.


“Diligence? Is it your way of showing sincerity to spend time ignorant with your humble cooking skills? You made food that people can’t eat! It’s just a little salty? Did you lose your sense of taste? No, that’s none of my business. Just clean this up and go away, okay? Who knows when you’re going to roll grains of rice on the floor and say it’s another of your stupid dishes you made with diligence?”




“Aren’t you going to answer?”




Ji-Won, who had been staring fiercely at Hae-Soo’s sulky face, gulped down a cup of cold water and walked out of the kitchen with quick steps. Wow, he’s more savage than he looks. I think he drank at least three times more than I did, but how can he be so fine? Dok-Yeom, who was leaning against the wall because he didn’t have the energy to stand alone, saw Ji-Won in neat clothes, and kicked his tongue inside.


His alcohol endurance is so strong.









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