Chapter 1 Born with a Silver Spoon, but It's Not So Bad
‘Where is this place?’
As Yi Geon opened his eyes, he was greeted by a drab wallpaper and a blackened fluorescent light.
He raised his hand to shield his eyes from the flickering light.
‘Ah, what is this? This hand…’
The thick muscles that once covered his hands like armor were nowhere to be found.
In their place were scrawny, delicate fingers.
It was a disheartening sight.
The tough, biological armor that had once guarded his hands and shins had vanished, leaving behind these frail fingers that could easily be mistaken for a woman's hand—so pale and delicate.
‘How old am I now?’
Yi Geon scanned the room.
It was tiny, with two old desks that looked like they had been picked up from a recycling center.
On them were textbooks for the first and second years of high school.
So, he must be in the first or second year of high school.
Damn, it's embarrassing for a man to be this young.
To suddenly be a teenager again, after having passed thirty—it was ridiculous!
Was this the punishment for his karma that the deity spoke of? Where was the reward, then?
“Geon, are you in your room?”
“Yes, I'm here.”
A weary female voice responded.
Had Yi Geon reincarnated with the name Geon? The deity must have a sense of humor, granting him a small convenience with the same name.
'Haha~ My name is the same, thank you, deity.'
'Ugh! The smell…'
As soon as he opened the door, a pungent smell of fish filled the air.
The small dining table that occupied most of the kitchen space was covered in newspapers, as if someone had been reading them halfway through.
He changed his mind about his previous thoughts.
'Just look at this household atmosphere.'
A typical silver spoon house on the lower end of the social scale.
Even the old desks he wouldn't use if they were free gave off a bad vibe.
‘Oh my God!’
‘Deity, it's nice that my mother is beautiful and all, but couldn't I have at least a silver spoon instead of a gold one? Isn't this too harsh—a downgrade for my second life compared to my first? When protagonists in novels reincarnate, they usually end up in a wealthy family, and it's a given that they become the youngest child of a wealthy family.’
‘I don't want another hellish round of hardships like my previous life.’
‘Isn't this a bit too harsh for a punishment?’
'Ah, shit! Deity!'
A loud thunder roared outside the house, making Yi Geon flinch.
'Are you trying to kill me?'
No, no, deity! I didn't mean that! My second life isn't so bad, I guess.
The pretty woman, who appeared to be his mother, sent a worried glance toward Yi Geon as he contorted his face.
“Are you hurt? Did you get into another fight? You should stop fighting with your friends.”
“Ah, I'm sorry.
No, I mean, Mom, I won't fight anymore.
Yi Geon bowed his head at a 90-degree angle like a low-ranking gang member.
However, he still couldn't understand what was going on as he rubbed his face against his palm.
He felt the unpleasant pain from his swollen cheek, jaw, and puffy eyelids.
Now he could understand.
'Ah, shit! My face is ruined.'
Yi Geon, who had once been feared by the toughest gangsters and avoided even.
Yi Geon's face was swelling up to the point that it looked distorted.
‘Am I really getting beaten up by these punks? This doesn't make any sense.
It's not like it's a hundred against one.
He suddenly remembered that he wasn't the original owner of this body.
He had merely recalled the previous life of the owner, who had already died.
In his past life, when he was a student, he was too busy with his part-time delivery job to fight much with the local toughs.
He only remembered fighting with them a couple of times at most.
Was the owner of this body one of those kids who only cared about eating and fighting?
Not only was his face hurting, but his whole body started to ache.
The battles with the punks must have been fierce.
“Geon, did you learn to speak so formally all of a sudden at school?” Yi Geon's mother inquired about the reason for his sudden formality.
“Ah, I've grown up a bit lately, Mother.”
“That's good, son.
Study hard now that you've grown up.”
“Yes, Mother! I'll study as diligently as if I were collecting debts or…
no, as if I were running a profitable business, Mother.”
Perhaps out of guilt for the deceased original owner, Yi Geon couldn't help but speak more formally.
