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Chapter 28 Korean Arena Research Center (Part 2)
(TN: So I did some research (Wikipedia) and found that the average disposable income of Korea in 2014 was $30,000. So his salary of $60,000 is actually pretty good. Keep in mind that stuff in Korea is pretty cheap as well.)
After the individual interviews followed a physical stress test. Cha Ji-hye suggested to each of us an appropriate karma prize.
“Thankfully, Kim Hyun-ho, your physical condition is that of a healthy adult male level.”
“That’s, that’s a relief.”
I had no confidence in my crap physique, so I let out a sigh of relief. It seems hiking every day made a difference.
“Mr. Kim Hyun-ho, I advise you spend 600 karma to get the entry level 4 physical strength buff. Physical health is of utmost importance so please refer to it.”
She shows me a paper.
-Physical strength buff (secondary skill)
-Entry level 1: will earn physique of a healthy adult male. (-100)
-Entry level 2: will earn physique of an athletic adult male. (-150)
-Entry level 3: will earn physique of a trained soldier. (-200)
-Entry level 4: will earn physique of specially trained marine. (-250)
-Entry level 5: will earn physique that reinforces/strengthens to the limits of the human body. (-300)
It is as Kang Chun-seong said, getting to the intermediate levels surpasses human limitations.
“Entry level 4 will give me the physique of a specially trained marine?”
“Without any difficult training, just for free?!”
“It is free. There is of course, a need to acclimate yourself to your suddenly increased physique.”
I summon my board and pick my karma prize and select the physical strength buff.
-Physical strength buff (secondary skill): strengthens physique.
*Entry level 2: will earn the physique of an athletic adult male. (-150)
“I select physical strength buff to entry level 4.”
As I say so, the words on the board change.
-Physical strength buff to entry level 4 will use 600 karma. Will you select?
-Remaining karma: +900
A light appears from the board and that light penetrates my body. I can feel my entire body squirming and I can feel it changing.
“There is no need to be alarmed. Your body is changing with the skill.”
Like molding clay, my body was changing, squirming on its own.
My soft belly disappears and my arms and legs get firm. In place of the disappeared belly fat, something hard starts to take shape.
About a minute passes.
The change is complete.
I see my own body and am completely surprised. Were my pecs this great?
I pull up my sleeve and the muscles in my arm are developed in minute detail. I lift up my shirt and check my middle.
“This, this is!”
That legendary six pack! Not only the withered arms and legs, but the unappealing and dangling lower belly fat I had was nowhere to be seen.
Not only that.
Shoulders! Legs too!
Not just healthy muscle, but I now had muscles so fine they looked chiseled into me.
“Are you done?”
I was so excited looking at my body and I ask Cha Ji-hye a question. I come to my senses and scratch my head.
“This really is an amazing skill.”
“Not only physical strength, but your muscle endurance and stamina will have greatly improved.”
“I really like this. So, how should I spend the rest of my karma?”
“There is a secondary skill you must learn with 100 karma.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a skill called a guider. You can check it on your board.”
I verify the skill called guider on my board.
-Guider (secondary skill): gain a 6th sense to find your destination and location.
*Entry level 1: vaguely find the direction. (-100)
Was there a skill like this?
“It’s a skill that at least one person per team needs to know. Mr. Kim Hyun-ho, you are the leader and you can scout with Sylph so together with this skill, you can make good use of it together.”
I consent and select this skill too. And so 100 karma was used and I was left with 200 karma.
“So I’ve got my secondary skill, but do I not need to raise my spirit summon skill?”
“Even if you raise your main skill one or two levels, it doesn’t make that much difference compared to level one. For right now, raising your secondary skills will make the most difference. Most of all, a strong physical and a strong sense of direction is the most important.”
I decide to trust Cha Ji-hye, who is a specialist.
“How should I use my 200 remaining karma?”
“That, we need to experiment with another specialist and we need a bit more time.”
“We are looking for the best choice, so trust us and wait.”
“Alright, I will.”
“Also, take this book.”
Cha Ji-hye hands me a very thick book.
“It is a comprehensive informational book on the Arena. Please read all of it.”
“Ok. And when does the training begin?”
“At this time, you don’t require any training.”
There is no training needed?
Cha Ji-hye speaks to a doubtful me.
“Mr. Kim Hyun-ho, you do not have a part that requires improvement with short training immediately. You were able to survive on your own and your aim is 100 out of 100 without even looking at the target and you’ve mastered the uses of your spirit summon very well.”
“Of course, if we come up with another idea on how you can use your spirit summon, we will suggest it to you right away. But for now, resting for the 14 days is best.”
“Is that the same for the other team members?”
“Mr. Kang Chun-seong does not have a need for training either. His combat fighting was actually to the point that our martial arts team needed to learn from him.”
That man was originally strong like a monster and with his martial arts skill, isn’t he complete already?
“But Lee Joon-ho and Lee Hye-su will stay here and receive training for the 14 days.”
“Yes. The two people have major deficiency in their skills and require special training. Of course for the 1-2 days before the exam, we give them time to rest and recuperate.”
I worry for Hye-su. She only has one sword and 150 karma. How much stronger can she get with special training?
“So can Kang Chun-seong and I just go home?”
“Mr. Kang Chun-seong does not have a place to go so he has decided to stay here. We can escort you with a helicopter and vehicle to your place
I took the helicopter and rode the Eqqus and by the time I got home, it was 7 pm. I returned and took a shower and again, was overcome with awe and happiness when checking out my own body. If Hyun-ji sees, she’ll be so surprised. She always teased me saying she doesn’t like to see anchovies.* I shall astonish her with this oppa’s chocolate abs.* …actually that seems kind of perverted so I won’t. What kind of bizarre thing would that be to do to a younger sister?
