Chapter 3 Life Lessons


Friend or Foe?


The slap was meant to be playful, but it left a sour feeling.


Looking up at someone who was well over 180 centimeters tall was quite a strain on the neck.


Being 183 centimeters tall, that person had to look down at those who were around 170 centimeters.


At 170 centimeters, it was just barely enough height for him.


‘Even if I'm just a high school freshman, my height is ridiculously short.’


Of course, it was 1993, not the 2030s, but even considering that, he was quite short.


‘But is this guy really trying to start something with me? What's going on?’


Yi Geon was quick to pick up on social cues, but the atmosphere at school in 1993 was so chaotic and unpredictable that it was hard to tell if the student in front of him was a friend or someone trying to pick a fight.


“Hey, I'm hungry.
Let's grab some bread.”


“Oh, bread? Sounds good!”


Yi Geon grinned.


The guy wearing a name tag that read “Park Sang-du” also laughed, chewing gum loudly.


Seems like a good friend.


‘Is he going to buy me some bread?’


He thought of the kind store owner who gave him tofu scraps yesterday.


His stomach growled.


Perfect timing, he was so hungry he could pass out.


“Alright, you go to the school store and buy some bread.
And get some chocolate milk too.”


“Sounds great.
But I don't have any money.”


“Money? Heh heh heh.”


The guy, still chewing gum, leaned in close and suddenly slapped Yi Geon's cheek, then took out a 500-won coin from his pocket and tossed it to him.


“Buy one red bean bun, one cream bun, and two chocolate milk with this.
Oh, and bring back the change.”


Yi Geon thought for a moment.


The prices in 1993…
He had to pay 300 won for half a piece of tofu yesterday.


“500 won seems a bit short to buy all that, friend.”


“What are you talking about, you idiot?”


Suddenly, the guy narrowed his eyes and swung his arm, trying to slap Yi Geon again.


Geon dodged it easily with a boxing weave and smirked.


“Friend, if you keep acting like a jerk, you're going to get hurt eventually.”


“Are you really trying to die?!”


The guy's face twisted in anger as he launched a surprise kick.


This time, instead of dodging, Yi Geon threw a counter kick, collapsing the guy's balance.


“Damn it, you son of a-!”


The guy was in extreme pain, clutching the area between his knee and ankle.


The excruciating pain coming from the muscles on the outer side of his leg was something he had never experienced before.


“Damn you!”


“I told you it would hurt, didn't I?”


Even amateur mixed martial artists who have dabbled in various sports have experienced the agony of taking a calf kick for the first time, but this guy was so embarrassed that he stubbornly tried to stand up.


He was indeed a tough character from the 90s.


It wasn't even a typical calf kick targeting the ligaments behind the knee, common in mixed martial arts.
It was more akin to an old-style Taekkyeon vital point attack, which would have made the pain even more unbearable.


“You bastard!”


Stumbling to his feet, the guy suddenly grabbed a chair and threw it.


Yi Geon dodged it effortlessly.


Yi Geon watched as the guy threw a ridiculous punch.


It was a signature punch with a left and right swing, unique to those jerks, all strength concentrated in the shoulder without any proper waist or torso rotation.


'What's with this idiot? A true blue jerk indeed.'


He had heard about these jerks establishing their hierarchy through ridiculous punches while playing the role of gangsters.


But this was his first time experiencing it in person.


Fights are always the funniest when these jerks go all out in their adolescent mode, taking things way too seriously.


“Ha ha ha ha~ You're quite an amusing guy.”


Yi Geon enjoyed mocking the punchline-worthy body gag right in front of him, like poking fun at a disease.


As he continued to dodge the ridiculous punches with weaving and ducking, the guy swinging the big punches started to breathe heavily.


Infuriated by not being able to land a single hit, the guy spat, “Damn it, you're pissing me off! Just like your sister.
Ha, ha~”


In an instant, Yi Geon's face hardened.


Instead of dodging the ridiculous punch, he threw a powerful counter slap, with all his weight behind it.




