Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 14:26:34 GMT -5
Entering the prison cell, Soon Shin knelt by his brother's limp form. Rolling him onto his back, he was stricken with sadness when he saw how lifeless and bruised Yo Shin's face was. Propping his brother's head in his lap, his voice cracked as he told him, "Yo Shin hyung nim..." His brothers glazed eyes appeared not to see him. "Hyung nim, it's me, Soon Shin." Fighting back his tears, he cradled his brother's head and hugged him softly. "Hyung nim..."
Carrying his injured brother on his back, Soon Shin walked the long road back to his home as the sky grew dark. Once settled in their home, his mother gently cleaned her son's face. "Yo Shin-ah, please gather your wits, eh? Yo Shin-ah." His brother only groaned incoherently. "How could they bring a person to this state? Did they say anything when they released him?"
"Why did they release him? And what did they say he did to deserve such punishment?" his mother demanded.
Soon Shin's thoughts raced and he finally said, "They said the man he attacked was not as injured as they thought, so they let him go."
"So, before they even assessed the severity of the crime they beat him?" his mother said, her voice rising. Turning to her husband she said, "We can't just overlook this, can we? He's a peaceful boy, who couldn't even hurt a fly in this world."
"There must be more to it than this. He was unjustly punished. Why would they let him go after one night if he committed such a horrible crime?"
"I will go to the courts and find out why they did this to my poor child," she continued.
"If he had not committed a crime, they would not have punished him," Jung sighed. "Do not make this into a big deal."
Running into the sea, Soon Shin dropped to his knees and screamed at the top of his lungs, as if doing so would empty his chest of the suffocating sorrow that grew within it.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 20:14:16 GMT -5
The next day, soon shin's mother stopped his father as he returned from his fishing. "Where did you go this early in the morning?" Jung said nothing in reply, merely handing her his day's catch.
The magistrate's son was reclining comfortably while Soon Shin leafed through some texts. Byoung Taek turned the pages of the pornography he was reading and chuckled. "Aigo...isn't that nice..." Looking up, he said to Soon Shin, "A scholar who knows Yi-Baek and Do Bo is going to take my test. This time first place is a sure thing" Soon Shin didn't look up. "Tsk tsk tsk...why such a sour face? Aren't we riding the same boat?" Soon Shin looked up but said nothing and looked back down at his book. "Take it easy!" Byoung Taek suggested. "We can shoot the breeze for a bit."
"There are only a few days left before the exam," Soon Shin said offhandly. "You don't want to be embarrassed by appearing as if you don't know what you are doing. Go on and read your book.
Annoyed, Byung Gi slapped a book on the table in front of Soon Shin. "Read this!" he ordered. Soon Shin opened the book and upon reading its contents, his eyes widened. As he stared at Byoung Taek in anger, he continued, "Read it. The king will read this. That's right - it's the poem you wrote. But look, my name is on it, just like your test will. But don't be upset. That is how things are. Money and power are what make the world go round."
"Don't get to comfortable," Soon Shin warned him. "There will come a time when the world will be rectified."
Byoung Taek looked at him scornfully and in a snide voice shot back, "Rotten bastard. Do you really think you're in a position right now to say anything like that to me? It surprises me that you talk of correcting the world when you are breaking the law yourself." He broke into laughter. Clenching his jaw, Soon Shin forced himself to stay silent.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 20:25:47 GMT -5
"Soon Shin-ah! Soon Shin-ah!!!"
Chun Soo ran across the Yi family's plot of land. At arm's length he held a wooden cylinder hanging from a stick. With his other hand, he pinched his nose.
"Soon Shin-ah!" he continued nasally. "Ech...he said he was going to the field but where did he go?" The stench was getting worse since he had stopped walking. Making a disgusted noise, he held it out as far as he could and continued on his way.
Yo Shin was sitting quietly outside his house, his face now quite healed. As Chun Soo walked into his yard, he saw Yo Shin and ran to offer his greetings. "Oh, how are you feeling today?" he asked with concern, temporarily forgetting his smelly burden.
"Oh, you've come," Yu Shin said warmly.
Pointing to the offending cylinder, Chun Soo explained, "Father made an ointment from fermented animal dung. It's really stinky," he said apologetically, plugging his nose, "but for getting rid of bruises this is the best!"