He was nothing like the original owner in his past life.
Still, he valued trust over money and was not one to indiscriminately cause trouble.
He would not forget to repay the debt to the original owner who had given him this body.
Geon took a closer look around the kitchen.
The old-fashioned gas range looked like a well-used antique, even though they didn't have an induction stove.
The small, old-fashioned refrigerator had a Silver Star logo on it.
A refrigerator with a Silver Star brand? The predecessor of the SG appliance brand!
It was such an outdated item that it wouldn't even be considered an antique.
Would it even be possible to see something like this in the SG Electronics Museum?
He had a taste for classic design, but this was a bit much.
Because of the size of the kitchen, even a basic four-door fridge would be an upgrade over this outdated, low-capacity antique.
Could they even find the legally prohibited Freon gas coolant for it?
He paused, ‘Wait, what year is it?’
He picked up a newspaper from the dining table and checked the date on the top.
April 10th, 1993…
‘I was born in '97 during the IMF crisis, but it's '93 now? This is insane!’
It was four years before he was born.
If he was a high school freshman or sophomore, what year would that be?
That meant this era had no Bibigo Golden Olive Chicken, no Chicago pizza, no homemade macarons and beer.
There were no smart induction ovens, no stone pot electric rice cookers that let the oil flow smoothly, and of course, no foldable 6 smartphones.
Moreover, there was no Netflix, and no 4DX cinemas to provide weekend entertainment.
It was truly a different time.
It was so bad that his face was swelling up.
‘What kind of fate is this?!’
Being born with a silver spoon in your mouth twice was frustrating enough, but being a high school student in 1993?
‘No way, God! Even as a punishment, this is a bit…’
“Lightning keeps striking in this clear sky.
The weather is so strange today.”
His mother was startled, and it seemed like God was quite irritable.
Yi Geon changed his attitude to be more humble.
‘Well, the '90s aren't that bad, God.
The retro vibe is to die for.
The harsh reality that it was currently 1993 made him want to cry.
In just four years, South Korea would face the worst economic crisis in its history, the IMF.
Judging by the state of the household, they were already struggling, and when the time came for him to enter college, the IMF bomb would hit.
Companies would go bankrupt one after another.
Millions of people would suddenly lose their jobs.
A million households would be completely torn apart, leading to total collapse.
The year 1997 would be the darkest time in South Korea's history.
For wealthy cash owners, it would be a golden opportunity.
But for a family like this, it would be a nightmare akin to a one-way ticket to hell.
I'll think of it as accumulating karma, like in-game currency.
Yi Geon, who usually avoided troublesome and strenuous tasks like a clumsy guy holding a knife at a funeral, thought of the military motto: “If you can't avoid it, enjoy it.”
Right now, there was no other way to break through the current situation than to follow the method of choosing the lesser evil over the best.
“Mom, I'm back.”
“Jin-i, you're back?”
What's going on with the atmosphere now?
As the neatly dressed girl in a school uniform entered the house, the previously dim atmosphere brightened up.
She had no makeup on, unlike the heavily made-up high school girls of 2030, but her bare face was quite pretty…
No, it was stunning.
Even by the standards of 2030, her looks were worthy of being the center of a K-pop girl group.
A younger sister? Or an older sister?
“Jin-i, go wash up.”
“Okay, Geon came home early today.”
“Did you finish studying, sister? You must be tired and exhausted; please give me your bag.”
“Geon, you're acting strange today; you used to speak informally.”
“No, sister, I'm just being my usual self.”
The high school girl named Jin-i, who seemed to have a hunch about their switched bodies, looked at him suspiciously.
It seemed like she was an older sister born in the same year.
So, he was going to live in that small room with his older sister?
'It's driving me crazy, living in the same room with my sister!'
Even if they were family, living together with a girl every day would be quite uncomfortable.
Anyway, they'd have to give each other space when changing clothes.
While thinking about his sister, his mother asked him to run an errand.
