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Gyeongseong’s Hunter Academy Chapter 4

Joseon People Won’t Just Stand By It

As soon as I woke up in the morning, I washed my face with cold water, and I excitedly put on my uniform.

It was a style of school uniform with a popped collar, usually referred to as “Gakuran”. On top of that, putting a student cap on my head and wearing a long cloak completed the uniform.
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Wearing the complete school uniform, I waved the cloak around and looked at myself in the hand mirror hanging on the wall. It was quite the view.

‘You look great, sir!’
‘Wooooow……!’

After muttering some lines void of any meaning, as I put on my shoes and went out to the yard, the fresh morning air permeated my lungs.
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“Hmph!”

My wallet was full of cash, I also had the lunchbox that the boarding house’s daughter packed for me, and my wristwatch said it was still early in the morning. I had finished getting ready to go to school and opened the gate to go out, but only then did I realize the big problem I had.

I don’t know the way to school!
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“Am I an imbecile……? Seriously……?”

This student called Baek Cheol-yeon had probably gone to the school on the day of the preliminary call-up, but I didn’t receive that memory. So It was a problem I should have obviously thought about beforehand, but……

‘It’s because I’ve become too used to life in the 21st century.’

No matter even if it was somewhere you had never gone to, since it was an era where you could find your way through map and navigation apps, you could get around without a worry, so I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I should have figured out my way to my destination in advance.
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Also, last night after getting to the boarding house, I fell asleep late at night after making plans for my future, so I didn’t think about how to get to school.

Of course, the address of the school was written on the admission notice. But, on top of the fact that I didn’t know the geography of Seoul very well, I was in a period that had a different address system to the 21st century, and in this world, where there was no K-public transport or map apps, I had no idea what to take and where to take it to get to my destination.

‘I should have at least asked Song Byung-oh yesterday…….’

Standing in the middle of the yard, wondering whether I should just take a rickshaw to my destination, I heard the door creaking open behind me.
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I turned around, and from the room where the father and daughter, who owned the boarding house lived, the daughter poked her head out the door and said, looking at me with drowsy eyes.
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“Go to school.”
“Yeah.”
“Take care…….”

And as she yawned and was about to close the door, I urgently asked her if she knew the way to the Gyeongseong Yeopsa Vocational School. The daughter, after hearing my urgent question, just stood there blinking her eyes, and after a while asked,
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“……Sorry? How would I……”
“You don’t know?”
“I mean…… Shouldn’t you know?”
“……Right?”

Of course. My lord, are you telling me a student doesn’t know his way to his own school? Even I thought it was ridiculous, then what would this girl, who didn’t know my circumstances, think? I quickly just changed the subject to avoid creating a ridiculous misunderstanding.
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“Ah, I mean, when I went for the preliminary call-up, I took a cab with my friend. I don’t know how I’ll get there since I’m alone now.”

After hearing my lame excuse, the boarding house daughter stared at me for a bit, and then sat up straight and asked.

“Do you know the street address?”
“Yeah. It’s written here.”
“Hand me that over.”
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I handed over the admission notice that had the school address written on it, and the girl looked at the piece of paper, rubbing her sleepy eyes.
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But the notice wasn’t written in Korean, it was written in Japanese with Chinese characters mixed in.

The people of this generation, especially the young ones, could at least hold conversations in Japanese, but reading it was another matter.
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Talking to her yesterday, it seemed she hadn’t been able to properly attend school, so I wondered if she would be able to read Japanese mixed with Chinese characters, so I asked.
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“Can you read it?”
“I attended a regular school, too.”

After answering, she slightly rolled her eyes and read the address with a pouted expression, and said
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“If the address is 12 Jeongneung-ri, Seungin-myeon, Goyang-gun, then…… I think it’s over there, where Jeongneung is by Bukhansan.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. If you want to get there from here, probably…… If you go straight from here, turn right and head to the main road, you’ll find a tram station. There’s also buses there, so try taking the bus going to Jeongneung. I’m not very sure myself, so ask the bus-girls, and well, if you have a lot of money just grab a taxi……. Yawn…….”
“Thanks.”
“Okay. Take care…….”
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The girl closed the door again, covering her yawning, small mouth. I also left through the gate with a relieved heart..

I was right to ask. I almost ended up being a country boy that couldn’t even get to his school because he didn’t know how to take a bus. People definitely should ask if they don’t know something…….

