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    Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’m gonna start dividing these long chapters into two parts. They’ve been getting way too long, most of them are over 3k words! Also, if you’re digging my translation, please consider subscribing to this novel’s translation. Hope you enjoy this chapter!

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    At the mention of ‘twenty times’, not only King Sejong but also the ministers seated around him widened their eyes. The curious King Sejong asked, and an official from the Ministry of Taxation promptly answered.

    “It was hundred-year-old wild ginseng.”

    “Ah…”

    “That makes sense if it’s wild ginseng.”

    At the answer from the Ministry of Taxation’s official, both King Sejong and the ministers nodded their heads. Wild ginseng was considered a top-quality medicine. It was difficult to obtain in Joseon, so it fetched a high price as soon as it was available.

    “So, how much did the Ministry of Taxation collect?”

    At King Sejong’s question, the official replied immediately, “Four thousand nyang in silver.”

    “Four thousand nyang!”

    “Whoa!”

    At the official’s response, King Sejong and the ministers were astonished. With ten jeong[1] or one nyang (37.5g) of silver, one could buy a som (approximately 144kg) of rice even in a famine year. And with one som of rice, an ordinary commoner family could eat for at least a month.

    What surprised King Sejong and the ministers was that 4,000 nyang was only 10% of the total net profit.

    “So, the total profit amounts to 40,000 nyang in silver?”

    “Yes, one trading expedition produced four successful merchants.”

    “Four successful merchants…”

    The influence of a ‘successful merchant’ was enormous. They had the power to affect not only the village they lived in but also half of the province. That’s why there was a saying that when a successful merchant moved, the local governor would come out to greet them in his socks[2].

    Of course, there were dozens of merchants who participated in the trading expedition, and it was an exaggeration to compare them with successful merchants who had amassed wealth over decades. However, a significant number of wealthy individuals had appeared as a result of just one trading expedition.

    “The Crown Prince has arrived.”

    “Bring him in.”

    At King Sejong’s call, the Crown Prince, who had come to the chamber, paid his respects to the king. “Did you call for me, Father?”

    “Yes, I thought you should know about this. The amount collected from the merchants who went on this trading expedition is 4,000 nyang in silver.”

    “4,000 nyang is not a small sum.”

    “You don’t seem very surprised, Crown Prince?”

    Seeing the Crown Prince’s calm demeanor, King Sejong was rather surprised and asked. Not only King Sejong, but all the ministers couldn’t hide their surprise at the Crown Prince’s composed demeanor.

    “Is it your boldness? Or do you not yet fully understand the situation?”

    “Well…”

    The ministers murmured softly, but Hyang still answered with a calm expression.

    “Is it that surprising? The merchants also calculated that they could make a significant profit, and they participated because they were confident. And since those merchants who participated did their part, what is there to be surprised about?”

    21st century.

    Although it was a series of precarious economic situations, Hyang lived in Korea, which consistently maintained its position as one of the top-class economic powers in the world. In addition, Hyang had experience working in the public sector, specifically in the economic field, although he had quit halfway through. Hyang was familiar with numbers in the order of a trillion, so a thousand units – even when converted to the 21st-century economic unit, it was only a few billion – didn’t hold much excitement for them.

    “Well, that’s true. Since the merchants are good at calculating, they wouldn’t have moved without being confident they could make a significant profit.”

    At Hyang’s response, King Sejong nodded his head in agreement.

    The ministers also nodded their heads as if they understood, and Hyang continued to speak, “Now is the time to research how we can consistently gain such profits.”

    “So is that why we are creating the trading post?”

    “It’s not the existence of the trading post that’s important, but the products sold there. What were the most sought-after items by the reputable merchants, the noble gentry?”

    “Overall, there was a shortage, so they couldn’t sell much, but the most sought-after item was indeed the gold pen, followed by medicine and medicinal herbs.”

    King Sejong showed interest at the unexpected answer that these items sold well.

    “Medicinal herbs?”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    “Ming is a vast country. They shouldn’t be lacking medicinal materials, should they?”

    “But they say there are too many counterfeit products in circulation.”

    “Ah~. It’s an item that deals with people’s lives, and it’s counterfeit.”

    King Sejong sighed at the answer from the Minister of Taxation, and the ministers shook their heads. Hyang, who was listening to the conversation, also shook their head.

    ‘As expected, the country of counterfeits!’

    “What kind of medicine were they looking for, besides the medicinal herbs?”

    “It was the Ox Bezoar Antidote Pill[3]. Again, because there were many counterfeits…”

    “I see. The Crown Prince…” King Sejong, who was about to ask for Hyang’s opinion, stopped talking. It was because the Crown Prince’s eyes were fiercely shining.

    “Do you have a good idea?”?”

    “Please gather herbalists and herb gatherers! We can promote the health of the people and greatly increase the national revenue!”

    “Herbalists and herb gatherers?”

    After hearing Hwang’s answer, King Sejong thought for a moment and immediately caught on.

    “Wait… Are you trying to cultivate herbs?”

    “Yes, that’s right!”

    ‘As expected of King Sejong! He understands right away without any explanation!’

    Hyang nodded his head with a bright smile. Unlike the Crown Prince, whose face was white and expressionless, the courtiers had puzzled expressions, unable to understand. The only one who seemed to understand was the Minister of Taxation.

    “Crown Prince, please explain it in more detail.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    As soon as King Sejong gave the order, Hyang began his explanation. “Herbs and wild ginseng are mainly supplied by herb gatherers and herbalists. The problem is that the supply is not consistent. There is even a belief that, unless the mountain spirit approves, ginseng that has grown for over fifty years cannot be dug up for the rest of one’s life.”

    Hyang added, “However, if we investigate carefully, there must be soil and geomantic[4] conditions that are suitable for growing herbs, and experienced herb gatherers would know this well. Therefore, if we can identify these characteristics and artificially create such an environment, we can stably supply herbs, and as a result, the value of medicinal herbs will decrease, making it easier for people to obtain them. …In addition, we will secure a product that can be continuously sold during the Ming dynasty.”

    As soon as Hyang finished his explanation, the courtiers all nodded their heads.

    “Your Highness, your opinion is truly excellent.”

    Starting with Chief State Councilor, the courtiers expressed their approval. They had no reason to oppose it, as they had already seen the results of vast wealth flowing into the country.

    Everything was going well until the Minister of Taxation threw a bomb, although it was not his intention.


    Footnotes

    [1] A type of currency in silver. Translated as ten parts silver or 90 percent of pure silver.

    [2] Basically in a hurry. If in today’s time, you’re greeting your guests in your pajamas, I guess.

    [3] A traditional Chinese medicine used to treat various conditions.

    [4] Geomancy, the study of the energy flow and the balance of the Earth’s energies believed to affect human life, health, and prosperity.

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