Chapter 22 – Mr. Jang Who Brews Liquor (1)

Minho was tossing and turning in the van. The tight shooting schedule over two days and one night had left him completely exhausted.   This wasn’t relieved with only a short sweet sleep in the car heading from the country back to Seoul.

“Oww. My back is sore.”

So much better than a car seat–a bed!  And best of all, a familiar spot to sleep.

“Manager Gong, are we there yet?”

Minho rubbed his eyes and lifted his head, looking forward to getting more sleep in the gaming house, but at that moment he felt perplexed. He had fallen asleep in the car. He had to be in the van… where was this?

‘Old house?’

Hard mud-plastered walls and stone slab floors. The roof was made with rice straw and reeds. He was in a room somewhere much like the country house where Youth Journal filmed. 

The midday sunlight shining through the crack of the paper sliding door struck Minho’s eye. His spinning head made him sure it wasn’t a dream.

“What’s going on here?”

He quickly got up. He carefully looked around and saw furniture right out of the background of a 70s movie. And there were a bunch of gourd bottles with corks lined up against the wall on one side. Surely there was wine in them.

And there were so many types as well. Starting from the unrefined rice wine like Makgeolli that tasted sweet and sour to even mellow fruit wines made from fruits like apples, peaches, plums, and apricots. It seemed like the owner of this room had established a school of his own traditional wine brewery.

Wait.

That one, that looked familiar.

‘The gourd bottle!’

Minho fumbled for his pockets recalling the gourd bottle that he picked up from the run-down house. He was surprised once again when he realized the clothes he was wearing weren’t the ones he’d had on before.

He was wearing clothes made of some cotton fabric. His entire outfit was different; even his underwear felt rough. Surely it wasn’t  possible that some pervert had kidnapped him and only changed his clothes.

“Can it be?”

Minho touched his face with rough wrinkled hands as he walked out the door. Then his eyes grew wide as he saw himself in the mirror next to the door.

‘Can that person be….me?’

A man with disheveled hair and a bushy beard was in the mirror. He was touching his face with his mouth gaping open just as Minho was. And it was certain that those were his own movements.

Minho was certain that the man reflected in the mirror was him. How it had happened he didn’t  understand, but it was so.

‘This is a dream. A dream!’

Feeling desperate, Minho focused his strength into his hands. He was about to slap his face as people usually do to wake themselves up but instead he clapped his hands together hard.

He couldn’t distinguish if his hands really felt twingy or if he was dreaming the sensation.

“Ugh! What is this?”

At that moment–

“Mr. Jang, you there?”

The sound of someone’s deep voice came from outside the door.

‘That’s good. That person outside that door can explain to me what this situation is.’

Minho opened the door wide and shouted to the person who had come calling.

“What’s going on?…. Huh?”

His sentence trailed off. As soon as he saw the person outside the door, the man’s name and memories of him flashed in his head like lightning.

“Daho Hwang?”

“Who else would it be?”

It was as if two video clips were overlapping; the image of Grandpa Hwang with his thick chubby cheeks combined with the smooth-skinned face of the man who looked fifty years younger. The young Grandpa Hwang, Daho Hwang, looked at Minho blinking blankly and laughed out loud.

“Seeing your condition Mr. Jang, it seems like you had an extravagant drink, ey? Don’t drink all the good stuff by yourself, call me over.”

“No, elder. That’s not it…”

“Ah, forget it! Bring out the liquor I asked for.”

The young man Daho Hwang twirled his hands around and pointed to the gourd bottle. Seeing this, Minho was able to guess the situation.

It seemed he had traveled through time. And he had possessed someone else. Grandpa Hwang who was calling Minho ‘Mr. Jang’ was looking for nothing else but liquor. The common thing that had kept catching his eyes from the moment he woke up in this house was the liquor bottles!

‘I know now. It’s because of the gourd bottle from the run-down house.’

The key word for this strange happening was that– Minho recalled again what he had heard before when he asked about cherished objects and relics.