"Thank you," Yo shin replied.
Chun soo let go of his nose, "Oh there's no need for saying thanks. Just please get better." Looking around, he asked, "Has soon Shin gone somewhere?"
"He probably went to the field. Didn't you see him on your way here?"
"No, I went but he wasn't there," Chun soo said, puzzled.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 20:42:48 GMT -5
Passing the soldiers that guarded the entrance to the examination hall, Soon Shin walked out without the sprightly bounce that was normally his. Casting a glance over his shoulder, he departed the examination hall.
Approaching his home, Soon Shin saw his brother sitting on the stone wall that bordered his family's field. Quickening his pace, he called out to him. "Hyung Nim!"
"Ah," his brother said looking up. "So where are you coming from?"
"Hehe," he laughed nervously. "I just had to, ah...but, what are you doing out here?" he asked, hastily changing the subject.
"Staying in the house all day is oppressive, and I was worried about how your work was going, so I came out here." Soon Shin sat down next to his brother. "Hurry and get up, hurry and get better like you said."
Yu Shin turned solemnly to his sibling and said, "Study the literary texts. You must take the civil service examination."
Soon Shin was taken aback. Trying to shrug it off, he gave a noncommital laugh and said, "What kind of talk is that? There's not time for me to do that - I have too much work to do in the field."
"The phoenix comes from a faraway place where the sun and moon reside and exalted songs of peace come from the glorious virtue of the king," Yo Shin recited.
Soon Shin looked up slowly. "How did you..."
"The moment I read that poem, I knew that I was not the person to take the civil service exam, but you," Yo Shin answered. "And it's not too l late for me to make things right."
Soon Shin shook his head vigorously. "No, Hyung nim! Why are you saying such things-"
"No one knew better than I that you hid your talents and dreams. But even though I knew, I did not help you. And I feel awful about it," Yo Shin interrupted. "That my younger brother had the burden of taking care of the family and still was brighter than myself - that made me ashamed.
Soon Shin did not want to hear his brother's words. "Please stop saying that! That's not even-"
"I was selfish. Can you forgive this selfish older brother?"
"Hyung Nim, what is with you?! I'm just an idiot who doesn't want to take the test. That's not for me!"
"No I don't want to! How many times must I tell you? I won't take the civil service exam! Father's words are true. Me? With an official posts in the government? If I could find a good wife, have a family and live as a simple farmer, that would be nice."
"Soon Shin ah," his brother said sadly
At home, Soon Shin was greeted by his mother. "You must be tired right? Dinner is ready inside, go and eat."
"I don't really have the stomach for it right now, mother," he told her.
"What's wrong with you?" his mother asked with concern. "You've not been yourself these last few days. Is something bothering you?"
"It's nothing - don't worry too much about me, mother," Soon Shin tried to reassure her. As she watched her son walk away, the bounce gone from his step, Byoon was not quite convinced by his words
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 20:56:51 GMT -5
Peeling back layers of red silk, Byoung Taek showed Soon Shin the valuable inside. "This is from China - very rare and expensive stuff. Most men never set eyes on such things."
Soon Shin looked at it without a word.
"What...Does it hurt your self esteem? Upstanding man like yourself taking a bribe? Take it and enjoy."
Soon Shin gave a wry smile. "No, I'll take it with thanks. How could I turn down something that most men never get to see?"
Byoung Taek laughed and tossed a piece of paper with some characters on it in front of Soon Shin. "My name and birth information," he told him. "What good is a top score if you don't get my name right? Memorize it." Reclining leisurely on his back, he said, "Well, it's time for a nap. You just keep working hard." Soon Shin willed himself to quell the rage growing inside him.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 21:25:50 GMT -5
Chun Soo was debating which he would prefer to get off his back - the heavy box of salt, or his father.
"Hey you idiot! Aigo Aigo. you young thing, you can't even one box of salt?" Chun Soo's father sputtered, gesticulating wildly. "When I was your age, I could carry THREE boxes on my back and walk all the way to Chon Nam without breaking a sweat!" He stopped as another fit of coughing wracked his thin, wizened frame. Chun Soo dolefully tried to ignore his father's nagging. When his father's coughing didn't stop, he dropped the A-frame that held the salt.
