Magical Girl of Seoul Subway Line 2 (1)
It’s been and year and a half since Kang-Joon came back to Korea.
He is now sitting in the office at his desk. On the desk lies delivered food. Nicely fried dumplings looking crispy and juicy and there is even a large plate of sweet and sour pork. Fried rice is for the boss, and Kang-Joon is holding a bowl of jjajangmyeon (black-bean sauce noodle). Although it is fair to say that the food might be too much for two, the boss is still busy nibbling with her little mouth.
Kang-Joon is not quite enjoying the current situation. He is no one but a newbie manager yet it seems like he is getting more treats than he deserves. Of course, he does enjoy having delivered food and also is very used to it, especially the Chinese dishes. The problem is not the size of the meal.
There are only two, Kang-Joon and the boss sitting in the office.
“Yes, Not feeling like having more?”
“No, it’s not that…”
Sitting across Kang-Jon, the CEO of Hero Management Inc has mentioned that she is in her late thirties, avoiding to specify the exact age. However, from her face, it is very difficult to say that she is the CEO of this company when at most, she looks like a university student doing a part-time job during the holidays. Of course, the extreme baby face of the boss does not really impress Kang-Joon either.
But, a company with only two employees including the boss herself does indeed seem like a problem. Giving up holding himself back, Kang-Joon throws a question.
“Is this some sort of a ghost company made for someone to avoid taxes or something?”
“Why is it then we have only you and me?”
“Oh, manger Song, in charge of the finances, is on holidays right now. He will be back in couple of days.”
“Yep. He wanted to travel down to his hometown. Apparently he hasn’t been back there for too long.”
“So we only have three? Including me, who joined this company yesterday?”
“With no hunters under contract?”
“Yes, you could say that.”
To her innocent yet oblivious answers, Kang-Joon loses his words.
“Well, this is a management firm, right?”
“See what’s written there?”
In the office, there indeed is a signboard with ‘Hero Management Inc.’ written on it. Of course, the same name is written on the main entrance of the office. Considering the location of this building, since it is near Gangnam station, the rent must be not too easy as well. However, there seems to be absolutely no possibility of this company making any sort of meaningful profits. Which surely makes Kang-Joons concerns very reasonable.
The CEO, Miss Seol, puts a little smile on her face as she comes to realise what Kang-Joon is actually concerned about.
“Don’t worry. You will get paid on time.”
“…You must really have a lot of money, huh?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say I don’t.”
After that, Kang-Joon comes to understand everything better. The CEO of Hero Management Inc, Young Seol, although her business capability is still something to be questioned, does really have fair bit of money in her pocket. That would only be the understandable explanation for renting an office in one of the most populated areas in Seoul yet casually living an idle life, with all this delivered food.
Kang-Joon didn’t throw himself into the management industry to be idle. He considers this job as an opportunity to understand the industry better and establishing the fundamental building blocks so that he can be the owner of a giant firm and a major influence to the industry. Kang-Joon has been through a number of different management firms, but has never seen a company like this. Even the smallest companies would at least have one team of hunters under contract.
“Why were you even recruiting managers then?”
“Well, so I can manage the hunters?”
Kang-Joon holds himself back from saying ‘What good would managers be without any hunters’. No matter how hard he tries to understand this situation, the CEO of the company plainly seems insane to him.
“It’s not that we really never had anyone. We used to have quite a few…”
“So what happened to…”
“They all quit.”
Kang-Joon nods as he understands how desperate the boss must be, recalling how hard she was trying to recruit him as a hunter when he walked into the office for the interview.
“Well, that’s it. A shore ‘withered’ phase…I suppose.”
That means this company was never really a total failure. Regardless of the industry, it is hard for small business to survive for a long time and it is perfectly normal for the managers and hunters to leave a small management firm once they consider themselves experienced enough. The boss does not really feel the need to talk in detail about how big of a company Hero Management Inc. used to be. Also, she does not really see the point of mentioning the shrinking of a company that used to occupy two entire floors in the building down to one small office unit.
