For instance, the Hanguk Uni.” Baek Hyeon-Jeong couldn't fully erase the traces of disappointment from her expression.
She hadn't mentioned it before, but the truth was…

Baek Hyeon-Jeong had always hoped for her son to enter Hanguk University, South Korea's No.1 tertiary learning institution.
However, the circumstances had 'forced' her son to choose Jaegyeong Uni instead.

Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders slightly.
“Well, Jaegyeong is closer to our home, after all.”

“Is that really your reason, son? Not because Chairman Hwang asked you to?”

“I do have other reasons, yes.
But…” Kang Jin-Ho held himself back, thinking that his mother would definitely get mad at him for choosing Jaegyeong over Hanguk just because Park Yu-Min wouldn't have been accepted into the latter university.

In all honesty, going to a university held no significance to Kang Jin-Ho.
He thought long and hard about this, and the task of living an ordinary life while working for a regular company seemed like a tall challenge for him.

To him, this road was something he had to walk alone.
And on this particular path, a degree from a university was nothing more than a useful decoration.
He wasn't interested in furthering his studies, but his parents had invested twelve years of their lives in their son's education.
As such, the least he could do was thank them for their hard work by attending university.
That was why he wasn't interested in going further than what he had already done.

“Jin-Ho, my son.”

“Yes, Mother?”

“Even though you're my child, lately, it feels like I can't tell what you're thinking of.
It probably means you've become an adult yourself.”

Kang Jin-Ho was momentarily lost for words.
The fact that his mother felt alienated from him was bad news.
This result was unavoidable since he couldn’t perfectly replicate the old 'Kang Jin-Ho' before his return.
No matter what, it wasn’t good that a parent felt something was strange with their child.


“I heard that that's how kids grow up, though.
Even so, I'm a little rueful, son.”

Kang Jin-Ho could only make a cramped smile.
“I see…”

Baek Hyeon-Jeong waved her hands off, perhaps thinking that she had said something unnecessary.
“In any case, go ahead and wash up, son.”

Kang Jin-Ho scanned the living room and asked.
“Where's Father?”

“He should be home soon after closing up his shop.
The business seems to be going well since he's forced to close so late these days.”

Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head.
“Even though the closing time has been set?”

“He has changed the closing hours.
Closing the doors early even when customers keep coming in would be a problem, after all.”

“But, Mother, it's not like our family is hurting for money.
He should think about taking it easy for his health.” 

“You know that there's no stopping your father when he's like this.” Baek Hyeon-Jeong groaned deeply.
What could she do about her husband's workaholic nature when he would be nothing but a shell without it? Indeed, her husband wasn’t the type to kick back and relax just because his family had stumbled upon some money.

Kang Jin-Ho noticed his sister wasn’t home.
“Mother, where is Eun-Yeong?”

“I am also having a hard time seeing her these days.
I don't get why she's practicing so much… Ah, right.
She did say she'll be making her debut soon.”

Kang Jin-Ho instantly picked up a trace of gloominess in his mother's expression.
“Are you worried about something, Mother?”

“Worried, is it…

“Please speak…”

Baek Hyeon-Jeong spoke in a composed tone.
“My wish has always been for my children to pursue their dreams and live however they want.
And that's why I tried not to nag you two.”

“Yes, Mother.
I'm aware.”

“When Eun-Yeong wanted to become an idol, and when she managed to pass the talent agency's audition, I honestly wasn't happy about someone as young as her giving up on her studies to sing.
Even then, I let her pursue her dream.”


Baek Hyeon-Jeong quietly sighed and carried on.
“That's what I did, but now…
I am wondering whether I had made the right call or not when I can't even see my child's face, and when she has to work so hard at her age.”


“I heard that plenty of idol groups get lost in the shuffle without making their debuts, so I’m worried if Eun-Yeong can make it.
What if that happens to her? She'll be too old to try something else by then.”

“No, Mother.
It won't be too late for her.”

Baek Hyeon-Jeong responded with an unconvinced expression, “Even if you say that…”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded after getting an idea of what his mother was worried about.
“Mother, Eun-Yeong will be successful.”

“Do you believe so?”

She's your daughter, after all.
And my little sister…”

“I see.
Looks like I've become a worrywart after getting older, son.” Baek Hyeon-Jeong replied with a forced smile, her complexion remained gloomy.

Kang Jin-Ho felt his irritation level creep up.
He usually wouldn’t get emotional, but the subtle changes to his mother's expression were enough to make him react harshly.
And this response fascinated him.

'I see… So, it's not just my head that knew about the familial bond, but also my heart.'

He thought that things like this wouldn't affect him since he and his family had been apart for so long.

Kang Jin-Ho mulled on his new discovery while stepping into the bathroom.

'I've been too inattentive until now.'

He realized that he had been indifferent to Kang Eun-Yeong's situation.
Her happiness played a major role in him putting his life back in order and rediscovering his happiness.
Despite knowing how important her happiness was to him, Kang Jin-Ho had been too disinterested in what she was actually doing.
He frowned upon realizing this.

He had a lot of things to do, and trying to acclimatize to modern society was taking most of his free time.
This was his excuse, but he knew he was being disingenuous.
His life was important, but so were his family's lives.
Without their happiness, he couldn’t be happy.

While turning on the water, he muttered quietly to himself, “I need to talk to her sooner rather than later.”

Perhaps for the first time in his life, Kang Jin-Ho felt the weight of the responsibility as an older brother.
It felt different from the emotions he felt toward his parents.

The idea of protecting someone felt rather unfamiliar to him.
Sure, there were many occasions during his time in the demon cult when he had to personally step up to the battlefield while ordering his subordinates to fall back.
However, Kang Jin-Ho didn't do that to protect them but to minimize inefficient sacrifices.

What he was thinking of doing right now was different from that.
This desire to protect came from somewhere deep within his heart.
Something he hadn't felt in such a long time.

'Have I changed?'

Would it be more correct to say he had regained it?

As the water fell on him, Kang Jin-Ho began thinking that he had certainly changed a lot.
He wasn't sure whether this change was a good thing or not.
No matter what, though, he knew that he'd never return to being 'Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor' before his return to the modern era.

A smile floated up on his lips.

'It isn't necessarily a bad thing, then.'

Regardless of the era, he knew that a person's life wouldn't be filled with fun and happiness all the time.
It was possible that his life could get a whole lot worse than what others could imagine as he still only had one foot in this era's doorway.
Even then, he…
He couldn't deny that the now felt pretty good.
And maybe the future would get even better…

Kang Jin-Ho closed his eyes and let the water cascade over him.

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