Black Corporation: Joseon - Chapter 13
Chapter 13 — Sprout…. Sprout of Cancer? (6)
Since the time he was able to speak and read, Hyang already showed an unusual appearance from others. Since then, Hyang had been acting so politely to the Sejong couple. There was no flaw in his politeness which made Sejong couple worry instead.
“Even though we’re his parents, I feel like this child is addressing us like strangers.”
“I feel the same. There is a strong feeling that he drew an invisible barrier, and he has been guarding that barrier. Is it because he is too smart?…”
The only one who could come close with that child who built such a strong wall was Princess Jeonghye.
“Because my noonim has strong social skills….”
Hyang always smiled whenever he thought about his sister. The oldest daughter of the King Sejong couple, Princess Jeonghye, was a cheerful and smart person who was loved by all the royal family, starting from the King Taejong couple. In the 21st century, Princess Jeonghye was a ‘super insider’.
When Queen Soheon left after enjoying the tea together, King Sejong stared at the eunuch.
“Get out for a moment. I want to be alone.”
“… Yes, Your Majesty.”
The eunuch left, and King Sejong, who was alone, muttered in a low voice.
“Will they personally go, or should I make them go? No… should I end it nicely, or should I shed blood?”
Sejong’s voice that came out faintly was filled with bloody intentions.
“The Great Hall now is only filled with Father’s subjects. I need my own subjects. My only subjects who only hear my words ….”
* * *
After the Royal letter from Emperor Yongle came and King Sejong gave his decision, the Ministry of Taxation began to prepare the production of golden brushes that will be presented to Emperor Yongle.
However, a grave problem arose amid the preparation process. The problem was, it was impossible for the merchant guild that was in charge of supplying the golden brush to meet the timing until the envoys departed.
Hearing that the production schedule could be a problem, King Sejong summoned the high-ranking officials and Hyang. After hearing the situation, Hyang stared at King Sejong.
“Dear Father, I think we need to know the detailed situation. How about summoning a representative from the guild and hearing it from him?”
“That is impossible! How could we summon the lowly merchant in the place where we decide the important affairs of this nation!”
As soon as Hyang finished his opinion, Chief Censor shouted no.
Then King Sejong stared at the Chief Censor.
“Then, do you have the answer?”
“Your job is to remonstrate, and I don’t belittle your advice, but I hope you know when is the right time for that.”
“Forgive me, Your Majesty.”
King Sejong, who had blocked the Chief Censor’s mouth, gave his order.
“Call the representative from the merchant.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
After a while, the representative who came after receiving the order quickly laid down on the floor.
“This humble merchant greets Your Majesty the King.”
“I summoned you because the Crown Prince has something he wants to ask. Answer his question truthfully.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Crown Prince, you can ask now.”
“Alright. Mister, how does your guild make the golden brush? Does one person take responsibility in making it from the start till the end?”
“Yes, that’s right, Your Royal Highness.”
Hyang thought over something for a while before looking at King Sejong.
“I think I will get the answer after talking with the craftsmen from the merchant guild.”
“Is that so? Then I have to summon their craftsmen.”
Right when King Sejong finished his words, Chief Censor immediately spoke out.
“Your Majesty! You cannot do that! Not only summoning the merchant, but you’re also about to summon the craftsmen to this sacred palace. That is something you really can’t do! Please understand this!”
King Sejong gave a firm answer to Chief Censor’s advice.
“So I can’t summon them, although it is for the nation’s benefit?! Chief Censor, you better shut your mouth!”
“Shut your mouth! If you can’t do that, I have no choice but to question your loyalty.”
The Chief Censor shut his mouth at King Sejong’s roar. In this court that was frozen because of King Sejong’s roar, the representative could only breathe while maintaining his prostrating position.
“Go immediately and bring the craftsmen.”
The representative, who had felt the threatening atmosphere, brought the craftsmen and came back to the palace in a short time.
‘Woah! In this Joseon that was famous for being slow, he moves really fast! As expected, people move quickly when they are in a crisis!’
Hyang, who felt frustrated when looking at the people of Joseon who moved so slowly, was satisfied with how the representative moved so fast.
What Hyang taught to the craftsmen in their meeting was the very basic concept of ‘division of labor’ and shift work.
“What do you think of this?”
At Hyang’s question, the leader of the craftsmen rubbed his chin for a while before answering.
“I think this is worth trying. It will take time until we get used to it, but when we get used to it, I think we will be able to make more than now.”
After hearing the leader’s answer, Hyang turned to King Sejong.
“Father, their leader says it is possible.”
“I see. I expect you all to bring good news.”
“Your wish is our order!”
The craftsmen prostrated on the floor and answered King Sejong’s order.
Five days later, the representative from the guild visited the Ministry of Taxation while bringing the answer from the craftsmen.
“They said they can advance the deadline.”
“Really? How about the quality?”
“They also said they’re confident with the quality.”
“You’ve worked hard!”
The Minister of Taxation, who had praised the representative, rushed to King Sejong. At the Minister’s report, not only King Sejong but also the other high-ranking officials had their faces lightened up. King Sejong, who was tapping the desk with his finger, looked at Hyang.
“Dividing the work increases its efficiency… Crown Prince, how did you come up with this marvelous idea?”
“I had visited the royal kitchen before. There, I saw the assistant chefs and court ladies divided their work according to the head chef’s order. I remembered about this and thought of that idea.”
“You are really not an ordinary kid!”
King Sejong exclaimed his awe loudly at Hyang’s answer.
“In the place ignored by others, you found a marvelous idea. This is very wonderful! What are you thinking about this, sir?”
“It is very incredible!”