"Aigo...I don't believe this," he muttered under his breath. His father had to lean on the frame to support himself as he coughed. "What did I tell you? I told you to rest at home today!"
"Ee nom!" his father tried to yell. "I-"
"Oh just go inside!" his son ordered, forgetting to be afraid of his father. The old man blinked in surprise and quieted down a little. As he coughed, Chun Soo added, "You have to hurry up and get better, don't you? You can't even lift one, and you just worry me. You have to get better so I can breathe easily!"
"Yuh Suk (rascal)" his father coughed.
"Please go inside!"
"Oh, alright!" his father said submissively. When Chun Soo stared at him he shouted, "I said I was going!" He continued to mutter to himself as he shuffled off. Chun Soo watched his father's withered back as he left with concern.
Carefully walking to keep the salt from spilling, Chun Soo was unaware that Soon Shin was sneaking up behind him. "Uy!"
"Ah!" Chun Soo fairly jumped in the air. "Hey! Watch what you're doing! What would you do if a person fell?" Gesturing with his staff at the red bundle in Soon Shin's hand, he asked, "Uh...what's that?"
"What time do you get off work?" was Soon Shin's only reply.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 21:39:49 GMT -5
CHun Soo watched in alarm as Soon SHin downed bowl after bowl of rice wine. Grabbing his arm, he cried, "Hey! Stop drinking so much! Slow down! Drink Slowly!"
"Here, have a round," he said, pouring him a bowl. "Hostess! HOSTESS!!" Soon Shin called out drunkenly.
"For the love of..." the hostess said in annoyance, coming outside. "Are you going to empty my wine stores for a stupid inkstone?
"It's very valuable," Chun Soo explained.
"More valuable than rice?" she said scornfully.
Chun Soo turned back to his friend. "Really, what is going on? What's happened to you?"
"What we're doing is drinking," Soon Shin said, stating the obvious.
"Sure. Fine. A stupid peasant like me. Why would you ever share your problems?" Chun Soo grudgingly drank his wine. Setting down his bowl with a loud clatter, he shouted,"Will you stop? Your brother said that you were to take the civil service exam. When will you study?" Soon Shin responded by laying down on his back. "Soon Shin-ah!" Now Chun Soo was really worried.
"I'm a..." Soon Shin mumbled, "I'm a proxy.."
"I said Guh Byuk (test proxy)..."
"Guh Byuk? what is that?"
Chun Soo carried his unconscious friend back to his house. He was met by Soon Shin's mother and Yo Shin. "What is the meaning of this?" Soon Shin's mother asked. "Is he hurt?"
"No, maam," Chun Soo said awkwardly. "I didn't want to...but he kept insisting that I drink..."
"Drinking is all very well and good," Byoon said, "but this is a bit much."
"Please bring him inside," Yo Shin told him.
Soon Shin slept sprawled on his mattress as his mother and brother looked on.
Outside, leaning on a crutch, Yo Shin thanked Chun soo. "Well done."
Chun Soo bowed. "I'll be on my way." As an afterthought he added, "Uh, by the way, what is a guh byuk?"
Yu Shin's eyes flew open. "What? what did you just say?"
"What is a guh byuk? Is it a bad thing? I mean, why does it bother him so?"
"Say that again! Did Soon Shin say he was a guh byuk for the civil service exam?"
Realizing that he might have gotten Soon Shin in trouble, Chun soo hastily said, "Uh, I think i have to go now." Bowing quickly, he ran out of the yard.
Yo Shin returned inside the house and watched his brother as he slept with new worry.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 21:50:09 GMT -5
The next morning, Soon Shin awoke to find his brother sitting gravely at his side. "Oh, Hyung nim," he said, trying to clear his head.
"What possessed you to do this?" his brother asked in disappointment.
"Oh," Soon Shin apologized, "I guess i just had a little too much to drink last night."
"Did this awful brother create a stumbling block to your success?"
Now Soon Shin was genuinely confused. "Hyung nim..."
"Though you have a brother, my selfishness caused you to sell your pride and honor in exchange for my worthless life!"
"Hyung nim!" Soon Shin's stomach sank as he realized where this was going. "What are you saying..."
"What made you to do this? Who told you to save my life by throwing away your pride? Guh Byuk? You are a Guh Byuk!"
