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    “Why!”

    “Why indeed!”

    Upon hearing Hyang’s statement, “Mass production is impossible,” King Sejong and the ministers all barked in unison. Especially Sejong, with an angry expression, questioned Hyang.

    “Why is it impossible?”

    “Because it is impossible given the current situation in Joseon.”

    “So why is it impossible! Isn’t this the same thing you’ve been saying! Rather than saying it’s impossible, wasn’t it your belief to find a possible way!”

    “Your Majesty, I humbly insist that it is impossible with the current situation in Joseon. The reason is…”

    “You kid!”

    Sejong exploded in anger. However, Hyang merely wore a bitter expression.

    ‘One of the most infuriating things is having your rice bowl snatched away. But what can you do when the situation is messed up?’

    Observing Sejong’s inability to contain his rage, Hwang Hee intervened in the conversation.

    “Your Majesty, please calm your anger. There must be some difficulty in this.”

    “Huuh~. Hoo~.”

    Following Hwang Hee’s words, Sejong took deep breaths. Barely containing his anger, Sejong glared at Hyang and opened his mouth. “Explain the reason.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty. I will explain in detail. It is possible to produce the virtuous-style gunpowder. However, mass production is impossible.”

    “Why?”

    In response to Sejong’s question, Hyang explained the reasons.

    – High-purity acetic acid and sulfuric acid are needed to make Deokgap-style gunpowder. With the current situation in Joseon, it’s hard to acquire large quantities of vinegar and sulfur.

    – There’s also an issue with cotton cloth. The primary ingredient for virtuous-style gunpowder is high-quality cotton without any fluff. However, looking at the current situation in Joseon, the so-called “Jungpo” (正布, top-quality fabric) is only used for paying taxes, and the third or fourth quality cloth is so poor that it’s used as currency.

    “As I explained above, skilled artisans are required to handle high-purity acids. Of course, as we can see from the Bureau of Royal Attire or Military Arsenal, there are skilled craftsmen. However, for mass production, their number is too small.

    “The main ingredient of virtuous-style gunpowder, which uses nitroglycerin, presents another problem. It actually comes from camphor oil.”

    “Why? Is camphor oil an imported good?”

    “No, Your Majesty. It’s a product produced in our Joseon.”

    “Then why is it a problem?”

    “Because the main ingredients of camphor oil are pig and cow bile.”

    “Ah!”

    Upon hearing Hyang’s answer, Sejong and the ministers had to sigh in unison.

    To make nitroglycerin, a large amount of glycerin was needed. However, in the current situation where the petrochemical industry of the 21st century was absent, the only option Hyang had was to extract glycerin from the process of making soap.

    However, the issue was the supply of raw materials. The most readily available source was pig fat, which had a fat content of about 15%.

    In numerical terms, if a pig weighed 100kg, that meant 15kg of it was fat. Even if you try to reclaim all the fat and other fatty tissues during the meat processing, you couldn’t reclaim 100%, and the glycerin extracted through saponification would be even less.

    “To put it simply… even if all the people in Joseon eat pork for all three meals a day, it’s impossible to secure enough glycerin for military use.”

    Hyang, twirling his pen, was examining the results and shook his head vehemently.

    ‘Whether it’s the 21st century or now, the economics of eco-friendly natural products are a mess… Ha! Even if they’re called the main culprit of environmental destruction, long live the petrochemical industry! Long live the heavy chemical industry!’

    “What a pity. If only I hadn’t known we could make gunpowder of such high performance. It would have been better not knowing…” Sejong sighed deeply, to which the ministers also nodded their agreement.

    “Your Majesty, giving up in national defense is a path to ruin.”

    At Hyang’s rebuttal, Sejong roared in anger. “Who wouldn’t know that! But what can we do when the state of our Joseon doesn’t allow it!”

    “Why do you think Your Majesty is conducting the reform! Isn’t it to break down the difficult situation of our Joseon!”

    At Hyang’s protest, Sejong stiffened.

