On Standby (6)
“What a strange place…” Kang Eun-Yeong scanned her new surroundings nonstop.
Since she never had a reason to step inside a military base until today, this whole place felt quite mysterious to her.
“I wonder, will it be fine to park the car by the training field” Kang Yu-Hwan hesitated slightly before bringing the car to a corner of the busy field.
Although he could see a steep road going up a hill toward the barracks, something told him that driving up there might not be a good idea.
He parked the car well away from the soldiers playing soccer.
The guard captain approached the Kang family climbing out of the car, and he spoke in an official-sounding tone, “Everyone, the soldier you wish to see has been notified, so he should arrive soon.
Please wait here until then, and once he arrives, head over to the visitation room.
Also, please fill in this visitor log.”
Thank you.” Baek Hyeon-Jeong bowed to the guard captain, then began filling in the document with a pen handed over to her.
Once her job was complete, she handed the form back to the soldier.
"Please wait a little while longer." The guard captain smiled gently, then turned around to leave...
only for his steps to come to a stuttering halt.
His head slowly turned back.
That was when his eyes began quaking.
He turned back around to face the Kang family, his jaw slowly dropping to the ground.
"C-c-could it be...!" He urgently scanned the list of visitors' names.
'Huh It's not her The name's different...'
He looked up while gulping nervously.
Celebrities often went by their pseudonyms, so without asking the person in question, he couldn’t confirm it.
The guard captain cautiously asked, “E-Excuse me, but are you Miss Kang Se-Ah”
Kang Eun-Yeong covered her mouth.
"Oh, my! You know who I am, sir"
“Y-you are really Miss Se-Ah!”
"Wow! Someone recognized me! Thank you so much! Yes, I am."
The guard captain hurriedly clutched at his chest.
'W-what the heck is going on here!'
Why was Kang Se-Ah standing before his eyes To think one of the hottest new idols burning up the scene had shown up in his base! And to visit a soldier, of all things, too!
The guard captain remembered something and hurriedly asked, "H-Hang on.
Is Private Kang Jin-Ho your older brother"
Kang Eun-Yeong smiled brightly.
"Yes, he is.
Is he doing well"
“Of course, miss! He's doing better than well, I tell you!”
The guard captain's raised voice attracted the attention of the football-playing soldiers, and they began creeping closer to the parked vehicle.
One of the soldiers asked, “What's going on”
The guard captain replied with an excited shout, “I-It's Kang Se-Ah!”
“Kang Jin-Ho's little sister is Kang Se-Ah!”
The aftershock of that revelation was enormous.
A soldier dribbling the ball toward the opponent's net suddenly kicked the ball away, then rushed toward the Kang family with everything he had.
That was just the beginning, though.
“It's really Kang Se-Ah!”
“Uwaaaah! She's really here! Please, give me your autograph!”
Kang Yu-Hwan was left stunned and flustered by the boisterous crowd forming around his family in the blink of an eye.
Their urgent yells were making him dizzy.
"W-wait, please calm down...!"
“Whoa! To think I'd actually meet Se-Ah in this base!”
"Miss Se-Ah! Are you here for a concert"
"You idiot! Didn't you hear that she's visiting Kang Jin-Ho! Bloody hell, now I know why Jin-Ho is so damn good-looking!"
“They do resemble each other...”
Kang Eun-Yeong professionally took control of the crowd.
I'm Kang Se-Ah~.”
“I'm happy to meet my fans like this, but is it okay to do our meet-and-greet a little later I've come to visit my oppa, you see”
“Y-yes, of course!”
The soldiers were disappointed, but they still unwillingly shuffled back.
She might be a famous entertainer, but she was also a visitor to their base.
Troubling her any more than this might earn them the wrath of the battery commander.
“Hang on, isn't that Jin-Ho over there” Kang Yu-Hwan pointed at the hill.
Sure enough, looking smart in the Type-A uniform designed for off-base activities, Kang Jin-Ho was leisurely walking down the steep hill.
"Aigoo, my boy!" Baek Hyeon-Jeong extended her arms toward her son, her expression about to erupt into a flood of tears.
Kang Yu-Hwan, meanwhile, proudly nodded in approval.
Kang Jin-Ho sped up and quickly reached his family.
"My son!" Kang Yu-Hwan spoke with great emotions and reached out to grasp his son's shoulder.
Kang Jin-Ho reached out first and ruthlessly grabbed the scruff of Kang Eun-Yeong's neck.
“Eh!” She blinked her eyes in confusion and turned her head to look at her brother, but he suddenly picked her up without warning.
She cried out in surprise.
“You, follow me!” Kang Jin-Ho growled lowly.
“O-Oppa, put me down first!”
"You're being noisy!" Kang Jin-Ho dragged his sister away as if she was a reticent dog on a leash.
Kang Yu-Hwan could only stare at this scene in a daze before asking his wife, “Are we... uh, supposed to follow them”
“I think so...” Baek Hyeon-Jeong replied with a cramped smile.
“...Hmph.” Kang Eun-Yeong sat on a chair, her cheeks puffed up in annoyance.