Horrified, Soon Shin stuttered, "Hyung Nim! Please! Listen to me, I can explain!" Outside, his parents overheard their voices.
"Was that why I was released after one night?" Yo Shin slapped the floor in anger. "Did you think I would thank you for this? For this dirty act? And I was resting comfortably in bed and eating well as if nothing were wrong! I'm so mortified! Absolutely mortified!"
"Hyung nim! I did you wrong! Please forgive-"
"Silence!" he shouted. "I am returning to government detention center."
"No, Hyung nim, you can't! If you do-"
"Though I be executed in a prison cell, I will not have you be a guh byuk for my sake!" He stood up suddenly and left the room.
"Hyung Nim!" Soon Shin called after him, worry lining his face.
Both men went outside to find that their parents had heard the entire exchange
"F-father..." Soon Shin stammered.
"You became a guh byuk, you say?" his father asked. "You planned to deceive the government and commit a crime?" He began laughing. "This house turned out well! This father wastes his life and his sons sold their honor too!" He gave another roar of laughter. Pointing at his son he asked, "Didn't I tell you that no one can change the world? Fine! So what did you sell for your honor and self-respect? Oh this is very good! Can I eat off it for the rest of my life?" He continued to laugh uproariously, his laughter echoing through the yard as he left. Byoon stood in stony silence, her gaze lowered
Running out to the fields, Soon Shin ran until he felt his lungs would burst. Laughing ironically, his laughter changed to sobs as he crushed the earth underneath him in his fists.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 22:02:58 GMT -5
Soon Shin's father walked purposefully to the house of the county magistrate. As the servant came out to greet him, he walked past him, bumping him rudely aside.
Drinking wine on the pavillion with geishas, the magistrate laughed and told Jung, "I should have arranged this meeting earlier."
"Don't worry about it," Jung replied with a smile.
"Your son is a fine man. I am proud to have such a fine talent in my county." They both laughed.
Waving his hands in protest, Jung told him, "You're too kind!"
"It all this goes well, I will treat your family as I treat my own. And - I'll do everything I can to place your son in a government position."
Jung laughed again. "Thank you for such kindness in spite of my son's offence." He chortled merrily.
"Ah, and...here..." the magistrate said, handing him a heavy bag. "A small token of my appreciation."
"What's all this?" Chang opened the pouch and several heavy ingots of silver fell out. "Oh, it's silver..." His smile faded. I'd actually expected that it contained gold." As an uncomfortable silence fell over the table, as if on cue, all the kisaeng simultaneously stood up and left.
Trying to cover the awkwarn nature of the moment, the magistrate continued, "It's just a little something to help you for the time being. If my son passes the exam, I will give you ten plots of fertile land."
Jung laughed again, but this time, the malice in his laughter was slightly more evident. "Your generosity is smaller than I had thought it to be."
"Then, you had other thoughts?" the magistrate asked cautiously. "Please, speak without worry."
"I was thinking something like the office of magistrate of Asan - that is a fair price, don't you think?" he said, raising his wine cup.
Clearing his throat, the magistrate asked, "Are you making a joke at me?"
"Joke? Joke you say? Is it not a fair price?" He set is cup down. "I mean, if it ever got out that your son used a proxy, it will ruin his future as well as ruining the future of his sons." He smiled beatifically at the magistrate.
"What?" Now he was becoming angry. "You think your son will come out of this unscathed?" At this, the smile disappeared from Jung's face. "If anyone gets hurt," the magistrate continued, "it will be you and your son!" Clearing half the table with a sweep of his arm, Chang stepped over it and grabbed the magistrate by the collar of his robe. "Hey! What are you doing?!"
"Do what you want, bastard! Do you think you will get away with it?" Jung growled into his face. "I'll go to the king and report your crime even if it means my head!" He shook the magistrate more vigorously with each word.
"Lord Yi! Please!" he begged, "Let's sit and talk like civilized people!"
