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    Chapter 286: An Ordinary Day in Hanseong. (4)

    The ‘issue of talent recruitment’ was immediately reported to King Sejong.

    Upon receiving the report, King Sejong had a secret meeting with Hyang that night. Sending out not only the scribes and clerks but also the eunuchs, King Sejong vented his frustration.

    “Even when I want to have a conversation between father and son, I have to be so cautious…”

    At King Sejong’s complaint, Hyang gave a wry smile.

    “We have no choice since that’s the protocol. If we recklessly change the protocol, it could be abused by later generations.”

    “That’s the problem… Let’s stop the complaints here and get to the main point.”

    “Yes.”

    At King Sejong’s words, Hyang straightened his posture once again and paid attention to King Sejong’s words.

    “The Geomgye, no, the Milwi reported an issue. It’s about the recruitment of personnel.”

    King Sejong told Hyang about the issue of talent recruitment that had been reported through the Imperial Guard Commander.

    After explaining in detail, King Sejong threw a question at Hyang.

    “Hyang, what was your reason for choosing the Geomgye? Was it simply because you wanted them to serve as ‘hidden ears’?”

    At King Sejong’s question, Hyang immediately answered.

    “I thought the Geomgye would be capable of sustaining themselves, so they would be useful. And I thought it would significantly reduce time and cost.”

    “Time and cost?”

    King Sejong briefly asked back and soon nodded.

    Indeed, it would take a lot of time and cost to formally train individuals with the same level of skill as the Geomgye members.

    Seeing King Sejong nodding, Hyang inwardly added.

    ‘If it were the 21st century, we would have recruited personnel through a rigorous selection process from special military units, but now Joseon is struggling just to fill the military with people…’

    The task of creating a real, usable military, not the 300,000-strong army that existed only on paper, was still ongoing.

    “As you said, choosing the Geomgye can definitely save time and cost. But the future is the problem. Should we continue to recruit Milwi members from the Geomgye?”

    King Sejong’s question was also a concern for Hyang.

    ‘Selecting individuals with capabilities but social constraints to create a royal guard force.’

    This was the most common method used when creating a loyal guard group for the monarch, regardless of East or West.

    Among the groups organized in this way, the most famous ones were the Janissaries.

    However, there was also a problem that over time, these groups would come to control and shake the kings they were supposed to protect.

    ‘Besides the issue with the Janissaries, didn’t we also have political thugs in our history? Wait, is it appropriate to include political thugs in this category?’

    After contemplating back and forth, Hyang honestly answered King Sejong.

    “To be frank, although their merits are great, it is an undeniable fact that the Geomgye is a criminal organization. Therefore, we cannot continue to recruit members solely from the Geomgye. However, recruiting members through the civil service examination or talent selection also has problems. It’s not simply a matter of time and cost, but they may transform into another bureaucratic group and lose their original purpose.”

    “My thoughts are the same as yours. Everything has its pros and cons.”

    “Indeed, Your Majesty.”

    ‘If you already knew, why did you ask?’

    While grumbling inwardly at King Sejong’s words, Hyang outwardly kept nodding.

    The father and son, who had pondered to find the best solution, inevitably reached a conclusion.

    -Looking at those currently involved in the Geomgye, some entered the Geomgye due to their evil nature, but many others gave up their dreams and joined the Geomgye due to various circumstances. For now, we will focus on recruiting the latter and gradually shift towards finding and recruiting upright individuals.

    “It feels like a makeshift plan, but this is the best we can do.”

    “Indeed, Your Majesty.”

    “Alright. Let’s end it here for today.”

    “Yes, Father. Then, please have a peaceful rest.”

    After sending Hyang out, King Sejong sighed.

    “Phew~. It’s not an easy task.”

    ***

    Two days later, while working at the research institute, a eunuch came to Hyang.

    “What is it?”

    “Yes. Prince Jinpyeong requested permission to enter with the young princes to see the railroad model.”

