A Hundred Thousand Troops
The fertilizer made in Ulsan caused a great sensation even in Hanyang.
The fertilizer came as an immeasurable shock, especially for the unparalleled genius who had always advocated for increasing troop strength.
I had previously insisted on increasing the troops to the Royal Noble Consort. However, I was rebuffed because there wasn’t enough food to feed them.
At that time, Yi I was pondering and waiting for King Seonjo to summon him.
As expected, King Seonjo reinstated Yi I and even gave him the position of Minister of War to support his claim.
However, an incident occurred before Yi I could even put his full effort into it.
It was a moment when I truly wanted to give up. There was no lightning bolt from a clear sky like this.
Yi I spent sleepless nights working on supplying the northern region. Thanks to Yi I’s efforts, the Joseon army was able to plan a systematic counterattack. To supply the northern region, Joseon had to consume most of its national power that had been accumulated so far.
So, Yi I scraped together the minimum amount of force needed to increase troop strength and sent it to the north.
Yet, it wasn’t hopeless.
If food production increases due to the fertilizer, Joseon can be reborn.
While Yi I was staying up late working on the matter of the Nitanggae Rebellion, a eunuch came to him.
“Minister of War, the Royal Noble Consort is looking for you.”
“The Royal Noble Consort? I’ll go right away!”
I should take this opportunity to remind the Royal Noble Consort of the need for a hundred thousand troops once more.
Yi I was a man known as the unparalleled genius born in Joseon.
Of course, he knew that King Seonjo would feel burdened about raising such a large army.
Nevertheless, Yi I firmly believed in what he thought was right and continued to advocate for it.
“Your Majesty, it is Yi I, the new Minister of War.”
“Sit down and speak.”
As Yi I took his seat, King Seonjo opened his mouth.
“The reason I’ve called you urgently is because of the situation in the north.”
“It’s not your fault for not increasing the number of troops. It’s the mistake of the ministers who didn’t listen to the advice. What do you think will happen now?”
“Fortunately, the Acting Provincial Governor of Onseong, Shin Rip, has fought off the barbarians who were plundering the area near Gyeongwonjin, but we need to send reinforcements as soon as possible.”
“How many soldiers can we provide right now?”
“…I apologize for reporting this, but we can only mobilize about eighty soldiers now.”
“Only eighty soldiers against more than ten thousand barbarians in the north? Isn’t that insufficient?”
“I have already requested food and conscripts from the Pyeongyang Provincial Governor. In addition, if we conscript the people who must perform military service in each village, we can gather nearly 10,000 troops. However, this is just a temporary measure, and such crises can occur anytime.”
“What do you suggest we do going forward?”
“I believe it is right to train a hundred thousand soldiers to address the crisis in the north.”
“A hundred thousand? You know as well as I do that our country, Joseon, cannot support such a large army.”
“Fortunately, there is still hope for Joseon. If the fertilizer made in Ulsan spreads nationwide, we could feed and clothe a hundred thousand soldiers.”
“I have ordered my people to produce fertilizer, but from what I hear, the main ingredient, herring, can only be caught on the east coast. The nobles of Gyeongsang Provine are competing to build fishing boats, but it will take a long time to supply fertilizer nationwide.”
“However, this is an absolutely necessary task to set the country right.”
“…I have ordered a mass mobilization on the construction of large ships in all eight provinces of Joseon.”
“But we can’t delay the construction of the warship any longer. The Japanese have been quiet since the last Sampo Invasion, but they could attack at any time.”
“I know that, but first, we need to produce more food to train the hundred thousand troops you advocate, don’t we?”
If the fertilizer hadn’t been developed in Ulsan or the Nitanggae Rebellion hadn’t occurred, none of this would have happened.
Small variables began to move the country of Joseon.
King Seonjo and Yi I exchanged opinions late into the night to transform Joseon.
“I’m worried that holding on to the problem for too long might not be a good idea.”
“His Majesty is very concerned.”
“As the days go by, Yulgok’s face becomes increasingly haggard, and my concern for you is beyond measure.”
Indeed, Yi I’s face had become more haggard day by day since the explosion of Nitanggae’s rebellion.
“But when I think of the suffering people in the north, how can I possibly sleep?”
“I feel the same way.”
In fact, King Seonjo was also quite alarmed by the Nitanggae’s rebellion.
For decades, the peaceful Joseon Dynasty had become weak, and Nitanggae’s rebellion was one of the biggest events since the founding of Joseon.
However, the northerners and the provincial people’s sentiments were bothering Seonjo.
‘I must manage the local people’s sentiments more carefully during these times. But, I cannot leave such small matters to Yulgok. Who would be suitable? Ah, right! It would be best to leave it to Seo Ae!’
Life isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
The evening when Singak stayed at our house, I secretly went to the sarangchae where Singak was staying.
He was training in martial arts, and even though I knew nothing about martial arts, I could see that his movements were full of discipline, and the energy at the tip of his sword was intense.
Was this the general who took the lives of 70 enemy soldiers really different from the others?
But what should I say to him?
I would have unfolded a tremendous author’s convenience if I were a novelist.
However, the only luck in my life was meeting this ajeossi all day long.
Especially with Singak, it was difficult to approach him easily because of his rugged, warrior-like vibe.
In other words, imagine meeting a big guy in the middle of the night saying, “Hey, you’re going to die an unfair death.”
Still, I must gather my courage, right?
The essence of historical novels lies in the protagonist meeting historical figures and those figures’ lives changing.
As someone who must write an alternate history novel with my body, I couldn’t stay like a loser after meeting an influential person who “could have made a difference if they had survived.”
…Still, if he got offended, he might not listen to my advice, so I should wait until his training was over.
It’s not because I was scared.
As I watched his swordsmanship for a while, our eyes met.
