LE V1 (Main) C1-1
Chapter 1 – Where is this? – Part 1
The thing called chance can be said to be critical.
Someone who just screwed around all their life can suddenly start studying diligently, and someone running the path to success can become a NEET in the morning. Most of the time, ‘chances’ like these, rather than happening overnight, occur due to scores of different signs and causes, and insightful people see these and deal with them accordingly.
You could call it Heinrich’s Law. (1)
But not all accidents occur according the Heinrich’s Law. Increasingly so the more spectacular they are.
How would you put this. Our country’s(2) advancements have been stagnating for a while, hasn’t it? Since the IMF crisis(3) there hasn’t been a moment where the country hasn’t been in one slump or another, and unemployment rates and inflation only increase daily. A total disaster of a situation where you don’t even know where to start to fix it.
After I sat the sunung(4) I looked at reality and thought long and hard about my pathway. Although I personally enjoyed literature and history, in accordance to my parents’ wishes I sat the exam for medicine, and my results weren’t too bad either. Since it was like this, after being told to go for it, I looked into various things myself.
In the end, my final choices were History and Mechanical Engineering. Whether it was Korean history or world history I did like learning about history, and mechanical engineering was something I could easily find a job with. The ‘telephone’ trio(5) of Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering are known for being the three best degrees to get a job with. In the perpetual economic downturn of our country it was one of the easiest ways to earn a lot of money. Although I suppose in return I’d be raked over the coals of unlimited overtime.(6)
After hearing me out my parents said some practical words. That is, treat history as a hobby, and going into mechanical engineering would be better. I’d thought that realistically, that might be better~ as well, so that was decided without too much trouble.
The world is constantly changing, but the words of adults are words that have gone through their own hardships. My own life, I can handle whether fair or foul, but listening even a little bit to those in the know isn’t a bad thing. Especially if it’s a successful person.
Of course, if it was something that was forcibly pushed forward, I’d dislike it and would push back against it, but my parents from the very beginning felt far from pushy. Although I can’t exactly call it free reign… It felt like they were at least respecting their child’s own right to choose. I was hardly the sort of person to forge a completely unturned path for my own life anyway.
Like wine mixed with water or water mixed with wine, I didn’t stand out much, nor was I particularly talented, but I had enough skill to get my work done as expected of me. Since my own personality was the rounded type I had a fairly wide breadth of acquaintances, and in the army(7) rather than the ‘you can leave it to him!’ type I was known more as the ‘he gets things done without worrying about him’ type of person.
And so I enrolled in engineering school. My university of choice was the H University famous for its engineering school. A ‘so you must have worked hard when you were at school~’ kind of place. Here I spent four years of university and two years in the army, for a total of six years well spent.
As I was wondering if I should do postgraduate studies, having never properly earned money aside from a couple of times as a private tutor, I felt strongly about wanting to earn money. So I decided to apply for a job, but unfortunately in the year I graduated I didn’t get the job I was hoping for, and setting the dates for next years’ recruitment firmly in my mind I planned a graduation road trip (although only to Wulmi Island(8)).
And on the day of departure without rhyme or reason, an incident occurred which could be said as the 100% opposite of Heinrich’s Law.
As for what that was……[HOONK!]
The sound of a loud car horn.
I must have dozed off in my car without noticing, falling asleep and smashing my head into the klaxon. As if I was not in an open space, but some sealed area so the sound echoed everywhere and terrorized my ears.
This is surprising.
What I had definitely been doing, was planning a road trip with my friends before we entered the workforce. Go out and see the sights, eat tasty food, and find a motel and drink beer over board games. And on the day of departure I had gotten behind the wheel to pick up my friends, and started driving to where they were without incident. So how was I in a sealed space with not a speck of light to be seen?
Hm….. I don’t remember driving all that far. In my memory I should be near the World Cup stadium in Mapo-gu, but this certainly doesn’t look the part. It felt like the time I woke up from anesthesia after rhinitis surgery – like I’d closed my eyes and opened them again in another world.
Did I have narcolepsy by any chance? No. At least I wouldn’t think so.
Either way, thinking that knowing my surroundings was the priority, so I turned the car headlights on.
“Where…… is this?”
I was in some kind of space, and if my eyes weren’t deceiving me, it was some kind of natural stone wall. To put it simply it seemed like the inside of a cave, was there this kind of ePyunhansaesang(9) place in Seoul? Caves frequently appear in stories and novels, but the only caves I know of are the ones in Jeju Island. If you were to put in that way, I thought I might as well be somewhere in the Taebaek mountain range in Gangwondo.(10)
My only experience with caves was when I went with my parents to Jeju Island, and that was it. If you talk about natural caves in our country, most of them are immediately developed into tourist sites so maybe this cave might be known as well, but nothing comes to mind. To begin with, they’d never let you drive your car into one.
Plus in Mapo-gu there are no real mountains. I’m not boasting, but I have never dozed off at the wheel. Even when I get behind the wheel after an all-nighter I don’t have the constitution of getting sleepy.
Looking at the car dashboard, thankfully, the tank was full.
I pressed the button and the engine turned over like normal. That means that I really didn’t drive very much. It was surprising, but I wasn’t panicking yet. I was driving a car, so the thought that I could get back was calming my fears.
(1) Tl;dr: “that in a workplace, for every accident that causes a major injury, there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries and 300 accidents that cause no injuries.” i.e. nothing happens in isolation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_William_Heinrich
(2) That is, the Republic of Korea
(3) 1997 Asian financial crisis, economic crisis of primarily currency devaluation that nearly destroyed the East Asian economy. Known as the IMF crisis in Korea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1997_Asian_financial_crisis
(4) Korean university entrance exams. What you do in those exams determines whether 13+ years of schooling pay off for you to get into the university you want.
(5) Untranslatable Korean slang/pun: In Korean, the first three syllables of electrical engineering, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering come together to form the Korean word for ‘telephone.’
(6) Large-scale Korean companies are known, almost without exception, for making their workers ‘volunteer’ for overtime, usually unpaid, although they are meant to. Also, Unlimited Overtime Works. (lel)
(7) Korean men must serve in the army for two years for compulsory military service after they turn 18, although they don’t have to enter straight away.
(8) A small island in the Incheon district of Seoul.
(9) Korean apartment brand
(10) Korean province
Holy fuck how does Yukkuri do so many TNs