Descent of the Demon Master - Chapter 79
Chapter 79. Joining the Military (4)
“Get a f*cking move on, you sh*theads!”
“You f*ckers, you still think you’re in the outside world?!”
“Sit your asses down!”
The marching group went around the corner of a building to reach a blind spot from the parents. That was when the tone and attitude of the assistant instructors suddenly changed. The recruits dazedly walking ahead according to the instructions were taken aback and looked around in confusion.
The assistant instructors roared, “Stop dithering about like idiots, you punks!”
Kang Jin-Ho observed this development with zero interest. Of course, he fully understood that a dozen-plus instructors wouldn’t be able to control nearly one thousand recruits with gentle words and kind gestures. Still, no one would feel pleased by a barrage of insults hurled in their way even though they hadn’t done anything yet.
‘So, this is the military, huh.’
The most efficient way to control a large force was actually pretty simple. Use force and make an example out of a few—that would be all. Threaten them, then drive home the point that the threat was real. Demonstrate it a couple of times, and it would be a job well done. Kang Jin-Ho figured that these assistant instructors were thinking of doing just that with a demonstration of military discipline and punishment.
Back in the demon cult, instructors would use nonsensical reasons to single out one or two new recruits who didn’t have the potential and they would kill them on the spot. Depending on the instructor in question, the public execution might be swift or it could devolve into a gruesome torture session. Regardless of which one, the effect such a thing had on the recruits would be the same.
The recruits, dazed and feeling lost until then, would sober up instantly at the sight of fellow humans dying in front of them. With venomous drive burning in their eyes, they would start following the orders of the instructors without question.
The degree of severity might be different, but the modern military was still employing the same tactic. However, Kang Jin-Ho couldn’t help but feel a little bitter at this. It felt like he had discovered a piece of evidence that modern humans hadn’t advanced all that much from their ancient counterparts.
“Hey, you dipsh*t! Sit your ass down, now!” An assistant instructor yelled at Kang Jin-Ho standing there.
He would gain nothing by arguing with these instructors other than a clean ejection from the basic training only to get re-drafted later. Kang Jin-Ho went through such an exhausting farewell event to get here, so he definitely didn’t want to experience a forced ejection.
“You punks, better sober up, or else! Do you really think you’re still a member of society? In here, you’re just another grunt of the military!”
“Hurry and get in the line, everyone! We don’t want to see your gums or teeth!”
However, it seemed that not every recruit shared Kang Jin-Ho’s sentiment. He could spot a few noticeably flinching and holding themselves back whenever the red-hat-wearing assistant instructors yelled.
The reporting ‘ceremony’ proceeded this way, and when it ended, the recruits were moved to an auditorium next. They were then separated into different groups. More insults and unnecessary yelling followed. After enduring that nonsense for a long while, Kang Jin-Ho and the other recruits were finally sent to the living quarters.
‘I’m already feeling bored…’
Kang Jin-Ho wondered if he should have enlisted together with his friends.
Around thirty recruits were assigned their sleeping spots in a single room. Even before they could catch their breaths, however, another round of commotion came knocking their way.
The assistant instructor loudly declared outside the door. “It’s chow time! Get ready, everyone!”
The recruits began muttering, “Food!”
“I heard the food tastes like dogsh*t here, though…”
Not too long after the announcement, an instructor stepped inside the living quarters and led the recruits to the training ground. This was when Kang Jin-Ho noticed the difficulty facing the recruits and the instructors.
The recruits who had to wait, move when told to, then wait on their feet just to have a meal must be dying of frustration inside. However, the assistant instructors needing to repeatedly lead all these recruits in and out of the mess hall should be having a crappy time, as well.
‘Quite inefficient, isn’t it?’
Kang Jin-Ho already heard that the military would be like this, and now, it felt like he was witnessing the pinnacle of extreme inefficiency. After a lengthy wait, Kang Jin-Ho’s turn finally arrived. He stepped inside the mess hall, got his food served, and settled down on one of the empty spots. He glanced around and saw looks of dissatisfaction on the faces of every recruit glaring at their food tray.
None of them expected to taste something good here, but at the very least, food should resemble food in appearance, no? The rice looked like a lump of jelly, while the side dishes were so overcooked that they might as well be soup at this point.
With their expectations at an all-time low, the recruits took a small spoonful of food and mouthed it—only to experience flavors beyond their wildest imaginations.