    “Jinpyeong?”

    “Yes.”

    “Hmm… Is it because of the princes?”

    The research institute and Area 51 were areas where entry was prohibited except for those with permission. Jinpyeong had permission, but the princes did not yet.

    “Let them in.”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    The eunuch who received Hyang’s permission withdrew. After sending the eunuch out, Hyang grumbled softly.

    “Is this guy really planning to do multi-level marketing or something?”

    ***

    Unable to contain his worries, Hyang eventually rose from his seat and headed to the room with the railroad model.

    Stopping the eunuch who was about to announce his arrival, Hyang carefully listened to the voices coming from inside.

    “Did you see it well? Isn’t it amazing?”

    “Yes, Prince.”

    “What do you mean ‘Prince’… Call me brother. Brother.”

    “Yes, brother!”

    “So, study diligently and join the research institute to dedicate yourself to railroad research with me. Understood?”

    “Yes!”

    “Huh? Why isn’t Lim responding?”

    “I, I prefer music more.”

    “Oh my! How can a prince say such a thing!”

    As Jinpyeong’s voice rose, Hyang immediately opened the door and entered.

    “Stop right there!”

    At Hyang’s intrusion, the room froze. Hyang looked at Lim, his seventh younger brother. Seeing the child, still full of baby fat, looking at him with teary eyes, Hyang looked at Jinpyeong with a stiff face.

    “Jinpyeong, let’s have a little talk.”

    Sensing the unusual tone in Hyang’s voice, Jinpyeong answered in a timid voice.

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    Moving to a place slightly away from the research institute with Jinpyeong, Hyang began to ask questions.

    “Jinpyeong.”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    “Did I ever pressure you to study railroads?”

    “No, you did not.”

    “Then, when you said you would study railroads, did I stop you?”

    “No, you did not.”

    “Then why are you doing this?”

    “I simply thought that railroads would become the core of Joseon in the future, and as a member of the royal family, it is natural to work hard for it.”

    “It’s not a bad thought, but let me ask you this. If you force them, will it yield good results?”

    “But the railroad is…”

    “Is the railroad the only important thing for Joseon’s peace and prosperity?”

    “That’s not the case.”

    “The railroad is important, but everything else is important too. The music that Lim likes is also important.”

    “Music is low-class, and for women…”

    “What about the musicians and trainees of the Royal Music Institute?”

    “…”

    “And what about the task His Majesty assigned to Baek-yeon?”

    “…I apologize.”

    “As long as you understand. Jinpyeong, I am well aware of your dedication to the railroad. And I am proud of you too. But you know, you are so passionate about it because you like it, right?”

    “Yes.”

    “And because you like it, you want to recommend it to your younger siblings too?”

    “Yes!”

    “But you see, there is a saying, ‘ten people, ten colors.’ People have different preferences, so how can you recommend it thoughtlessly? Isn’t that right?”

    “That is true. I was foolish.”

    “You’re not foolish. You were just too eager. So reflect on this and don’t do it again in the future. Understood?”

    “Yes!”

    After giving advice to Jinpyeong, Hyang returned to the research institute with him.

    “Lim, let’s have a little talk.”

    “Huh? Yes…”

    At Hyang’s words, Lim timidly left the room.

    Unlike the princes who were not much younger than Hyang, such as Jinpyeong or Anpyeong, for the younger princes, princesses, and ladies below them, Hyang was as intimidating a figure as their father. It was not simply because he was the Crown Prince, but because whenever they were lacking or made mistakes, the teachers in charge of their education would mention Hyang’s name.

    “When His Highness the Crown Prince was your age, he had already mastered not only the Four Books and Three Classics but also all kinds of Confucian scriptures…”

    As they heard the teachers’ words, in the eyes of the young siblings, Hyang was someone who resided in a place far out of reach.

    “So, I think it’s a bit too early for you to decide your path now. What you should do now is to diligently learn the teachings of your teachers and keep your body healthy. Understood?”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    “Good. Then let’s go back.”

