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    The background behind the creation of the International Undersea Station (IUS) is simple.

    Firstly, the situation had reached a point where ocean pollution could no longer be ignored.

    Previously, for the sake of development and fishing, the extinction of marine ecosystems and species had meant nothing to capitalists. However, now almost all marine organisms have been designated as protected species. To explain further, even anchovies are now protected, so they cannot be caught, processed, distributed, or even stored.

    Considering the situation in Korea, which is surrounded by the sea on three sides and has tidal flats, and is also considered the prime location for marine organisms; 4,000 have become extinct out of the 14,000 species of marine organisms that once lived there, leaving only about 10,000 species remaining. Due to coastal development and landfilling, ocean pollution, overfishing, water pollution, radiation, and other factors, the marine ecosystem has already been devastated, and any additional ocean pollution could directly impact the survival of humanity. Thus, developed countries gathered together their immoral heads that didn’t care about the environment to create the IUS.

    Secondly, there was a need for a new habitat for humanity.

    Since humans had reached a point where they could no longer consume seafood, they concluded that space development, which only resulted in waste and debris, was a waste of resources. Following the return of the last three astronauts, countries officially abandoned space development. They gave up on the grandiose and extravagant notion of terraforming Mars and abandoning the Earth to a small number of humans who survived on a new planet. Instead, they allocated all the funds they had extracted from their citizens to the creation of an underwater base.

    Companies involved in petroleum drilling and ocean resource development were among the first to invest in the development of underwater stations (IUS). However, despite their different motivations, the focus was more on development rather than the conservation of the environment. This led to the success of eight advanced countries in building the first undersea station in the middle of the Pacific. I vaguely remember the problems that arose during the selection of the location for the station when I was in elementary school. Originally, the plan was to build it in the Atlantic, but due to various factors such as earthquakes, lobbying for rare earth metals, petroleum and natural gas mining, and unknown underwater wars, the Pacific was ultimately chosen. At present, efforts are being made to build the second undersea station in the Atlantic.

    Thirdly, it’s mining.

    No matter what reasons they have, it’s the truth that this is the first reason. The ocean is still unexplored land, hiding an enormous amount of fishery and mineral resources, such as oil and gas, rare earth metals, and manganese nodules, as well as deep-sea water that has not yet been contaminated. Information about the deep sea is still being discovered, and deep-sea fish have unexpectedly been found to be edible. Hence, humanity has not yet abandoned the idea of surviving by exploiting the earth’s resources.

    It’s funny that I’m saying this while working at an undersea base. The idea of building houses on the ocean floor seems contradictory, given that we’ve dumped so much garbage into the ocean. It’s as though we want to return to the embrace of the vast ocean after we’ve already destroyed it. It’s ridiculous. The state of consuming the earth’s resources and life forms has almost reached its limit. We’ve destroyed the ice caps and ozone layer, overfished and disposed of nuclear waste, and completely ruined the earth’s temperature system, creating a temperature difference of -40 to +45 degrees with our own hands. And now, we’re seeking refuge in the ocean because we can’t bear living on the land we’ve destroyed.

    Some people who oppose space development argue that it’s only natural for one of Earth’s living beings to face extinction. While I don’t share their opinion, I can empathize with their sense of despair, as I often feel pushed to the brink of survival.

    Personally, I wished I had been born just a little bit earlier, so I could live in a time when resources were abundant, people could ignore environmental issues and didn’t need to worry about buying sunscreen.

    Although most people born in the 21st century are armed with skepticism and depression about life, our survival instincts were stronger than those of previous generations. With a wealth and labor force amounting to around 600 trillion won, we managed to create an underwater base in the North Pacific.

    The North Pacific Underwater Station (NPIUS) is composed of four major layers. First, there is the “Artificial Island” on the shallow continental shelf and the [First Underwater Base] located just beneath the island, built to fit the epipelagic zone (-200m). The [Second Underwater Base] was built for the mesopelagic zone (-1000m), and the [Third Underwater Base] was built for the bathypelagic zone (-3000m). The fifth layer, the hadopelagic zone (3000~6000m), is still under construction. So, the station consists of four bases in total, and I was assigned to the last one to be completed, the [Fourth Underwater Base] located in the abyssopelagic zone (-3000m). It was there that I was selected to become a dentist.

    Priya, who had various coral models on her desk, checked my passport and started to pull out some documents. “Eight countries, including Korea, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Japan, and China, participated in the development of the North Pacific Ocean.”

    “What about the Philippines? They’re next to the North Pacific Ocean, aren’t they?” I asked. “I’m not great at geography, but I think Mexico, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are nearby too. So not all adjacent countries participated?”

    “Only countries that could invest at least 1 trillion won ($760 million) per year in the development of the underwater base were eligible to participate,” Priya explained.