On top of that, it is not really a happy memory for the boss to recall either. Nevertheless, Miss Seol is far from being authoritative and respectful to every employee.
Although now, there are only two.
“By the way, manager that used to be a hunter, I’ve never even seen or heard of anyone like that. Wouldn’t those giant management firms be really keen to take you then?”
Kang-Joon never really completed any legitimate education. After all, it is not so often you see people with final records of their education being withdrawn from middle school. It is not too surprising for Kang-Joon as he had been part of the hunting business since he was fifteen. However, to the people in the management industry, number of education certificates does not really hold significance over exceptional experience in the industry. Hence, Kang-Joon’s background being a hunter makes him that much more of a desirable candidate.
Picking up a chopstick full of noddles with dumplings in his mouth, Kang-Joon answers.
“I was in Raeshen and AlphaSword for a bit.”
“Hmm? They are two of the three biggest firms.”
Raeshen Agency, AlphaSword and Cloud are said to be the biggest management firms in Korea. Indeed, there is a vast number of managers and accordingly hunter teams under contract. It only makes sense for Miss Seol to see Kang-Joon as some sort of a weirdo as he apparently decided to quit those stable jobs from the big firms and now is a part of this extremely small firm.
“I didn’t really quit. I got fired in less than a month.”
In fact, Kang-Joon was intentionally looking for a small company. He has just been a little surprised at how small this company really is. To his confession, Miss Seol looks starts staring at Kang-Joon with eyes full of curiosity, as if they are saying ‘Why?Why?Why?’
“I was employed as a manager, but they kept wanting me to go on a hunt.”
It sure was easy for him to get a job, but as he started, the big firms started exploiting his backgrounds, forcing him to go into the dungeons with the hunting teams.
Every time Kang-Joon attempted to fight back claiming he no longer wanted to be a hunter, his seniors insulted and threatened him, saying he will lose his job with that attitude, maybe he was lying about his hunter background or plainly just calling him idiot.
“So I did go on a few hunts, but there was no share for me.”
“Yep. They said I wasn’t entitled since I was already getting the salary from the firm.”
“That is ridiculous…”
It is easy to say ‘go on a few hunts because of the pressure from above’, but hunting fundamentally is something life-threatening every time. Even gangsters would not do such an inhumane thing after putting someone else’s life on the line by their own selfish wills.
That has been the problem for Kang-Joon. It was impossible for him to get a job at all if he did not reveal his hunter background, but once he did, he could get a job however was forced to go on the hunt himself or at least support the hunt on site instead.
Although Kang-Joon considers himself to be patient, doing the people up there favours seemed to only stack his anger and resentment rather than the knowledge about the industry. So he manned up, and quit. Of course, he walked out by himself once, but got fired for all the rest.
Like so, Kang-Joon found himself a small company and made sure to add in a condition in his contract such that the company will not require or expect him to directly go on a hunt. However, to the last moment of contract, Miss Seol seemed a little regretful.
“Damn, I really should have contracted you as a hunter. Then I could have been a manger for you.”
“You? A manager?”
“We are out of hands. I got to do what I got to do.”
Though Miss Seol may seem feckless and lazy, she is not a person who does not have any willpower. Kang-Joon has been sensitive to people’s instantaneous emotions appearing on their faces and hence can tell Miss Seol has some episodes which she does not want revealed.
‘She tensed up a little when I talked of AlphaSword.’ Kang-Joon thought to himself.
However, Kang-Joon decided to leave a question as question to be answered in the future. This is his first day at work and even though he may still be not used to the system of office jobs but has picked up a thing or two about the office culture of Korea.
Bureaucracy is extremely important and it is required of him to do something the people above tell him to do rather than what was written on the job specification. Above all, Kang-Joon has learned that having good superiors are better than blindly being part of a big firm and though it may be too early to judge, Miss Seol is a good boss, regardless of her business capability.
Miss Seol keeps the conversation flowing, mentioning that the company has been running for two year and the last hunter team under contract left the firm three months ago. With no incomes for three months straight, it is almost a miracle that the company is still alive.
