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    After the officials from the Ministry of Taxation opened the floodgates, delivery quickly took hold among the officials working in the Six Ministries.

    The officials enjoyed delivery, as it allowed them to eat delicious food from the gisaeng houses they frequented.

    As delivery rapidly gained a foothold, a spectacle was created in Hanseong. In time for the officials’ arrival at work, servants from the gisaeng houses would flock out and distribute flyers.

    “We have a new dish this time!”

    “If more than ten people order, we’ll give pyeonsu (Gaeseong-style dumpling dish) and boiled pork as extras!”

    The servants from the gisaeng houses raised their voices, promoting their respective establishments while handing out flyers.

    The flyers distributed by the servants had detailed information on the available dishes for delivery and their prices.

    Watching the servants from the gisaeng houses promoting like this, Hyang slowly began to worry.

    “This is starting to look dangerous.”

    As the gisaeng houses competitively engaged in delivery, signs of overheating began to appear.

    Moreover, not only the gisaeng houses but also nearby restaurants joined the competition, accelerating the pace of overheating.

    It was certain that if the degree of overheating crossed the line, the risk of problems occurring would rapidly increase.

    However, not long after, the delivery issue surfaced for a different reason.

    The censors from the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Censors submitted impeachment memorials.

    • The officials of the Six Ministries working overtime are privately issuing travel permits! This is a dishonest act of using loopholes to do what is prohibited by the state and must be prohibited!

    Upon hearing the news of the memorials submitted by the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Censors, officials from other government offices simultaneously cursed.

    “What nonsense are these bastards spewing!”

    “Didn’t they order delivery for themselves?”

    “What nonsense are these rootless fellows, who drink even during the day, spouting?”

    As mentioned before, the censors were quite free-spirited compared to other departments of the court.

    The censors were the ones who would risk their necks to confront and argue if they thought something was wrong, not only with the ministers but also with the king.

    So, in exchange for the risks they faced, it was customary for the censors to have no hierarchy of superiority and inferiority between ranks and not be reprimanded for drinking to intoxication during work hours.

    The officials of the Six Ministries cursing them as “rootless fellows” was also due to this part.

    Amid this commotion, Sejong, who received the memorials from the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Censors, quickly reached a conclusion.

    “It is natural for officials to feel hungry when working late. However, it is certainly unjust to issue travel permits through loopholes. Therefore, the Ministry of Personnel should establish a system and create travel permits and usage methods related to delivery.”

    “We shall obey your command!”

    “Your Majesty! This is…”

    “Enough.”

    When the Chief Censor and the Chief Inspector opened their mouths to refute Sejong’s decision, Sejong raised his hand to stop them from speaking.

    “I’ll say it again, it is natural to feel hungry when working late. However, it is not efficient to keep the communal dining hall open late. And isn’t it also a good thing that money flows into the gisaeng houses and markets through delivery? Therefore, I think it is better to guide them in a good direction rather than unconditionally prohibiting it. If this is not right, I will first punish the censors of the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Censors for drinking and getting heavily drunk during work hours.”

    At Sejong’s threat, the Chief Censor and the Chief Inspector had to shut their mouths.

    The historian who recorded all of this added the following:

    • Thus, His Majesty ordered the establishment of a proper system for ordering and eating delivered food.

    The historian discusses:

    It has been said since long ago that even a dog is not disturbed while eating.

    ***

    Since Sejong granted permission, the Ministry of Personnel deliberated to create regulations related to this.

    After several days of deliberation, the Ministry of Personnel came up with the “Regulations on Night Delivery.”

    The contents of the newly created system were as follows:

    • Those delivering food must carry a travel permit specifying “delivery.”
    • The travel permit can only be used once, and each of the Six Ministries has a different color for the travel permit.
    • When questioned, the deliverer must submit the travel permit and verbally state the government office to which they are delivering. If the color of the travel permit and the verbally stated destination are different, the deliverer will be detained.
    • The delivered food must be divided into individual portions and placed in bowls. Additionally, it must be in a fully cooked state. Delivery of uncooked food is prohibited due to the risk of fire.
    • The size of the basket containing the bowls for delivery is limited. This is to prevent the transportation of weapons or other dangerous items.
    • Alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden in the delivered food. Also, it is prohibited for irrelevant individuals such as gisaeng to move together with the deliverer.

    This detailed and meticulous bill was submitted to Sejong. After reviewing the bill, Sejong immediately stamped his seal.

    “It’s good. Execute it as is.”

    “Your grace is immeasurable!”

    In this way, delivery began to be systematized.

    As soon as the bill was enacted, the Ministry of Personnel printed and distributed it to the gisaeng houses and restaurants in Hanseong.

    “If you don’t follow this bill, be prepared to close your doors.”

    “We will keep that in mind!”

    ***

    The gisaeng houses and restaurants that saw this enacted bill had to agonize.

    “It says to divide the food into bowls according to the number of people?”

    Until then, the delivery method was to put the soup in a large soup container, put the noodles or other toppings in a separate basket, put the empty bowls in another basket, and deliver by carrying them.

    Upon arriving at the destination, they would lay out the empty bowls, put the noodles or toppings in them, and scoop the broth with a ladle to serve.

    However, doing so required using large serving trays or jars. And a serving tray or jar of that size was large enough to hide several long swords.

    Therefore, it was natural for the Office of the Controller General or the Police Bureau to be suspicious.

    “Well, dividing the food into bowls according to the number of people is not a big deal, but…”

    The issue the gisaeng houses and restaurants were agonizing over was not the problem of dividing the food. What they were worried about was the transportation method.