Most of the officials slowly nodded their heads in agreement with King Sejong’s brag about his child. However, there were always those people who commented regardless of the time and place.
“The Crown Prince’s intelligence is something to congratulate, but I think it is bad that he only paid attention to very trivial things. I think it is right for him to use that intelligence to learn and understand the words of the wise.”
King Sejong’s face turned fierce at the Chief Censor’s words.
“I think it is better for you to call a doctor right away and have your eyes checked. How can you not see properly? Did you say the Crown Prince only focused on trivial things? How can you say thinking about a situation that only passed by the ordinary person and finding the meaning behind that situation as something trivial? Didn’t the old sages also ponder over the national prosperity and the welfare of the people then share their thoughts? Why are you being so narrow?”
In response to King Sejong’s rebuke, the Chief Censor hurried to make excuses.
“What I mean isn’t that, but—”
“Then what is it? Just like what the Crown Prince said the other day, are you thinking that the previous kings and I have no legitimacy that led you to say such a ludicrous statement?”
“I have never had such a wicked and disloyal heart!”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Please understand me!”
The morning meeting ended with that scene. When that atmosphere ended, the historians wrote in the manuscript of the annals like the following.
[It is true that the Chief Censor’s remark is narrow-minded, but it is also hard to say the King’s pressure to be right. The desire to brag about his extraordinary child is human nature, but it is unfitting to a monarch’s dignity to press the one who does not agree with him using his authority.]
* * *
Without regarding the historians who wrote sentences filled with criticism in the manuscript of the annals, King Sejong led the retainers and proceeded with the works. And of course, Hyang frequently had to respond to King Sejong’s summons to give his opinion.
King Sejong always summoned Hyang when he had something to discuss. Hyang always did his best to give his answer, and that answer satisfied King Sejong. And after completing a quest like that, Hyang always grumbled when he returned to his room.
“No matter how I look at it, it looks like I dug my own grave. Although it was meant to make me stand out earlier…..”
If King Sejong was satisfied and Hyang regretted his decision, the retainers lamented while staring at the sky.
“Ah! I want to resign!”
“How could that father-child do this to us!”
Some of them, who were a bit radical, found a quiet place with no one there, then put the hem of their sleeves in their mouths and cried out.
“Like father, like son!”
It was because whenever Hyang gave answers that pleased King Sejong, the work that they had to do kept getting piled up.
* * *
Hyang, who just came back after explaining about ‘division of labor,’ sighed.
“Huff~. It was close.”
The best method to answer the scheduling problem of the merchant guild was only the division of labor. While the representative went to call the craftsmen, Hyang worked hard to rack his brain.
- It is obvious that I will be asked the reason I think about the division of labor. Even if I was dead, I can’t say ‘I learned from my previous life.’
- I had to find a suitable example of division of labor.
After looking for a suitable enough example for the division of labor, the thing that came up was ‘teamwork in the royal kitchen.’
“It was a success by a narrow margin.”
Hyang, who was evaluating himself, clicked his tongue.
“Thinking about it… there is still no concept of work division even at this time, is it…?”
As he thought over ‘division of labor,’ the voice of Teacher Samcheonpo could be heard in Hyang’s memory.
“Even before Adam Smith talked about ‘division of labor,’ it had already occurred naturally. However, what made the division of labor regularized in the industry must be the connection between ‘the absolute monarchy’ and ‘the mercantile system.’”
“The absolute monarchy….”
Hyang focused on the word absolute monarchy. Teacher Samcheonpo connected Joseon with absolute monarchy, then said the following.
“Then what about Joseon? It was a nation with absolute monarchy, but if you look closely in the history, it can be seen as a power struggle between the king who wanted an absolute monarchy and the retainers who dreamed of a republic.”
“After that, he said don’t be happy because of that republic, right? He said in front of the republic we know, there is democracy to make it perfect. And he said the republic that was dreamed by the retainers of Joseon was power in the hands of retainers.”
Hyang, who was ruminating over his past life memories, massaged his head.
“First, what should I do if I want to make my current self comfortable and my future be easy?”
After thinking about that for a while, Hyang finally drew his conclusion.
“They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Let’s do it one by one, too. For now, I should start with the thing that Father really wants… The start is strengthening the throne.”
Hyang gazed at Main Palace.
“Definitely stretch out Father’s power even to the closed society in the countryside. What I need to do is… capital.”
* * *
After making a plan, which was ‘to strengthen the throne, we have to expand the capital,’ Hyang went to visit King Sejong.
“Dear Father, I think there is something that the leader of the envoy has to do regarding this trip and business.”
“I think there is something that must be confirmed by the Emperor.”
“Something that must be confirmed?”
“Yes. First, we have to get the exclusive rights to the golden brush sold by Joseon’s merchants in Ming to be recognized. Just by looking at the Emperor’s order to offer the golden brush this time, it can be seen that the response to the golden brush is very good. The Great Ming Dynasty is a nation many times larger than our Joseon. Then, just like what I have mentioned before, the demand for golden brush will be several times higher.”
“But, there are also merchants in Ming, and will they just stay still? Surely there will be people who reproduce and sell the gold brush. We should prevent this from happening.”
King Sejong thought over what Hyang had pointed out before nodding.
“The Crown Prince’s opinion is valid.”
“However, if this goes wrong, we could get trampled by the Emperor—”
When the Minister of Rites tried to raise an objection, King Sejong cut his words.
“Are you a subject of this Joseon, or a subject of Ming?”
“Forgive me, Your Majesty.”
Minister of Rites prostrated at King Sejong’s comment. Hyang, who glanced at the Minister of Rites, continued his speech. The second thing was a big bomb that shaken up the court.