Chapter 1 – An Unfortunate Life of an Editor
‘So, I’m inside the novel…’
Kim Jeongjin, an editor who had been working for five years, thought.
‘…But why do I need to go back to the original world?’
A world of which he had no home, no family, no friends, and no job as of yesterday?
‘I don’t know the way to get back anyway.’
His thoughts didn’t linger for long. His exhausted body, as if weighed immensely by water, felt weakened under the comfort of a warm blanket. Soon, Kim Jung-jin fell asleep again…
He was inside one of the dormitories of the Royal Capital Defense College in Lundane, situated in the capital of the Kingdom of Albion on the Dernier continent. Such was the setting of the novel “The Prince of the Albion Kingdom,” of which (former) editor Kim Jeongjin had just reviewed yesterday.
Five years of hard work all ended in vain.
Due to bankruptcy, their publishing company specializing in history books could only move with borrowed funds. They were a small team of four employees. They were barely holding out; their books, unfortunately, wouldn’t sell out. In the end, their president decided to shut down the publishing house altogether.
Today would be their last get-together.
“Our editor, Kim Jung-jin, has done a great job so far.”
“Doing all the dirty work.”
The path before them was vague. Kim Jeongjin felt regret losing his one month salary now of all times.
Although a job as an editor sounds like a decent job, in reality, it was akin to being the author’s subordinate. It was a job far from how the media described it. He had no authority at all to tweak anything; to either change the subject and direction of the work.
There were times when he had to e-mail the author or hold the phone to his ear, saying, “Let’s omit this part, and add this instead.” To no avail, as an author’s word was resolute.
Well, thanks to that, he learned how to smile even though he inwardly wanted nothing more than to swear. Even now, he would still love to hit this little old man before him, but he had to hold back for his severance pay, else he won’t receive even a penny.
“I learned a lot from the boss,” he said instead.
“The authors have always praised you, too. Your work was meticulous.”
“Thank you for your kind words. It makes me feel as if I did something particularly great.”
“Yeah, and you’re still humble.”
Since he doesn’t like the way he does things, his boss would only drop such words in sarcasm. The president’s drinking habit was to be friendly—that is, only when he is drunk.
‘It happened. It’s over now.’
The television in the dreary pub flickered, news of the nuclear rearmament flashing across the screen. At times like this, Jeongjin wondered how the world would be if such a thing happened.
But the heavy atmosphere was soon drowned by the empty bottles of liquor.
Late into the night, Jeongjin found his heart hadn’t settled. He went out, walking blindly and recklessly from where his company in northern Gangbuk was to his house. He went towards the top of the hill in Sadang-dong. His room at the rooftop that he had lived in for years was there.
It was an extremely cheap deal because the landlord was waiting for redevelopment. Of course, for such a price, it was expected to be dilapidated and an uncomfortable place to live.
But now, he had to leave soon. The redevelopment which was delayed for some time was now in the works.
‘Where do I go after I leave,’ He could only miserably think.
He grew up alone in Seoul as an adult. Before high school, he lived in a fishing village. He wanted nothing more than to leave, and thus, he applied to the unpopular history department as a liberal arts major. It seemed as if college drained all of his life’s luck.
And after all the schooling, he would work. It was as if his life was a routine predetermined.
Then, when a typhoon hit them five years ago, all the funds from their fish farm went to pay his mother’s hospital bills. It damaged her head more than her body. And the expensive cost of her mother’s medical care for years then became too much for a fresh graduate with a student loan.
It didn’t help that his father died on a foreign ship when he was just three years old. That, and he lost his brother when he was young—he had drowned in a reservoir.
Nothing good has ever happened in his life.
As Jeongjin walked with such thoughts putting his mind in disarray, he reached a path where he couldn’t catch sight of other people.
It was late into the evening when he climbed Dongjak bridge. Over the other side was the south of the Han river. Beyond him, the absence of a single, cozy house in the thick forest of concrete apartments left a bitter taste.
It was a long time that he was stuck contemplating, and then—
The constant vibration from his phone, as if it was telling him to stop drowning in his negative thoughts, woke Kim Jeongjin from his stupor.
It was a notification from an e-mail account—an account for work specifically.
‘It’s past two in the morning, and they still sent it.’
[RE: RE: RE: RE: Manuscript Contribution]
Good morning, editor Kim Jeongjin.
This is Musai.
Thank you for your positive response to our previous request. We will reward you most definitely for participating in the revisions of the manuscript.
This work will be the ‘Final High’ of The Prince of the Albion Kingdom. It has been my lifelong goal to finish this story in its perfect form.
If you join us, I believe we can do the second part right. Thank you.]
It was an unexpected e-mail about being a novel contributor. Jeongjin was instantly sober the moment he saw the message.
“No, when did I say I’d help you?”