A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Alternate history novels make readers imagine the “what-ifs” in history through the protagonist who serves as a variable in the story.
So, what kind of variables have I created so far?
If I were to write a novel, the variables I’ve created in history would be merely that a character named Kim Sangseung, who should’ve died, is alive and uses the wealth of the Gimhae Kim clan’s Samhyeon faction to build a ship and slightly improve the food situation in Ulsan.
Considering the developments so far, it would be equivalent to the first 10 episodes of a long novel-length series spanning over 200 episodes.
However, I’m feeling the protagonists’ struggles in the novels I’ve written in the past.
A protagonist whose time-slipped is always cautious of the butterfly effect.
Their greatest ability comes from the certainty of predicting the future.
But what if that future changes little by little? The protagonist’s ability would be nerfed.
I’m also constantly worrying about whether my actions might cause a butterfly effect.
Some readers might say, “Ah, this protagonist is such a loser!”
However, I realize that anyone would have these concerns, except for protagonists with slightly twisted tastes.
Wait, this makes me feel like a real protagonist of a novel.
Most alternate history novel protagonists are extremely cautious of history deviating from what they know.
But now, I’m in a situation where I must distort the future of Joseon, which has a bad ending flag attached.
Of course, it would be nice if the tragedy of the Imjin War disappeared with the improvement in Ulsan’s food situation, but if that happened, the otter- Su Dal – would say, “Don’t talk nonsense! You bastard.” and I wouldn’t have a rebuttal.
What is Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the monkey bastard who invaded Joseon, doing right now anyway?
If I remember correctly, he should be at war with the Mori clan under the orders of Oda Nobunaga.
The Mori clan was one of Japan’s daimyo families, and it was virtually the last puzzle piece for Oda Nobunaga to become the ruler of the world.
Once the Mori clan is defeated, the western part of Kyoto would fall under Oda Nobunaga’s control, and the remaining families would only be a few daimyos in the distant regions.
But Oda Nobunaga’s grand scheme will be burned to ashes.
This is because he would be engulfed in the huge fire his subordinate Akechi Mitsuhide set in the not-too-distant future.
I know that Oda Nobunaga died in June 1582, so it won’t be long before it becomes a reality.
Since Oda Nobunaga is not dead yet, Toyotomi Hideyoshi is just one of the generals under Oda.
In other words, there is still a chance for me to send a check to the monkey bastard.
The problem is that I don’t have the energy to seize this opportunity.
It’s frustrating that only those who are prepared can seize the opportunities.
Kim Soyul just happens to be staring at me.
Phew, I held back!
Just one year after Oda Nobunaga’s death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who could be considered Oda Nobunaga’s second-in-command, killed Shibata Katsuie and became the person closest to ruling the world.
In fact, I don’t care who becomes the ruler of the Japanese archipelago, whether it’s Oda the gorilla, Toyotomi the monkey, or Shibata the chimpanzee.
After all, armies with no more enemies to fight are bound to wander in search of bigger enemies.
Isn’t it great? Advanced tactics developed through 100 years of civil war, with elite troops trained in the process, and even the daimyos who you never know when they might stab you in the back!
These daimyos found an external enemy in Joseon to release their pent-up energy.
Historically, the unified monkey bastards created a huge empire and invaded the Korean Peninsula countless times.
That is a fact that anyone who didn’t doze off during Korean history class would know.
Even now, the history book starts by telling how many invasions our country has suffered.
So, regardless of who becomes the monkey general that unifies the Sengoku period, the assumption that Joseon will be invaded remains unchanged in history.
Of course, they could only invade Joseon if they unified the country. So, I must restrain Toyotomi, who will soon follow Oda Nobunaga’s footsteps to become the next monkey general.
And to do that, I need money.
“Oppa, what are you doing?”
“I was waiting to hug our Soyul!”
Soyul rushes into my arms.
This kid, when I smell like feces because I’m making fertilizer, she frowns and runs away, but now she’s clinging to me just fine.
I hold little Soyul in my arms and walk around the village.
“Oh my, young master, you went out without telling us?”
Kang Cheol, who is like my personal secretary, comes out and runs straight towards Soyul.
“I was just taking a walk with Soyul.”
“It seems like the young lady follows you very well.”
“Why are you jealous? If you are, ask your father to make you a younger sibling.”
“Ay, I have four younger siblings at home. I know better than anyone that not all kids are as cute as Miss Soyul.”
Well, there’s no baby as cute as our Soyul in the world!
“Hmm, hmm, that’s an exaggeration!”
After wandering around for about 30 minutes, Soyul was asleep in my arms.
