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    This arc’s name is just chef’s kiss ????

    With the death of Emperor Hongxi, the political situation between Joseon and Ming became unclear, and the event to invite the tribal chiefs of the Yain Jurchens, scheduled for the fall of Eulsa Year, had to be postponed.

    “How truly disappointing. Truly disappointing. Sigh!”

    “That it is.”

    Sejong couldn’t hide his disappointment, smacking his lips, and his ministers also nodded with the same sentiment.

    “It seems we have no choice but to call the Jurchen tribes next year. Now, let’s deal with other matters.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    “How did the research on paddy farming techniques turn out?”

    Over two years, nationwide flood control projects were carried out, greatly reducing concerns about flooding and drought.

    Gaining confidence, Sejong ordered research on paddy farming techniques.

    “It is said that the large rice yield in Ming is not only due to the climate but also the paddy farming techniques. Since our staple food in Joseon is rice, conduct research on these techniques.”

    “We receive your command!”

    Following Sejong’s orders, public rice farming using paddy techniques began in the Hasamdo region, where it had been conducted secretly.

    Officials from the Ministry of Personnel and Ministry of Public Works were dispatched to the selected areas to investigate thoroughly.

    In response to Sejong’s inquiry about the investigation results, Minister of Personnel Heo Jo answered immediately.

    “In terms of output alone, the least increase was 15 percent compared to traditional farming, and the most was 25 percent. On average, there was an increase of about 19.8 percent in output.”

    “Is that considered a lot?”

    In response to Sejong’s question, Hwang Hui answered, “It’s not as much as the rumors would suggest.”

    “What’s the reason?”

    “Plenty of fertilizer and sturdy farming tools are needed, and more importantly, we need varieties that yield more.”

    Stroking his beard at Hwang Hui’s answer, Sejong said,

    “Does this mean we have to obtain seeds from Ming?”

    “There is a problem with Ming’s rice as well.”

    “What’s the problem?”

    “It lacks stickiness compared to our Joseon rice. People often exchange Ming rice, given as rations or wages, for Joseon rice. The most common exchange rate is three bushels of Ming rice for two of Joseon’s.”

    Sejong’s face grew troubled at Hwang Hui’s answer.

    “I thought that improving flood control facilities alone would solve the problem of paddy farming, but that’s not the case.”

    “However, if we secure the necessary facilities and solve the seed problem, it will be a highly effective method.”

    “Is that so? In what way?”

    “It can reduce the number of those who farm for a living.”

    “Really?”

    Sejong showed strong interest in Hwang Hui’s words.

    Strengthening trade and industry was a major part of the reform.

    Strengthening trade and industry and promoting urbanization based on this were significant.

    For Sejong, urbanization was important in many ways.

    As commerce developed, people would gather in centers of commerce, and when people gathered, cities would be created.

    Once cities were created, the monetary economy, which had been the focus of previous kings, could be quickly established.

    In addition, when people gathered in cities, the landowners would lose control and the royal authority would be strengthened.

    Strengthening Joseon’s capacity while reinforcing royal authority.

    This was the core of Sejong’s reform.

    Of course, Hyang who analyzed Sejong’s reform policy pointed out problems directly to him.

    “Urbanization may strengthen royal authority but could also become its greatest enemy.”

    “I know my child. If the livelihood of those gathered in cities is threatened, royal authority will be endangered.”

    “That’s correct.”

    Hyang nodded, full of concern.

    ‘Even the French Revolution occurred in Paris! Communism was born from the poverty problem of workers!’

    Watching Hyang’s worried face, Sejong smiled.

    “How long will it take for urbanization to threaten their livelihood?”

    “Uh? Ah···.”

    “How many of those who are just starting to gather in cities will abandon their fields and leave?”

    “··· Not many.”

    “Then who will be the first to flock to these newly urbanized areas?”

    “It would be the refugees.”

    At Hyang’s answer, Sejong nodded.

    “That’s right. In our Joseon, there are still many refugees without a permanent place to stay. We need urbanization to settle them.”

    At Sejong’s explanation, Hyang nodded.

