Sangria Scandal

Week before the results

tside looks like this?

Maybe there would be worms crawling on books and decayed cocoons around the place. Maggots are eating the walls and crawling around and flies would start swarming once we open the doors. Who knows? Maybe there could be a couple of dead people inside and the smell would reek the whole Joseon would be able to smell it.

Mari was about to open the doors when I touched her shoulder.

”Should we really go inside? I mean what if things are much worse inside than what they are outside? ”

I shivered at the thought but she just brushed me off and laughed.

”Calm down. Theres nothing to worry about. You are not the first person to think that way about this bookstore. Thats my first impression here too. ”

She opened the doors before I could even stop her so I quickly closed my eyes and held my breath.

”Stop that. Open your eyes and breathe! You
e wheezing! ”

I inhaled and was surprised by how refreshing the place is.

”Thats okay. I get that often. ”

A fat guy said while chuckling.

”This is Dun Oh. Ka. Dun. Oh. My best friend. He owns this bookshop. ”

I stared at him and realized Im being rude.

”Sorry. I am Shin Hae Cha, Maris friend. Nice to meet you. ”

I bowed so low I almost hit his tummy.

”Now, now, thats enough. Help yourselves, Id just be right here at the counter if you two ever need me. And, ah, don mind me, feel at ease and pretend I am never here. I won disturb you. ”

Dun Oh said. I like his aura. Hes very friendly.

I looked up and curiously looked at him.

”Even if we snug close to each other? ”

”Yes of course. Its a cold season. I have blankets at the end of the hall, feel free to use them. ”

”Even if we start kissing? ”

She was taken aback by my question but answered me nonetheless.

”Yes, I won mind even if you start kissing. ”

”Even if we start touching each other? ”

”I- yes, I won mind. ”

”Even if we start taking our clothes off? ”

He was surprised by my questions but just laughed.

”I have a private area the two of you can use if you want privacy that much but I suggest getting your rooms. ”

I looked at him, defeated.

”How can you dodge all my questions? ”

”You
e a chatty one aren you? ”

I stormed to the nearest table and frowned.

”Hara, thank you for what you gave me last time, but I have to give it back. ”

”If you try to give that back, Ill be the one to wreck this place to the ground. Mark my words. ”

He sighed.

”Fine. ”

”Just use it. It holds no harm. ”

She patted his shoulder and started walking.

”Ill be choosing a book. I know you don mind. ”

”Sure. Help yourself. ”

He walked to the counter and started reading a book.

Mari went to the third bookshelf and disappeared. I looked around. There are numerous large bookshelves that I think are around five in total unless theres more at the back. The floor is smooth and the place is very clean. Theres a door at the end of the hall and a curtained entrance leading to another hallway. Beside the door, I saw the blankets he was talking about. There are also umbrellas and clean colorful rags.

”Dun Oh… Can I call you that way? ”

”Yes? ”

”Why does the entrance look sickening? ”

”I want people to learn that they shouldn judge a book by its cover. Have you expected this place to be this clean after seeing the entrance? ”

”But first impressions are everything. ”

”No, it is not. Books, art, and creations, they
e all like people. What they show is not always who or what they are. Everyone has a story, I know you have to. And no one would find that out just by looking at you. They have to listen, they have to open and look at it to know what it is. The same goes for books. ”

He shrugged as if he hadn told me something so beautiful.

I like this guy.

”Do you have a wife? ”

He gasped.

”Are you hitting on me? ”

”What? No, Im not! Is it wrong to ask? ”

”No. Is it wrong to confirm? ”

”No. ”

He scoffed and adjusted his hanbok.

”I don have a wife, Im living alone. ”

”How old are you? ”

”Im twenty-two. ”

”Shouldn you have a kid right now? ”

”What about you? Wheres your husband? You look old enough for me. ”

”I don have one. Im just twenty. ”

”What? You look like thirty to me. ”

”What did you say?! ”

He placed his hands on his hips and glared at him. I glared back.

”Id like to buy this one, Dun- ”

Mari looked at both of us.

”Things are pretty heated up here, what happened? Never mind, Lets go Heacha before you two hurt each other. ”

I stood up and paid for the book then left. Mari went after me.

”You guys fought just because of age? ”

She laughed.

”Whats funny? ”

I pouted.

”He said I look like Im thirty. Thats ten years beyond my age. ”

”He likes teasing people and it often ends with fights. He just meant it as a joke, you don look like thirty to me, you look like sixteen. ”

”I do? ”

”Yes, you do. Now come on and send me home. My aunt will come looking for me any minute. ”

”Okay. ”

I said happily and started jumping up and down.

=

I arranged everything we bought and went to Lady San.

”You are late, young lady! We will extend for another thirty minutes as punishment. ”

”Okay, sure. ”

I said happily.

She was frozen in place as I happily hung my legs to the bamboo pole and waited for lady Sans instructions.

”This is strange. I need an explanation. Since you got here, you never went to me happily after hearing a punishment. ”

”Something happened, thats all. ”

”Nevermind. What you
e going to do is the same as a pull-up. The only difference is that your hands are not gripping the pole, your legs are bent and hanging on the pole. While in that position, put your hands behind your head and start doing curl-ups. Your abdominal, leg, and butt muscles are being worked here so this would be a hardcore exercise. ”

I tried lifting myself but I fell halfway. I tried again but I couldn complete one curl-up.

”This is impossible. ”

Hung on the pole, I swung back and forth as I smiled the moment I saw Haecha waving goodbye. My smile faded when Lady San whipped me and yelled.

”I didn ask you whether it is possible or not. Do it again, and this time, do it properly! ”

I strained to lift myself but managed to do a proper curl-up after five tries. I went on as my ponytail swinging in the air sparkled each time my sweat drops its way.

And just like that, with the same routine, my one week passed.

Sangria scandal*

I looked at the application form and placed it on a different pile.

”This is all, mark them with blue and separate them from the rest of the scholars. They are going to work under my supervision. ”

”Yes, your majesty. ”

Key term: (all words that end with an asterisk* excluding the title)

Ajumma – ”aunt ” in Korean. It is how people call a married or middle-aged woman out of respect regardless of blood relations.

Eunuch/s – Castrated men in Korea (the same term is used in other countries) often works under the palace or in a higher position as slaves or helper. This sometimes serves as a punishment for those being banished from their positions.

Jjajangmyeon – black bean noodles is a cuisine brought to Korea by Chinese immigrants.

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