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    Looking at the wire in his hand, Il-chul felt confident.

    “I might not know much else, but I’m confident with wire!”

    Il-chul’s blacksmith shop was not only known for its metalwork but also for skillfully crafting items from iron and copper wires.

    The grills Il-chul made were sought after not only by wealthy households nearby but also by restaurants in Hanyang.

    Moreover, the chainmail he created by intricately weaving the wire was so smooth it felt like wearing cloth, earning a reputation that drew customers from afar, even after the introduction of full plate mail armor in Area 51 by Hyang.

    Confident in his skills with wire, Il-chul had a self-assured plan.

    “Let’s see…”

    Il-chul roughly sketched a blueprint on the ground using a nearby branch.

    “The size of the chicken coop should be…”

    He estimated the area of his backyard and nodded.

    “About two kan (approx. 4m or 12-16ft) should do.”

    Having decided on the size, Il-chul sought out his wife.

    “Honey! Wife!”

    “What is it?”

    “We’re going to raise chickens!”

    “Really?”

    “So…”

    After hearing Il-chul’s explanation, his wife immediately agreed.

    “Why not! Let’s do it! I was getting sick of those poultry shop owners’ tricks anyway!”

    With his wife’s agreement, things moved quickly. Il-chul placed an order with a carpenter living nearby.

    “You want me to build a chicken coop? That’s not too difficult, I can do it quickly.”

    “Please do. I’ll pay you properly, just make sure it’s sturdy.”

    And so, in just three days, a two-kan chicken coop was built.

    With the coop ready, Il-chul crafted square frames out of wire mesh. The sturdy-looking wire mesh, interwoven like warp and weft threads on a thick iron frame, seemed very reliable.

    Looking proudly at the chicken coop he had fitted with iron mesh, Il-chul called out to his wife and children.

    “What are you doing? Hurry up and put the chickens in!”

    “Yes! Kids!”

    Il-chul’s family quickly herded the hens and roosters into the coop.

    The wire mesh windows proved effective. No chickens escaped, and with good airflow, they didn’t suffer from the heat.

    Thanks to the meticulously sealed bottom with stones and plaster, the coop was safe from weasels and snakes, and the chickens leisurely roamed around.

    As the word spread about ‘Il-chul’s remarkable coop,’ people from nearby poultry farms began to show interest. Seeing this, Il-chul stroked his chin.

    “Let’s see… I bet someone will try to copy this.”

    Pondering various thoughts, Il-chul got up.

    “Who knows how to write around here?”

    After searching for someone literate, Il-chul eventually persuaded a low-ranking clerk from the oil mill to write for him, in exchange for two fried chickens.

    “Whether others follow suit is a problem for later. I can’t stand the thought of people copying without saying anything or doing as they please.”

    “Ah! That would be terrible!”

    Nodding at Il-chul’s explanation, the clerk swiftly wrote up the documents.

    “Thank you!”

    “Don’t mention it… Anyway, I’ll enjoy the fried chickens!”

    With the paperwork completed, Il-chul promptly registered his wire mesh at the Intellectual Property Management Office. Reviewing the documents through an office employee, Hyang smiled.

    “Finally, people are starting to take initiative on their own.”

    ***

    After the wire mesh window was patented, the poultry farms that heard about it ordered from Il-chul’s blacksmith shop.

    Many blacksmiths from the countryside, seeing the demand, also came to Il-chul’s shop to make use agreements.

    With each contract, Il-chul proudly exclaimed to his wife,

    “I’m not done yet!”

    His pride as a blacksmith, which had dimmed for a while, was revived.

    ***

    With a steady supply of chickens, ‘Ilmi Gyechak’ began to attract more customers again, and the number of poultry farms increased to three.

    As the poultry farms expanded, Il-chul encountered a new problem: Feed.

    Il-chul’s children spent all day catching worms, frogs, and grubs for the chickens to eat. But it was clear that this was not sustainable.

    “Hmm…”

    Pondering a solution, Il-chul headed to the oil mill.

    “Hey, isn’t that Song the wealthy!”

    “Oh, come now, I’m no wealthy man!”

    Waving off the clerk’s jest, Il-chul noticed a group of workers carrying sacks and piling them up.

    “What’s that?”

    “That? It’s the leftover soybean pulp after oil extraction.”

    “That’s a lot. Must be a hassle to dispose of.”

    “It’s good feed for pigs and cows.”

    At the clerk’s response, Il-chul’s head snapped around.

    “Cows and pigs eat it?”

    “Even horses. Why?”

    “Could you sell some to me?”

    “It’s two pecks of beans per sack.”

    “Just wait a moment!”

    Rushing back home, Il-chul left the clerk flipping through his ledger.

    “Let’s see… Does this mean all the nearby poultry farms will be supplied?”

    ***

    Thus, many citizens began to break out of their traditional molds in pursuit of a better life.

    These small movements under the surface, though seemingly minor, created ripples that reached Hyang.

    On a day in March, after the late spring cold snap,

    Hyang, as usual, mounted his horse and headed towards Area 51.

    “Ho there! Make way! His Highness the Crown Prince is passing!”

    As the leading eunuch shouted, the people on the main road split to either side and bowed down.

    “This is really… It’s inconvenient to do this every day. Maybe I should change the law…”

    Riding through the parted crowd, Hyang muttered to himself with a troubled expression.

    ***

    Unlike Sejong or other kings mentioned in history, who spent most of the year in the palace and only occasionally ventured outside, it wasn’t a big issue. However, the problem with Hyang was that he spent most of the year traveling between the palace and Area 51.

