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    While a great commotion had erupted in Liaodong and turmoil had unfolded in the Nine Provinces of Japan, Joseon was moving towards stability.

    The war that had broken out in Liaodong at the beginning of the year came to an end as a short-term battle beyond the border under Sejong’s active command, who had declared “total war.” The conflict that had occurred in Japan had not even had an impact.

    However, the court was carefully observing the movements in Japan. One of the two trading posts established in Japan was located in the territory of the Ouchi clan, and there was a silver mine being mined in cooperation with the Ouchi clan.

    “We must secure the silver mine, no matter what it takes!”

    Kim Jeom, the Minister of Finance, emphasized the importance of the silver mine as if he were coughing up blood. At his impassioned speech, the other ministers nodded in agreement.

    Although the mining had just begun, the raw ore being extracted was not to be taken lightly.

    The silver content was extraordinary, and even though it had not yet reached its full potential, the output was considerable.

    If the Iwami silver mine were to begin operating properly, it was certain that Joseon’s economy would soar.

    “If the Ouchi clan is endangered, I believe Joseon should be prepared to dispatch troops!”

    “Isn’t that too extreme?”

    While Maeng Sa-seong reacted that Kim Jeom’s words were excessive, Kim Jeom shook his head.

    “It is not extreme!”

    Kim Jeom bowed his head to Sejong and explained the gravity of the situation.

    “Your Majesty! Currently, Joseon is aiding the convenience of the people as more and more devices are being produced! The problem is that these devices must all be purchased with money, but the people’s means of earning money are limited!”

    “The means of earning money are limited?”

    At Kim Jeom’s words, Sejong pondered the situation with a serious expression.

    After silently organizing his memories, Sejong’s face turned gloomy.

    “Indeed. Although we have increased the number of officials and teachers, there are not enough positions to accommodate all those who have acquired knowledge. And for those seeking work other than farming, we cannot provide sufficient jobs beyond labor at construction sites.”

    “That is correct. If we fail to address this issue, it will not only destabilize the Reformation Plan but also the governance of the nation. Therefore, we must create various jobs for the people, but this requires an immense amount of wealth. Of course, we are currently mining gold and silver in various places, but the mining is not being done properly, is it not?”

    At Kim Jeom’s point, Sejong and the ministers fell silent with uncomfortable expressions.

    Through the prospecting conducted thus far, a considerable number of gold and silver mines had been discovered, and many of them had sufficient profitability.

    In particular, gold mines were located in several places nationwide, and an enormous gold vein had been discovered in Unsan, Pyeongan region.

    However, Joseon could not properly mine them. It was because of the Ming Dynasty.

    The common belief among Sejong and the ministers was that the time to mine those deposits would be when Joseon became prosperous and could “proclaim an emperor and establish a reign title.”

    “That is why the silver mine in Iwami is something Joseon must possess. Isn’t it fully possible with the military strength of the Joseon army that has subjugated the Jurchens?”

    At Kim Jeom’s words, Sejong replied with a tired expression.

    “I understand your words well. However, let us not get ahead of ourselves.”

    “…Yes, Your Majesty.”

    Although the matter was settled for the time being, Sejong’s worries did not subside.

    When Kim Jeom argued for deploying military means, a significant number of ministers seemed to agree with his opinion.

    “They say victory can sometimes be poisonous…”

    Even when facing the Jurchen and Mentemu, the ministers had been cautious, worrying about the possibility of an extended war. But now, they were beginning to view the use of military force in a positive light.

    However, as time passed and news of the Ouchi clan’s victory arrived, the “argument for dispatching Joseon troops” sank below the surface.

    Nevertheless, Sejong remained wary of the ministers’ belligerence. Hyang felt the same way.

    “They’re not even the Japanese bastards during the Japanese colonial period… Why are they so warlike? I should put aside the idea of ass-blasters for the time being.”

    ***

    Having decided to postpone weapons development for the time being, Hyang focused on other matters.

    “Summon Jang Yeong-sil, the Ji-pyeong.”

    Upon arriving at Area 51, Hyang immediately called for Jang Yeong-sil.

    Jang Yeong-sil had been steadily accumulating achievements since the Reformation Plan and had been promoted to the rank of Ji-pyeong.

