Header Background Image

    Subscribe to this series’ Patreon to read ahead.

    In the original history, Princess Jeongso should have died in February. The problem was the cause of death. The records she had briefly read in the 21st century were unclear about the cause. Some records said it was smallpox, while others said it was measles.

    “What kind of 50% chance is this!”

    Knowing that King Sejong would be deeply emotionally affected by Princess Jeongso’s death, Hyang decided to vaccinate Princess Jeongso against smallpox, betting everything on a 50% chance.

    And that 50% chance proved to be true.

    ◈◈◈

    As the nationwide smallpox vaccination campaign neared its end, King Sejong was in the final stages of making sure everything was completed. He called for the Minister of Personnel and ordered, “Has the list of scholars who have not paid the contribution fee been completed?”

    “Yes, it has been completed.”

    “Bring it to me.”

    A moment later, the official from the Ministry of Personnel, who had received the order, brought the list and submitted it to the minister, who then handed it to King Sejong. Looking over the list, Sejong opened his mouth, “It’s quite a lot.”

    “A total of 143 people.”

    The list submitted by the Minister of Personnel included names, family lineage, residence area, and the extent of their property.

    After reviewing the list, Sejong issued an order:

    “Remove all of these people from the list of local scholars. If there are any who have passed the lower-level examination and received tax exemptions, immediately revoke all their privileges. Lastly, prohibit their descendants from serving in office for three generations.”

    “We accept Your command!”

    This decision caused a significant upheaval among the local scholar-gentry class. As Sejong’s order was executed, the local Confucian scholars faced a tumultuous time.

    “This is too harsh a punishment!”

    Those who had their names removed from the list of local scholars protested vehemently, but there weren’t many who agreed with them. Most reactions were as follows:

    “Tsk, tsk, tsk. You should have been modest with your greed. How much is the grain tax worth?”

    “If one claims to be of noble status and a landowner, shouldn’t they at least be worthy of their name?”

    “You people should know your manners and propriety! Get out of here! How dare people like you come to this place without being nobles!”

    Those who were expelled shouted at the closed doors of the local office.

    Driven away, they yelled at the closed doors of the local office.

    “How unpolluted are you people!”

    The aftermath of King Sejong’s order did not end there.

    “What are these petitions?” Faced with a sudden influx of petitions, Sejong looked at overseer.

    The overseer soon replied with a troubled expression, “These are petitions from fathers asking for permission to grant their daughters a divorce.”

    “A divorce?”

    King Sejong unrolled the scroll and read the content. The content of the petitions was largely similar to one another.

    • My son-in-law has lost his qualifications as a noble due to his lack of manners and propriety. After such an event, it’s only natural to reflect and repent, but instead, he claims he’s innocent, showing no remorse whatsoever. He even resorts to violence against my daughter, his wife, when drunk. Please grant my daughter a divorce.

    In contrast to the Goryeo period, when marriage and divorce were easy, marriage and divorce among the nobles in the Joseon period were very difficult. In order for the nobles to divorce, they had to submit a petition to the local magistrate and even to the king.

    Having reviewed the petitions, King Sejong made a decision.

    “It is unbecoming of a nobleman to use violence against his wife. However, one cannot make a decision based solely on one side’s story. Order the local magistrate in the village where the petitioner resides to verify the facts. If the content of the petition is true, allow the divorce and ensure a fair division of property.”

    “I will follow your order.”

    Upon King Sejong’s command, numerous couples proceeded with their divorces. Divorce was not the only outcome; annulment, which did not require the complex procedures of divorce, increased several times as well.

    King Sejong’s reform plan had been meticulously prepared over a long period of time. However, surprisingly, one area was making rapid progress: the military. While discussing national affairs with his ministers, King Sejong took a break to visit the palace’s East Palace Hall.

    As the eunuch standing at the entrance of the chamber tried to announce his arrival, King Sejong gestured for him to be quiet.

    “Hush, I want to observe the Crown Prince’s everyday life.”

    At Sejong’s words, the eunuch hesitated and pointed to one side, “His Highness, the Crown Prince is currently in the restroom.

    “The restroom?”

    “It is the toilet.”

    “Ah, the restroom… What a charming name,” King Sejong looked in the direction the eunuch had pointed.

    A palace maid holding a towel was standing in front of a room on one side of the East Palace Hall.

    Suddenly, a loud sound of water could be heard, and the palace maid quickly entered the room. A moment later, the Crown Prince emerged with a book tucked under his arm and a refreshed expression on his face.

    Upon seeing King Sejong, he hurried over and bowed, “Father, have you come? I am sorry for my disgraceful appearance!”