What is the meaning of this”
"Silence." Kang Jin-Ho quietly pressed his index finger to his lips.
Kang Eun-Yeong flinched and lowered her head.
Currently, they were in the base's visitation room.
As for Kang Eun-Yeong, she now resembled a high schooler staying up all night to prepare for a test with flat-gray tracksuits wrapping every part of her while her hair was neatly tied up in a ponytail.
No wonder she was a ball of dissatisfaction right now.
Kang Jin-Ho shifted his attention to his parents.
“Y-yeah” Kang Yu-Hwan involuntarily stuttered.
Kang Jin-Ho furrowed his brow deeply.
"Father, even if Eun-Yeong is an entertainer now, she is still a high school student.
I firmly believe that her walking around in such outfits is inappropriate for her age."
“Y-you think so”
Kang Yu-Hwan tried to sound diplomatic.
Consider the era we live in.
Plus, Eun-Yeong's an entertainer now, too.
Don't you think she should have the last say in what she wants for her image"
Unfortunately, it didn't work on Kang Jin-Ho.
"Father, parents play the most crucial role in setting their children on the right path.
If parents are reluctant to set their children straight, how can anyone expect said children to stand up on their own later”
"...Jin-Ho, maybe you've seen a little too many historical dramas" Kang Yu-Hwan sighed softly while omitting the latter half of that statement, which involved just how much free time his son must have had in the army.
Kang Jin-Ho was his son, but Kang Yu-Hwan still felt his blood pressure going up in moments like this.
Just what did he do to get a son this stuffy and old-fashioned...
“And Mother, this includes you, too!” Kang Jin-Ho suddenly changed his target.
Baek Hyeon-Jeong flinched instantly.
Well, I did tell her not to wear such clothes, son.
But what can I do when your sister is too rebellious and doesn't want to listen”
“Doesn't want to listen...!” Kang Jin-Ho's scary glare pierced ruthlessly into his sister next.
"No, not true!" Kang Eun-Yeong desperately waved her hands in denial.
She then cried out in alarm.
"Mom! Didn't you say my outfits are cute and nice! Why are you changing your tune now"
“When did I ever say that” Baek Hyeon-Jeong replied while surreptitiously avoiding her daughter's glare.
Kang Eun-Yeong pounded her chest in sheer frustration.
“Wow, you're such a liar, Mom!”
Kang Jin-Ho roared at her.
“You're being noisy!”
“But, Oppa! It's not what you think.”
“Shh!” Kang Jin-Ho gestured sharply at her to shut up.
Kang Eun-Yeong could only pout and clamp her mouth shut.
In the meantime, Kang Jin-Ho carried on with his lecture, “Even if our parents have given you permission, you should still pay utmost attention to your conduct in public.”
“...Yes, Young Master.”
“What was that!”
"...I'm sorry." Kang Eun-Yeong obediently lowered her head.
However, her thoughts weren't so obedient at the moment.
'Why does my oppa sound like a character from a historical drama'
Who in this day and age would throw a fit just because a girl wore a pair of hot pants The last time she checked, they were living in the 21st century, not Joseon!
Kang Jin-Ho continued, "Your appearance is quite troublesome, but you dancing on TV in such revealing outfits is even more concerning."
“Oppa, that's not something I have decided on my own.
The agency decides concepts like outfits and dance moves.
I'm telling you the truth.”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
That's why I've already called your agency.
I told them to alter your concept and wardrobe.
I have also informed them that you'll be on a break until your next single."
Kang Eun-Yeong shot up to her feet.
"No! No freaking way! Oppa, the public had only just started noticing me, you know! No way, I'm not gonna do it!"
“You will do it.”
"I told you, I won't!"
Kang Eun-Yeong swiftly reached the conclusion that talking to a wall would be more productive at this stage, so she began clinging to her parents next.
"Mom, Dad! Please say something! Oppa is trying to destroy my career!"
"...Mm. I think Jin-Ho has a point."
“I told you to be more careful, didn't I!”
Kang Yu-Hwan sneakily turned his head to avoid meeting his daughter's pleading gaze.
Past experiences told him they could never win against Kang Jin-Ho in a situation like this.
Kang Jin-Ho usually went about his life unconcerned and disinterested, simply doing as others told him.
However, whenever he decided that something was worth getting worked up for and started offering his opinions...
No one could change his mind no matter how hard they tried.
“B-but, this can't be...” Kang Eun-Yeong continued to whine tearfully.
However, Kang Jin-Ho didn't care and simply drove in another nail.
“Dye your hair back to black, too.”
“E-Even my hair!”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted loudly.
"A mere high schooler dares to dye her hair blonde It won't be too late to do that after you graduate first.
Indeed, do it after you start attending university."
“Oppa, don't you get that I'm an entertainer now! Are you seriously trying to kill my career!”
Kang Jin-Ho suddenly started grinning for some reason.
“Ah, I see.
So, being an entertainer was the root cause.”
“...H-Hang on, Oppa.
“In that case, the problem will be solved by you not being an entertainer anymore.