    Shortly after, Jang Yeong-sil, who had been summoned by Hyang, entered Hyang’s office.

    “Your Highness, did you call for me?”

    “Yes, how is the development of the loom I mentioned before progressing? Has there been any progress?”

    In response to Hyang’s question, Jang Yeong-sil bowed at a 90-degree angle and answered.

    “I apologize! There has been no significant progress yet! Please forgive me!”

    “It’s alright. I was well aware that it was not an easy task.”

    “I am ashamed.”

    “I told you it’s really okay.”

    Hyang’s words were sincere.

    ‘It was such a struggle to make the loom, so how could weaving cloth in a cylindrical shape be easy?’

    Hyang comforted Jang Yeong-sil, who was bowing profusely while sweating heavily, and brought up the main topic.

    “So, let’s think about this differently.”

    “Think differently, you say?”

    “What was the reason I asked you to create a loom that weaves cloth in a cylindrical shape? It was for sacks, right?”

    “That is correct.”

    “Why did I do that?”

    “Because sewing thick cloth is not an easy task…”

    “Exactly.”

    Hyang nodded at Jang Yeong-sil’s answer.

    Looking at the current process of making sacks, housewives were sewing them one by one by hand. It was simple labor, but the intensity of the work was by no means light. It was because the cloth used to make the sacks was thick.

    As a result, the demand for sacks was steadily increasing, but the supply was limited.

    “Therefore, I’m suggesting that we think differently and create a device that makes this sewing easier.”

    “A device that makes sewing easier?”

    “I’ve named it a sewing machine.”

    As Hyang spread the blueprint on the desk, Jang Yeong-sil approached and began examining it.

    As Jang Yeong-sil examined the blueprints of each component that made up the sewing machine, his eyes began to sparkle.

    Seeing his reaction, Hyang smiled with satisfaction.

    ‘That cosplay craftsman can be helpful at times.’

    In the 21st century, Hyang—known as Kim Jin-ho at the time—had engaged in various hobbies and had formed a diverse network of connections as wide-ranging as his hobbies.

    One of those connections was a cosplay enthusiast. She mainly cosplayed as characters from games and animations and made the costumes herself.

    Hyang, who had become close to her while making props for her cosplay, was captivated by the sewing machine she used.

    “Hey, Kim Jin-ho! If you disassemble that, I’ll kill you!”

    When she warned him, knowing Hyang’s personality well, Hyang replied with a chuckle.

    “I don’t really like the latest models.”

    “You’re a weird one.”

    Just like his love for steampunk, Hyang’s preferences were clear.

    An ultra-modern sewing machine that could perform all kinds of sewing by simply pressing a button or turning a dial was not to Hyang’s taste.

    In fact, not just sewing machines, but all the machines he liked had a strong analog feel to them.

    Thanks to his preferences, Hyang had scoured Hwanghak-dong and other antique markets to acquire an old sewing machine and disassembled it to examine its interior.

    Through the information he had gathered from the internet and the actual machine, Hyang was able to obtain detailed knowledge about sewing machines.

    Thanks to these past memories, Hyang was able to create a fairly decent design for a manual sewing machine.

    The reason it could only be described as “fairly decent” was that the sewing machine depicted in the blueprint had a rather crude and bulky appearance. Although Joseon’s metal processing technology had advanced quite a bit, there was still a long way to go.

    “It looks quite promising.”

    Jang Yeong-sil gave a positive assessment after seeing Hyang’s blueprint.

    “Isn’t it? Then let’s try making it. If this sewing machine is properly made, it will not only help in making sacks but also in making sails, don’t you think?”

    “Indeed, Your Highness.”

    Jang Yeong-sil nodded at Hyang’s words.

    Although the cloth used for making sacks was thick and durable, the cloth used for making sails was even thicker and more resilient.

    Sewing such thick and durable cloth to create a large sail was a labor-intensive task.

    As Jang Yeong-sil nodded in agreement, he pointed out another issue.

    “Even if the loom can be put aside, I need to focus on making the spring-driven clock right now…”

    “Let’s start with the sewing machine.”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    At Hyang’s command, Jang Yeong-sil silently gathered the blueprints.

