Big Life

Chapter 4: Poor and Unpopular (3)

Chapter 4: Poor and Unpopular (3)

“Yes, I am available to talk. Please speak,” Ha Jae-Gun said to the editor on the other line.

Umm… I’m actually worried about this title.

“Is that so…?”

— It's great that a martial arts master transmigrates into a fantasy world, but it's slightly bland without introducing other elements into the story. On top of that, the main character isn't an OP munchkin[1] right from the start, so he has to grow while meeting stronger opponents every time, but his job as an artisan blacksmith makes the story kind of plain.

Ha Jae-Gun barely managed to stop himself from letting out a sigh.

Looking at the countless smiling passers-by on the bustling street filled with many sources of entertainment, he couldn't help but think that things were going great and smooth sailing for everyone else aside from him.

The editor continued…

— Writer Ha, I know that you always put tremendous effort into your writing, but your stories always lose their main fun element whenever you focus too much on the story’s coherence.

"I see…"

— If you want to publish this as is, that is fine as well. However, I will have to reduce the number of guaranteed copies. I don't think you should have high hopes for great sales. The novel could also be forced to end early, so why don't you consider starting off with releasing ebook versions instead of paperback ones?

Ha Jae-Gun could feel his future turning bleak as his legs gave way. He squatted down on the spot. The editor’s voice turned grim.

— At this rate, the sales might not even surpass your previous work.

'What? It might not even surpass my previous title?'

Ha Jae-Gun knew that the editor-in-chief simply gave him objective feedback, but Ha Jae-Gun couldn’t help but feel that his heart was being torn apart upon hearing the editor-in-chief’s words.

— Please think it over and let me know your decision. We still have some time until publication.

"I understand, editor-in-chief. Thank you, I'll be in touch." Ha Jae-Gun replied in a cheerful manner to conceal his true feelings and how hurt he felt from the conversation. Then, he ended the call.

Hae Jae-Gun let out a sigh and retrieved a cigarette.

'God dammit, seriously…!'

His previous work that the editor-in-chief had referred to earlier was the fantasy novel he had worked on last year, and it didn’t perform that well. The novel ended with five volumes, and he barely earned a total of 1.8 million won in royalties from it.

This meant that he received roughly three hundred and sixty thousand won for each volume. The earnings he received were so insignificant compared to the incredulous amount of time and effort he had put in every month to churn out words for the book.

The ebook market kicked off and improved the economics of the industry, but the economic changes didn’t affect Ha Jae-Gun much at all. It was too embarrassing for Ha Jae-Gun to even bring up the royalties he had received from the ebook sales.

After all, his ebook sales barely went over ten thousand won.

"Does it sell? Maybe a million per volume every month?"

Oh Myung-Hoon’s gloating face appeared in Ha Jae-Gun’s mind.

Biting on his cigarette, Ha Jae-Gun grabbed his head with both hands in frustration. Not to mention a million, it was most likely that he wouldn’t get even three hundred thousand from this novel!

After all, the editor-in-chief’s estimations had always been mostly accurate so far.

'Should I just… stop?'

After calculating his monthly rent, monthly utility bills, and miscellaneous expenses, Ha Jae-Gun realized that there was no way he could survive with just three hundred thousand won every month.

He had two choices before him. One, he could either resume working part-time at the convenience store where he had worked last year and continue writing; two, he could immediately stop his writing career and look for a full-time job.

He was already twenty-seven years old, but he was still living a wretched life with barely any savings.

Tears had formed unknowingly, and they were now rolling down his cheeks. Would he ever have a day when he could laugh carefreely? Ha Jae-Gun stood there, staring at the horizon. He didn’t even bother wiping his tears away.

"Be careful on your way back," Ha Jae-Gun said to Park Jung-Jin in the backseat as he alighted from the taxi.

"Yeah—hick! I'll call you tomorrow. Sir, let's go—Hick!" replied the drunk Park Jung-Jin.

Ha Jae-Gun stuffed both hands deep into his pockets and trudged in the direction of his studio apartment. He had purposefully chosen to alight a distance from his one-room apartment, partly because it was inaccessible for vehicles.

Ha Jae-Gun was walking on a deserted trail with a stream on the left and a hill on the right. Ha Jae-Gun decided to walk on this usually deserted path with complicated thoughts filling his mind.