    “Disgraceful? Anyway, do you always read in the toilet?”

    “Surprisingly, it’s quite conducive to reading.”

    “Well, I do like books, but…” King Sejong shook his head, looking exasperated at the prince’s response.

    ◈◈◈

    The Crown Prince’s dream of having a flush toilet dated back to his days as a prince. As soon as he was designated Crown Prince and received the king’s recognition for his skills, he began attempting to create a flush toilet. However, from the outset, he encountered difficulties.

    The flush toilets the prince was familiar with were made of pottery, but the historical context of the Joseon period posed a problem. The source of various ceramics used by the royal family was the Office of Royal Meals, which supplied ceramics through taxes. Therefore, he had to find a kiln that produced pottery directly, and the closest place was Gwangju in Gyeonggi Province.

    After the Neobeolseom Incident, Hyang’s activities were limited to Hanyang, and Hyang himself had no intention of going as far as Gwangju in Gyeonggi Province.

    “In the 21st century, it would be a quick trip by car, but now it’s Joseon, isn’t it?”

    In the end, Hyang had to find an alternative. Searching for various alternatives and recalling memories, Hyang finally found a solution.

    What Hyang found was a scene from a movie in which a one-sided love, pure-hearted macho lad – who shouted ‘anaksoona-moon’ until the end – turned out to be a hero in the city of Jinju. Hyang remembered the iron flush toilet in the bathroom, which was the place where the child, the key character in the movie, escaped from the train.

    As soon as he recalled the memory, Hyang, who created the concept and rough blueprint, immediately found the blacksmith at the Military Arsenal.

    It was from then on that the blacksmith’s ordeal began. Although Hyang created the blueprint, it was close to organizing the concept. The actual measurements had to be tested by the blacksmith himself.

    It was the same in the 21st century. When Hyang – known as Jeong-ho in the 21st century – and his friends made steam engines, Hyang was responsible for the concept and overall design, and all the numerical calculations had to be done by his friends.

    “I’m a liberal arts person. Why should a liberal arts person do calculations too?”

    Anyway, after all sorts of trial and error, the blacksmith made an iron squat toilet.

    “You did a great job, well done!”

    Upon seeing the completed flush toilet, Hyang highly praised the blacksmith. He not only praised him verbally but also rewarded the head blacksmith with a bag of rice, and the other blacksmiths with rice according to their rank, from a bag to a handful. The blacksmith, who received an unexpected reward, bowed deeply and shouted, “Please entrust me with anything in the future! I will do my best to make it!”

    “I trust and expect you to!”

    In retrospect, the blacksmith slapped his own mouth. “This mouth of mine is my enemy!”

    Anyway, after seeing the flush toilet and the restroom it was installed in, King Sejong wanted to install flush toilets in the Geunjeongjeon (Main Palace) as well. However, his intentions were thwarted by the opposition of the royal physicians.

    “In order to check Your Majesty’s health, we must examine the excrement! But in this condition, we cannot examine it!”

    “Is that so? I understand…” King Sejong backed down due to the opposition of the royal physicians, but he did not bend his will. “I will have them installed someday!”

    In the end, flush toilets were not installed in the Geunjeongjeon, but they were installed in many other places, including the Donggungjeon. The places where flush toilets were installed were where the queen and concubines resided. Crouching over a chamber pot was never a comfortable task. Especially for pregnant women with swollen bellies, a flush toilet was the best thing. Of course, it was hard labor for the palace officials and maids who had to clean the dung pots placed under the toilet floor and fill the toilet water tank.

    In the future, this flush toilet began to be released to the public, and various problems arose as a result. It was inevitable that the public health system had to be completely overhauled to solve these problems.

    ◈◈◈

    The scent that came from the incense burner moved to the library with King Sejong. King Sejong, facing the scent across a large table, opened his mouth right away.

    “Prince, I came here because I had a question after looking at the calendar you made.”

    “What’s your question?”

    “You mentioned various parts, but you didn’t mention the military. It couldn’t have been an oversight, could it?”

    At King Sejong’s question, Hyang smiled faintly. At that sight, Sejong shook his head disapprovingly. “You sly racoon…”

    “If I had mentioned the military, there would have been even more chaos.”

    At that, King Sejong nodded his head, “I know.”

    “What do you think, Your Majesty?”

    At Hyang’s question, King Sejong answered firmly, “The military must also be reformed. Instead of just looking at individual strength, we need to value intelligence more.”

    Hyang nodded in return at King Sejong’s response.

    In Sejong’s fourth year, he set new criteria for the martial arts examination.

