The get-together was simple.

The precinct differed depending on the prison, but the Korean prison usually had two floors and four sections, which made up one division.

That’s why, in each section there was one person in charge and an assistant. In total, including the District Chief, there were nine people.
Connecting one table was enough.

“Let’s mix the drinks today.”

Chief Jung Yong Jin, who was stationed on floor five, section 1, suggested while looking at Si Hyun.

When there’s a get-together, it would be a lie to say that they didn’t offer alcohol, but they weren’t persistent about having to drink.
However, since the District Chief enjoyed drinking, they all gave me signals to play along today.

“Then, I’ll start mixing the drinks.”

Si Hyun mixed beer and soju together while smiling.
The District Chief started speaking with a wide smile.

“Why don’t everyone make a toast, starting from the hard-working Lee Si Hyun.”
“There’s no need, sir. There’s nothing amazing about a ninth rank ward.”
“Ha ha, that’s not true. I have a keen eye for detail and when I see you work these days, I’m sure you’ll be promoted to the fifth rank.”
“Does that mean he wasn’t before?”

Chief Park Young Hwan asked.

“Before, I felt that he would only make it to the sixth rank, but he’s changed lately.”
“It’s an honor, sir.”

Acknowledging his compliment with a smile, Si Hyun stood up.

“Then, I’ll make a toast first. Chief, thank you for your hard work. Please always be healthy and may your days always be filled with joy.”

With that, others started making toasts as well.

While the District Chief gave a word of blessing to everyone, it was Si Hyun’s turn.

Sitting next to Si Hyun, the District Chief smiled and shook his hand.

“When I look at the prison these days, I’m reminded of this saying.”
“Which saying…?”
“You know, the thing that the wards talk about often. About how reformation is nonsense.”
“Oh.”

Si Hyun heard this from his senior while working.

- Their parents even gave up on them.

- I see…

- And what do they say? Reformation? How can someone do the thing their parents couldn’t do? We should just abandon the idea of reformation and just punish them.

Aside from the wards, most of the people probably thought that too.
It was a truth that I couldn’t deny.

US takes pride in being an advanced country and despite of agreeing to this theory, they ended up giving up because the crime rate wasn’t decreasing. There was no answer for this.

- I’m telling you, until the day you retire, if there’s at least one that genuinely improves, then they’re an amazing ward. You think it’s easy when I say at least one? You’ll understand what I mean when you’ve worked here for couple of years.

While Si Hyun was thinking about the past, he heard the District Chief’s voice.

“I do somewhat agree with that statement. It’s embarrassing to say, but while working in this field for 36 years, the number of prisoners that I thought that really changed was only about five or six.”
“That’s not true. I think you’ve done more than enough if it’s that many.”
“But you know, my thoughts have changed lately after looking at you.”
“Excuse me?”
“At first, I thought the prisoners just followed you because you were treating them harshly. But, if that were the case, then some of them would’ve complained about it.”
“Oh, right.”

“But during the past few months, there wasn’t one prisoner that requested to have a counseling session. Also, after seeing their faces, none of them seemed dissatisfied.”

After taking another shot, he continued.

“That’s why, I thought reformation would be possible if it was you.”
“Wow, that’s quite a burden sir.”
“If I can just add one more thing, it would be best if you didn’t leave the Security Division.”

It was soon Si Hyun’s turn to move to either the Civil Appeals Division or to the court. People have said that working in one of those places is easier than working as a ward, so when given the chance, they tend to choose one of those places.

Not knowing how to answer, Si Hyun stopped talking.

Then, the District Chief spoke with confidence.

“You’re meant to be part of the Security Division.”

***

“Ugh.”

I think I drank too much last night.

I knew I was going to have a hard time working today because of this hangover.

‘Now that I think about it…’

Si Hyun checked his calendar.

His younger sister, Lee Ha Young, was having her first autograph session today.

It’s been years since she dropped out of college so that she can become a webtoon writer. She worked for literary coterie magazine and it seemed like she tried many times to make her debut at a major website.

In the end, she targeted the romance readership and after being contacted by a new website that had romance related materials, she was able to debut successfully.

She released a paperback book and the reaction online was pretty good.

She managed to stay within the top ten.

My sister explained that that made her a popular writer.

Si Hyun tried reading it, but since it was more geared towards women, it wasn’t his cup of tea.

Anyways, after her name became popular, her and other popular writers decided to hold an autograph session at a large bookstore in Seoul.

That day was today.

I thought about calling her, but my phone rang.

Ring.

Looking at the screen, it was Ha Young.

“Hey, Ha Young.”
“Si Hyun, you know what day it is, right?”
“Of course I do.”
“I’m really nervous…what should I do?”
“Most of the readers that will attend are going to be women. Just relax.”
“…Okay.”
“You can do it Ha Young. I’m proud that my younger sister is a popular writer.”
“He he, right?”
“Yeah, so have fun.”
“Okay!”

***

‘What do I do?’

I was more embarrassed than nervous.

It felt like my side had the least amount of people.

Ha Young was sitting at a table that was provided by the bookstore and nervously looked at her watch.

About 30 minutes was left until the autograph session.

Suddenly, the sound of people talking could be heard.

“Hey, that person bought 1,000 books.”
“Really…? Do they even have that much in stock?”
“They said it didn’t matter if they didn’t have stock now and to just charge them for it.”
“Wow…they must be rich.”
“…That’s amazing.”

Someone bought 1,000 manhwas at once?
Damn…I’m jealous of that writer.
While Ha Young was being envious, a person walked up to her.
It was a glamorous woman with cat-like eyes.
She was wearing a short, tight skirt and a white blouse while holding a bag with her left hand.

‘Wow, a Hermes bag.’

Having a big interest in bags, Ha Young knew just from one look. And from the looks of it, it looked like it was made from crocodile leather with diamonds embedded in it.

“Are you the novelist, Lee Ha Young?”

Instead of publish her work under a nickname, she used her real name.

“Oh, yes.”
“I’m such a big fan of yours. Could I get your autograph?”

In front of her was a book titled, “A Love Like Ice,” which is the manhwa that Ha Young drew. And she discreetly showed the receipt that was between her fingers.

“I prepared a small gift for your hard work.”
“Huh? Oh…huh?!”

The receipt showed that the woman purchased 1,000 copies of that manhwa.

With a surprised look, she looked around briefly and noticed that other people were starting at them.

“Oh, oh…wow! Thank you very much!”
“It’s nothing. I wanted to give you this small present in hopes that you’ll release more great works.”

With a bright smile, the woman continued talking.

“Could I have your autograph?”
“Oh, yes, of course! Your name?”
“It’s Lin Shu.”
“Are you Chinese?”
“I am.”
“Wow, you speak Korean very well.”
“Ha ha, I tend to pick up languages pretty fast.”
“That’s amazing. Oh, and I don’t know Chinese, so would it be okay if I wrote your name in Korean?”
“Of course.”

With a happy expression, Ha Young wrote “To Lin Shu” in the prettiest handwriting and autographed next to it.

“I’ll remember this forever, Lin Shu.”
“Let’s meet again if we’re given the chance, Ha Young.”

 

<Security and Physique – Part 1> End





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