Going down to the main road through a different street than yesterday, as the girl had said, there was a tram station with a notice board that read “Donamjeong Bus Terminal”.
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‘A tram, huh…….’

If possible, I had always wanted to ride this vintage vehicle of historical significance of Gyeongseong at least once, but the tram’s route only went to downtown Gyeongseong from here, and there was no other route that would go to the outskirts of the city. Since the school was located by Bukhansan, and I would have to go to the outskirts of the city, I had no other choice but to take the bus from here.

As soon as I turned towards the bus station that was nearby, I saw a girl that was standing right there.
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‘It’s a girl from the same school!’

A dark blue “Sailor Moon”-style uniform, and a short cape covering her shoulders. It was exactly the same school uniform that Japanese girl, Renka, was wearing yesterday.
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Of course, this style of uniform was very common in this era, so I couldn’t conclude that she was from the same school from just that, but the reason why I realized she was from the same school was from the colour of her hair.

Even in the 21st century, the hair colour of Awakeneds often changed due to the mana that flowed in them, and the colour varied, depending on their mana pattern.
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For example, Song Byung-oh, the four-eyes I met yesterday, had dark-brown hair with a greenish tint, and Renka had black hair with a bit of a red hue,
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This girl’s hair, which was neatly braided and tied up, was silver with some hints of aqua.

It was obvious she was an Awakened. Aside from the fact that the technology to dye your hair in such a bright, shiny silver didn’t exist in this era, there was no way an ordinary student like her would dye her hair with such a colour.
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‘I can just follow her.’

It was early morning, so there were very few people passing by, and there was no one else other than us at the bus station. On this spring day, with cherry blossoms fluttering over the streets, I stood far behind the girl and waited for the bus.
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But, even though I didn’t mean to keep on looking at her, my eyes stayed on the long daeggi* swinging around on her back…… (*note: Daenggi was a traditional ribbon used to tie up hair)

‘Is it her first time to school as well?’

I contemplated.

The girl nervously averted her gaze from a piece of paper she had in her hand to the sign at the bus station, with a large travel suitcase in hand, and that made me think that the piece of paper she had in her hand probably had instructions about where to take which bus written on it.
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It looked like she hadn’t gone to the preliminary call-up and this was her first time to school, and the large suitcase probably meant that she was going to be staying in the dorms.

Looking at her get flustered like that, a slight doubt about whether it would be okay to follow her grew inside me…….

Soon enough, a bus started to get close. Looking almost like a box, it was a jeep with a protruding front bonnet and a capacity of about 20 people. Above the front window there was a sign hanging, showing the route: “Jeongneung-ri – Jongro – Namdaemun. This was probably the bus that the boarding house daughter had mentioned.
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The door opened, and I stood behind the girl. But then,

‘What’s this?’
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The girl in front of me had suddenly bent over and started taking off her shoes! Hey! What the fuck? I was taken aback by the sudden collapse of common sense. Did you take off your shoes before getting on buses in this period?

For a second, I started wondering if I should be taking my shoes off as well, but fortunately it didn’t seem I had to. The guide girl who was standing by the door was also surprised by the girl’s behaviour,
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“Hey girl! What are you doing?”
“Sorry?”
“Why are you taking your shoes off?”
“Huh……?”
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The silver, daenggi-haired girl stood awkwardly and looked up at the guide girl, with an anxious expression that said she didn’t know what to do.

The guide girl looked at the flustered silver-haired girl, as if bewildered, then saw me standing behind her and asked.

“Hey, hey, wait. You, the other student behind. Aren’t you both students going to the Yeopsa School?”

At that, the daenggi-haired girl also turned around to look at me. Even though she jumped back, surprised, as if she had just realized I had been there this whole time, she still had an expression on her face as if asking me to save her from this puzzling situation.
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I replied to the guide, over the girl’s shoulder.

“Yeah. Why?”
“The car to the Yeopsa School is the opposite direction. You need to take the bus from across the street.”

The guide girl said this and pointed to the other side with her thumb. There was a bus station there, as well. I thought it was obviously this way because there was a girl from the same school waiting here…….
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‘I had been wondering if there was another countryside kid like me who would get lost going to school, but I can’t believe there is.’

I almost got into trouble, tricked by this girl. I bowed to the guide.

“Thank you.”
“No need to thank me…… Ah, it’s coming right now. Hurry up and get on it.”
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As she said, a bus was coming close from the opposite direction. The guide added, looking at the girl.