    Looking at Sejong, Hyang swallowed hard and continued, “Right now, at this very moment, everyone, starting with me, including General Choi Hae-san and General Lee Chun, are in deep thought to find a solution! Your Majesty, I believe survival is a challenge! Survival is a challenge against death! Giving up is death! For me, Prince Lee Hyang! Giving up is an unknown word!”

    “You are right!”

    Sejong shook as he was filled with emotion. “The moment I ascended to the regency, I made up my mind to do everything for the prosperity of Joseon! You reminded me of what I had briefly forgotten, you truly are a loyal subject! Listen, ministers! Regain your scattered minds! Risk your lives to succeed in the reform!”

    Just like Sejong, the ministers, caught in the heat of the moment, answered in one voice.

    “We will obey the order with our lives!”

    Later, the exhausted ministers all muttered the same words.

    “I shouldn’t have visited Area 51. This mouth of mine is the real enemy…”

    Just as he had said in front of Sejong, Hyang never gave up on mass producing glycerin.

    One day, while searching for a possible method even during his busy schedule, Hyang, who was sleeping, suddenly jumped up from his spot.

    “Cooking oil! Brilliant, my brain! It’s worth the meal this time!”

    The next day, as soon as the day dawned, Hyang, who had rushed to Area 51, found Choi Hae-san. On the other hand, Choi Hae-san also seemed to be looking for Hyang, as he came running with a bright face as soon as he saw Hyang.

    “Prince! I have been waiting!”

    “General! I think I’ve found a way with sesame oil.”

    “This General also has something in mind!”

    When they realized they were on the same page, a moment of embarrassment passed over them. Hyang, having composed herself, opened his mouth, “General, you go first.”

    “Your Highness, you should go first…”

    “It’s okay.”

    Upon Hyang’s concession, Choi Hae-san spoke first. “I was thinking, how about using beans?”

    “I was thinking the same thing!”

    Hyang and Choi Hae-san promptly began experimenting with making bean oil. After confirming the results of the experiment, they put their heads together.

    “It seems promising, doesn’t it?”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    “Let’s report this to the King!”

    “Yes!”

    Upon receiving the report, King Sejong was delighted and looked at the courtiers.

    “The Crown Prince has made another achievement!”

    “Indeed, Your Highness!”

    “With this, we have further strengthened the defense of Joseon!”

    “We congratulate you)!”

    “We congratulate you!”

    The beans initially used in the process were harvested from bean fields linked to the lumberyard on Neobol Island. It had been confirmed from the test results that the leftover bean pulp after oil extraction could be used as feed for cows and pigs.

    However, the beans harvested from the lumberyard’s bean fields were not enough to meet the demands. Therefore, Joseon became the first country in world history to ‘officially recycle resources’.

    The efforts of the Joseon government to obtain oil were a ‘war with the kitchen’. Pork and beef fat gave a savory flavor when cooking, so they were often used.

    For this reason, the government paid to collect pork and beef fat, leading to the birth of the term ‘Pig fat collector’ following ‘Beef fat collector’.

    The government’s full-scale ‘war with the kitchen’ was due to beans.

    In Joseon at that time, beans were one of the important staple foods. Additionally, as a country that used a lot of doenjang (soybean paste) and soy sauce, the demand for beans was enormous.

    To solve this situation, King Sejong came up with the best solution.

    “We buy all the beans from the pioneer farmers who volunteered to move to the northern frontier! This way, we can solve the issue of the migrants’ livelihood and the problem of raw material supply!”

    “We accept your command!”

    With this method, a different outcome occurred than the original history; the number of farmers willing to move northward significantly increased.

    Through various attempts like this, Joseon secured a way to significantly increase the production of virtuous-style gunpowder. However, Hyang’s face did not brighten much.

    “Considering the current consumption, the current increase is not enough. The amount used by the military is increasing, but the amount used in the civilian sector is not small.”

    Looking at the reports piled on one side of the desk, all expressing urgency due to a lack of gunpowder, Hyang, who was furrowing his brow, mumbled while looking at the world map hanging on the wall.

    “Should we look to the south again…”


    “Is this all we have?”

    Sejong, who had a heated discussion over gunpowder, looked at Hyang with a slightly regretful expression.