It was as if the sound of a leather book bursting echoed through the air.


The 183cm-tall guy wobbled like a deflated balloon and fell forward.




It wasn't just an ordinary slap with weight behind it.


It was a strike that focused 600kg of destructive force in an inch of his palm, executed in the opposite direction of the ancient martial art Taekkyeon's chin-jabbing technique.


The destructive force of an inch concentrated in his palm was so powerful that even a heavyweight boxer would lose their combat ability and fall in an instant.


The fact that a mere student took the hit that could incapacitate a heavyweight fighter wrapped with neck muscles was unbelievable.


His brain shut down after receiving the tremendous 600kg shock, immediately losing consciousness and collapsing to the ground.


When the guy who had fainted on the floor woke up after a while,


There was a man with clear and innocent eyes, smiling brightly right in front of him.


His eyes weren't like that just a moment ago…


For the first time, the guy realized that the clear, innocent eyes were scarier than anything in the world.


The owner of those clear eyes was something beyond a predator's gaze,


A monster holding a deep-rooted madness from the abyss.


“Hey, there.”


A gentle voice as if calling a lover.




“Hey, you should answer me properly.”


The guy flinched as he felt his cheek and jaw stinging like they were going to fall off.


The pain in his legs was as intense as the sting from Yi Geon's slap, which far surpassed the impact of a powerful punch.


“Did you paint my face blue, you?”


“Blue paint?”






The guy winced and hunched over from the burning pain on his face.


“Ha ha ha ha, didn't I tell you to answer me properly? Did you paint my face blue with ink or not? I'm asking so nicely.”






“Hey, Sang-du, are you out of your mind? I'm asking you, Sang-du.”


“Shi-, Shi-“


Whack! Whack!


“Hahaha, don't swear at your friend, Sang-du.
You get hit twice if you swear.”


Sang-du struggled to distinguish if this was a nightmare or reality.


The person in front of him was simply terrifying.


It wasn't a punch but a slap.


The pain wasn't just at a simple level; it felt like being stabbed repeatedly with a knife.


Each blow was potent.


Moreover, the guy was hitting people nonchalantly while wearing a bright, innocent smile.


Those bright and clear eyes?


“Son of a bit–”


Whack! Whack!


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Sang-du instinctively cowered while holding his face.


It seemed like a lie that he was the predator of class 1-5 until today.


In front of the transformed Yi Geon, Sang-du had to experience fear and despair.


It was as if he had become the Yi Geon he used to torment, like yesterday's Jin-i and her friends.


“I won't swear! I won't swear anymore!”


A desperate cry of surrender.


“That's right, Sang-du.
Good, right? Don't torment your friends and live a decent life.
But first, answer me properly.
Got it?”




“You're not answering.”




Another slap landed on his face.


Sang-du's heart raced.


“Okay, okay! I admit it! I did hit a few times, but I only hit the shoulders and chest once, and I didn't do the rest.


“Really? Then who do you think did the blue ink prank, Sang-du?”




“Sang-du, was it you?”


Instead of answering, Sang-du shook his head while covering his face.


The velvety voice of Yi Geon was so horrifying that it made his body shiver.


The sound of salvation thrown to such Sang-du.




It was the bell signaling the start of the fourth period.


Sighing in relief, Sang-du heard a velvety whisper.


“Sang-du, listen well in class, and let's meet during break time.
We'll continue what we were doing, my friend.


Yi Geon stood up, patting Sang-du's shoulders.


Sang-du trembled all over.


Even kindly handing him a rolled-up tissue to wipe his tears.


'Shi-, Shi-'


When he met Yi Geon's bright eyes again,


Sang-du realized it.


This guy was the devil himself, risen from the abyss.




Behind the first-floor restroom, densely packed with first-year classrooms.


Smoke billowed up through the small window gap as if there had been a fire.




A group of sturdy first-year students huddled together, smoking.


Representing the first-year students of Chunggong High School, they formed a violent circle.