“Geon, go buy a block of tofu and a bottle of soy sauce.”
His mother handed him a 5,000 won bill and a few 100 won coins.
“Yes, Mom, but which tofu should I buy, imported or domestic?”
“What are you talking about? Just get the cheapest one soaked in water, half a block of tofu.
And get Samhap soy sauce”
The streets were littered with black plastic bags filled with garbage and scattered flyers.
It was a chaotic scene reminiscent of a time before recycling became a part of daily life.
Yet it felt strangely familiar.
Where had he seen it before?
Ah, right! It reminded him of Hipjirona, the trendy area famous for its dried fish and draft beer.
The vibe was similar to the hip cafes of New Apgujeong and Itaewon, popular among Instagram-savvy trendsetters.
Despite its old-fashioned and rustic charm, the atmosphere was cozy and healing.
It was also an excellent spot for snapping Instagram-worthy pictures.
The signs on the various storefronts were not the standardized government designs of 2030, but instead boasted colorful, retro designs full of old-fashioned charm.
Was this the glory of 1993 Seoul he was witnessing?
The cars on the street were all filled with classic vibes.
Among them, the boxy cars particularly caught his attention.
In 2030, electric cars had also embraced the angular retro aesthetic.
However, they couldn't replicate the raw classic feel 100%.
‘Wow, these cars are insane! Seriously, these classics on the street…
Oh, is that the legendary boxy Grandeur?’
He couldn't take his eyes off of it.
Wow~ Seeing the legendary black boxy Grandeur parked in the alley made him want to hit the accelerator and speed down the road immediately.
‘Wow, this is a real man's design! Look at the macho retro vibe! It's killing me!’
Add to that the legendary green local license plate, and Yi Geon swallowed his saliva.
If only he had a phone, he would spend all day taking pictures of these amazing classic cars.
Especially the Hyundai boxy Grandeur, which was a favorite among the older generation of gang leaders, had an incredible real-life presence.
Neither the highest trims of Bentley nor Rolls-Royce could catch up with this legendary boxy charm.
Perhaps only the Tesla Cybertruck could come close to competing?
But where was the E-Mart? Oh, right – it was 1993, before big corporate markets like E-Mart and House Plus had arrived.
In that case, I had to go to a local market to buy what I needed.
As he tried to figure out where he was by looking at the addresses and plaques on each house, he realized how difficult it was.
It was not the time of road name addresses, but the Korean-style numerical addresses, making it impossible to know where he was just by looking at the number.
Moreover, it was an era without smartphone navigation, so he had to rely on asking passersby for directions.
Eventually, after asking several people, he found the local market.
Where is the tofu corner in your store?”
Being polite to the elderly shopkeeper, Yi Geon asked for directions.
The slightly balding shopkeeper looked Yi Geon up and down before pointing to a corner instead of giving a verbal response.
In the year 2030, it would be unimaginable to have such a zero-service-minded shopkeeper.
'Does he want to quit his business? Why is he so grumpy with a customer?'
No, that's not it.
It was before the IMF crisis, and long before the cutthroat competition with large supermarkets took place.
Yi Geon had read on the internet about some neighborhood markets lacking the concept of infinite competition.
“Sir, then could you give me half a block of tofu, please? I'll also take this soy sauce; could you ring them up together?”
Without a word, the shopkeeper stood up, cut the tofu in the yellow box in half, and put it into a black plastic bag.
Yi Geon, taken aback, opened the plastic bag containing the tofu.
“Wow, sir, this seems to be much more than half.
Thank you so much.
You'll be blessed for your kindness.”
“Yeah, study hard.”
“Thank you, sir.
Have a great day!”
After repeatedly bowing at a perfect 90-degree angle, Yi Geon left the market.
'Hooray, scored some extra tofu!'
Having acquired the bonus tofu, Yi Geon thought that the year 1993 wasn't too bad after all.
However, it didn't take long for him to realize that this was a misunderstanding.
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