This little one seems to have gotten heavier lately.
And that weight is pressing down on my shoulders.
Fuck, I don’t need you to tell me! I know already!
No matter how heavy she gets, I must become strong enough to protect her.
As I continued to walk around the village without saying anything, Kang Cheol opened his mouth.
“By the way, young master, the village seems to be bustling with energy after a long time.”
“Yes, it’s good to see.”
“This liveliness is also thanks to you, young master.”
“Thanks to me? Wasn’t it like this before?”
Kang Cheol hesitated for a moment and then nodded.
Ah, this is entirely my mistake.
Maybe it’s because I remembered the fact that I lost my memory and confirmed once again that I couldn’t remember the appearance of the village from before?
“Before, there was liveliness as well. But now, aren’t the villagers’ expressions brighter in general? Isn’t it because you’ve been selling the fish from your ship, Fair Wind, at a low price to the villagers?”
“Do you think I sold the fish cheaply?”
“Yes, isn’t it? You’d have to struggle for a few days to get a side dish like fish, but you provided a lot of fish for a simple wage.”
From my point of view, it’s cheap to pay a day’s worth of labor with one fish.
“Don’t they say one’s true character is revealed in the storeroom?”
In fact, our family has a certain responsibility for the villagers’ livelihood.
It’s because we must perfectly supplement the small government system of Joseon by taking responsibility for solving problems like famine or other major issues first and foremost as a noble family.
If we fail to perform these duties properly, the Joseon nobility will lose the people’s support. If rumors of an ominous atmosphere spread, we will inevitably face checks like the dispatch of inspectors from the central government.
Well, near the end of the Joseon period, even systems like inspectors and secret agents would be controlled by noble families, bribing them to suppress the ominous atmosphere of public sentiment. But our King Seonjo is not a bad person in terms of ability as a king, even though he lacks a sense of responsibility.
If only that son of a bitch followed his father’s ability even halfway, there would have been no rebellion!
How bad must it have been that a thousand people lost their lives in the Gichuk Oksa when Jeong Yeorip caused an incident?
If we lose the people’s support, we could be involved in such a big incident that our heads could fly off, so it’s a fact that noble families need to manage their reputations to some extent.
But the Gichuk incident also proved how politically skilled Sunjo was.
The victims of the Gichuk incident were mostly the Easterner factions.
And the Easterners were the political force that Sunjo had nurtured until then.
In other words, the Easterners could be considered Sunjo’s support base. Still, the fact that the country continued to operate normally even after the king broke his power base shows how politically skilled Sunjo was.
It’s only because that stupid tyrant broke his political support base that he’s still called a tyrant due to the rebellion.
The reason I create jobs for the villagers and give them fish is also here.
At least, if I don’t incur resentment from the villagers, even when Sunjo launches a checkmate move.
“The king oppresses the nobles.”
It is because such a frame can be applied.
No matter how urgent the heart is, there is no need to rush.
If you do something wrong, the moment you get caught by your ancestors, you can be “purged” for preparing for the Imjin War.
Ha, this difficulty is greater than I thought; it’s like Hell Joseon.
There is still plenty of time for national unification, and I’ve only taken one step so far, but the faces of the villagers are now full of hope.
Shouldn’t this be considered a big step?
Although the road ahead is a thousand miles, a thousand miles begins with a single step.
And the result of this big step will be revealed at the upcoming family gathering.
Gimhae Kim’s Samhyeon Clan Family Gathering
Kim Hyeonmyeong, the 55th descendant of the Gimhae Kim’s Samhyeon Clan, summoned the rest of the clan members living in Ulsan under the name of the head of the family.
The number of family members summoned by Kim Hyeonmyeong was a whopping 37 households.
Although there were cases where they became no different from outsiders as generations passed, the influence of the Gimhae Kim in Ulsan could not be ignored because of the existence of these family members.
“Hyung, it’s been a long time.”
“Oh, we’re so close, but seeing each other is hard. How’s uncle doing?”
“He’s such an upright person. He’s been going out to sea early in the morning lately, so I haven’t seen his face for several days.”
“Hehe, I’m really glad that Uncle is doing well.”
“By the way, how’s Sangseung? Is he okay?”
“Fortunately, there were no major injuries, but he lost his memory from that time.”
“Oh, what should we do about this?”
“Still, he’s a grateful child who overcame and endured it well.”
“Still, there’s an old saying that life is unpredictable, isn’t there? From now on, there will only be good things.”
It took a full two weeks for dozens of Gimhae Kim descendants scattered throughout Ulsan to gather.
