Chapter 24. An Entertaining Show

While Kang Oh was clearing the Maumbharat Palace, PD[1] Park Jin Cheol was doing some more filming.

"Ms. Seol Hee, let's begin filming," Park Jin Cheol said.

"Hoo."

Kang Seol Hee weakly sat in a chair, which was situated in front of a camera. She looked incredibly downtrodden.

"Take one, action! Ms. Seol Hee, I heard you made a bet with Mr. Oga?" PD Park Jin Cheol asked from behind the camera.

Once the cameras began rolling, Kang Seol Hee, as befitting of a professional, switched her sullen expression to one of confidence.

"Yes. I intervened in order to figure out Mr. Oga's true identity, a mystery that our viewers are extremely curious about!"

"Intervened how?"

"I made a bet with him. If Mr. Oga failed the viewer-voted quest, then he would have to show his face, but conversely, if he succeeded, then I would receive a punishment of his choice," Kang Seol Hee said whilst smiling. 

However, contrary to her outward expression, she felt completely different on the inside.

'Hing. I just did it because our viewers have a right to know. Plus, it would make the program more fun, but...'

She hadn't suggested the idea to the writers out of spite or as an attempt to insult him.

The viewers were curious about Oga's true identity, and it was an easy way to draw in the viewers' interest.

However...!

'I didn't know that one of the conditions for appearing on our program was for his identity to be concealed!'

PD Park Jin Cheol had approached her, pissed that she was the reason they'd violated their side of the contract.

And he had also notified her that one of the two had to receive a punishment. 

Park Seol Hee was in no position to refuse, and that's why they were shooting even more footage.

'I hope you fail!' she cursed at Oga in her head while smiling in front of the camera.

However, it had already been decided that she'd be the one punished.

* * *

The couples, who had finished their dungeon conquest, gathered in the GBS studio.

"Good work everyone," Jeon Seong Gook began.

"Shall we see which teams succeeded and which teams failed?"

The huge monitor lit up with the results.

Out of the 4 teams, 3 of them had cleared the viewers' quests.

The failing team was the Lee Min Joo and Park Bae Shik team.

"Aah, Mr. Bae Shik, what happened?" Jeon Seong Gook smiled impishly as he asked.

"Ahem. If only people had donated..."

Park Bae Shik came up with an excuse that befitted his status as a famous broadcast jockey.

"I see. Then you need to receive your punishment. Now, please bring them out."

The staff brought out two cups of Shikhye (Korean sweet rice drink).

"One of them is salty and one of them is sweet. Now when I say three, please drink them at the same time."

Jeon Seong Gook began counting to three. 

"One, two... three!"

Lee Min Joo and Park Bae Shik simultaneously drank the Shikhye.

Bleh!

Park Bae Shik coughed up the Shikhye. How unfortunate; if he were streaming, then donations would come rushing in.

"And there's one more person that needs to be punished," Jeon Seong Gook said, and Kang Seol Hee's face became sullen.

"Ms. Kang Seol Hee, Mr. Oga, please step forward."

Jae Woo and Seol Hee did so.

"Mr. Oga won the bet. Thus, you must receive your punishment, Ms. Seol Hee. Is that correct?"

"Yes."

"..."

Jae Woo nodded his head, while Seol Hee remained unresponsive.

"Then, Mr. Oga, please choose your punishment for Ms. Seol Hee," Jeon Seong Gook said.

"Her punishment is..."

Jae Woo waited for a moment; he could see Kang Seol Hee gulping.

"To shave both of her eyebrows. Like the Mona Lisa!" Jae Woo declared.

"I'll shave them for you. Very cleanly at that!"

She became ghastly pale. He wanted her, a TV broadcaster and a woman, to shave her eyebrows!?

Kang Oh, who saw the change in her complexion, stared at her coldly.

'I won't go easy on you just because you're a woman!'

But all of a sudden, Jeon Seong Gook interrupted him.

"Let's go to a break!"

Jin Cheol had given the order.

"Cut. We'll continue after a short break," Jin Cheol said right after Seong Gook. 

The sudden announcement dispelled the uneasy atmosphere, as well as gave people a break.

Jin Cheol approached Kang Oh.

"Mr. Oga, could we talk?"

Jin Cheol led him to a secluded corner.

"What's wrong?" Jae Woo asked harshly.

His question was only natural since Jin Cheol was clearly trying to get in his way.

"I spoke to Ms. Seol Hee; she wasn't trying to cause you any harm, Mr. Jae Woo," Jin Cheol said.

"And?"

When Jae Woo had looked at her, his Hyper Intuition hadn't gone off, like with Eder.

In other words, Kang Seol Hee hadn't intended to backstab him in any way.

