There was a famous actor.
That actor had a catchphrase that anyone who liked movies would know.
The catchphrase was “Proceed.” Actually, the actor said he had never said such a line in a movie.
However, as the internet meme “Proceed” became so popular, it was used in a commercial.
The tinnitus I’m hearing now sounds like that ajusshi actor is telling me to proceed.
It’s as if it’s urging me to proceed with the plan I’ve set up as soon as possible.
“Hey, Kang Jik-ajusshi!”
“Oh dear, young master! Do you want to call me ajusshi?”
Ah, was ajusshi a term for men other than my father’s close male relatives at that time?
Whatever, it doesn’t matter.
I’ve lived in the 21st century, and to me, ajusshi is just ajusshi.
“It means that we are like family, and I like it.”
“Even so, you could get in trouble if the family head hears you.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take responsibility, sniff!”
“Oh my! How can you walk around dressed like this? What if you catch a cold or something?”
There’s no way such a goose-down padding like the North Face exists in this cursed world.
Should I catch a goose later and make clothes by plucking its chest hair?
“Please have this!”
Kang Jik hands me a roasted chestnut from a nearby heater.
What is this? A portable hand warmer version from the Joseon period?
Kang Jik, who looks after me carefully, is our family servant.
And he is also the father of Kang Cheol, who is like my own hands and feet.
But don’t think of him as an ordinary commoner servant.
Kang Jik is a valuable talent in our family, managing the family’s affairs, similar to the concept of a butler these days.
“I have a question.”
“Hmm, feel free to ask anything you want, as long as I know the answer!”
“Is our family’s wealth relatively abundant?”
“…You mean wealth? Hmmm, young master! The Gimhae Kim clan is one of the most prestigious families in Joseon, and no one in the area does not set foot on the land of the Himhae Kim clan.”
Oh? If this time is real, it seems that our family is more extraordinary than I thought.
Right, even if I’m unfairly thrown into this time, at least my starting point should be good!
“Can we make a boat?”
“A boat? You mean a boat that floats on the river? Hmm, some carpenters among the commoners living in the Taehwa River basin should know how to make boats. For them, boats are also an essential means of livelihood.”
“But I don’t understand why you suddenly want to make a boat.”
That’s because I want to carry out the “Joseon Hell Salvation Project.”
“Will making a boat cost a lot of money?”
“Of course, it must be expensive, right? Just making a wooden boat costs at least 100 sacks of rice just for the carpenter’s wages.”
I can’t quite understand the value of 100 sacks of rice since I don’t know the overall price level of this time, but it’s frustrating.
If I think that it’s the amount of money an adult male can live on for a year, is it about the food expenses for a year?
“How valuable are 100 sacks of rice?”
“Oh dear, I must be losing my mind. A hundred sacks of rice are worth about two sacks of mixed grains and can buy about two yards of Oseungpo fabric.”
By the way, Oseungpo refers to the average level of cotton used in the Joseon period.
Wait, if you give about two yards of military fabric, you can get military service, so I can roughly understand the value of 100 sacks of rice.
Don’t Koreans have to relate everything to the military to get a sense of it?
But isn’t it quite cheap to build a boat?
“Young master, are you curious about boats? If so, there are people among the servants of the clan who work on the family’s boats and fish. The fish that comes to your table is all caught by them.”
Oh, right, this is Ulsan, isn’t it?
Ulsan is a city with a long history of fishing since ancient times, catching whales.
Doesn’t the Bangudae Petroglyphs exist here?
Of course, our family, which has tremendous prestige in Ulsan, should have one or two family-owned boats.
But I needed more ships.
Mass production and economies of scale were the greatest know-how of modern humans!
If one didn’t have the overpowered ability to summon 21st-century items, the fastest way to replenish proteins and fats was, of course, the fishing industry.
However, going fishing in this era meant risking one’s life.
No, even in the 21st century, there were occasional news stories about people dying when ships sank, so how much more dangerous would it be in this era without navigation devices? If one encountered a storm on the rough sea, it would be quite possible to request a one-on-one meeting with the Dragon King.
Nevertheless, I had to grow the fishing industry to mass-produce fertilizer, and with fertilizer, food production could increase.
“So, how many ships does our family have?”
“Hmm, there’s only one ship that goes to the far sea for net fishing. However, I know of at least seven ships that fish near the Taehwa River.”
Wow, our family may be richer than I thought.
“I see. Thank you for letting me know!”
I bowed my head to Kang Jik, the elderly man.
“Ah, young master! You shouldn’t bow your head to someone like me!”
Hehe, there will be more to see in the future, so don’t be surprised by just this.
“By any chance, can I meet the fishermen who go out to sea?”
“Today happens to be the day they return from fishing, so they should arrive in the afternoon.”
Oh! My luck is quite good.
It feels like everything is going smoothly, as if someone wrote a scenario for me!
If I were a reader of this story, I would protest that it’s too contrived.