    In response to Sejong’s question, Hyang shook his head.

    “No, Your Majesty. We still have the most important things left.”

    “The most important things?”

    “First, I will show you the artillery. General.”

    “Yes, Your Highness. Look here! Call for the artillery soldiers!”

    “Yes, General!”

    A moment later, a group of riflemen marched into the demonstration area.

    “Hup, two! Hup, two! Stand at your places! Left face!”

    Clink!

    At the command of the supervising officer, the riflemen, each with a long rifle resting on their right shoulders, moved in perfect synchronization to face King Sejong.

    “Present – arms!”

    “Salute!”

    At the commander’s command, the riflemen simultaneously performed the military salute.

    In response to the soldiers’ salutes, Sejong did not hesitate to lavish praise on General Choi Hae-san and Hyang.

    “These soldiers’ discipline and orderliness are far from ordinary! I can see the efforts of the Crown Prince and the General!”

    “Indeed, they are elite soldiers!”

    “I have been in the court for quite some time, but I have rarely seen such elite troops!”

    In response to Sejong’s praise, the ministers also did not hesitate to give their compliments.

    The riflemen, having received the praises of Sejong and the ministers, were full of pride. Hyang, who was watching from the side, was also filled with a sense of satisfaction.

    ‘I worked hard to train them!’

    When he had made a satisfactory number of rifles, Hyang requested Sejong for soldiers and officers to train.

    When the officers and soldiers he had obtained arrived, Hyang couldn’t hide his disappointment.

    “They said these people chosen from the Office of the Royal Guards were assigned to the training center… They seem elite, but…”

    Comparing to his 21st-century military life, and the 19th-century European armies and the American soldiers during the Civil War that he had seen in movies, the soldiers in front of him seemed to lack spirit and elitism.

    Scratching his head in frustration, Hyang clicked his tongue. “Tsk! There’s no helping it. We need to train them harder.” Thus, the soldiers were first mobilized for the construction of their lodgings and a large-scale testing ground for various weapons.

    “I thought we were here to solve military issues…”

    The soldiers, who were given shovels instead of rifles, were a little confused, but they had no complaints. It was because Hyang fed them extremely well. At least once every three days, they had pork and beef.

    The soldiers were delighted and had a feast with the meat. Among them, a unique object that caught the soldiers’ eyes was the grilling plate placed over the fire.

    The device, made of thick cast iron, had holes on all sides. As the meat was grilled, the oil dripped down through the holes into a bowl.

    After each meal, the bowls were immediately sent to the artisans’ workshops.

    While the soldiers were working, Hyang collaborated with General Choi Hae-san, General Lee Chun, and the officers from the training center. They created names for each part of the newly made rifles and regulations for formal training.

    “Do you think these movements and calls, as you called them ‘formal training,’ will be useful, Your Highness? We are already doing similar training.”

    At first, the training center’s officers doubted the necessity of what Hyang proposed.

    Their combat experience involved clashes of large groups. The tactic for victory in such battles was to not break the line until the end. The Joseon Army had been conducting training related to this diligently.

    “So, is that why the disgrace event took place during the subjugation of Tsushima Island?”

    At Hyang’s pointed question, the military officials shut their mouths.

    During the punitive expedition to Tsushima Island, Lee Jongmu had made up his mind to attack their base to annihilate the Japanese who did not give up resistance.

    For this assault, Lee Jongmu drew lots among the restraint officers of the left and right army to decide who would go. As a result of the lottery, the left army led by Park-sil landed and began the attack, but their formation collapsed due to the enemy’s surprise attack, causing about 180 casualties.

    It was a natural outcome for Hyang, who had obtained and read the report at the time, to explode in anger, exclaiming, “There was no strategy or tactics!” Even if we set aside the strategy, the tactic of sending in the left army alone without properly establishing an additional operation plan on how to respond when they encountered difficulties due to the enemy’s surprise attack or other problems was a problem.

    In the end, because Hyang’s criticism was valid, the military officials proceeded with the study of ceremonial training and swordsmanship along with Hyang.

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