lfriend outside?”

Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“No, sir.”

“Which video games did you play a lot?” The other sergeant, Jo Won-Gu, butted in again.

Choi Seong-Min ignored him and carried on with his questions.
“Are your parents still alive?”

“…Sir, my parents are still alive,” Kang Jin-Ho replied flatly.

Most of the questions were about miscellaneous things that made Kang Jin-Ho wonder about the point of this Q&A session.
Once his curiosity was satisfied, Choi Seong-Min closed his notebook.
You did great, kid.
From today onward, you're a part of the 3rd squad of Charlie artillery corps.
Be sure to listen to your seniors, okay?”

“Yes, sir.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded.

Choi Seong-Min raised his hand and summoned Tae-Ho.
“Oi, Tae-Ho!”

“Private 1st Class, Seong Tae-Ho, sir!”

“Take this kid and show him where the shower is.
Then have him change into casual clothes. Oh, and make sure he is familiarized with all the important stuff, too.”

Seong Tae-Ho nodded quickly.
“Yes, sir.”

Choi Seong-Min asked in an unsure voice, “Tae-Ho, you do understand that educating this kid well during the waiting period will make your life easier moving forward, don't you?”

“Yes, sir.
I know.”

A private 1st class named Jeon Hyeok-Su quickly walked up and placed Seong Tae-Ho in a headlock before groaning loudly.
“But, Squad Commander.
This dummy doesn't know anything to teach the newbie, sir.”

“Nah, Hyeok-Su.
Tae-Ho will do just fine,” Choi Seong-Min replied with a tut.

“Sir, we all know Tae-Ho is a well-behaved hard worker, but when was the last time he did anything properly?” Jeon Hyeok-Su grumbled while poking the back of Tae-Ho's head with a finger.

Choi Seong-Min retorted right back, “Oh? You want the job instead, then?”

“Eiii~, Squad Commander.
I'll be a corporal pretty soon, you know.
My days of educating a private are already over, sir.”

“In that case, keep your trap shut, will ya?” Choi Seong-Min tutted loudly.

“Understood, sir.” Jeon Hyeok-Su raised both hands in surrender and backed off.

Seong Tae-Ho sheepishly scratched the back of his head, then lightly grasped Kang Jin-Ho's shoulder.
“Private, your name is Jin-Ho?”

“Yes, sir.
Private Kang Jin-Ho.”

“Let's head to the washroom.
Grab your toiletries and activewear.”

“Understood.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
After he was guided to the washroom, he took a quick shower, changed into his activewear, then followed Seong Tae-Ho to the lounge located outside the living quarter.

Seong Tae-Ho pulled out a packet of cigarettes.
“You smoke, Jin-Ho?”

Kang Jin-Ho was about to say that he had quit, but he remembered what Ju Yeong-Gi had told him earlier, so he quickly changed his reply, “Yes, sir.”

“Here.” Seong Tae-Ho smiled and pushed a cigarette forward.

“Thank you.” Kang Jin-Ho accepted the offered cigarette and silently mouthed it.
Seong Tae-Ho lit it up for him before pulling out his own.

The Private 1st Class glanced at Kang Jin-Ho.
“The boot camp was tough, wasn't it?”

Kang Jin-Ho stiffly replied, “No, sir.
It was fine.”

“It was really tough for me.
After arriving at the base, though? The stuff they taught us turned out to be mostly useless.”

“I also heard that's the case, sir.”

“Take one step at a time to learn, and you'll soon be on top of everything required of you.
Heck, just on looks alone, you're above A-grade already, anyway.”

“Thank you,” Just as Kang Jin-Ho replied, the door to the lounge flew open.

Jeon Hyeok-Su stepped inside while cursing loudly.
“What the f*ck?!”

Seong Tae-Ho shot up to his feet at this sudden intrusion.

Jeon Hyeok-Su didn't seem to care and continued with his tirade.
“A-grade, my ass! He looks like a dumbass to me.
Hey, Seong Tae-Ho!”

“Private 1st Class, Seong Tae-Ho!”

“You dipsh*t, don't you remember Sergeant Jo Won-Gu say he'll take the newbie to the game room?”

Seong Tae-Ho replied in a small voice, “I do, sir.”

“In that case, why did you take the kid out here and give him a smoke? Who the hell do you think you are, some kinda bigshot?”

“No, sir.”

“You dipsh*t.
If you can't even do your duties properly, at least be more quick-witted, will ya? Haven't you thought about the possibility of Sergeant Jo waiting for the newbie in the living quarter?”