But in any case, it would've clearly harmed him anyway! If that's the case, then she had to receive her just deserts.

"Ms. Seol Hee is the face of GBS. So I'd appreciate it if you could go easy on her."

"I'd rather not."

‘Why should I?’

"We'll reimburse you for your troubles."

"Reimburse me?"

"I strongly believe that I'll be Dungeon Conquering Man's main producer. Thus I'd like for the relationship between one of our cast members and one of our MCs to not start on a sour note," Park Jin Cheol explained.

That's why they wanted to take it easy on her, despite Kang Seol Hee initiating the bet.

"I can just not show up anymore. So about reimbursement...?"

Jae Woo wasn't really attached to this program. He was, of course, interested in his appearance fee. 

"When it becomes a regular program, I promise to significantly increase your appearance fee."

"I'm good."

Jae Woo immediately rejected his offer.

It was still up in the air whether Dungeon Conquering Man would become a regular program or not, so what did it matter if his appearance fee went up then?

Jae Woo didn't believe Jin Cheol, that it would become a regular program.

"I'll increase today's appearance fee by 500,000 won ($500 USD)."

As expected, Jin Cheol knew Jae Woo well, as well as the fact that money was the most effective bargaining tool to use against him!

However, it didn't work this time.

"Let's just shave her eyebrows."

He wanted to see Kang Seol Hee's expression post eyebrow shaving more than the 500,000 won bonus. What a sight it would be.

Plus, he wanted to use this opportunity to show people what would happen if they messed with him.

"1 million won ($1,000 USD)! And let's say I owe you a favor."

"Hmm."

"If you reject this offer, then even my relationship with you will sour, let alone Ms. Seol Hee's," Jin Cheol firmly said.

"Haa," Jae Woo sighed.

Since Jin Cheol came out this strongly, he couldn't afford to be stubborn any longer.

'Well, guess it can't be helped.'

It wasn't like Kang Seol Hee had committed a crime or anything, and she didn't have any malicious intent behind her suggestion either.

There was no reason he couldn't let her off lightly.

But he really wanted to use this opportunity to show people what would happen if he was taken lightly; it was unfortunate he wouldn't get that chance.

"I understand. I'll just doodle on her face. That's fine, right?" Jae Woo asked.

"You made the right choice." Jin Cheol beamed.

A short while later.

They began shooting again.

"Now, Mr. Oga! Please choose her punishment!" Jeon Seong Gook said.

"Her punishment is..." Jae Woo began.

"Face doodles."

"I'm sorry?"

"Eh?"

Because he'd changed his original punishment, both Seong Gook and Seol Hee asked back.

"If you're unhappy, I can always go back to shaving your eyebrows," Kang Oh smiled impishly and said.

"No, I'm fine with this!" Kang Seol Hee yelled.

"Aah, are you really sure about this?" Jeon Seong Gook asked once more.

It was as if his eyes were saying, 'Aw, man. Shaving her eyebrows was definitely a better idea!'.

"Yes, I'm sure," Jae Woo replied.

He, too, believed that shaving her eyebrows was a better punishment, but he'd agreed to just doodle on her face as per his agreement with Jin Cheol.

"Ahem. I understand."

Jeon Seong Gook looked a little dejected.

"Phew."

On the other hand, Kang Seol Hee's once ghastly face returned to its normal color. Is this what it felt to narrowly escape death?

Compared to shaving her eyebrows, doodling on her face was nothing; she'd take that over it anytime, anywhere. All she needed to do after was erase it!

"Then let us proceed with the punishment," Jeon Seong Gook said.

As Jae Woo approached Seol Hee, a staff member came over and handed him a brush laden with squid ink.

"It's not a permanent marker," Jae Woo said, his voice filled with regret.

"I apologize. Please let me off the hook."

She clasped her hands together and begged.

"I got it already, so turn around and close your eyes."

 Kang Seol Hee turned her back on the camera and closed her eyes.

Swish, swish.

Jae Woo delicately moved the brush around and began doodling on her face.

The more he moved the brush, the louder the cast members' laughter became.

Especially Jeon Seong Gook, who was grabbing his belly with one hand and covering his mouth with another.

Ddook.

At some point, Jae Woo stopped moving the brush. He'd finally finished his work of art.

"I'm finished," Jae Woo said. 

His voice sounded refreshed.

"Ahem, then..."

Jeon Seong Gook stifled his laughter and did his best to continue the broadcast.

"Ms. Seol Hee, please open your eyes and turn around."

Kang Seol Hee gradually turned around.

"Oh my gosh."

"Haha."

Upon seeing her face, the staff members either laughed or were in shock.

Jin Cheol also covered his mouth, content to express his laughter with his eyes.

Even the camera supervisor who was responsible for filming her couldn’t control his expression as his lips curled upwards.

