Chapter 11: A Mere Merchant… Shaking Hands?
Dujeong Group was one of the renowned conglomerates in South Korea.
From instant noodles to missiles.
They had their hands in various industries domestically and their influence extended not only in Korea but also globally. While they had both successful and failed ventures, there was no denying Dujeong’s significant impact on the nation and the world.
After the emergence of the Gates, the most urgent concern was the food industry.
Many fertile regions, such as the Huabei Plain in China and the Nile Triangle in Egypt, had been rendered unusable due to contamination caused by the Dungeon Breaks.
Thirty years ago, there was no Magic Tower reagent to decontaminate the contamination, and it ended up causing permanent damage, leading to a worldwide food shortage.
Governments worldwide had to secure alternative food sources to replace the abandoned fertile lands, and they provided extensive support to domestic companies in this regard.
Benefiting from the government’s full support, Dujeong Future Foods became a major player in the domestic food industry, occupying 30% of the market share.
Park Jong-chan, the executive director of this influential company, was a figure who could hold his ground anywhere.
He had never experienced a situation where he wasn’t respected, not even once. “A merchant… shaking hands?”
For a while, he thought he had misheard.
Merchant? In today’s society, businessmen were the top-tier individuals who commanded respect.
Their vast capital could move power and even change laws.
As an executive director of Dujeong Group, one of the leading companies, Park Jong-chan was someone not to be treated lightly, not even by high-ranking hunters or members of parliament.
What kind of look and tone were those that were capable of toppling him, or rather, the very essence of a businessperson?
It felt like an attack, questioning the very core of his existence. Even the female employees of the association were sending astonished glances due to this shocking statement.
However, Park Jong-chan maintained his composure and responded with a business smile, refusing to let his expression crumble under the weight of the situation.
“Haha, it seems that Mr. Leon, the survivor, is not familiar with modern Earth civilization. Being a businessman in the present is quite different from the old days of merchants…”
“How dare a lowly merchant mock the royalty so recklessly! I have never allowed such insolence.”
What is this? Is he insane? Park Jong-chan had met several survivors in his business endeavors, but he had never received such a contemptuous gaze before.
“Your Majesty… In our world, being a businessman is a respected profession…”
Leon responded with a voice filled with disbelief and disappointment.
“Merchants, by nature, sacrifice dignity and self-respect for profit. They exploit loopholes in the law and proudly boast about it.”
It wasn’t an entirely baseless statement. Dujeong Future Foods, which was criticized for tax evasion, illegal collusion, and excessive profit-seeking, was a prime example.
There wasn’t much difference between the other businessmen either.
“Even if the world may change, the nature and essence of merchants do not. How can those with lowly tongues and lowly nature face noble royalty?”
“There’s nothing more to discuss.”
That was the end of it.
After bestowing upon him a profound sense of contempt and disregard, Leon casually walked past Park Jong-chan.
There was no point in following him. Park Jong-chan watched his back and lost his words, filled with a mixture of awe and frustration.
“What… What was that…?”
* * * *
“This is where Your Majesty will reside.”
“Well, it’s decent.”
A 50-square-meter officetel may be excessive for a single person in modern society, but it couldn’t compare to Leon’s royal palace.
However, as he was originally from Earth and had experienced homelessness during battles, he didn’t feel inclined to make a big fuss about it.
“This place will be provided to Your Majesty by the Association for one year. You don’t need to worry about monthly rent or maintenance fees; the Association will take care of everything.”
Hari explained various things to Leon, nodding his head. She clarified that there would be room service available when needed and cleaning staff who would be funded by the maintenance fees.
“Phew… Nevertheless, I’m relieved.”
As a member of the Hunter Association, Hari found it fortunate that Leon just passed by Park Jong-chan, the executive director of Dujeong Future Foods.
Information about survivors is usually kept confidential. Similar to defectors, those who come from isolated societies are quarantined for three months and receive education.
But if it’s an entirely different world, the sense of alienation would naturally be overwhelming. Ideally, they should be quarantined and educated gradually, but if they were to isolate Leon immediately, chaos would ensue.
“But what could be the reason for them to visit Your Majesty?”