Time passes without doing any real tasks and it is already close to call it a day. Kang-Joon finally spits out a question he has been holding back the whole time.
“By the way boss, are you a Mutant by any chance?”
“Wow, how rude of you to say that to a woman.”
“Sorry, did I make a mistake?”
“Why don’t you go grab a stranger and ask them if they are a Mutant? That will make them feel good about themselves, right?”
“Sorry but you certainly look too young compared to your age so I’ve been really curious whether you have received any sort of Mutant treatments.”
It surely could be quiet offensive and rude to Miss Seol. However, she just lets out a short sigh as she realises it’s meant to be a compliment.
“You’ve surely been outside of this country for too long. Calling someone a Mutant is no better than swearing at them…”
The Mutants, being a sub category of hunters, is the general name for those who have acquired special powers through a number of experiments on their body. Frequently the experiments are done to growing children and as a result of extreme genetic modification and cell reformation, their bodies tend to stop aging once they reach a certain age.
However, it is extremely stressful to the body, which results in some unlucky Mutants turning into monsters or driving them to death occasionally.
Since they are the most odd and unapproachable type of hunters, it is common for them to be looked down upon. Regardless, Kang-Joon’s question was no more than an expression of his curiosity because of Miss Seol’s unbelievable baby face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was a rude thing to say.”
“No, no, no, it’s fine. It’s probably not even that offensive among the hunters.”
In fact, though the Mutant may be looked down upon by the public, it is the pure Hunters who are discriminated in the real hunting industry.
The day at the office goes by like so and Kang-Joon heads home walking. He does own a vehicle, but it would even be more complicated to use it in the middle of Seoul where traffic jam is daily routine.
‘Should I keep the job?’ He thought to himself.
Kang-Joon has been through different management firms and has realised that those people he met along the way are not necessarily evil. It’s just that they are so used to the command/discipline system that Kang-Joon, who was trying to go against the orders, was the odd one out.
However, after seeing himself constantly failing to fit into the system, he has realised maybe the problem does not lie only on the others.
Looking for the ‘right job’, he has spent a year and a half. Kang-Joon is a type of person who hates wasting his time yet that year and a half worth of time flew by without any profits. Kang-Joon was a hunter with 10 years of experience with pocket full of money, which makes him not too concerned about the salary to come in.
Regardless of their true intentions or hidden mottos, people who treat other with respect at least know how to behave as human beings. That’s what Kang-Joon thinks about people. To his surprise, there is a lot of people who he cannot even consider as half decent human beings.
To be able to learn more about the industry, he needs to be running around as a manger. However, there is no hunter under contract for their firm. No hunter simply means no work for Kang-Joon. He walked into the company to learn something, but there is nothing for him to learn. This is a very big issue for him. Thinking more deeply about his job, Kang-Joon steps down to Gangnam subway station.
Since Kang-Joon lives in Sinrim, it is not too difficult for him to travel to work as the 2nd subway line directly connects the two locations with no transfer. Only problem for him would be the ridiculous number of people on the subway. Going through the sea of people, Kang-Joon walks down the stairs to access the platform. As he falls deeper into his thoughts, he is oblivious about what is happening around him and does not find it weird that no one is around him now.
All of a sudden, soldiers block his way forward then he snaps back into reality.
“Sir, you have to stop here.”
“The area is closed for now.”
Soldiers are blocking off the area with barricades with little space left as an entrance. A guy in uniform walks up and talks to the public with a polite tone.
“A D-Class core wave has been detected in this area therefore the area is being blocked for now. Please wait for the situation to be resolved shortly. You may wait outside the platform on the ground level.”
On one side of the barricades, there stands a group of people who are protected separately as they could not escape to the ground above due to the blocking and quarantining of the area. However none of them seems to fear what is about to happen. In fact, they surprisingly look interested. Even the soldiers are not looking too tensed up.
Monsters summoned from D-Class core should be taken care of with normal weapons quiet easily.