    Even though he reduced the number of accompanying guards and eunuchs to a minimum, he could only cut down by a third due to safety concerns. Consequently, whenever Hyang left the palace, at least 30 people had to move together.

    “It’s too much! We can reduce more!”

    Hyang advocated for reducing the number of personnel, but Sejong was unyielding.

    “Do not forget that you are the Crown Prince.”

    As policies related to the landowners were being prepared, Sejong issued another command.

    “Strengthen the Crown Prince’s security! Unpredictable actions by unruly individuals cannot be ruled out!”

    As a result, this scene unfolded every morning and evening when Hyang traveled to and from Area 51.

    “If I can’t avoid it, I need to reduce the time!”

    Eventually, Hyang continued horseback riding, initially started for health and growth, as a means for quicker commuting.

    Ironically, Hyang’s commutes, which he worried and felt sorry about, became a spectacle for the residents of Hanyang. Especially Hyang’s appearance, which even the Emperor admired, was a matter of pride for them.

    “Hey, you country folks! Have you ever seen the Crown Prince’s face? We see him every day! You don’t know how handsome he is!”

    Thanks to various reform policies implemented by Hyang and Sejong, the people’s support was enthusiastic.

    On days when Hyang couldn’t come out of the palace due to affairs, the people on the streets looked towards Gyeongbok Palace with worried eyes.

    “I hope he’s not unwell…”

    ***

    “Ho there! Make way!”

    Whether the eunuch knew of Hyang’s concerns or not, his shouting continued.

    As the main gate of Area 51 came into view, suddenly, the loud sound of a gong was heard.

    Gwang-gwang-gwang-gwang!

    “Your Highness! Please grant my wish!”

    “Stop!”

    “Stop!”

    “Protect His Highness!”

    When a man, unexpectedly banging a gong, ran into the middle of the road, the procession was thrown into emergency mode.

    As the guards quickly surrounded Hyang, the vanguard riders encircled the man.

    “What are you doing, you fool!”

    “Your Highness! Please grant my wish!”

    “What are you doing, I said!”

    Ignoring the questions and only seeking the Crown Prince, the guards, mistaking the man for a boy due to his young appearance, drew their swords.

    Under the threat of the guard’s sword, the young man hurriedly replied.

    “I, I am Malbok! Please spare my life!”

    As Malbok prostrated himself, begging for his life, he internally screamed,

    ‘I must have been crazy to die! Curse that liquor! It’s my enemy!’

    Blocking the Crown Prince’s procession was not something Malbok could have done sober, so he had emptied a jar of crude liquor.

    The bravery created by the alcohol vanished instantly when confronted by the guard’s drawn sword.

    As Malbok lay trembling on the ground, he overheard the conversation between Hyang and the guard.

    “Bring that man here.”

    “But, Your Highness! He might have approached with malicious intent!”

    “Then just conduct a simple body search and bring him here. If he stopped the procession to fulfill a wish, we should at least know what it’s about, right?”

    “…But…”

    “He knew the grave consequences of obstructing the Crown Prince’s path and still rushed in. Doesn’t that show his desperation? Bring him here.”

    “…As you command.”

    Following Hyang’s order, the guards searched Malbok and then brought him before Hyang.

    Hyang dismounted his horse to face Malbok, who had been brought before him.

    “How old are you?”

    “I, I am fourteen, Your Highness.”

    “The same age as me. So, what pressing matter made you block the road?”

    Malbok, glancing nervously at the surrounding guards, stammered in response.

    “Not, not a grievance, but something I just can’t solve…”

    “Something you can’t solve?”

    “Yes. No one in my village could give me an answer, so I thought… since you’re the second smartest person after His Majesty, you might have an answer…”

    “And what is it that you want to know?”

    “What can I do? What job is suitable for me!”

    “Ah…”

    ‘Out of the blue, career counseling?’

    Taken aback by the unexpected response, Hyang smelled the scent of liquor on Malbok.

    “Sniff, sniff. That’s the smell of alcohol. Have you been drinking?”

    “Yes, I couldn’t muster the courage to do this sober…”

    “Ha ha ha!”

    Hyang burst into laughter at Malbok’s response. After a long laugh, he looked at Malbok.

    “Before we talk in detail, go to the police office, take a whipping, and then come back.”

    “What?”

    “If you’re willing to cause such a scene, you must have a serious issue. But, there is a thing called national law. You’ve broken that law, so it’s only right that you receive punishment. Go and get punished first, then return.”

    “Yes.”

    Dejected, Malbok answered. Seeing his reaction, Hyang instructed the guards.

    “You and you, take this… wait, what’s your name?”

    “I am called Malbok, Your Highness.”

    “Right, take this Malbok to the police office and ensure the punishment is carried out.”

    “Yes!”

    The guards responded energetically to Hyang’s command. Hyang then gestured for the guards to come closer.

    “Listen…”

    Hyang whispered to the guards who came close.

    “Bring him back in one piece as much as possible. If, perchance, he looks too beaten for my liking, I’ll hold you responsible. Convey the same to the commander of the guard.”

    “Yes, Your Highness!”

    The guards replied, sweating nervously.

    Hyang then addressed Malbok.

    “I’ll say it again, the national law is strict. Go, receive your punishment, and return. We will discuss your wish afterward.”

    “Yes.”

    Thus, the practice of the oral petition system was officially recorded earlier than in actual history.

    Meanwhile, the residents of Hanyang who witnessed the commotion relayed the situation to their neighbors, saying,

    “Have you ever seen such a just yet stern nobleman? Have you ever seen one?”

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