Ha Jae-Gun stopped in his tracks upon noticing something weird in the distance. At the sight of it, he couldn’t help but wonder if the alcohol was making his brain play tricks on him.

As he walked past it, he turned around for a double take.


Ha Jae-Gun's eyes were fixated on the area midway up the hill but beyond the path.

It… was someone's grave.

The grave was covered with weeds, and it seemed that it had long been abandoned by the deceased’s relatives, which made the grave give off a gloomy feeling.

Ha Jae-Gun's attention was on the slanted tombstone.

'Did someone desecrate it?'

Perhaps Ha Jae-Gun was truly under the effects of alcohol because he felt sorry for the owner of the desecrated grave, and he also got curious about the kind of life they had lived when they were still alive.

Ha Jae-Gun also wanted to know why their relatives abandoned them.

Whenever he saw graves, he would always walk past them, but right now, there was an unprecedented feeling in Ha Jae-Gun’s chest.

Anyway, his feelings or whatnot weren’t really important to Ha Jae-Gun right now. It was strange, but Ha Jae-Gun felt like something was dragging him up there. He ascended the hill without a single trail and approached the grave.

'Wow… It’s larger than I thought.'

From far away, the grave looked tiny, but now that Ha Jae-Gun was standing in front of it, he could see that it was actually a massive grave.

Undeterred, Ha Jae-Gun rolled up his sleeves and grabbed the tombstone. With a grunt, he slowly lifted the tilted tombstone upright, and he exerted so much force that his face turned red from the pushing.



At last, the tombstone was now upright. Ha Jae-Gun panted heavily in an effort to catch his breath. He crouched down and pressed his knees on his hand.

"Huff! Huff! Bleggh…!"

He had drunk a ton of alcohol just a while ago, so Ha Jae-Gun felt nauseous after exerting so much strength when he was full of alcohol. His throat felt sour as his gastric juices rose up, and he hurriedly covered his mouth in fear.

Yes, fear. He was afraid that he would vomit what he had eaten for dinner earlier.

Ha Jae-Gun drew in deep breaths and looked down at his clothes and hands. Of course, they were dirty. After all, he had just moved such a huge tombstone on his own without any machinery.

'My clothes are already dirty, so…'

Ha Jae-Gun started pulling out all the weeds around the grave, and he had put in more strength than he had hoped to pull them out upon seeing how deep they had taken root.

It would have been great if he had a weed puller with him, but of course, there was no way he could have known that this would happen, so he didn’t have a weed puller on his person.

He cleaned up the tombstone’s surroundings.

He was just about to head back when…


"Uh—Ah! You scared me!" Ha Jae-Gun fell, and he landed on his butt, which cushioned his fall. A tiny dark-blue shorthair cat had appeared out of nowhere. Right now, it was sitting upright with its tail straight out.

"You aren't a stray, right?" said Ha Jae-Gun upon spotting a pink collar on its neck with the name Rika written on it.

"Rika? Is that your name?"


"Why are you here? Are you lost?"


The cat did nothing but cry while looking at him. Finally, he realized that the cat was sitting on top of a large ramyun carton box.

"What's going on here? This feels weird." A scary thought appeared in Ha Jae-Gun's mind, but his thought was probably influenced by the world’s current state.

Still, Ha Jae-Gun gathered his courage and gulped a mouthful of his own saliva before reaching out to open the carton box. He had to find out if the carton contained illegal items or something related to some crime.

The cat got down from the carton box and stood beside Ha Jae-Gun.

"Hmm? A laptop?" Ha Jae-Gun mumbled as he looked blankly at the laptop that greeted him as soon as he opened the carton box.

Aside from the ancient-looking laptop, there was a fountain pen, a gray cup, and brown horn-rimmed glasses.

The laptop looked ancient, but aside from that, the carton box also contained a fountain pen, a grey cup, and brown horn-rimmed glasses.

“Do these items belong to your owner?"

"Meow meow!"

As if the cat understood his words, it raised its head up high and cried. Jae-Gun carefully reached out and rubbed its neck, and the cat came close to him. The cat seemed to like his touch.

All of a sudden…


1. Munchkin in Korean mostly refers to the solo-playing/developing gamers who try to clear/solve everything on their own and interfere with the game’s progression ☜

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