(TN: because anchovies are skinny and weak like he used to be.)
(TN: as in his abs look like the squares on a bar of chocolate)
After finish my shower, I still find my abs to be so lovable that I go around my house without a shirt on. I giggle and smile in front of the full body mirror and put on just jeans and assume some model poses. Ahh I am happy.
‘I should test out how much better this is.’
First, I lightly do some pushups.
‘A thousand. I think I can do a thousand!’
I am no longer panting for air after 50. I get in a handstand position and try to do a pushup. Even this works! Is that all? I succeed in doing pushups with just both thumbs.
“Sylph. Aren’t I cool?”
This cute thing just nods her head and is full of aegyo.
Indeed, even the spirit has eyes to see.
Yes, of course. I am sure she didn’t just agree simply because I am her owner. I am greatly satisfied. My body was firm.
‘Marines with special training gained this body through training alone? They’re really respectable.’
I almost feel like a thief for having gotten this body for free. It was while I was exercising, not realized time passing by.
Beep beep beep-
With a sound of the password being put in, the front door opens.
“Son. I’m home!”
‘Oh, its mom.’
I quickly put on a top.
“Did you sell a lot of fried chicken?”
“Huh? Are you slowing starting to fail?”*
(TN: The word he uses means to fail, as in a business failing, not fail as in a person failing)
“Business hours aren’t even over, but we ran out of ingredients. I’m so upset.”
“…still on fire. It comforts me as your heir.”
“Haha son, you should hurry and come out to work at the store soon.”
“Starting next month.”
Now that I think of it, I am no longer unemployed. I am now a high earner earning 60k as an annual salary. But how to explain this?
‘My mom will be so upset if I tell her I can’t work at the store because I’ve gotten employed.’
Mom was so excited, looking forward to spending time with her son at the store.
She’ll be sad again if I disappear again with a job.
‘I’ll keep it a secret for now.’
I decide to solve this problem after the 3rd exam. A moment later, noona gets home. She must have dropped off mom and then gone to park the car.
As soon as she gets into the house, with a sharp eye, she looks around the house.
Now that I look, it is 10 pm and Hyun-ji hasn’t come home.
“She hasn’t answered her phone either.”
“Is she at the club again?”
Mom asks a straightforward question.
As she asked, noona’s gaze become a level colder.
“A TOEIC 400-er is at the club at this house?”
A TOEIC score of 400? I almost puke up blood.
That’s the specs on a college student about to graduate?
(TN: From Wikipedia: The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) is “an English language test designed specifically to measure the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment.” Basically, a test you take that employers will check. This is out of 990 in Korea.)
The 33 year old spinster lawyer rages with fire and looks at me.
I feel as if her icy gaze is shattering through my heart.
“Go out and find her right now.”
“Where am I supposed to find her?”
“Find her, unemployed.”
Like a reflex, formal speech that I don’t even use with my mom just comes out of my mouth. I quickly put on a jacket and run out of the house.
I leave the apartment in the dead of night and I feel at a loss for what to do. Hyun-ji is definitely playing like crazy right now, I’m sure.
‘She has her phone off, that means she’s either at a club or a night club. It’s a weekday and going out to play after school means she hasn’t gone to Gangnam or Hongdae.’
There is only one club in Cheonan, but lots of night clubs.
(TN: A night club is somewhere you go and you get checked into a booth by an attendant and it usually has alcohol. A club is one where you walk in and get your own stuff/spot. There is more music and dancing and it has less alcohol.)
How am I to know which one Hyun-ji is at…
Suddenly I get a weird feeling. I sense that if I go to the right, for some reason, I will be able to find Hyun-ji.
I come to think of the secondary skill, guider, that I got today.
‘Yeah. With this skill, I’ll be able to find her!’
It is just a vague direction only, but with this skill and a map app, I think it’ll be possible.
I take out my smart phone, open the map app, and look up clubs and night clubs in Cheonan. In the direction of my 6th sense, there is only one located. Thankfully, it is close to here.
‘Ok. Just you wait Hyun-ji.’
I grab a taxi and head towards the club.
As I arrive at the club, I can sense that Hyun-ji is inside.
‘This is it’
I get out of the taxi and head for the club.
I had just thrown on my clothes, but because it’s a weekday, without much ado, I am able to get into the club.
There is a loud electronic music attacking my eardrums. That DJ bastard must be a hearing impaired person.
There aren’t as many people dancing as I thought.
I scan the crowd and I can’t see Hyun-ji. Just full of fricking dudes.
‘Perhaps this way?’
The guider skill guides me to the left.
It’s an area where rooms are clustered together. Maybe…but is she drinking with guys in one of these rooms?
‘This TOEIC 400 scorer!’
I briskly walk over in that direction.
I look around and I get a strong sense from one of the rooms.
‘This is it.’
I open the door and go inside.
The guy and girl’s gaze from inside the room tilt over to me. Boys 3, girls 3. Among them, of course, is Hyun-ji.
Hyun-ji’s two eyes become round like a rabbit.
“Let’s go, you thing.”
“How did you know to come here?”
“Noona sent me here, that’s why I came.”
Hyun-ji’s voice starts to shake in fear.
“Must be Hyun-ji’s oppa.”
The girls start to whisper and the men, with blank expressions of their faces, gaze back and forth between me and Hyun-ji.
I sigh and gesture.
“Hurry up and let’s go. How could you think to come to a club with your TOEIC score?
Hyun-ji has a tearful face on and gets out of her seat. She grabs her bag and obediently comes out. She must find noona to be scary.