The masterminds of Hwagok-dong's Fire Extinguisher Gang.


“Hey, where did Sang-du from class 5 go? I didn't see him during the third period.
Is he still eating lunch?”


“Don't know.
He usually wolfs down his food and comes back.
What's up with him?”


“Ah, shi-, I'm out of cigarettes.
Do you have any 88s?”


“I only smoke turtle ships.”


The most sharp-eyed student in the group asked, and the muscular student answered, scratching his head.


“Shi-, man, we're not old men at the senior center; we don't smoke turtle ships.
Give me one.”


“Roasted rice-like flavor is good, but save it for later.
We don't have much left.”


“Hey, since we're out of 88s, let's smoke this.”


Without Sang-du, the supplier of 88 cigarettes, the group had no choice but to smoke the Turtle Ship cigarettes.


The smoke from the poorly processed tobacco leaves had a strong taste, causing them all to cough.


“Ah, damn, it's so harsh, tastes like cow dung.”


“Hey, isn't that the kid from class 5? Hey, come over here!”


Dong-pal waved over the boy with the class 5 badge.




“Are you gonna come or not?”




Timidly, Lee Won-il from class 5 approached the group.


“Where's Sang-du?”


“Sang-du? He was eating earlier.”


“Tell Sang-du to hurry up and eat, we don't have much time.
Oh, there he is, Sang-du, you're really late.”


“Huh? Yeah.”


Sang-du approached the group with a somewhat gloomy expression, hunched over.






“What's up with your face? Did you get hit? It's so red.
Are you a steamed bun?”


“I didn't get hit, damn it, who said I got hit?”


Sang-du was afraid that they would find out he had been hit by Yi Geon, the official punching bag of class 5.


If that happened, he'd be immediately ostracized from the group.


“It's suspicious.”


Sang-il, who had been shooting sharp glances, slapped Won-il's back.


“Hey, who hit you? Sang-du?”


“Huh? Uh…”


Won-il, who was watching Sang-du's reaction, was flustered.


Sang-il spat on the ground.


“Ah, Sang-du, you moron.
There are no athletes in class 5, just losers.
You got hit by one of them?”


“Ah, damn it, that guy suddenly learned some weird martial arts or something.
His hands and feet are so fast, I couldn't even see them.”




“You know, that guy who looks annoyingly gay.”


Sang-du was unintentionally complimenting the boy, who was far more attractive than himself.


“Oh, that guy? His sister is really pretty, damn it.”


Sang-il licked his lips and smacked Sang-du's shoulder.


“Hey, if you go at him again, can you win?”


“Uh? It might be a bit difficult.”


“Ah, damn it, we'll have to teach that bastard a lesson then, since Sang-du got hit.”


Sang-du's eyes widened in fear.


“Huh? Hey, that guy is no joke.”


“What are you talking about? We still have time left for lunch, let's take him down now.”


“Let's just do it then, tch.”


Spitting on the ground, Sang-il led the group, and the others followed.




“Ah, damn it~! Such a wooden spoon! Fucking 1993 Mad Max High School, fucking shit!”


Yi Geon lamented, looking at his empty lunch box.


The amount of food was too little.


During the days of cafeteria trays, if he was still hungry, he could ask for more rice or side dishes.


But the 1993 lunch box had a fixed size, and it seemed to have even less food than the complimentary rice served at local restaurants.


On top of that, the side dishes were pitiful.


A barren field where no meat could be found.


Two slices of tofu cut from yesterday's leftover tofu block made up the entirety of his protein intake.


He desperately needed animal protein, at least chicken.


“Ah, fucking wooden Spoon! There's not a single meat side dish, damn it! I need to make money fast.
In the next two months, I'll definitely eat only beef for all three meals a day.”


Yi Geon's classmates stared at him like he was insane, as he ranted about beef.


They didn't understand why he had suddenly changed like this.


I'm sorry, Geon-ah.”


A student next to Geon, who was aware of his situation, said apologetically.

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