  • On the other hand, a relic is hard to tell just by looking at it, but it gets filled with the inherent characteristics of the person who used it. In summary, it’s hard to get but its powers are better. That’s it. So if you can find it and obtain it, then try to do so.

Minho grumbled to himself. It would have been nice of his father to teach him everything while he was at it.

‘Can’t believe this what he meant when he said it was hard to get. Psssh’

If the gourd bottle that he’d thought was a good find was actually a relic, Minho felt like this was his qualification exam to be able to use it.

As soon as he acknowledged the situation, Minho began to adapt surprisingly easily. It was because he was a professional gamer. He had achieved that through his ability and he had already mastered the classic of games, the RPG.

RPG! Role Playing Game!

If this was a so-called mission, then he was in the middle of obtaining a relic through the character of Mr. Jang. As soon as Minho perceived this strange situation as a game, he was able to handle it with complete skill.

Minho’s gaze turned toward Daho Hwang once again.

“Liquor? As you can see, I’m drunk. I’m not sure if I remember or not….Which one was it?”

Mr. Jang’s way of speaking began to come out naturally once Minho thought to mimic it.

“Ah geez. Don’t drink too much on important occasions. There, that’s the one.”

“Aha. I remember too. Right, that’s the one.”

Minho followed Daho Hwang’s pointing finger for the liquor he was requesting.. Minho grabbed a gourd bottle that gave off a savory yeast smell from among the bunch lined up in the room.

It seemed like there was rice wine in it. When he picked it up, Daho Hwang yelled out immediately.

“Stop there! Are you grabbing the bottle next to it? I was pointing to the third from the left on the shelf but you passed it!.”

He flinched at Daho’s angry voice, but Minho acted imperturbable.

“Gosh, your temper! I was going to give you another one with it. You don’t want me to give it to you?”

Daho’s expression quickly changed as Minho glared at him.

He shook his head.

“Ayy, you know I have a hasty temper. I was just saying just in case. You understand me right?”

Minho calmed himself down and nodded since Daho was asking him to let him off the hook, softened by the liquor.

“Of course! Here, here it is.”

Daho took the two bottles of liquor that Minho handed over and opened the corks then took a whiff to savor the scent. Finally, he made a satisfied expression like a cat lying in the sun.

‘This is it, isn’t it?’

It was the wine aroma of the energy liquor that Grandpa Hwang had given Minho when he was on the verge of dying from frying Nokdu pancakes. That was Mr. Jang’s special blended liquor and the mixing portions and recipe passed through Minho’s head like the pages of a book opening.

Its effects could be defined by one word.

Vitality!

Stamina!

Men, lift your heads up high!

Daho grumbled.

“I’m gonna die doing field work. And my father is pressuring me to give him a grandson already. Is that something I can control? Well either way, that’ll be taken care of in an instant with this.”

The two shared the laughter of a bond only shared between men with the liquor that is really good for a man’s body but awkward to speak of.

‘Is the mission a success?’

It wasn’t as hard as he’d thought. Who would’ve known the test of the relic was to pass the liquor to Grandpa Hwang. Since he was finished with the job it was time to get out of the situation. But then Daho Hwang, who he’d thought was about to leave, spoke to Minho.

“Just as I said last time, I’ll put in a good word to my sister-in-law. I don’t know about anything else but Soyoung listens to me no matter what.”

Thump! Thump!

“Soyoung?”

Minho felt his heart beat quickly as soon as he heard the word sister-in-law. Soyoung Yoon, the younger sister of Grandma Hwajung Yoon.

“You know I’m not saying this just because of the liquor, right? I know the type of person you are, that’s why I’m arranging this. Well, I’ll be able to get more free liquor if we become one family. Mhmm, mhmm.”

Daho grinned and let out a dry cough.

‘So this is the real mission.’

It was  Mr. Jang’s lingering regret in the relic!