“And you don’t need to take off your shoes when getting on a bus. Are you someone from the Lee-Jo period*, gosh……. Alright, let’s go!” (*note: Lee-Jo period is an unused term to refer to older Joseon. The joke here is that in modern-day Korea people trick people from the countryside that they should take their shoes off to get on public transport, and make fun of them when they do, saying they’re from the Joseon period)

With the guide’s banging, the bus we almost wrongly got on, went away. The girl, with her face flushed red, followed me silently as we crossed the street.
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After getting on the right bus and asking the guide girl if the bus went to the Yeopsa Vocational School and where to get off, I finally felt relieved.

Phew. That was an eventful morning. Even going to school is this difficult…….

Holding on to the handle to avoid falling over on the rattling bus, I glanced at the girl standing to my right.

‘Anyway, this girl…… How should I put it? She’s amusing.’
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I didn’t mean to watch, but looking at her again, I thought her appearance was quite impressive.

The strange combination of silver hair, uncommon even in the 21st century, in a daenggi-style. And, on top of that, she didn’t even know how to ride a bus properly, and carrying her huge suitcase, she seemed to have recently come to the city from the countryside.
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But, strangely, she didn’t look rustic at all. On the contrary, she seemed quite refined, to put it one way. It gave me the impression that she was maybe the daughter of some nobleman in the countryside.

I kept on observing the girl like this, but rather than interest in her in a sexual manner, it was more curiosity from the sense of nobility she gave off, completely unlike her sloppy first impression.

“Hey……”
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But, it seemed I wasn’t the only one who was looking at the opposite person. The girl timidly approached me, and with her eyes still fixed out the window, softly said.

“I thank thee. It was thanks to thee that I avoided any trouble.”

Wait, what’s with her way of speaking?

It wasn’t something someone from the future like me should be saying, but was this girl seriously from old Joseon?
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The way Song Byung-oh talked like an old man already made me want to punch him, but it was the kind of speaking young people would use in this period,

But, even in this period, wasn’t her speaking too much for a 17 year-old girl? Was she an online cosplayer from the early 2000s…….

“No need to thank me…… Ah, that’s right.”
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Now that I started thinking about her speech, I was able to talk to her comfortably, thinking she was obviously the same age as me, as she was a freshman as well, but in this era it was common for people to enter a few years later than others, or even to stay behind.

So, even if we were in the same grade, there could be a huge gap in age difference. Song Byung-oh, who I met yesterday, could also be older than me.

‘Then that would mean I’m the asshole who spoke so informally from the very first meeting.’

I thought about this, so I asked.
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“You. If it isn’t too much of a bother, your age…….”
“What about mine own age…….”

The girl hesitated for a bit, but immediately raised her head and answered.

“I wast born in the year of the Shin-Yoo*……. If thou are also a freshman, art we not the same age?” (*note: Metal Rooster in the Chinese zodiac)

For fuck’s sake, what year is Shin-Yoo supposed to be.

Argh. Let’s think for a bit. Gab, Eul, Byung, Jeong, Moo, Ki, Gyeong, Shin, Lim, Gyae*… 4567890123… If I wasn’t mistaken, if it’s a year that starts with “Shin”, it means that it’s a year where the last digit is 1 in AD. (*note: reciting the Chinese zodiac)
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And we’re in the year 1939AD. She didn’t look like she was born in 1901, 1911 or 1931 – at least she didn’t seem to be 37, 27 or 7 years old – so the only logical conclusion would be born in 1921, 17 years-old. It was the same age I checked on the family registry yesterday.

“You’re right. We’re the same age.”

As I nodded, the girl glanced at me slightly and timidly spoke to me again.

“It…… It must be destiny that we hath met like this …… May I asketh thy name? I am Yu-ha, from the Lee family.”

She asked me out of the blue, after revealing her name. As she had said, on the name tag hanging from the front her dark blue uniform the name Lee Yu-ha(李流河) was written in Chinese characters. As I was about to show her my name tag and tell her my name,
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I realized that showing her the Japanized name Baekrim, or Shirabayashi (白林), on my name tag I would be hated for being pro-Japan. This was the case yesterday with Song Byung-oh until I cleared up the misunderstanding. On top of that, this girl seemed to be the daughter of some nobleman.

‘You bastard! You’re the son of a traitor!’