As soon as the sun was overhead that day, the fishermen arrived at our house’s yard, just as Kang Jik had said.
Their sunburnt skin showed the hardships of their labor.
The rough-looking sea men laid out their net bags full of the fish they had caught in the yard.
“Excuse me, sir!”
“Who? Gasp! It’s the young master, isn’t it?”
…Their courage doesn’t seem to be as tough as their appearance.
The fishermen, unlike Kang Jik, were quite intimidated by me.
Did the protagonist of this body have a bad reputation? Like the title of a novel, Born as a Reckless Child of a Prestigious Family.
“Hello? Are you the captain that Kang Jik mentioned?”
“Er, yes! I am the leader of the fishermen who go out fishing. What can I do for you?”
“May I know your name?”
“My name? Ah, my name is Su Dal.”
Sudal? I can’t understand the naming sense of the Joseon era, giving an animal name like “otter” to a person.
“Su Dal, you go out to sea to catch fish, right?”
“Yes, when we go far out to sea, we usually stay there for about 15 days. If you go northeast from here for about two days, there’s an island called Ulleungdo, and the area around it has a lot of delicious fish. However, in the summer when fish spoil easily, we can’t go far out for fishing, and we only go far out to catch fish when the days are cool like these.”
Oh, it’s surprising that fishermen living in Ulsan went as far as Ulleungdo, which can be considered as distant water fishing.
“Would it be alright if I take a look at the fish you caught?”
“Ah, some of them have sharp spines, so I’ll show you. This red one is a sea bream, it’s very tasty even when eaten raw. If you store it in seaweed like kelp, it won’t spoil easily.”
Oh, sea bream? Did they develop a way to age the fish? After all, preventing fish from spoiling is the top priority when going for distant water fishing, so it’s possible that they developed such methods.
“Then, how do you distribute the catch?”
“All the catches belong to the Gimhae Kim clan. We just get by with the wages the family gives us.”
Wow, it sounds like our family is a ruthless employer.
However, when I saw the wandering servants sometimes visiting our house to alleviate their hunger in the past month, they were quite thin, but the fishermen, including Su Dal, seemed to be well-fed with muscles all over their bodies.
“What about the other fish?”
I pointed at a particularly plump fish that was caught more often than the others.
The one I pointed at resembled the fish I had studied to use in my novel.
“Hmm, this fish has been caught quite a lot lately, it’s called herring. They have a lot of fat, so if you don’t remove their innards immediately, they’ll spoil quickly. They’re annoying little buggers that even come up to the coastal waters in the summer.”
Herring! So, they did catch herring in the East Sea during the Joseon period!
Well, herring is a cold-water fish, but what era is this?
Joseon period? It’s correct but not the exact answer if looking from a broader perspective.
This era can be considered the Little Ice Age when seen from a global viewpoint.
Little Ice Age! Doesn’t just hearing that make you feel cold? Of course, the seawater would become colder, and it’s only natural for cold-water fish like herring to come all the way to the East Sea, riding the colder currents.
I felt like I found a small piece of a larger puzzle with this information.
“Still, the cool weather keeps the freshly caught fish from spoiling for about two weeks if you remove their innards.”
“Oh, then what do you do with their innards?”
“We collect the fish innards and scatter them in the sea to use as bait. These dumb fish gather to eat their own kind’s innards, so we can catch a lot of them with the fishing net.”
Ah, our ancestors were really good in using resources efficiently.
But I have an even more important use for the innards.
Of course, I’ll need to conduct a few experiments, but with some luck, I might be able to develop a fertilizer to use this year.
“Thank you for the information! By the way, are there any inconveniences you experience while fishing?”
I felt like I was a private watching a general with stars on his shoulders.
“For example, if the boat were a little bigger, you could catch more fish, right?”
“Ha… you mean the boat?”
“Just an example.”
“Well, a bigger boat would make fishing easier, but, uh!”
Why can’t he just say that he needs a bigger boat!
Eventually, I need a bigger and more abundant boat anyway!
“I’ll try to mention it. And from the next fishing trip, can you collect the fish innards, mix them with straw, and bring them to me?”
“Uhm? I don’t know what you’ll use it for, but if you ask, I’ll do it. For bait, we can just use the sea squirts we got while cleaning the nets!”
Why do I feel like I’ve just lured him in with the prospect of a new boat?
The power gap between Joseon and Japan is enormous.
Japan is still in the Sengoku period, building castles and fighting for their lives in wars against each other.
But Joseon hasn’t fought a proper war in over 100 years, resulting in a weakening of national power.
When King Taejo founded the country of Joseon, he was a warrior, so naturally, Joseon’s national power was strong.
However, as peace continues, the military tends to weaken.
To counter Japan in such a short time as ten years, at least a revival of the secondary industry is needed.
What’s the most crucial thing to start the secondary industry, manufacturing?
Undoubtedly, it’s the supply of materials.
That’s why the primary industry of fishing has become essential.