“Holy sh*t, they want us to eat this?!”
“Isn’t this just too much?!”
The recruits began complaining even before they could stop themselves.
One of the assistant instructors yelled, “Keep your mouth shut while eating, you lot!”
But how could these recruits eat their food with their mouths shut? Maybe that assistant instructor was unaware of the nonsense he had uttered just now?
The atmosphere in the mess hall wasn’t great, but Kang Jin-Ho seemed to be enjoying his meal. A recruit sitting next to him stared agog at Kang Jin-Ho, then asked, “Dude, are you actually enjoying this food?”
Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders. “It’s not bad, I suppose?”
“Huh? This crap is not bad?”
The recruit looked flabbergasted, but Kang Jin-Ho didn’t feel the need to explain himself any further.
A meal consisting of warm food like this was an unimaginable luxury during his childhood days in Zhongyuan. Kang Jin-Ho would often climb nearby mountains to eat tree bark and wild grass to ward off starvation. How many times did he almost die from stomach pain after eating such things? Compared to that life, food of this quality… It would qualify as a veritable feast back in Zhongyuan.
‘Feeling entitled, is that it?’
Of course, Kang Jin-Ho wasn’t planning to criticize his fellow recruits over this matter. A human’s worth was determined by their individual living standard, after all. Would these kids complaining about their unappetizing food understand the plight of countless children dying of starvation in Africa? A person could only judge depending on their views, and that would be all.
Thankfully, Kang Jin-Ho found the food of the South Korean military more or less palatable and, as a result, he enjoyed a fulfilling meal. After the meal, he had to return straight to the living quarters.
Kang Jin-Ho’s first impression of the military was boring. He had never been a person who had hobbies to busy himself with, so the ensuing boredom from having literally nothing to do was making him wither a little inside. Other recruits sharing the room with him failed to hide their anxiousness, but Kang Jin-Ho obviously didn’t feel the same as them. Sadly for him, not being nervous or tense only made the hours tick by that much slower.
“It’s lights-out, everyone,” an assistant instructor entered the barrack when the night came and announced bedtime.
The lights went off. Kang Jin-Ho lay down on his bedding and stared at the dark ceiling. Looking at that unfamiliar ceiling reminded him that he was now in the army.
‘Two years of this…’
More specifically, it would be twenty-one months of this routine. That length of time could be seen as too long or too short, depending on one’s perspective. What would Kang Jin-Ho acquire during this period, though? While thinking about that, he closed his eyes and tried to sleep. The answer to his question should come to him on the day of his discharge.
Nothing much happened in the replacement center. After going through the physicals, the recruits were distributed their uniforms. Then, they were categorized into standard soldiers and specialists before being shipped off to the boot camp. That was the purpose of the replacement center. This meant Kang Jin-Ho had pretty much nothing to do for the next two days other than staving off his boredom somehow.
The final day of the two days eventually arrived, and Kang Jin-Ho finally found himself climbing into the bus that would take him to the boot camp.
“Don’t forget your toiletries!”
“Look sharp, people! Don’t just stand there and get on already!”
He was just about to get used to the gruff attitude of these assistant instructors, yet he had to leave for somewhere else. Something about that kind of felt a bit disappointing. Still, Kang Jin-Ho nonchalantly placed his head against the headrest and tried to get some shut-eye as soon as he found his seat. He had nothing to do, so he might as well snooze his way through the ride.
Unfortunately, a recruit next to him suddenly interrupted him. “Hey, man. You know where we’re going?”
“Dunno,” Kang Jin-Ho replied briefly while pulling his cap down lower.
The bus chugged on for a while before Kang Jin-Ho sensed the vehicle slowing down to a stop. He opened his eyes and glanced outside the window. Several weather-worn barracks could be seen.
‘Is this it, then?’
This seemed to be where he would spend the next five weeks of basic training.
Kang Jin-Ho soon realized that being in the boot camp was ‘comfier’ for him than in the replacement center. It felt like the perceived difficulty had eased by half just from knowing that he didn’t have to find a way to stave off his boredom anymore. The start of real training where one had to move their body also meant that Kang Jin-Ho’s time to shine had arrived.
“Forward, march! Forward!”
Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!