…I imagined I might hear something like this, so I covered the name tag with my cloak so it couldn’t be seen and said.
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   …I imagined I might hear something like this, so I covered the name tag with my cloak so it couldn’t be seen and said.
 
“I’m Baek Cheol-yeon.”
  “Baek Cheol-yeon…….”
 
  We rode the rattling bus for another 20 minutes. Then the bus stopped at the foot of a mountain where the entrance to the school was located. As soon as I paid a 5 jeon (note: currency used in the period) coin and got off the bus, I knew we were in the correct place.
 
  ‘So it’s here.’
 
  At the entrance of the mountain trail stood an arched structure, and on it hung a sign that read “Gyeongseong Yeopsa Vocational School”. The school was probably at the end of that path.
 
  I checked my wristwatch. I came out early in case I was late, and because of that I still had about 30 or 40 minutes until the start of class.
 
  ‘I have some time…… Is there somewhere to buy something to eat?’
 
  I looked around the bus station, it was mostly rice fields and houses around, but at least, since it was in front of a school, there was a stationary store and two places that looked like restaurants.
  Among them, I found a place that looked like a gukbap restaurant.
 
  ‘Of course, gukbap is the right choice for breakfast.’
 
  After all, since I woke up yesterday, I had only had barley rice and some bland side dishes that the boarding house daughter had prepared me last night, and I had skipped breakfast this morning, so I was rather hungry. I asked Lee Yu-ha.
 
  “Did you, yet?”
  “Uh…… If thee means breakfast, I hath my own.”
 
  By having her own did she mean she already ate or brought it with her? I supposed she meant the latter. I said.
 
  “Then go on ahead first. I haven’t had anything so I’ll go grab a bite.”
  “Go ahead…….”
  “Don’t go somewhere weird.”
  “…….”
 
  I was worried, letting a girl that couldn’t even ride a bus go by herself. But whatever…… She wasn’t a baby, and the school is right at the end of the trail so she should be okay. And there’s no other students going up the trail, anyway.
 
  After I sent off Lee Yu-ha first like that, I walked into the gukbap restaurant. I said gukbap restaurant, but it was actually a restaurant that served all kinds of things, from seolleongtang to noodles like udon. It would be the equivalent of a kimbap restaurant in the 21st century, I guess.
 
  “Hey! If it isn’t you.”
 
  As soon as I entered the store, a thick-haired four-eyes suddenly called out to me from the corner. It was Song Byung-oh.
 
  “Oh, hey.”
  “A bourgeoisie like you in a poor shop like this… Oh sorry, I was supposed to say this kind of things. Come on, sit here and eat with me. I just ordered.”
  “Sure.”
 
  I ordered a seolleongtang and sat next to him. There weren’t too many customers, just a group of 4 boys wearing the same school uniforms as us a few tables over eating udon.
 
  I suddenly remembered and asked Song Byung-oh.
 
  “You, how old are you?”
 
  Fortunately Lee Yu-ha was the same age as me, but due to the period I couldn’t expect someone in my grade to just be my age. As he could be older than me it would be better to just ask and make sure.
 
  Song Byung-oh raised his glasses and answered, speaking as if why I had even asked that.
 
  “Obviously, I was born in the 10th year of Taisho.”
 
  For fuck’s sake, couldn’t you just say you were born in 1921? I wanted to hit him so bad!
 
  Pleeeeaaaase let’s just use AD!
 
  Stop using all this Shin-yoo and Taisho crap…… It’s so fucking confusing…….
 
  “But, is there any reason to ask my name? Gyeongseong Yeopsa only accepts 17 year-olds as freshmen, so you should be the same age as well.”
  “Huh……?”
 
  It’s a higher education institution, a vocational school, but they only accept 17 year-olds as freshmen? We weren’t in a period where compulsory education according to age was implemented like in modern society, so how was this possible?
 
  Thinking about it, it might be because of the characteristic that it’s a “Hunter Academy”. My case in the 21st century, where I my skills awakened at a late age, was an outlier, and it was common for children to Awaken when they were 15 or 16, and your chances of Awakening drastically reduced as you got older.
 
  So, then, it probably meant that they didn’t look at any other qualifications and as long as you had become an Awakened by the age of 17, you could enrol in this school.
 
  ‘Anyway, that means that all my classmates were born in 1921 and are 17 years-old. Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about age difference.’
 
  As I was thinking about this and that, the hot seolleongtang, with some rice submerged in it, was in front of me.
 