It seems that you have made your debut too early.”
Kang Eun-Yeong finished analyzing her situation and hurriedly jumped into Kang Jin-Ho's arms.
"My dearest older brother, this girl's thoughts have been too immature.
I shall do as you command, so please, find it in your heart to forgive this foolish child."
"Oppa! Just this once, please! I'm really sorry! I'll dye my hair black right away.
And I'll pull up my hair in a bun all the time, too!"
Kang Jin-Ho assertively nodded.
“Yes, that's how it's supposed to be.”
Kang Eun-Yeong was this close to shedding tears of blood.
However, she knew better than anyone that her debut as an idol had only happened thanks to Kang Jin-Ho.
She also knew that he could take away everything she was enjoying right now with a simple snap of a finger.
I wonder, will a pure, naive girl concept suit me'
She could only see a gloomy future ahead of her, but that was still way better than going back to being a trainee idol.
Kang Eun-Yeong grumbled while burying her face between her knees.
“I shouldn't have come here.”
Kang Eun-Yeong had been eager to show off her new self as a bonafide entertainer to her oppa that she even took time out of her packed schedule to come here.
But this ungrateful dude not only failed to congratulate her, but he even poured a bucket of cold water on her!
Kang Eun-Yeong suddenly had an idea and cautiously raised her voice, “...Oppa, your seniors were all thrilled to see me, right Wouldn't your military life be a bit easier if I doll up a bit on TV”
“No, I don't need something like that,” said Kang Jin-Ho in a firm, resolute voice.
Kang Eun-Yeong pretended to scratch him like a cat.
You! You ain't gonna bleed if I prick you with a needle now, are you!”
“It does not matter what you say.
A no is still a no.
I'll update Mr.
Gyu-Min on our discussion today and have him oversee the changes to your concept.
If you don't like it, then quit.”
"...I'll do my utmost best, Oppa," Kang Eun-Yeong barely squeaked out a reply while slumping in her chair from that last knockout blow.
You should listen to your oppa.
As for you, Jin-Ho.
Let's continue after we enjoy lunch first.” Baek Hyeon-Jeong began pulling out all kinds of dishes from a cooler box she had prepared before coming here.
Kang Jin-Ho was slightly taken aback.
“But, Mother You didn't have to, you know.”
“It's for my son, so of course, I had to.” Baek Hyeon-Jeong smiled brightly as she set the food on the table.
With slight concern in his voice, Kang Yu-Hwan asked, "Son, how are you finding the army food Is it bearable"
“Really You don't have to be brave and lie to us.”
The food here really is fine."
“...Are you serious” Kang Yu-Hwan tilted his head, still unconvinced.
Baek Hyeon-Jeong suddenly nodded as if she had remembered something.
Our son has a poor sense of taste, doesn't he...”
“Mm Really” Kang Yu-Hwan stared at his wife, waiting for further explanation.
She explained what happened while handing out cutlery.
"I accidentally cooked a very salty stew a while ago, dear.
I must've dropped a bag of salt or something for it to be that salty.
But Jin-Ho just ate it without saying anything.
I tried to taste it after he was done and got a nasty shock, you know"
“Oh, I see.
Jin-Ho must have a dull sense of taste, then.” Kang Yu-Hwan shrugged his shoulders.
Kang Jin-Ho didn't say anything and just faintly grinned.
His taste buds weren’t rubbish; he simply believed that all edible food was precious.
During his first life after his family’s death, he survived almost entirely on instant foods for well over a decade.
Moreover, during his early years in Zhongyuan, he even had to dig through piles of garbage to find something to eat.
He didn't care whether the stew was made with buckets of salt or not; edible food shouldn't be thrown away.
Especially more so when his mother cooked the food.
The mindset of treating all foods preciously had already been engraved deep into his soul.
Kang Jin-Ho faintly smiled and nodded.
“The army food is not bad at all, Mother.”
“Well, that's a relief.”
Kang Jin-Ho took a bite of the food and asked a question that had been weighing on his mind while chewing, “By the way, Yu-Min didn’t come with you”
Kang Eun-Yeong nearly threw her hands up in the air in dismay.
"Oppa, since when did Yu-Min Oppa become a member of our family And why would he come when this occasion is only for family members Hang on, are you going out with Yu-Min oppa"
“...Hmm.” Kang Jin-Ho expressionlessly glared at his little sister, forcing her to pull her head inside the tracksuit's collars.
Kang Jin-Ho then harrumphed.
“Watch your mouth.”
Kang Yu-Hwan scratched his cheek.
“I did phone him before leaving, and he said he had something to take care of and can't come today.”
“Oh, I see.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
It couldn't be helped, then.
“Mm. But, Jin-Ho...”
Kang Yu-Hwan rubbed his chin.
"I was wondering whether I should bring it up with you or not, but...
Maybe it's better that I do.
Yu-Min didn't sound okay when we chatted on the phone."
“Please tell me the details, Father.”
“Something must've happened to him.
His voice was noticeably shaky.”
Kang Jin-Ho's glare immediately turned cold and withdrawn.