“Wherever there’s profit to be made, the merchants follow.”
Profit? Park Jong-chan, an executive director of Dujeong Group, pursuing profit from Leon… Hari slapped her knee.
“Is it because of the rice? Because of the blessed rice in the Honam Plains…”
The situation had been so urgent that proper information control was not in place. A streamer claimed to have filmed it.
“It was Farmer Park… or something like that?”
She searched for the streamer and confirmed that he had uploaded a video. The Association had certainly taken down the video and issued a warning, but…
“What? He uploaded it again?!”
* * * *
Farmer Park felt depressed as his recent video had been taken down.
The shocking scene he had filmed in front of the Honam Plains Gate.
The contaminated land had rapidly transformed before his eyes.
“Did you all just see that? The rice… the rice grew all of a sudden!”
-Is it magic?
-Was it the blond mage from the Magic Tower? Did they use rapid growth magic?
-But even if it’s magic, can plants grow in land contaminated by demonic energy ?
-It might be some new technology that we don’t know about.
Crops grew from the decaying soil. Farmer Park knew how incredible this was.
Even after the introduction of the demonic energy purification technology from the Magic Tower, they had not purified the contaminated land with expensive reagents for one to two years.
Thinking of the neighboring Jeong family who went bankrupt because they couldn’t afford the reagent, Park swallowed hard at the miracle before his eyes.
-But we can’t eat the crops grown using magic anyway.
-Yeah, they’re poisonous to ordinary people because they contain mana.
-Even the hunters would have to detoxify themselves after eating a few times.
But soon, a surprising sight was witnessed. Association staff took the harvested rice and cooked it themselves!
“Hey you! What are you doing right now?”
Curious if they were really going to eat it, Park approached them closer, but he was discovered by the Association staff and chased away. However, that evening, Park urgently found Kim, the owner of the field.
“Kim! Kim! Did you bring what I asked you to?”
“Yeah. But the Association folks said it should never be taken out…”
“Where is the law that says that? Aren’t you the owner of the field, Kim?”
“Well, that’s true…”
“And the contaminated land has been completely restored, right? The Association folks had a bowl of rice each.”
Park, who was a streamer, had a curious nature to the extent of filming mukbang videos of various wild animals in the countryside.
Not only had the land contaminated by demonic energy been purified, but crops had grown rapidly as well. How could they just pass over something like this?
This is great content material. But before that, a preliminary experiment was necessary.
“Let’s cook the rice first and feed it to the stray dog in the neighborhood.”
“Hmm… that’s a good idea.”
The two of them decided to cook a small portion of rice as a trial.
The glossy rice looked tempting, and they wanted to top it with some kimchi, but it was better to conduct an animal test first, just in case.
That’s when it happened. Just as the rice was about to be ready, an old dog approached from outside the door.
“Is that Cheon’s stray dog?”
“That’s right. Why is it here when they said they would come today or tomorrow?”
The stray dog, named Dolsun, was twelve-years-old this year. Like most old animals, it suffered from arthritis and had a sedentary lifestyle combined with obesity.
Why did Dolsun, who usually didn’t move a muscle at home, suddenly appear here?
-Clunk! Clunk clunk!
“No, Inumi? Why don’t you go back home?”
That’s when it happened. Dolsun, who had been looking towards them from outside the door, suddenly thrust its head towards the dining table.
“Has that crazy mutt lost its mind?!”
At first, the two of them were furious, but they soon became astonished by Dolsun’s actions.
“You! Don’t eat that!”
“Why the hell is this damn dog suddenly eating our food?!”
It was a big problem. No matter how much of a stray dog Dolsun was, it was a dog that Cheon cherished dearly.
If even an old dog like Dolsun was to eat the rice and die, Cheon would grieve.
“Spit it out, you b*****d! Huh? Spit it out!”
Park tried to pry open Dolsun’s mouth to make it regurgitate the rice, but Dolsun, as if it was its last meal, swallowed the rice whole. And…
-Clunk! Clunk clunk!
Dolsun started growling and leaping around. Like a grasshopper, it jumped and sprinted towards Cheon’s house.
“What is this…?”