Look at her!

Jae Woo had drawn thick sideburns in the shape of an 'L' on either side of her face! He'd even drawn a mustache and a beard! And there were also huge spots next to her nose!

Her thick eyebrows had been connected with the squid ink, forming a thick unibrow.

Finally...

"Now, smile," he said, and Kang Seol Hee smiled.

And as a final touch, her teeth were black and white!

This was the moment that Kang Seol Hee would obtain her nickname, 'Dirty Old Man Seol Hee', a title which would remain a stain on her broadcasting history forever.

* * * 

Kang Seol Hee continued the broadcast till the very end with her doodle ridden face.

Of course, she herself didn't know how bad her face was as of yet.

"I really hope this becomes a regular program. Do you think it can?" 

Kang Seol Hee gave her closing statement.

"Ahem. Of course it can. Why wouldn't it, when it's this fun?" Jeon Seong Gook stared at her and gave his own closing statement.

"Then, we'll see you again next time."

"See you!"

"Cut. Good work everyone."

Park Jin Cheol applauded.

There were statements like "Good job." or "Thank you for all your hard work." or "Man, let's clean up and go home." heard from the crew as they began to pack up. 

Kang Seol Hee quickly looked for a mirror.

And...

"Ggyaak, my face!"

A resounding scream.

Jae Woo grinned and got ready to go home.

"Mr. Oga."

Soo Ah approached Jae Woo.

"Thank you for all your hard work," Jae Woo said.

"Thank you for today," Soo Ah said.

"What for?"

"This..."

Soo Ah passed him a piece of paper.

Her character code was written on it. In Arth, a character code had the same function as a real-life cell phone.

"If it's alright with you, I'd like us to be friends."

"I understand. Let's hunt together some other time."

"Ok. I'll holdyou to that!"

Soo Ah waved her hand and left. Jae Woo stashed the paper away.

'Maybe my long 23 years of flying solo will finally come to an end soon...'

He sure was counting his chickens before they hatched.

The shoot was, in a lot of ways, quite an interesting experience.

* * * 

A week had passed since Dungeon Conquering Man had been filmed.

- Hello, Oppa.

Once he accessed Arth, Asu sent him a message.

If you knew their code or were registered as friends, then users could message each other.

- Hey. You logged on early today.

Kang Oh and Asu had spoken several times throughout the week, so they'd gotten much closer.

Asu called Kang Oh 'Oppa', and Kang Oh spoke more familiarly with her.

- We ended early today. So I'm going to the Spider Queen, Alishi's Nest to hunt. Hehe.

- Alright. Watch out for her optical illusions.

- Ok!

Kang Oh finished his conversation with Asu and summoned Eder.

Peong!

The robe-wearing skeleton, Eder, appeared.

"Welcome back."

"Yeah. Let's search the Lakern Mountains today."

Kang Oh's main line of business was making money off of playing the game.

And he was especially invested in finding hidden dungeons, where he was guaranteed to find a large fortune.

But even with his Hyper Intuition, he couldn't find a hidden dungeon every single day.

Although he'd spent the past week going to places where he suspected a hidden dungeon might be, unfortunately, he hadn’t found a single one.

But then he'd heard that a secret area called the 'Cave Hidden by the Wind' was located somewhere in the Lakern Mountains from a middle-aged man in the Adventurer Guild.

Thus, he planned to search the Lakern Mountains this time.

"Let's go."

"Ok."

Kang Oh and Eder used the gate, passing through Berkura City, and arriving straight at the Lakern Mountains.

The Lakern Mountains was a vast field, which was inhabited by monsters lower than level 100.

The field was much wider than a dungeon, and there were several places he needed to search. It would also be harder to find a hidden dungeon here because of those factors.

Still, Kang Oh trusted his Hyper Intuition. If there was indeed a hidden dungeon here, then his Hyper Intuition would point him to it, even in this wide expanse of land!

"Hoo. There has to be a hidden dungeon here this time."

Kang Oh saw the summit of the Lakern Mountains from afar.

Kang Oh stood in front, his demon sword strapped to his back, while the robe-wearing Eder brought up the rear; they began to scale the mountain. 

Meanwhile...

There were two pairs of eyes watching them.

"We have some guests," a scar-faced man said, as he watched Kang Oh and Eder's backs.

He possessed red eyes, a sign that he'd murdered a good law-abiding user.

"You're right. That's one expensive-looking sword."

A lanky man beside him stared at Kang Oh's sword and licked his lips. He too possessed red eyes.

Their names were Halt and Itar.

They were PKers (Player Killers), evil users who killed other users and stole their items or extorted them for money.

 

[1] PD = Program Director

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Boko's Thoughts

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!