While asking each other about their well-being, they were curious about what business the head of the family had summoned them for.
“What is the reason for summoning the family gathering, hyung?”
“Well, since it will be a rumor anyway, listen up, everyone. You all know that we recently built a ship in our family.”
“I heard it’s a huge ship that rivals a large wooden ship.”
“That’s right! The Fair Wind is quite a big ship for a fishing boat! Anyway, did everyone receive the half-dried fish we sent this winter?”
“Thanks to the half-dried fish you sent, I didn’t have a single boring day.”
“Since you sent so much, I was able to share it with the servants of the family and gain their favor.”
“You know, this herring fish. It tastes great, and there’s nothing to throw away, right?”
Hmm, my hyung wouldn’t have summoned a family gathering just to brag about catching a lot of fish, right?
“Oh, is that so? Indeed, it’s a grateful fish.”
“By the way, have you heard that our family has made a new fertilizer?”
“Do you mean the human shit you sprinkle on the field?”
“Most fertilizers are made using human shit or cow feces, but since the materials are limited, there has always been a shortage of fertilizer to sprinkle on the fields.”
“That’s right. But without even sprinkling that, the rice doesn’t grow properly, so it’s truly frustrating.”
“But what if there’s a way to get enough fertilizer without using human shit or cow feces?”
“Is there such a method?”
“It’s to use the innards of a herring to make fertilizer.”
Hyeonmyeong handed out the paper with the fertilizer-making method he had received from his son in advance to his relatives.
“Ahem, does this fertilizer really work?”
“The very reason I’ve called this gathering of relatives is to show you the rice paddies where this fertilizer has been applied!”
Hyeonmyeong led those who attended the gathering to his son’s rice paddy.
“This is the very paddy where the fertilizer was applied!”
The people from the gathering were taken aback when they saw the rice paddy at the foot of the mountain.
Although they had never dirtied their hands with soil, they were also landlords managing lands, big or small.
“Heh, you’re saying that the rice growing in this rugged paddy at the foot of the mountain is as good as the rice growing on flatlands?”
In fact, the foot of the mountain was not a good place for rice to grow due to severe temperature fluctuations and early sunsets.
How can the rice grow so well in this wasteland where it’s difficult to even get a decent harvest?
“It’s all thanks to the fertilizer made from herring innards! From now on, we plan to use this herring fertilizer in our family’s lands to increase our harvest.”
“Do you intend to share some with us as well?”
“That’s the problem. As herring fishing goes well and we collect a lot of herring innards, it’s still not enough to make enough fertilizer for these vast lands. Even if we make herring fertilizer all year round, it’ll be tight to match the amount needed for our family’s rice paddies and fields.”
“Hehe, then it’s like having a cake in a picture, isn’t it?”
“So, I say, why don’t you all make boats and catch herrings to make your own fertilizer?”
“Boats? Where can we find a family with enough wealth to make such a big boat?”
It was true, as even the wealthiest families with the largest lands had to muster up the great determination to build a boat.
“If our harvest increases this fall using this fertilizer, I’m thinking of promoting it directly to the government. Wouldn’t the nobles naturally want to build boats when that happens?”
If we make boats to catch fish, we naturally get fish and increase our harvest through fertilizer! It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
“Think about it, when that time comes, it’ll be difficult to find lumberjacks to make boats, and where can we easily find wood to make boats?”
At Kim Hyeonmyeong’s question, the relatives buzzed and shared their opinions.
“If we lack wealth, we can join forces with like-minded people. I’m revealing our secret to you all in advance out of consideration for the possibility that some relatives may feel upset when learning that a cousin bought land. Don’t misunderstand my intentions.”
“Ahem, we’ll keep your words in mind, hyung.”
“And if there’s a shortage of seafarers, we’ll help those who dream of becoming seafarers by letting them ride our boat and get used to the sea.”
“Thank you so much.”
Kim Hyeonmyeong felt happy, being able to show his strength in front of his relatives for the first time in a while.
“Hehe, if we don’t help each other as relatives, who will we help in this dangerous world?”
From the next day onward, in Ulsan and nearby areas, requests for boatbuilding began to pour into the lumberjacks.
 People often compared Toyotomi Hideyoshi to that of a monkey.
 In this Korean wordplay, Sangseung starts to utter a curse word, “시발” (shi-bal) but stops at “시이” (shi-ee) when he remembers that his sister was there. He cleverly transforms it into “시이 인발끈” (shi-ee in-bal-kkeun) to refer to a hair tie. So a literal translation would have been “Hair tie! Life!” but I thought that was awkward.
 Happened in 1589
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