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A heavy car that was rolling smoothly stopped in front of a huge building in the middle of Gangnam*. Ji-Won, who got out of the car with a reluctant face, raised his head crookedly and looked through the exterior of the sensibly well-built building. It was a place he usually passed by without much thought, but it was only when the place was right in front of his nose that he felt a cool energy emitting from it. Originally, he thought it was a company that grew rapidly due to the eco-friendly trend, but in reality, it was a great place to do such a wonderful job….
[T/N: Gangnam (강남구) is one of the 25 local government districts which make up the city of Seoul, South Korea. Gangnam translates to “South of the (Han) River”. Gangnam District is the third largest district in Seoul, with an area of 39.5 km.]
He expected the atmosphere to be a classical dark and gloomy because he seemed to hear the grim cry of death. But surprisingly, the system inside the building was very modern. First, they had to pass through the security checkpoint where the outline of their belongings was fully revealed under the supervision of a security guard with fierce eyes. And they were able to reach the front of the elevator only after thorough identification through facial recognition. After that, the door opened only when fingerprints were taken, and a nerve-scratching warning continued to sound until the iris proved it was him once again.
[49th floor. Ascending.]
Listening to the clear sound of the machine, Ji-Won swallowed his dry saliva reflexively. Where the hell he’s being take for the security to be this tight? If he shows even a hint of suspicious behaviour, no one will even know if he dies here. He should have told someone that he was coming here. Wait a minute. If a living person goes to Jungcheon…, Can he come back alive?
Regrets and anxiety crept up late. The Chief of Security, who looked at Ji-Won’s face, smiled as if to make him feel at ease. But Ji-Won couldn’t trust because less than 30 minutes had passed since he was threatened.
“Is Jungcheon on the 49th floor?”
“No, it’s 48 stories above the ground. Jungcheon is a place that exists on a different level from Ingye (Afterlife), and this is one of the channels for the living to go there. We can’t use the entrance used by the dead. The doors of the dead don’t have the exit function….”
The 49th floor of a 48-story building…. Yeah, now he’s not even surprised to hear anything. It’s kind of creepy that the door doesn’t function as an exit.
“For your information, there are a total of 200 entrances connected to Jungcheon Stream on Earth. If you become a full-time employee, you can use any door, but you must go out only through the entrance door when you return from Jungcheon to Ingye (Afterlife). It is a rule made to prevent unauthorized people from entering or leaving without permission.”
“You mean you can’t move to another area through Jungcheon?”
“Yes. If you confuse the entrance, you go to a different dimension, not another area. There is no guarantee that the body will be fully preserved in the process. Now, get off.”
It’s a bloody system. Ji-Won stepped slowly, trying not to show nervousness. However, his facial expressions did not go as well as he thought. He didn’t have a fussy or overly jittery personality, but it was not easy to maintain calm even after seeing the amazing view in front of him.
First of all, the area was a size that made no sense in common sense. The floor height was so high that it was difficult to measure with the naked eye, and one wall seemed to be several kilometers long. It was not the size of a typical building. It was only then that the word ‘different dimension’ became real.
“It’s very spacious.”
“Really? I used to think it was really spacious, but these days, the death toll has increased so much that I don’t know if there’s that much space. There are at least 6,000 people per hour. Zanice has more than 2,000 employees.”
As the Chief Security officer said, spirits of various races were constantly rising throughout the mirror-like smooth floor. Then the kind-smiling guides quickly approached and checked the language spoken by the deceased, and took them to the front of one of the hundreds of desks lined up along the left and right walls. It was almost like a civil service window at a government office. Most of the dead lined up in an orderly manner in front of each of the guided desks.
“What are they doing in front of that desk?”
“Deciding the future destination of the deceased. Can you see the meter on the desk? When the deceased stands in front of it, the slope varies depending on the merit of his life. If it tilts to the left based on the direction the deceased sees, he will be sent to Ingye (Afterlife) for reincarnating, and if it tilts to the right, he will go to Myeonggye (Hell).”
“What if it’s even?”
“It rarely happens, but sometimes when it’s perfectly horizontal, the CEO of Jungcheon makes the final decision.”
“Does a child go to hell like that?”
Ji-Won frowned when he saw a baby heading somewhere in the arms of an employee because he could not walk alone. The Security Chief shook his head lightly with a pretty sad face and replied.
“No. Children under the age of 10 are immediately guided to the Reincarnation Door without being judged. It is extremely rare for young children to commit evil deeds to the extent that they pay for their sins in the world after death. And even if they commit a crime, that is considered the responsibility of the caregiver.”
“The door on the left over there is the Reincarnation Door. And on the right is Myeonggye (Hell) Door.”
When Ji-Won turned his attention to where the Chief of Security pointed, he saw two large doors that looked the same in the distance. However, the atmosphere between the two sides was distinctly different. Beyond the left door was full of bright and warm light, but beyond the right door was grimly dark. Most of the people standing in front of the door on the right were scared, and many were crying or screaming.
Myeonggye (Hell) Door, the door to hell…. Looking at it in person, the pressure is no joke. Ji-Won, with a slightly jaded face, was still rubbing his arm at the chill that was felt, when suddenly a commotion broke out from somewhere. Along with fierce shouts, vulgar words were also heard. When he looked in the direction from where he could hear the sound, a middle-aged man with a neat appearance was seen screaming with a red face.
“How can this be! Measure it again! Measure it again with a different meter! How nice I’ve been in my life. Does it make sense to lean this far to the left?”
“If you want, I’ll measure it again with another meter, so calm down. You are disturbing others.”