“Do you have any questions for me?”
Was he really asking me?
There was no one else around the sarangchae besides me.
“Yes? How did you know I was watching?”
“Ahahaha! How could I not know when you’ve been staring at me for almost half an hour?”
What? I’ve been stalking him for nearly an hour? No wonder my legs were sore!
“I thought I was hiding well.”
“Even though I’m away from the battlefield now, I’ve been a warrior swinging a sword for over ten years. How could I not know? Anyway, what do you want to say?”
As expected of a warrior. His words were refreshing.
It’s great that he was so direct!
“Is there anything happening in Hanyang?”
“…Why are you curious?”
Please, do not glare at me like that. I feel like my fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae will separate if I say anything wrong.
“To my knowledge, it is extremely rare for Sanggammama to issue an order.”
“Ah, that’s right. If Sanggammama sends out orders too often, it can cause confusion on the front line. So, unless there’s a rebellion or something special, there’s no need to see the order. By the way, how old are you?”
Please don’t even mention rebellion!
Just hearing about it made me feel like shrinking!
“I’m eleven this year.”
“Ho, it’s really amazing! I knew nothing about the world when I was eleven and just played. Do you know about Hamgyeong Province?”
“I only know that it is located at the northernmost part of Joseon.”
“There’s a rebellion happening over there. From what I’ve heard, it’s causing quite a commotion. The court must need some good news to appease the people’s sentiments. Ah, is this too difficult for you to understand? Hahaha!”
Please don’t underestimate me, ajeossi.
Even though I may look like this, I’d been using my brain to live.
Have you ever been troubled by jerks like the cyberstalkers or boring car chasers?
Well, it was not like I didn’t have angelic readers who supported my writing.
Anyway, one of my questions was answered.
Why did I forget this fact?
I had almost forgotten this while preparing for various things, but in 1583, the slack Joseon army faced the Nitanggae rebellion!
At the time of Taejo’s founding of Joseon, the Joseon army was very strong.
During the reign of Sejong, it was only half successful, but the power was strong enough to conquer Daemado.
However, 200 years after Taejo founded the country, the once-strong military power of Joseon had disappeared without a trace.
In this situation, the invasion of more than 30,000 northern tribesmen was enough to shake Joseon.
“If there was a big disturbance in the north, it wouldn’t be bad to give hope that there will be a lot of crops next year to capture the people’s hearts.”
Indeed, King Seonjo was strong in a crisis.
The most dangerous moment during Seonjo’s reign was not when the Imjin War broke out.
Rather, Seonjo, who felt uneasy about his position after the Imjin War ended and King Gwanghae became a war hero, tested his son’s and subjects’ loyalty by performing a fake abdication.
It must have been terrible for those on the receiving end.
Still, even in a situation where some public sentiment had left, the fact that he performed a fake abdication with his position at stake showed how much of a jerk but strong in a crisis Seonjo was.
Knowing that if the king were to abdicate when the power structure was not unstable like in the early Joseon Dynasty, Confucian-minded subjects and Prince Gwanghae did not easily accept the throne.
Some used sophisticated political machinations to make Gwanghae himself acknowledge Seonjo’s position.
Was it always that cheap to buy off people?
Buying people’s hearts with just two horses and silk clothes?
Did he think he was Stalin with a mustache but was actually Goebbels?
“Hmm, even if the fertilizer wasn’t developed, I would have attracted the people’s attention by choosing beautiful women from all over the country.”
“…How old are you this year?”
Ha, did this old man already have a problem with his eardrums?
So, how were you going to fight well nine years later?
Ah, of course, you would fight well.
“Hehe! If my son resembled you, I would have no wishes.”
Could this be an opportunity?
I seemed to leave a good impression on him, so I should tell him about the importance of records!
“My father always said that records are important. Did you know that we had to undergo tremendous trial and error in making the fertilizer?”
“Hmm, I didn’t know that. Kim Hyeonmyeong didn’t disclose the story of making fertilizer, did he?”
“My father has organized dozens of combinations and fermentation processes to make fertilizer. As a result, we could earn an additional income of up to 10 stones in a sixth-grade field. My father always told me to record and think.”
“Indeed, ‘There is no good son under a good father.’ Is it? The old sayings are never wrong. I need to teach my son about the importance of records on this occasion. If you resemble half of your father, you can leave your name in history.”
I really wished he would realize the importance of records more than his son.
The next day, after my short conversation with Singak, he went straight to Hanyang.
Several times, I wanted to emphasize the importance of reports and records, but Singak was surprisingly stubborn and single-minded.
“…He’s leaving without looking back.”
“Hehe, are you going to miss him?”
Grandfather patted my head as if I was cute.
In a way, I met a “person who appears in history” for the first time, but our conversation was only a few words.
If there had been a little more time and I had been a little older, maybe I could have left a stronger impression on him.
However, I could not tell my grandfather the story within me.
“But there’s no time to be sorry.”
Tomorrow, it would be time for Park Jongil to buy the anonymous rice paddies left in the country.
I must turn this into a field again.
And as soon as the ground melted, I had to make the fertilizer once again.
By the way, I made enough fertilizer to spread all over the village’s rice paddies for a year.
But this alone was not enough.
We couldn’t be lazy about improving fertilizer if we wanted to supply it all over Ulsan.
I have to sow the seeds, harvest diligently, and at least struggle in the face of the upcoming crisis!
“Then, Grandpa, I’ll go to the fertilizer field.”
Hehe, I don’t know what’s so urgent for this kid.
 Yi I’s pen name, meaning “chestnut valley.”
 Pen name of Ryu Seong-ryong (1542-1607)
 A traditional Korean living room
 Literally “Supreme Crowned King”
 Modern-day Tsushima Island
 I’m not even going to try to explain this one…
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