    Comforting the timid Lim and giving him career counseling, Hyang returned to the research institute.

    After the princes and Jinpyeong left, Hyang let out a long sigh.

    “Phew~. Suddenly doing child psychology counseling… By the way…”

    Pausing for a moment, Hyang opened the window and looked at Jinpyeong disappearing into the distance.

    “What should I do with that guy? Well, he had that kind of personality… Later on, he would overturn everything, but…”

    Jinpyeong’s personality was one that focused solely on one thing once he set his mind to it. It was the same now. Studying and practicing martial arts were all for the railroad.

    If ‘king’ replaced the position of ‘railroad,’ the ‘Sejo’ from the history before Hyang’s intervention would emerge.

    “I have so much to do, and I have to worry about that guy too… Damn it! What a life I have!”

    Hyang found himself uttering a curse without realizing it.

    ***

    Hyang’s concerns did not end there.

    “Your Highness, Princess Jeong-ui has arrived.”

    “Jeong-ui? Let her in.”

    A moment later, Princess Jeong-ui, who entered the room, politely greeted Hyang.

    “Jeong-ui greets the Crown Prince.”

    “Yes. It’s been a while. I’m glad to see you healthy. Please have a seat.”

    Sitting on the chair opposite Jeong-ui, Hyang asked about her purpose with a gentle expression.

    “So, what brings you here?”

    “Your Highness, please make a request to His Majesty on my behalf.”

    “A request? What request?”

    “I want to study mathematics and astronomy and participate in research.”

    “Huh?”

    Hyang froze at the completely unexpected request.

    Even in the history before Hyang’s intervention, it was recorded in the annals that Princess Jeong-ui showed exceptional talent in mathematics and astronomy.

    “Hmm… I heard about it. Jeong-ui, they say you are good at mathematics and astronomy.”

    “You praise me too much. I have only had a taste of it.”

    “His Majesty is well aware of your talent, so can’t you make the request directly?”

    “It’s not easy for a woman to pursue academics, is it? Especially since I haven’t even had my wedding ceremony yet, I may be the subject of gossip.”

    “Ah…”

    At Jeong-ui’s words, Hyang nodded. Jeong-ui was 16 years old this year. Considering the current trend in Joseon, it was the perfect marriageable age, or rather, a bit late. If an unmarried woman were to study mathematics and astronomy and participate in research at a research institute filled with men, it would certainly be the subject of gossip.

    “Hmm…”

    After pondering for a moment, Hyang soon made a decision.

    “Alright. I will make the request to His Majesty. However, there is a high possibility that you may have to have your wedding ceremony first.”

    “If necessary, I will have my wedding ceremony first.”

    “Do you like mathematics and astronomy that much?”

    “Yes.”

    “Understood. Well, there is a suitable reason, so let’s give it a try.”

    ***

    In the end, Hyang made the request to King Sejong on behalf of Jeong-ui.

    “Jeong-ui said she wants to learn mathematics and astronomy and participate in research?”

    “That’s right.”

    At Hyang’s answer, King Sejong’s expression turned troubled.

    “The ministers won’t stay still.”

    “Many of the current teachers at the commoners’ school are women, aren’t they? What’s the problem?”

    “That may be true, but they may take issue with a child who hasn’t even had her wedding ceremony working among men.”

    “Jeong-ui said she is willing to have her wedding ceremony first if she must do it.”

    At Hyang’s words, King Sejong sighed.

    “Having exceptional talent is also a problem.”

    “Isn’t it thanks to inheriting your blood, Father? Since you are outstanding, your children are all outstanding.”

    “Flattery won’t work after causing trouble.”

    Despite his words, King Sejong seemed to have softened a lot. After pondering for a moment, King Sejong reached a conclusion.

    “We’ll have to give an order to the Milwi (Secret Guards). Tell them to find a humble but well-respected family.”

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