Seong Tae-Ho's head faltered.
“I'm sorry, sir.”

“Argh, bloody hell! I'm so fed up with listening to your 'I'm sorry' all the time! Get your sh*t together!”

“I'm sorry, sir.”

“What the f*ck? Are you messing with me?” Jeon Hyeok-Su crumpled his empty cigarette packet and threw it at Seong Tae-Ho in anger.

Seong Tae-Ho couldn't dodge the projectile in time, and it hit him squarely on the face.

“I told you, I'm sick of hearing your 'I'm sorry,’ didn't I?! You dipsh*t!” Jeon Hyeok-Su growled menacingly.

“…You did, sir.”

“What? 'You' did? F*cking hell?!” Jeon Hyeok-Su marched straight over while oozing an intimidating aura.
He then disrespectfully patted Seong Tae-Ho's face with his palm, a loud sigh escaping from his mouth.
“Hah, you little sh*t.
Be thankful that we're in the army, you dipsh*t.
I'd have beaten you to death by now if we were on the outside.”

Seong Tae-Ho couldn't say anything; he simply lowered his head.

Jeon Hyeok-Su shifted his attention to Kang Jin-Ho next.
“Hey, Kang Jin-Ho?”

“Private Kang Jin-Ho, sir.”

Jeon Hyeok-Su approached Kang Jin-Ho before ruffling his hair.
“Hah, this guy.
Now that I look at you, you seem to have your wits about you, kid.
Don't get too nervous, alright? Finish your smoke and return to the living quarter with that dumbass.”

“Understood, sir!”

“Hah, you got a pretty energetic voice, don't ya?” Jeon Hyeok-Su cackled while ruffling Kang Jin-Ho's head some more.
However, his expression sharply changed as he shot glares in Seong Tae-Ho's direction.
He then turned around and headed back to the living quarter.

“Uh-whew…” Seong Tae-Ho spat out a lengthy groan once Jeon Hyeok-Su was gone.
With an awkward expression, he addressed Kang Jin-Ho, “Sorry about that.”

“Don't sweat it, sir.” Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.

“Well, Private 1st Class Jeon Hyeok-Su isn't a bad person, but he, uh, has a tendency of losing his temper sometimes, you see? However, you won't have to worry about that, as long as you fulfill your duties well, know what I mean? It's just that I can't seem to do that well…”


Listen to me, talking useless stuff like an old man.” Seong Tae-Ho stubbed his cigarette out before silently urging Kang Jin-Ho with a look in his eyes.

Kang Jin-Ho also killed his cigarette before following Seong Tae-Ho into the living quarter.

'I guess things won't be that simple here, huh…'

His brief analysis indicated that the atmosphere in the living quarter wasn't exactly 'peaceful.’ There was a hidden undercurrent of tension.
He began to understand the meaning behind the advice of the military life only starting for real after reaching his assigned base.

Kang Jin-Ho and Seong Tae-Ho stepped inside the living quarter, only to be greeted by Sergeant Jo Won-Gu rushing over.
Sergeant Jo placed his hands on Kang Jin-Ho's shoulders and smirked deeply.
“Private, did you get to smoke?”

Kang Jin-Ho quickly replied, “Yes, sir.
I did.”

“Was it Tae-Ho who gave you the cigarette?”

“Yes, sir.
Private 1st Class Seong Tae-Ho allowed me to have a smoke.”

Now that’s been taken care of, let's go and play some video games, shall we?”

Kang Jin-Ho was slightly taken aback.
“Sir? Are we allowed to do that?”

“Heh. Who's going to interfere when it's me?” Jo Won-Gu pulled Kang Jin-Ho toward the living quarter’s exit.

That was when Kang Jin-Ho sensed not-so-friendly gazes stabbing into his back.


In the military, one should behave to have an easier time.
However, Kang Jin-Ho suddenly had an epiphany that behaving might not be as simple as it sounded.

“Gee whiz. That kid looks like a kiss-ass, doesn't he?” Jeon Hyeok-Su grumbled while observing Kang Jin-Ho as the latter followed Jo Won-Gu outside the door.
“Why are all recruits such morons, I wonder? But getting wrecked at the beginning will sober him up real good, I bet. Heh, you're dead meat come Monday, kid.”

Unfortunately for Jeon Hyeok-Su, though…
He had no clue—no clue about what kind of recruit had just joined his squad.

According to Joongang Daily: “maknae” is a noun that refers to someone who is the youngest of a group.
It could mean the youngest member of a family, a company, or basically any type of group or community. ☜

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