It was an old dog that had difficulty walking due to arthritis. The last time they saw Cheon, who carried Dolsun around and cried, was just last week.
But what on earth was that? It was as if it had suddenly become healthy.
Park and Kim stared at each other with the same thought. The two of them immediately started cooking a new batch of rice.
“Whoa! Chronic spinal stenosis?!”
“It feels like my chest, which used to feel tight, has been pierced through, and it’s refreshing!”
In a village in Honam, miracles that occurred there quickly spread throughout the entire village.
Meanwhile, at the Dujeong Future Food Laboratory, which was investigating the true nature of rice through the Bulsae Guild, a similar phenomenon was taking place.
“What is this? What am I seeing right now?”
“How can such high-density energy be concentrated in a single rice grain?”
Through the Bulsae Guild, the discreetly named “Blessed Rice” was confirmed to be rare through the cross-validation of emotional testers.
◆ Grade: Rare
◆ Details: Blessed Rice. Blessed with the divine power of the sacred goddess Demera, representing life and abundance.
It alleviates Grade 3 diseases. With continuous consumption, there is a high probability of complete recovery.
“Blessed Rice? What is it blessed by?”
“Is it magic? What religion is this goddess Demera from?”
“If it alleviates Grade 3 diseases, how far does the alleviation go?”
“Up to early-stage colon cancer.”
“Damn it! Can we prove this? Let’s experiment with lab mice!”
The experiment results confirmed that the healing ability of Blessed Rice was genuine.
The experimental mice, which were deteriorating with continuous consumption of experimental crops, actually improved.
“Quickly! We need to report this to the higher-ups! And secure as many seeds as possible!”
Thus, the research report from the laboratory was delivered to the upper management of Dujeong Future Food, and Director Park Jong-chan was immediately dispatched.
Thanks to the influence they had in the Hunter’s Association, Dujeong Group had no trouble finding Leon.
“A merchant… shaking hands?”
However, Leon simply ignored them, and Director Park Jong-chan returned, resolute.
“That uncivilized savage!”
Director Park’s anger erupted like an active volcano.
The researchers who came to report with their nameplates trembling shut their eyes tightly, but he paid no attention to them.
“Hey. Those rice grains. The effects are certain, right?”
“Yes, yes… They are.”
“But you haven’t conducted human trials. Can you guarantee that it will have the same effect on humans as it did on those little mice?”
The secretary stepped in to respond.
“In order to secure as many grains as possible, we visited the owner of the field. However, something happened there.”
The secretary conveyed what Park and Kim had experienced.
Dogs on the verge of death suddenly recovered. Chronic inflammation and sinusitis improved after consuming the rice. People in the entire village were cured of various ailments, from minor illnesses to serious chronic diseases, after eating the rice.
“While we couldn’t obtain human trial data… the effectiveness is almost proven.”
“So, it’s really a remarkable product.”
Greed flickered in Director Park’s eyes. If he hadn’t believed in the effects of the rice, he wouldn’t have taken matters into his own hands.
That rice is a jackpot item. Moreover, it’s an incredible product that could bring about a revolutionary change in society.
“If only that crazy lunatic wasn’t involved.”
The problem was the survivor who held the secret of that rice.
That outdated savage survivor referred to him as a lowly marchent and openly denounced Director Park as a despicable merchant.
“Sir… We must secure it at all costs. That rice possesses infinite power.”
It’s rice that can cure even cancer just by eating it. It’s not only a game-changer in terms of food, but it will also revolutionize the medical field.
“We’ll have to meet… him again.”
Since he’s such a difficult lunatic, it seems like we’ll have to request another meeting through the association. The previous attempt to visit him was a complete mess due to the association’s restrictions.
“Do these entrepreneurs in South Korea take me for a joke?”
He was determined to crush the arrogance of this savage survivor.
Countless survivors had been like that.
Survivors of a primitive and foolish civilization, thinking their own world was the best.
After witnessing the overwhelming scientific and productive capabilities of modern civilization, they finally acknowledged their own inferiority.
To think he would make a fuss over mere rice… He will show him the power of science, representing the Earth.
Director Park smiled with a sense of triumph.
‘I’ll overwhelm you with “cultural shock”.’