  “It’s here. Alright, let’s eat.”
  “Oh…….”
 
  I wondered what seolleongtangs in this era would taste like. I grabbed a spoonful of the hot seolleongtang soup and rice, and put it in my mouth.
 
  “Mmh!”
   
  Unlike the 21st century, where a lot of people only care about well-being and health, the rich taste of MSG rushed into my mouth……. Yes, this is the taste of homemade food. I opened my mouth in admiration.
 
  “This seolleongtang is so good, isn’t it? The soup is so thick……”
  “Lad, have you ever come here before?”
  “It’s just a way of saying things. Don’t pay it too much attention.”
  “Sigh, you’re so boring.”
 
  As I was eating my seolleongtang like that, conversing with Song Byung-oh, the boys eating their udons on the other table frowned and started talking between themselves,
 
  『Joseon-jin urusaina.』
  『Meiwakutoyumo shirannokka.』
 
  They were making fun of us, saying “Joseon people are so noisy” and “Don’t they know they’re a nuisance?”
 
  ‘They piss me off.’
 
  We hadn’t even talked that loudly. Was exchanging a few words that much of a nuisance? It pissed me off that some Japs were picking on us, a couple of Joseon people eating at a Joseon restaurant on the land of Joseon.
  But,
 
  ‘Let’s just relax…….’
 
  I silently ate my gukbap.
 
  I had already made my mind to graduate school. This kind of things was going to keep on happening regularly, and if I cause any trouble every time, not only would school life be difficult, I would have a hard time graduating. It was obvious that school rules would be applied stricter against a Joseon student like me if a fight broke out.
 
  Besides, the Japanese guys sitting across from us looked like thugs. It was best to avoid interacting with guys like them.
 
  “Let’s go. I’ll pay.”
  “Huh? Oh, okay.”
 
  We had already finished eating, and it was almost time to start heading to school. I took a few coins out of my wallet, put them on the table and said,
 
  “Thanks for the good.”
 
  After saying this, as we were about to leave the store, we bumped into the person that was coming in.
 
  “……!”
 
  A girl with black hair with hints of red –
  It was Renka.
 
  『Oh, Shirabayashi-san.』
  “Uh…… Renka?”
 
  I was taken aback, having run into an unexpected person at an unexpected place and time.
 
  …Wait, what is she doing in a place like this?
 
  Of course, they served Japanese food like udon and soba here, but it was just a shabby restaurant. It was just the equivalent of a 21st century gimbap store. It wasn’t the kind of place that you would expect a noble “Lady”, the only daughter of a duke that was also the head of a huge Yeopsa association, to be in, in the morning.
 
  As if she had noticed my wariness, Renka slightly tilted her head, smiled and said.
 
  『I was just checking around and came in, you were here by coincidence. Did I surprise you? I’m surprised myself.』
 
  ……Just checking? Coincidence?
  Something felt off, so I said, the way Song Byung-oh would.
 
  『I never imagined a Lady of such high status like you to come to such a modest restaurant.』
  『Am I not allowed to come to places like this?』
  『Of course you can, but…….』
 
  As I was standing on the doorway, exchanging a few words with Renka, the Japanese students from earlier who had been bothering us earlier started to talk smack again.
 
  『Fucking Joseon people, they’re noisy as hell from when they come in ‘till they go out -. And now even with a girl.』
  『Hahahaha. Just let ‘em be, Murasaki.』
  『Seriously, whether they’re adults or men or women, they don’t realise how much of a nuisance they are. They’re so uncultured, SO uncultured!』
 
  I closed my eyes, put my hand to my eyebrows and took a deep breath.
 
  ‘Sigh, let’s control ourselves. Bear and forbare…….’
 
  Maybe I wouldn’t have cared if this was earlier, but now Renka was here. If I, a Joseon person, got into a fight with those Japanese students who would Renka, a Japanese aristocrat, side with?
 
  But right at that moment, I opened my eyes and looked back as I noticed that long black hair passing by me,
 
  ‘Renka?’
 
  Renka walked past me and walked towards the Japanese boys, and,
 
  Slap!!
 
  She had got to the guy that looked like the leader, and slapped him fiercely.


Gyeongseong’s Hunter Academy

Gyeongseong’s Hunter Academy

경성의 헌터 아카데미
Score 9.2
Status: Ongoing Type: , Author: , Released: 2021 Native Language: Korean
I woke up during the Japanese Colonial Era. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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