    ***

    After finishing his day’s work by visiting the craftsmen with Jang Yeong-sil and explaining the structure and operation principles of the sewing machine, Hyang returned to the palace with a light step.

    Hyang informed Sejong and Queen Soheon of his return and then went to the Eastern Palace to see the Crown Princess, Yangwon, and Yangje.

    “Nothing unusual happened today as well, right?”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    The Crown Princess, Yangwon, and Yangje, who now had significantly swollen bellies, promptly answered Hyang’s question.

    Since the Crown Princess, Yangwon, and Yangje had become pregnant, Hyang had been meticulously managing their health. From their diet to light exercise, Hyang paid close attention to every detail.

    Hyang’s actions quickly became the talk of the town, and Queen Soheon and the concubines, who were envious, subtly incited Sejong.

    ***

    After exchanging pleasantries with the Crown Princess, Yangwon, and Yangje, Hyang returned to his room.

    Entering the study attached to his room, Hyang muttered a curse under his breath as he looked at the pile of reports on his desk.

    “Damn it…”

    The reports prominently placed on the desk were related to state affairs.

    In the 21st century, despite barely becoming a civil servant and belonging to a core agency of the central government, Hyang had to quit due to depression.

    To that extent, state affairs or administration was a source of severe stress for Hyang.

    However, after being reborn and appointed as the Crown Prince, Hyang had purged the elder ministers through various means and made significant contributions to the Reformation Plan initiated by Sejong.

    This was not something Hyang did because he enjoyed it.

    For his own safety, his father needed to have strong power. Also, for the sake of his hobbies, Joseon had to develop.

    Hyang had worked so hard for these reasons.

    The problem was that in the process, Hyang was being burdened with more and more political responsibilities. And the resulting stress was considerable.

    ***

    The next day, after finishing the morning court session, Hyang muttered to himself as he headed to Area 51 with a tired expression.

    “I’ll probably get scolded for saying this, but I hope it’s a son…”

    “Pardon? What did you say, Your Highness?”

    “It’s nothing.”

    Giving a brief answer to the eunuch, Hyang began making his own calculations inwardly.

    ‘Considering the history I learned in the 21st century plus the management program I’ve implemented so far, he should remain healthy for at least 20 more years… If my to-be-born child is a son, by that time, he would have solidified his own foundation to some extent, right? Then I would inherit the throne and do it for 3-4 years out of courtesy before abdicating… And I would immediately settle down in Area 51. If it seems a bit too much, I’ll tie my three children together, making one the king, another the Chief State Councilor, and the other one… Ah! What if it’s a daughter? No, it doesn’t matter even if it’s a daughter, right? The advancement of women has already begun, so in 20 years, it should become somewhat commonplace. If it seems a bit lacking, I can pull some strings before handing it over.’

    As Hyang was writing his own scenario, the Crown Princess, Yangwon, and Yangje were enjoying a conversation over a tea table.

    “Oh my!”

    The three ladies, who were in the midst of a lively conversation, simultaneously caressed their bellies.

    “Fetal movement?”

    “For the three children to move together, it seems they have a strong bond.”

    “Indeed. I’m looking forward to when these children are born.”

    The three ladies were delighted to feel the strong fetal movement, unlike their usual experience.

    ***

    Meanwhile, Sejong was also making his own calculations.

    “About 10 years, perhaps?”

    “Pardon?”

    “Just talking to myself.”

    Giving a brief answer to Chief Eunuch, Sejong muttered inwardly.

    ‘There are only a few years left until the Reformation Plan is completed… In about 10 years, most of the trial and error will be ironed out. And by then, the current ministers who are accustomed to the old system will have all retired, and those familiar with the new system will fill their positions. Then, I can have the Crown Prince serve as regent or abdicate and dedicate myself to properly shaping Joseon. Changing the administration alone doesn’t change everything. And by then, the Crown Prince’s children will be 10 years old. If they inherit the Crown Prince’s bloodline, their qualities should be good, so if we cultivate them early on…’

    ***

    “Oh my! Fetal movement again?”

    “Hoho! These little ones must think we’re talking about them!”

    The smiles never left the faces of the three ladies.

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