Mr. Jang who only brewed liquor tucked in the corner of the mountains dearly wished to end up with the woman he fell in love with at first sight.

“Come out to the front of the watermill later this evening. Mr. Lee’s son over by the next town, the one that has a lot of land, is interested in her too. So you should coax her well first and make her your wife.”

Thump!…Thump!

The heart beating sound became louder.

“I’m on your side Mr. Jang rather than Mr. Lee’s. So good luck.”

Daho disappeared and Minho saw the sun that had been at high noon setting as if he had fast forwarded a video. The night of the first date that Mr. Jang had hoped for came in an instant.

Maybe because it was a test of the relic, it felt like Mr. Jang’s spirit was pushing him along saying, ‘Go quickly to date her!’

“Okay, Grandpa Jang.”

Minho bowed to the room that was only filled with gourd bottles and turned his footsteps toward the mill. Then he suddenly glanced in the mirror and stopped.

“Gosh. You can’t go meet a girl like this.”

The mirror reflected Mr. Jang’s image just as he had seen it that morning. It was the appearance of a typical old country bachelor covered in bushy hair and a rough looking beard.

Minho wasn’t a fashionista. But he had developed a sort of eye for it by using Jay Kim’s scissors and also knew how to dress from looking at the people in broadcasting work. He was looking with that sort of eye and the current look was certainly unlikeable.

‘I’ll be rejected at once if I show up to meet Grandpa Hwang’s sister-in-law in this state.’

He needed something to fix himself up with.

Minho looked around the room and discovered something like a hair wax called ‘Pomade’ next to the mirror. When he opened it there was a chunk of grease.

‘Oho.’

It was the hair grease that a person who knew about the fashion of the 50s and 60s would have at least one of. He didn’t know all too much about fashion but he had been trained sufficiently for the past few weeks so he put the right amount on his hair and started working it in.

The hair was so tangled to start with  that he was only able to pull it back after he had brushed it for a while. A handsome forehead was revealed once he pulled back the hair.

‘What the–!  This guy is good looking.’

Who knew these facial features were hidden behind that pile of curly hair!

Minho was about to shave away the beard with a scissor but only trimmed it because he somehow looked like a famous foreign actor. When he looked at the mirror again, there was a man who looked like he was ready to appear on TV.

“Wow, Grandpa Jang. You’re really handsome.”

There’s a saying that there’s always something that completes fashion, and he was wearing the same thing as before but it gave a completely different feeling now. Minho, self absorbed, turned his body around like a model and laughed.

Now it was time to go to a successful meeting.

He went toward the mill with wild flowers in hand instead of roses and thought of all sorts of things to say. He followed where his feet led him. In no time, when he had almost arrived at the spot where the sounds of water came from, he heard someone speak.

“I don’t like Mr. Jang. Are you trying to sell me to a drunk tippler?”

“Ey, what do you mean sell! I’ll be upset if you say such things. Just meet him once. Mr. Jang may look like that on the outside but he’s solid. And he’s a well-known brewer in town.”

“Hmph! He has disheveled hair and smells. Everyone in the neighborhood knows he’s a heavy drinker!”

“Geez. There’s a saying, don’t judge a book by its cover. He’s a sincere person.”

One of the two arguing people walked out into the road and ran into Minho. An innocent-looking lady hesitated and asked.

“Who are you?”

The surprised young lady was today’s last hurdle.

“I’m…”

Minho, clearing his throat to introduce himself, hesitated. He didn’t know Mr. Jang’s full name. Minho only knew him as Mr. Jang. The answer was uncertain.

‘With this appearance, then…”

Minho thought of a fitting name that went along with Mr. Jang’s handsome look. He felt sorry for the real owner of the name but who would care. It was inside the mission anyway.

“My name is Donggun Jang*.”

——-

Donggun Jang (Jang Dong-gun) – A famous Korean actor. He is known to be one of the most handsome actors in Korea. He is best known for his leading roles in the films Friend and Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War.


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