    “That participation fee must have been quite expensive,” I remarked.

    I wondered if Korea had enough money for that and how much 1 trillion won actually was. I vaguely recalled an article I read about allocating more budget for underwater bases than space development and falling behind other advanced countries in unmanned or manned space exploration.

    “I don’t know about myself or Mr. Mu-hyun,” Priya said sarcastically. “The money will be distributed among the eight participating countries, and we will divide up what comes out of the mining. They may have fought a lot underwater, but that’s not my concern or Mr. Mu-hyun’s.”

    She, being from India, enjoyed watching this North Pacific mineral resource brawl and proudly presented the documents she had brought.

    “What are these documents?”

    “They’re about employment safety and membership applications.”

    “Do I have to take responsibility for my employment safety through NEP? Why?”

    I’ve never heard of it before. I hope they stop creating organizations with some abbreviations in English.

    “It’s named after the Latin word Neptūnus for Poseidon. In the past, there was an incident during the construction of an underwater base where a Japanese construction company delayed the pay of its employees for two months. The Japanese employees working for that company kept quiet, but the Chinese employees who worked together with them went crazy. Then, they said that if they weren’t going to pay, they shouldn’t even think about building the building and collapsing the elevator of the second underwater base with a manned submersible. The Russian construction company also attempted to blow up the central elevator due to unpaid wages. In the case of a Korean construction company, there were no hazard allowances, and the annual salary was too low, which resulted in a 3-month strike.

    In the United States, many Malaysians, Filipinos, and Burmese worked under subcontractors, and several accidents occurred resulting in deaths. And there was no compensation. Then, during the next construction, an Indonesian relative of a victim of an oil spill dispersed a will and committed a su*cide bo*bing, completely destroying the aquarium. There were many incidents and accidents during the construction of the underwater base. If you buy me a cup of coffee later, I’ll tell you about the messier situations. Anyway, with people continuing to die for a measly amount of money, and with hundreds of trillions of won being wasted, we had to resort to ‘thinking’ about what we should do since the completion of the underwater base would never be accomplished.”

    “······So, that’s why NEP was created.”

    “Only crazy people would continue to work tirelessly without any compensation, relying solely on willpower and mental strength. Proper rewards are necessary. Everyone staying at the underwater base is automatically enrolled, and if you sign up and sign the contract, even if Mr. Park Mu-hyun dies tomorrow, you will receive more than 200 million won ($150k) in compensation. In addition, your salary will still be paid on the 1st of every month from the budget the company has already obtained, even if it goes bankrupt or the country collapses-.”

    I immediately began to scribble my signature on the documents. I understand now why it was named after Poseidon. They must be managing those who live in the sea. As long as I receive my salary on time, I am willing to work hard under Poseidon or even under a shark.

    Priya seemed to find my behavior quite amusing and smiled. The salary contract was also included, and the detailed page exceeded 40 pages. I focused on the salary and vacation details. All medical treatment at the artificial island’s hospital was free. Ah, the hospital was connected to the underwater base. There was also a confidentiality agreement related to personal information protection.

    As my interpreter was an outdated model, I was unable to translate the documents, which were solely in English. However, Priya reassured me that I could take as much time as I needed while she played on her phone. I silently thanked her indifference. Knowing that there were likely others like me, I began to slowly read through the contracts, inwardly cursing my inadequate English skills. After signing the most significant number of documents I had ever signed, I handed them back to Priya.

    “Here are more detailed contents. Please take a look.”

    I received a thin book. I was a little surprised that it wasn’t an electronic document. When I turned a few pages, I realized they were all in English. And it made me crazy. It wasn’t that I couldn’t read it. I just needed time. A very long, arduous process that takes a lot of time.

    “Don’t people use electronic copies these days?”

    Priya laughed when she heard my words, “Some people still don’t have computers and prefer paper for storage.”

    I see.

    I then learned that eight countries participated, and Priya displayed the signed company documents before forwarding a section of the electronic document to my email. My phone promptly alerted me, indicating that the email was successfully delivered.

    “Thank you. You’ve worked hard.”

    “You’ve worked hard too. Welcome to the underwater base.”

    After completing the most urgent task of the day, I leaned back in my chair. Priya rummaged through her drawer and handed me a palm-sized electronic pad, which was blue in color. I noticed that her desk also had a blue pad, adorned with cute dolphin stickers all over it. As I was putting the book and the given pad into my bag, she then handed me a beginner’s manual for the underwater base which was also made of paper and written entirely in English. Without much consideration, I nodded my head and added it to my bag.

    I have to buy the latest simultaneous translator once my salary comes in, or I’ll go crazy.


    Extra Notes

    Just a view of how deep our MC’s underwater base really is.


    Translator’s Notes

    The amount of terminologies in this chapter is just…

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