When the guide with a sweet face soothed him with good words, the man became more arrogant and shouted loudly.
“So who told you to put these defective products here in the first place, huh? It’s okay as long as you did well from the beginning! Why bother a busy person!”
It was an attitude that clearly implied what kind of life he had lived in his life. It is said you can’t give up dog habits, and the truth remains the truth even if you die. The man, who was immediately moved to the desk next to him with the understanding of the other dead, seemed to calm down for a moment. However, when the same decision was made the second time, he immediately threw the meter to the ground and started making a fuss.
“These are broken! Who are you to judge me! Do you know who I am? No matter how dead I am, how dare you treat me like this? What’s your name?”
As the atmosphere became ugly, burly security guards dressed in black suits flocked to surround the man, and his madness became more extreme.
“What! These bunch of thugs! You’re going to hit me now? Let the person in charge come out! I won’t move a step from here, I want the person in charge to come out right now…”
Suddenly, the man was thrown on the floor, screaming madly with a blood pole standing around his neck. A sudden roar made a weak vibration throughout the Jungcheon Stream. The source of the wave was a large spring in the center. For a moment, the waves rose sharply on the surface of the water, which had been smooth like ice, and a young woman in a neat suit with long hair neatly tied walked out without expression, cutting through the current.
“I’m the CEO of Jungcheon, Gaon.”
It was an appearance that could be fully guessed, even if the Chief of Security showed a surprise look. As soon as Gaon appeared, all the employees in Jungcheon stopped at once and bowed their heads politely. At first glance, she looked just a young woman in her early 20s, but her presence was so overwhelming that even the deceased, who did not know her identity, sneaked away.
She’s much younger than Ji-Won thought. He thought she would be in his 50s at least because she’s the CEO of a large company. He heard that Zanice Company is doing well overseas these days, so she’s completely covered with luxury goods. Ji-Won, who was still looking at Gaon’s outfit, smiled. Wow, clothes designed by Musa Marini. Look at the wrinkles on the back. She even wears shoes that cost more than 3 million won, like rubber shoes.
With everyone’s attention focused, Gaon, who was looking around, found the man who was making a disturbance and walked slowly. Then the security guards who approached to stop the man stepped back in unison. The man, who felt the unusual atmosphere, stood up and rolled his eyes anxiously. Then Gaon opened her mouth with a low but clear voice, standing in front of the man.
“You were a father who beat his son.”
“What, what, what? How dare you talk to me like this even though you’re so young…”
Gaon looked at the man who was greatly embarrassed but still spoke loudly. For a moment, a look of contempt passed through her big eyes, but it was so quick that Ji-Won wasn’t sure what he saw was right.
“I’ve seen a lot of people getting beaten in hell and regretting ever being born.”
“Well, what! You’re sending a dignified human to hell to be beaten by some punks?!”
“Dignity… You are not even as good as an animal because when animals meet their mates, they do their best to woo them. But you’ve scorned and tormented your wife all her life. You didn’t even care for her feelings and broke her faith. Your wife, who had been suffering from heartache all her life, eventually died of a heart disease. So it’s also your sin.”
Oh, my God, did he cheat on his wife? What a shameless man. The dead around him threw a look of criticism at once, but the man did not easily accept it.
“What nonsense is that?! C, Can you prove it?”
“Silly child, it’s better for you to accept it quietly at this point. Even at this moment, your behavior is included in your mistakes one by one. This means that the punishment you should receive in Myeonggye (Hell) continues to increase even now. You should not take it lightly because you only have one chance to pay for your sins.”
Recognizing that the situation was getting worse, the man blinked his eyes and ran quickly toward the nearest small wooden door. But the desperate flight ended in vain before he could take ten steps. The man was completely terrified when he saw a transparent sword appearing out of nowhere unknowingly hung on his neck without a sound. His body hardened without screaming. The sword was very beautiful, made with splashing water droplets shining like jewels. But one could instinctively tell that they would break into pieces just by brushing against it.
“If you don’t realize the importance of the last opportunity and continue to disturb the order of Jungcheon, I will kill you without further delay. If my sword cuts and wounds occur, you will be put in a mausoleum without the judgment of King Yamma. Once you step in there, you can never come out again. You’ll be trapped there forever.”
Deep despair fell on the face of the man who realized he had no choice. Gaon had given an ultimatum in a cool voice.
“I’ll do as you say. What should I do?”
The man eventually lowered his head, and the security guards approached, dragging the man away, who was no longer rebelling. They threw him almost over the right door. A scream was heard, and at the time, the atmosphere of Jungcheon, which seemed to have frozen for a while, began to turn busily again.
“CEO, this Cha Ji-Won, the director of Gallery Hwadam, whom I’ve mentioned before.”
Gaon, who slightly turned her head to the introduction of the Chief of Security, stared at Ji-Won for a moment and immediately looked away even before three seconds passed. Ji-Won was strangely offended by the lack of interest.
“Send him back.”
When Gaon turned around without regret after finishing what she had to say, Ji-Won, who had come such a long way, showed a dumbfounded look. The expression on his face turned twisted. What? It was her who forced him to come, but she told to send him away without even saying hello and just left? What were all those bloody threats that were given to him? Just to send him back?
“Wait a minute.”
If she called someone, she should at least greet them. Shaking off the Chief of Security who tried to stop him, he walked forward and blocked Gaon’s way. As soon as his eyes clashed with the ones without any emotions, a strange sense of emotion, which he could not identify, boiled up. It was a rather complicated feeling to call it just fighting spirit, but there was no other way to explain it at that moment.
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