    “How do we carry and deliver this?”

    In a situation where no answer came out no matter how much they thought about it, the head gisaeng who ran a gisaeng house in Unjong-ga complained to a regular official.

    “We can somehow manage dividing the food into bowls. But we don’t know how to transport it!”

    At the head gisaeng’s complaint, the regular official tilted his head. After pondering for a long time, the official let out a long sigh.

    “Ah~. It’s a difficult problem! A difficult problem!”

    As he was pondering over the problem without an easy answer, the official’s face suddenly brightened.

    “I don’t have the answer, but there is someone who might know it!”

    “Really?”

    “Absolutely!”

    “If you find the answer for me, not only will I give you free drinks today, but I’ll also give you two more free meals in the future!”

    “Don’t forget that promise!”

    ***

    The official, who had gotten free drinks the day before, headed straight to Hyang’s research institute. He sought out a colleague who had passed the civil service examination together with him.

    “Hey, what brings a busy official from the Ministry of Personnel here?”

    “I have something I need your help with. If you do it right, I’ll treat you to free drinks!”

    “What is it?”

    The official from the research institute, after hearing the problem from the Ministry of Personnel official, immediately started thinking, but an answer did not easily come out.

    “I can’t think of it right away, but as soon as I find the answer, I’ll let you know.”

    “I’m counting on you.”

    ***

    The researcher who took on the homework tried to think about it in various ways, but a good solution did not easily come to mind.

    “Oh my…”

    The official, who was suffering from a headache in the difficult situation, brightened up as soon as he saw Hyang.

    “Of course! His Highness is here!”

    Having found the optimal person, the official hurriedly got up from his seat.

    “Your Highness! Your Highness!”

    ***

    Hyang, after hearing the story from the official, briefly searched his memory and immediately answered.

    “When I went to the Ming Dynasty before, I saw them attaching square boxes to the front and back of long bamboo poles and putting bowls in them to transport. Wouldn’t that work?”

    At Hyang’s explanation, the official immediately pointed out the problem.

    “The bamboo will sway with each step. Unlike the food of the Ming Dynasty, our Joseon’s food has a lot of broth, making it difficult to use. Also, in our Joseon, the bowls are large, so not many can fit.”

    “Hmm…”

    At the official’s explanation, Hyang muttered to himself.

    ‘The conclusion is none other than a metal container.’

    Having reached a conclusion, Hyang said to the official.

    “Just wait three days.”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    “Then go and take care of your work. Have you finished all the tasks you need to do?”

    “I will finish them right away!”

    At Hyang’s question, the researcher ran off as if his tail was on fire.

    ***

    Arriving at Area 51, Hyang summoned the night workers and began the production of metal containers.

    After adjusting the size to fit the soup bowls and rice bowls currently used in Joseon and creating the optimal prototype, Hyang stroked his chin.

    “Wait… This could make money, couldn’t it?”

    Smelling the scent of money, Hyang registered a patent for the metal container with the Intellectual Property Management Office.

    ***

    The metal container, born in this way, was warmly welcomed.

    With one metal container divided into appropriate sizes, six bowls of soup could be transported.

    Therefore, with two delivery workers, they could deliver meals for 10 people, including soup, rice, and side dishes.

    No, not even two people were needed.

    Using the handcart made by Hyang, one person could deliver more than 20 portions.

    The advantage of the metal container was not only the ease of transportation.

    The silver-colored, shiny metal container looked clean just by looking at it. And it was easy to clean even if the broth spilled inside, and it did not retain odors.

    Also, even if it was dropped or dented by hitting something, it could be repaired with a few hammer strikes, so it had a long lifespan.

    In the end, there was no gisaeng house or restaurant delivering food in Hanseong that did not have a metal container.

    And before long, this metal container spread nationwide.

    This was because provincial government offices also suffered from overtime work. And women who wanted to eat the famous delicacies of the gisaeng houses but found it difficult to enter the gisaeng houses frequently used delivery.

    It was the birth of a new market.

    What was interesting was that, unlike in Hanseong where the market was mainly formed targeting the officials working overtime, the market targeting ordinary households was formed first in the provinces. And that spread to Hanseong through word of mouth.

    Thanks to this, delivery workers carrying metal containers in both hands or pulling handcarts full of metal containers ran through the streets of Hanseong and provincial cities day and night.

    As this new market was created, a butterfly effect occurred.

    Pottery artisans began to stay up all night to develop porcelain bowls that would not easily break even when subjected to shocks during delivery, and brassware artisans began to ponder how to make light yet heat-retaining brass bowls.

    It was not only the bowl artisans who were pondering.

    Gisaeng houses and restaurants across Joseon began to think about creating dishes that could represent them.

    Hearing this news, Sejong smiled and turned to Hyang.

    “We should set a date and tour the whole country once the road construction is finished.”

    “Pardon?”

    “With such delicacies overflowing throughout the country, shouldn’t we taste them at least once?”

    At Sejong’s words, a lightning bolt struck Hyang’s mind.

    ‘Michelin Guide!’

    “Then, Your Majesty, how about also giving scores?”

    “Scores?”

    “Yes, the gisaeng houses or restaurants that receive high scores from Your Majesty will gain popularity and prosper. Seeing that, would other restaurants stay still? If such a thing is repeated, how delicious will the food of our Joseon become?”

    “That’s right!”

    In this way, the ‘King’s Gourmet Guide,’ boasting history and tradition, was created.

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