ition of soldiers tied down by external pressures.

If Chairman Hwang willed it, getting rid of a division commander wouldn't even be a thing.
In that case, what would it be like with a measly battalion commander with the rank of lieutenant colonel? Even a stray breath from the chairman might result in his head flying off.

The Division Commander took another puff of his cigarette.
“I'll deal with that, so don't worry about it.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Chairman Hwang is still scheduled to visit your base once a month.
We'll have to speak to him, then.
Besides, that kid said he'd be talking to the chairman on his own, too.”

“Sir, a youngster being so rude might only earn the chairman's ire.”

“There's nothing we can do about that, though! Cross your fingers and hope that doesn't happen.” The Division Commander tutted loudly.


“Wait, Kang Jin-Ho!” Ha Jin-Nam cried out after chasing Kang Jin-Ho outside the office.
He was freaking out.
“Hey, you crazy son of a gun! How dare you just walk out of an office with the division commander in it! Do you want to see your battery commander's head fly off that badly?!”

Kang Jin-Ho faltered.
“I didn't think about that, sir.
My apologies.”

“…For now, be on standby here.” Ha Jin-Nam issued an order in a firm voice, but he had no idea what to do.

He might have scolded Kang Jin-Ho just now, but his mind just couldn't get rid of the image of Chairman Hwang Jeong-Hu's domineering shadow looming over the private from behind.
That was why he just couldn't bring himself to punish Kang Jin-Ho.
However, he couldn't let this conduct slide without any repercussions, either.

What flustered Ha Jin-Nam more was the deafening silence coming from the battalion commander's office.
In a situation like this, they had no choice but to wait until the Battalion Commander came out of the office.

“Sir, may I make a phone call?” Kang Jin-Ho asked while pointing at a distant phone booth in the corridor.

“Mm?!” Ha Jin-Nam suddenly felt scared.

Judging from what had been said back in the office, this punk seemed to be thinking of calling Chairman Hwang right now and nagging the living hell out of him.
If that happened… how was Ha Jin-Nam supposed to deal with the fallout?!

He quickly shook his head.
“N-no, you can't.
You will be on standby for the time being!”

“But, sir.
I only need a minute.”

“When a battery commander orders you to be on standby, you abide by it!”

“Understood, sir.” Kang Jin-Ho didn't argue back any further and obediently stood at attention.

Ha Jin-Nam sneakily breathed a sigh of relief.

'I guess he's not completely ignorant of the ranks, then…'

Now that he knew of Chairman Hwang's involvement, Ha Jin-Nam wouldn't be able to do anything even if Kang Jin-Ho acted a bit cheekily to him.
Unless Kang Jin-Ho was an idiot, he should know this, too.
Yet, he remained respectful toward Ha Jin-Nam, his superior officer.

Ha Jin-Nam wiped a bit of sweat off his forehead and cautiously asked, “Jin-Ho, are you related to Chairman Hwang Jeong-Hu in some way?”

“No, sir.
I'm not related to him.”

“Come on, man.
Be honest with me.
I won't tell anyone, I promise.”

“But, sir.
I'm telling you the truth.”

“…Really? Then, why is he trying to look after you so bad?”

“It must be because we are somewhat privately acquainted, sir.”

“Is that so?”

Should Ha Jin-Nam believe this or not? Did he have a choice? He did take a gander at Kang Jin-Ho's data before, and there definitely was no blood relationship between the chairman and the private.
Judging from Hwang Jeong-Hu's actions, though? It would be wrong to assume there was no relationship between the two.

“…They are taking way too long.” Ha Jin-Nam glanced at the doorway to the battalion commander's office and sighed deeply.
Why was it still closed? “Hey, Jin-Ho.
Were you thinking of phoning Chairman Hwang?”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded affirmatively.
“Yes, sir.”

“…Even if I stop you now, you'll still call him after returning to our base, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

Fine! Make the call.
Get back here immediately when you're finished, got that?”

“Understood, sir.” Kang Jin-Ho saluted Ha Jin-Nam, then walked over to the phone booth.

Ha Jin-Nam watched him walk away while shuddering involuntarily.

'Just why did this have to happen in my corps…!'

Why was a storyline from a TV drama playing out in his backyard? Ha Jin-Nam could only grumble unhappily.
His dream wasn't anything grand—just operating his corps well enough to get his first promotion, that was all! This whole situation felt like…
It felt like he was sailing the high seas only to encounter rough waters.
He hoped for it to be just a spot of bad weather, only for a bloody Kraken to burst through the bottom of the ship!

“Gee whiz. I'm not even Captain Jack Sparrow, you know…” Ha Jin-Nam spat out a groan, then glanced at Kang Jin-Ho holding the phone's receiver.

'I wonder, what is he saying to Chairman Hwang?'

Even if Kang Jin-Ho was a soldier, Ha Jin-Nam was fully aware that an officer eavesdropping on a private phone call was unacceptable behavior.
However, his curiosity was getting the better of him.

A newbie who could directly get in touch with Chairman Hwang Jeong-Hu? How could Ha Jin-Nam not be curious about the contents of their conversation? Moreover, he could glean some kind of hint about the actual relationship between Kang Jin-Ho and Chairman Hwang.
That could be a massive help to both the Battalion Commander and the Division Commander.

'…Should I just listen for a bit?'

Ha Jin-Nam lightly chewed his lips.
While telling himself that he was simply being loyal to his senior officers and definitely not trying to satisfy his own curiosity, Ha Jin-Nam sneaked closer to the phone booth.

He made sure to approach from behind Kang Jin-Ho so that he couldn't be seen.
He also kept his steps as silent as possible.
Once he was close enough, Ha Jin-Nam tried to listen in.

'Mm? What is he talking about?'

He couldn't quite hear what Kang Jin-Ho was saying on the phone, so he got even closer.

“That's why…
I told you, didn't I?”

Finally, Ha Jin-Nam could hear Kang Jin-Ho's hushed voice.


Ha Jin-Nam concentrated a bit more and finally heard their conversation a bit clearer.
Since 'Chairman' was brought up, Kang Jin-Ho must be talking to Hwang Jeong-Hu on the phone.

'I guess he does know Chairman Hwang, then?'

Ha Jin-Nam found it so weird that a person he had only ever seen on TV was speaking to a soldier over the phone right in front of his eyes.
This situation still seemed surreal, and he couldn't quite decide what to make of it.

Ha Jin-Nam ever so slightly drifted into a land of dreamy haze, but what Kang Jin-Ho said next snapped him wide awake.

“That's why I told you the last time, sir.
I do not need anything from you.
If the same thing happens again, I'm not going to take it lying down.
Let me make myself clear.
Stop interfering with my military life, sir.
This is not up for discussion.”

The realization of reality brutally crashed into Ha Jin-Nam.
He clutched at his chest where his heart was as his knees buckled and gave in.

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