Releasing him, Jung sat down. "Don't ever bother my sons again, understand?" he said in a calm tone that made his statement all the more threatening. When the magistrate's servant ran in to see what was wrong, Jung stood up and leaving the silver on the table, he picked up some of the food and stuffed it into his mouth. "Such wonderful food! Still I do have a bad taste in my mouth, it's like eating the blood of the people of Asan." Chucking a piece of the food on the table he chuckled as he left. Once outside the magistrate's residence, the smile quickly slipped from his face.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 27, 2004 22:12:14 GMT -5
"Sato (magistrate), perhaps we should look for a new proxy?" the servant suggested.
"What? After this hullabaloo how can you even think about that?"
"That insolent bastard!"
"IF that boy takes the exam and wins first place..." the servant reminded him.
"I can't let that be," the magistrate muttered. "Make some inquiries. There must be a reason that a family of such intellectual caliber is living in a backwater town like Asan. What I mean is, do what you have to, even if it means digging into their ancestor's graves, but find out!"
"Yes, Sato." With a bow, the servant was gone.
"One can never be too careful..." the magistrate though aloud to himself. ______________________________________________________________________
Yo Shin knelt before his parents. "I will leave home shortly," he explained. "I will do as father wishes. I will never again defy his will. I will live as he does, but do not force Soon Shin to do the same. His heart is different. No matter how much filth and corruption is in this world, it will never taint him. You know that better than I do, don't you father?" His father looked down at the floor. "A constant stream of water will wear away even stone. Do not try to wear him down. Support him and encourage him. I beg this of you." Yo Shin's mother looked at her son proudly with tears in her eyes.
As Yo Shin was about to set off, Soon Shin ran up to him excitedly. "Hyung Nim!" He stopped, panting heavily.
"What is so important that you ran here so fast?" Yo Shin asked his brother.
Still trying to catch his breath he told him, "I am not a guh byuk anymore! I was so excited I had to run to tell everyone." His smile faded as he looked at his brother and thought aloud, "But, hyung nim, where are you going...why are you dressed like..."
"Will you carry my pack for a moment?" was all his brother said.
Walking with his older brother, Soon Shin paused to help him as he tripped slightly. "Hyung Nim...are you okay? Hyung Nim..."
"I'm fine...Just a little light headed," he said carelessly.
"Hyung nim, where are you going to go in this state?"
"Look," his brother told him. "When we first came to Asan this barren area was once a fertile land thanks to a friend named Kang Suk. But the tyranny and greed of officials forced him to leave everything and move away. One must know hunger and suffering in order to be a leader of true compassion and virtue to the people."
"Take the civil service examination and enter the government," his brother advised him. "And don't ever change your heart. Hold on to the same warm spirit that cherishes a humble salt merchant and the selflessness that led you to look after this unworthy brother." Having said what he needed to, Yo Shin smiled affectionately at his brother.
Soon Shin walked to the river bank where his father was fishing. Without turning, his father instructed, "Check the rod."
Doing so, Soon Shin noted, "Oh, there's no hook..."
"Just like you," his father said. When Soon Shin looked at him quizzically, he explained further, "What you were born to do is more difficult than trying to catch fish without a hook. Your brother will accept your father's will. The world will not be easy on you. And there are things you cannot control, like becoming a guh byuk. Who can understand it all? There will be other circumstances that will cause your feet to tread a path that you do not desire. But if you still want it, go pursue it." His father sighed.
The enormity of what his father was doing was all to clear to Soon Shin. "Father..." was all he could say.
Post by velvet inkbrush of YiSoonShin on Sept 30, 2004 23:31:13 GMT -5
"Sato, are you familiar with the name Yi Baek-rok?" The servant placed a book in front of the magistrate.
"Yi Baek-rok? Who is that?"
"He was part of the group that died in 1519 and he is Yi Soon Shin's grandfather."
"1519?" The magistrate began leafing through the book with new interest.
Walking with Byoung Taek to minister Ju's home, they set down a large box wrapped in green silk. "I've made a small gift on your behalf, sir."
Taking the bundle, Minister Ju replied, "You shouldn't have." Turning to Byoung Taek he said, "Don't worry and take the exam. I will make the necessary arrangements. In the lower left hand corner of the exam paper, just make a small brush mark."
"Thank you, sir!" Byoung Taek said bowing.
"First place is yours unless someone with distinctive talent is present," Ju told him with a smile.
"Sir," the magistrate began haltingly, "on that matter we have something to tell you..." All ears, Minister Ju leaned foward. _______________________________________________________________________