    ‘Tsk. Industrialization has a different purpose and process than what I’ve been taught—.’

    The industrial revolution that Sejong was promoting through reform was different in cause and progress from what Hyang had learned from textbooks.

    The Western industrial revolution grew out of a desire for more wealth as commercial capital grew, revolutionizing technology and systems.

    But Sejong’s reform was similar to the economic development plan pursued by South Korea’s military dictatorship.

    ***

    In such a situation, Sejong took an interest in Hwang Hui’s words.

    “Can we reduce the number of people who make farming their business? How?”

    “The biggest key to this method is rice planting. By planting the seedlings in water-filled paddies, the number of times you have to tie them up with straw will be greatly reduced.”

    “Hmm… That’s true.”

    At that time, most Joseon farmers used the direct seeding method, in which they scatter rice seeds into water-filled paddies to grow them.

    [T/N: Direct seeding method looks like this.]

    This method required continuous management and tying up from the point the rice seeds sprouted, and it was a labor-intensive approach.

    “We can reduce manpower…”

    Sejong’s interest was piqued, and Hwang Hui gave an actual example.

    “There’s an old couple in Gyeongsang province whose sons all died at the hands of the Japanese pirates. They were living with two grandchildren, but they were farming using this method, managing a paddy of 1 Gyul (結, ranging from 2750 to 11000 square yards) with just the two of them, except for the transplanting and harvesting times.”

    “How did they manage the transplanting and harvesting?”

    “They borrowed servants from a nearby landowner and paid wages for the transplanting and harvesting.”

    “Ah? Old ginger is spicy indeed… Truly, the old saying isn’t wrong.”

    “That’s right. If we utilize communal labor and cooperation, there won’t be a need for most of the commoners to be tied to farming as they are now.”

    “That’s indeed true!”

    Sejong clapped his knees in delight at Hwang Hui’s words.

    However, as soon as Hwang Hui finished speaking, the Minister of Law Enforcement raised an objection.

    “Your Majesty! Communal labor and cooperation might be a solution, but it can also become another problem!”

    “Another problem?”

    “Please consider why communal labor and cooperation were restricted.”

    “Ah…”

    Sejong’s face paled at the Minister of Law Enforcement’s words.

    Communal labor and cooperation were means to bind rural communities.

    The problem was that the local nobles and aristocrats had used the bonds created in this way to strengthen their power.

    Even if that were not the case, most of the peasant revolts that broke out during the previous dynasty were instigated by farmers gathered through communal labor.

    So, Joseon restricted officials from mobilizing the people but stopped the creation of community organizations like communal labor and cooperation.

    Ironically, while the central government restricted these practices, local aristocrats advocated for the creation of ‘hyangyak’ (local organizations), incorporating Confucian beliefs.

    These local aristocrats’ arguments subsided when a political incident involving Jo Gwang-jo occurred later, but when the scholars eventually took over the government, ‘local organizations’ was spread nationwide.

    In the end, Sejong could only reach an ambiguous conclusion.

    “The evidence that crop yields have definitively increased through this method is lacking, and the method to resolve the manpower issue is still a bit insufficient, so let’s do some more research.”

    “Understood.”

    “Let’s take a break.”

    After declaring a recess, Sejong went outside and sighed heavily.

    “Ah~ There’s no easy task indeed…”

    “Your Majesty!”

    Sejong, frowning at the unresolved problem, turned his head with a smile at the energetic voice of Hyang.

    “What is it?”

    Hyang shouted with a beaming smile in response to Sejong’s question.

    “I’ve made a threshing machine!”

    “A threshing machine?”

    “Yes!”

    Sejong’s curiosity was piqued by Hyang’s proud answer.

    “Alright. Let’s take a look.”

    “I’ve placed it in the front yard of Geunjeongjeon Hall!”

    “Really? Chief Eunuch, summon the ministers.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    A little later, Sejong and the ministers gathered in the front yard of Geunjeongjeon Hall.

    “Is this the threshing machine the prince made?”

    “Yes!”

    While hearing Hyang’s reply, Sejong looked at the threshing machine placed before his eyes.