Kang Jin-Ho had been training in the art of controlling his body for many decades now. It wasn’t just his physique, he had also been training his internal energy. His proficiency in military-style movements was so high that close-order drills like this were nothing more than a child’s play to him. He only had to walk forward in the direction the instructor told him to, after all.
‘Mm? What is up with that punk?’
The leading instructor opened his eyes wide in surprise and stared at Kang Jin-Ho.
Obviously, there would be some recruits who would show potential from the very first training session. Since this drill involved using one’s body, the recruits with athletic abilities would learn the ins and outs of the training several times faster than their peers.
But newbies were still that—newbies. They might be able to imitate the movement up to a certain degree, but they would still lack that vague, unexplainable professional ‘edge’ and would come across as a bit amateurish. Especially more so when they were kitted out in the brand-new CS uniforms and caps supplied by the boot camp. No matter what they did, these recruits would forever look like noobs in those duds.
‘What the hell is up with this punk? Is he a North Korean spy or something?’
The instructor couldn’t help but shudder at how Kang Jin-Ho was marching. From the beginning, his steps accurately stopped where they should. Rather than a new recruit under training, it was like watching a North Korean soldier demonstrating how to march in one of those extravagant parades.
‘The honor guard will go nuts if they see him, I guess?’
It would be like picking up a diamond in the rough for them now, wouldn’t it?
“Now… Turn around! March!”
Kang Jin-Ho’s figure smoothly spun around without even a hint of instability. His movement was neither fast nor slow—his perfectly judged speed and not even a moment of imbalance left the instructor deeply impressed.
The instructor called out to him. “Recruit No.100!”
“Recruit No.100, Kang Jin-Ho!”
“You’ve done well. Please come this way and take a break!”
“Thank you.” Kang Jin-Ho smartly stepped out of the formation.
The instructor shifted his attention back to the formation and issued a new order. “Forward, march!”
Unfortunately, an unexpected side effect reared its ugly head soon afterwards. Without Kang Jin-Ho’s professional conduct to distract from the sloppy footwork of the other recruits, the instructor’s irritation level began to quickly rise to its boiling point.
“Keep up the pace! Watch your feet! Left! Left! Can’t you do better than that?!” The instructor’s voice grew louder and louder. “If you can’t even march right, you won’t get anything else right! Sit! Stand up! Sit! Do it properly! Again!”
Only then did the recruits figure out what happened and began glaring at Kang Jin-Ho. The sound of their teeth grinding was loud and clear. However, Kang Jin-Ho sat down and relaxed without paying one iota of attention to their glares.
‘This is easier than I thought…’
Kang Jin-Ho wondered if things would be different in the military, but it was all a bit of a letdown so far. This was like taking a leisurely stroll compared to the demon cult’s initiation ritual. Then again, that initiation consisted of the recruits being thrown into a mountainside with just a small knife to fend for themselves for a month against wild animals. Most things would feel like a cakewalk compared to that.
Not only that, but the Korean military would provide you with food on time and would also let you sleep at night, too. Anyone with functioning limbs shouldn’t fail such a simple training regime, at least that was what Kang Jin-Ho thought.
‘Are other armies like this, I wonder?’
He couldn’t help but think that the Korean military’s training regime was designed to ensure that recruits with average physical abilities could still pass through it. This was understandable, considering that South Korea still relied on conscription. They had to compromise so that all sorts of people would enlist as a result.
Countries that didn’t rely on conscription but on volunteers to build armies should boast far harsher training. All in all, this training regime seemed to be designed to bolster the size of the army, not its quality. However, Kang Jin-Ho found this system questionable at best after wondering whether or not the recruits trained this way could even fight properly in real combat situations.
‘Still, compared to Zhongyuan’s army…’
The common practice in Zhongyuan was to summon peasants, put them through the bare-minimum training, give them some shabby spears and push them out to battlefields. Compared to that nonsense, Kang Jin-Ho had to admit that the military training in Korea qualified as far more systematic and modernized.
Besides, he had just enlisted while this was only a boot camp. To find out what the Korean military had to offer, he should make his way to the assigned base first.
“Left! Left! Keep up the pace! I said, keep up the damn pace! Can’t you do it right?! Keep up!”
Even as the instructor’s annoyed voice got louder, Kang Jin-Ho was too busy thinking about other things to care about anything else. This was kind of regrettable since he couldn’t hear the sounds of his peers noisily gnashing their teeth.
1. “CS” stands for combat service. ☜