    “The purpose of the civil service examination is to select talented individuals. The same goes for the martial arts examination. From now on, even if someone can’t hit a target from 200 steps away with an arrow, if they are proficient in the classics, select them.”

    The statement was favored by scholars but nevertheless disdained by the warriors. However, Hyang thought differently. “Even Jedi die in the jaws of the enemy. Your Majesty’s words are not wrong. We need smarter people from now on.”

    ‘Who was that? I can’t remember? Anyway, I’ll make use of that!’ Muttering to himself, Hyang opened his mouth, continuing, “I think like this. In a country, civil and military are like the two arms of a person, and also like the two wheels of a cart. It’s hard for a person to live with just one arm, and a cart cannot move with just one wheel. I think the civil and military are just like this in a country.”

    Hearing this, King Sejong nodded strongly. “Your words are truly right! That’s why I’m thinking of reform as well. However…” he sighed. “Those officials who are attached to the past will immediately question and listen to these words. National defense is a matter of a thousand, no, ten thousand gold coins, and they will bring up the military regime of the previous dynasty.”

    “We cannot disparage the military. If we do, this Joseon will fall immediately. Please consider the precedent of the Song Dynasty.”

    The fragrance from the tea that eunuch brought refreshed their throats as they conversed.

    “There was once an empire called Rome in the west. They had a saying in that country, ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum.’

    “What does that mean?”

    “It means, ‘If you want peace, prepare for war.’ It’s like the phrase, ‘Being prepared prevents misfortune.’

    “Being prepared prevents misfortune…” Tapping the table with his finger, King Sejong mulled over the phrase ” Being prepared prevents misfortune.”

    Seeing this, Hyang added more to the conversation, “There’s no need to look far. Just look at the end of the Goryeo dynasty. How many people suffered hardships due to the Jurchen and Japanese pirates? It’s true that national defense consumes a lot of resources, but if you’re not properly prepared when something actually happens, you’ll have to spend several times more resources and manpower.”

    “You’re right. You are…” Nodding his head, Sejong made a conclusion, “—Right. If we need to overhaul it, then we must!”

    As King Sejong hardened his resolve, Hyang clenched his fist under the table, ‘Yes!’

    With his determination strengthened, King Sejong asked Hyang another question, “Reforming the military isn’t something that can be done overnight. We’ll have to take the time to solve it one by one. Where do you think we should start? The northern army facing the Jurchens? Or the southern army facing the Japanese pirates? Or the central army defending the capital?”

    In response to King Sejong’s question, Hyang answered immediately, “We need to divide it into land and naval forces. The navy, or rather the mounted-ship army, must never be underestimated.”

    Want to read ahead? Support Kirara on ⬇️

    🌟 Unlock a World of Exclusive Content: Join the Donation Drive Now! 🌟

    ⏰ Update: Due to popular demand, the deadline has been extended until the end of May! Hurry, Donation Drive 4.0 Ends in:

    00
    Days
    00
    Hours
    00
    Minutes
    00
    Seconds

    Dear BlossomTL readers, an incredible opportunity awaits you! From March 25th, 2024, until May 31st, 2024, you have the chance to unlock a treasure trove of advanced series on our secret site. Don't let this limited-time offer slip away!

    By participating in this donation drive, you'll gain exclusive VIP access to all current and upcoming series, free from any limitations, individual subscriptions, or pesky ads. Imagine having unlimited access to your favorite stories, whenever and wherever you want!

    🔑 Here's Your Key to Unlocking the VIP Experience:

    1. The donation drive ends on May 31st, 2024 - act fast, as time is running out!
    2. Your donation directly supports the continuous translation of the series you love.
    3. Once the drive concludes, all participants' accounts will be upgraded to VIP status.
    4. As a VIP member, you'll have unlimited access to all current and future series.
    5. Pledge a donation worth a 1-year subscription to become a lifetime VIP member!
    Exclusive Content

    Unlock access to all current and upcoming series

    Ad-Free Experience

    Enjoy your favorite stories without interruptions

    Lifetime Access

    Become a lifetime VIP member with a one-off donation!

    🌱 Help BlossomTL Grow:

    Your donation plays a crucial role in the growth and improvement of our platform. The funds raised will be used to acquire new series, maintain the site, and invest in upgrades to enhance your reading experience. Together, we can create a thriving community of passionate readers!

    Stay tuned for more updates about the donation drive on our Discord server. If you have any questions or want to learn more, feel free to reach out to Kirara on Discord or via email at translationblossom@gmail.com.

    Seize this rare chance to become a VIP member and unlock a world of endless reading possibilities! Donate Now and secure your lifetime access before it's gone forever!