    It was a wooden frame that looked as if it had two broken legs on one side, like an upright table, with thin iron rods densely nailed at narrow intervals.

    Sejong spoke his admiration for the threshing machine.

    “It looks like a comb with legs attached to it.”

    “That’s what I thought when I made it!” Hyang answered with a voice full of pride.

    Going back and forth between the palace and Area 51, Hyang had steadily observed the farmers of Hanyang cultivating crops.

    “Wouldn’t it be a hit if I even made a tractor?”

    Seeing the farming done purely with human and animal power, Hyang casually made a remark.

    However, Hyang did not proceed further.

    There were many other things to make.

    Hyang came up with the idea for the threshing machine after watching the autumn harvest and threshing.

    “This is the second time I’ve seen it… It’s really a symbol of inefficiency.”

    For threshing, farmers laid flat stones in the yard and placed a mortar or pestle, then struck the grain stalks with all their might.

    Hyang called it the epitome of inefficiency upon seeing the sight.

    Both the beating with stones and wood, and collecting the grains that fell in all directions while swinging the straw, and the picking of the mixed soil and pebbles with the grains were all inefficient.

    “It seems like there must be a way…”

    To find a solution to the inefficient threshing process, Hyang thought hard.

    But Hyang couldn’t find an answer easily.

    Because the harvest scene Hyang saw in the 21st century ended with a combine harvester.

    Hyang found the solution while combing his hair after washing it.

    Seeing the comb held by the court lady, Hyang clapped.

    “This is it!”

    The object in front of Sejong was created through this process.

    Hyang, who created the threshing machine, was filled with pride.

    ‘It might have been a remake until now, but this is my original!’

    However, the threshing machine that Hyang made was a holtae (traditional threshing machine), used from the middle and late Joseon period.

    Hyang was ignorant in this regard, despite being knowledgeable.

    After testing Hyang’s threshing machine, it boasted much greater efficiency than before.

    Encouraged by the result, Sejong issued a royal order to the ministers.

    “Draw the details of this threshing machine and spread it nationwide!”

    “We receive the royal order!”

    Once again, horsemen raced across the nation.

    Farmers who made the threshing machine according to Hyang’s plan and tested it all shouted in joy.

    “It’s really convenient!”

    “Destroy the mortar and pestle! We must use them as firewood!”

    “But who made this?”

    Farmers curious about who made such a useful device questioned.

    “The crown prince made it.”

    Hearing the answer, the farmers began to murmur.

    “How did he think of this?”

    “Indeed. He’s really exceptional.”

    “No matter how different he is! Some sons create things like this! My son just breaks pots! You brat! You better die today!”

    * * *

    Sejong’s 8th year (1426, Year of Byeong-o), February.

    Sejong hosted a martial arts tournament and hunting event in Hoengseong county, in Gangwon province.

    Not only existing martial officers, but well-known martial artists from all over the country gathered in Gangwon province for the grand event. If they performed well, they could be specially recruited into the martial ranks.

    As a butterfly effect, the mountain bandits who had settled in Gangwon province became pale.

    – Those with merit in subduing bandits will be given extra points.

    Due to Sejong’s announcement, the martial artists moving to participate in the tournament formed groups to attack the bandits’ hideouts along the way.

    Thus, while the bandits, who had settled in the famous high mountains of Gangwon province, were suffering, the day for Sejong to depart approached.

    “This weather isn’t good, maybe we shouldn’t go…”

    “You must go, Your Majesty!”

    “Many have already moved since the order was given! We can’t let those who left their homes with dreams of glory fall into disappointment!”

    “Please make a decision!”

    When Sejong hesitated, the ministers unanimously urged him to depart.

    Following the ministers, Hyang also pleaded with Sejong.

    “I believe you must proceed since the order has already been given.”

    “Hmph…”

    Groaning, Sejong finally had to move.

    “Alright. Let’s go! Go!”

    “Your benevolence is boundless!”

    At Sejong’s decision, the ministers all shouted, “Your benevolence is boundless!”

    Seeing the ministers, Sejong warned.

    “I will check your work when I return!”

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