I would have started with fishing even if I had ended up on the west coast.
Human civilization has advanced as it transitioned from hunting to agriculture.
Why did they move from hunting to agricultural society? It’s because agriculture was a way to secure a steady supply of food.
Fishing is an industry in between hunting and agriculture, but unlike hunting with an uncertain harvest, it’s an industry where you can expect a steady yield.
If herring is caught in coastal waters, I might be able to develop two items I’ve thought about for industrial use.
One of them is fertilizer and the other is soap.
Most alternative-history novelists use soap as their business item.
Of course, I’ve also studied the history and manufacturing methods of soap.
In most alternative-history novels, soap is depicted as if it never existed in the world, but in fact, the history of soap is said to be almost as long as human history.
It’s said that around 3500 BC, Babylonians recorded how to make soap, and even ancient Greece knew about soap to some extent.
Then, was there no soap in the Joseon Dynasty?
Surprisingly, the name “soap” itself is a pure Korean word from the Joseon Dynasty when they used ground beans like soybeans, red beans, and mung beans as a scrub or for laundry, and it was called “bino.”
However, it was hard to mass-produce this bino, and a lot of effort had to be put into obtaining the essential oil among the ingredients.
But herring is a very oily fish.
When it’s dried into gwamegi, oil naturally drips out, which might be used to make soap.
Of course, there would be trial and error, but soap is an essential item for conducting wars in an era when proper disinfectants cannot be made.
Catch blue herring and make it into gwamegi and then turn the byproduct into fertilizer.
And, in the process of catching herring and making it into gwamegi, separately collect the oil to use as a soap ingredient.
Isn’t it a great business item?
And I went to see my grandfather, who was staying in a separate building, to hold an investment business presentation.
“Grandpa, it’s your grandson Sangseung.”
“Well, come in.”
Grandpa’s room was similar to the structure of a nobleman’s room seen in historical dramas, with furniture made of mother-of-pearl and stylish folding screens.
“So, why did our grandson come to visit this old man?”
Grandpa’s eyes were full of love.
Was it so lovely that his grandson, who hadn’t visited his room for a long time, had come?
“Today, I came to ask you a favor, Grandpa.”
“If our eldest grandson wants something, can’t this old man get even a star from the sky for him? So, do you want some snacks? Or should I make you a new set of clothes?”
Grandpa, what I want is something bigger than that.
“Hmm, Grandpa. Today, I met a guy named Su Dal.”
“Su Dal, did you mean the leader of the coastal fishermen? If Su Dal visited today, there must be delicious side dishes coming up for dinner. Then, should this old man give you some side dishes?”
Grandpa seemed proud as if to show off the delicious side dishes to me.
First, since what I want isn’t an ordinary toy, build-up is essential.
A single sack of rice is worth about 10 million won, considering a year’s salary and the yearly food expenses of modern people.
Moreover, it’s impossible to know how much money would be spent on the materials needed to build a ship.
If you think that just the labor costs are about 10 million won, how much would it cost for the materials needed to build a ship?
And as the size of the ship increases, the labor costs will also increase, and the material costs will increase even more.
“No, sir. Today, I talked with Su Dal about fishing, and I was really curious about it. They say the sea is vast beyond measure, but I don’t remember the sea.”
So, at this point, I had to add some melodrama and pretend to be pitiful.
Had my plan worked, as Grandpa looked at me with pity in his eyes?
“Grandpa, I want to go to the sea and see Su Dal fishing.”
“Eh, that won’t work. It’s too dangerous! Even if Su Dal is good at handling a boat, those coastal fishermen live a life as thin as a thread.”
Good, this reaction is what I expected.
“Then, wouldn’t it be alright if we had a bigger and sturdier ship?”
“A bigger and sturdier ship?”
“Yes, if we had a bigger and sturdier ship, we could catch more fish and it would be safer at sea, right?”
Grandpa quietly stroked his beard and got into the idea.
“A bigger and sturdier ship… It’s true, the fishing boats in our household have gotten quite old. It’s about time we made new ones.”
Oh, the ships were old? Ships are also consumables.
Of course, when a fish-catching boat gets old, it needs to be replaced.
Why not make it a big and good one while making it?
Of course, the old boats can still be used for fishing in shallow waters.
“It’s not strange for a ship to sink at any time, so it wouldn’t be bad to try making a big ship this time. However, I cannot allow you to go far out to sea to fish. How about just sightseeing in the nearby waters?”
I have no intention of risking my life to go far out to sea, even if I were insensitive to danger!
“I will do as my grandpa says.”
“Ahaha! I’ll have to order a big and fancy boat for our grandson to ride. It should be done by at least this spring, so don’t be too impatient.”
“I can wait, Grandpa.”
The tinnitus in my ears seems to be urging me not to waste any time.
You noisy skip bug! Why don’t you know that even a thousand-mile journey starts with a single step?
 A character from Korean mythology, who governs the sea and controls the weather.
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