Infinite Rebirth: The Villain - Chapter 8
As a result, the commotion grew even louder, and more security personnel were deployed to the courthouse.
The journalists who happened to be in the audience seats enthusiastically typed away, turning the events in this courtroom into news articles.
From the very beginning, the content was suitable for clickbait, and the content was provocative. In particular, the mischievousness of the protagonist of the case, a boy named Lee Kyung-wan, was so abundant that it was more than enough to become a hot topic among netizens.
Indeed, the journalists’ foresight was spot-on, and on the internet, this case was referred to as the “Six Senses Incident,” and many people found it entertaining.
After the verdict was handed down in court, Kyung-wan was sent to a juvenile detention center.
The director of the detention center, Ko Baek-cheol, looked at Kyung-wan’s face while putting down the documents he had been examining. Amidst his composure, an underlying sense of boredom could be sensed.
When you’ve seen so many troubled youths like Director Ko has, you can usually make an estimate of whether this kid is a troublemaker or not. However, when it came to Kyung-wan, Director Ko couldn’t make such an estimate. Most of the kids who caused trouble and ended up in the juvenile detention center were either troubled due to unfortunate family backgrounds, or they were unruly kids who lacked guidance, or they were impulsive and couldn’t control their temper.
In other words, if a kid was sent to a juvenile detention center rather than a correctional facility, there was a significant possibility that they could be rehabilitated into responsible citizens.
However, whether he looked at the documents or directly at Kyung-wan, there was no indication that this boy fit any of those categories. No matter how much of a sex offender he might be, there was no sign that he felt any guilt. Perhaps that’s why the judge had sentenced him to a maximum of two years in the juvenile detention center.
Director Ko recalled the contents of the documents once more. The father committed a murder-suicide, leaving only his child behind? Shouldn’t we start with a psychiatric evaluation?
But with the meager budget, sending him to a psychiatric facility was a burden.
“Don’t cause trouble here.”
Director Ko issued a warning in advance. Of course, he didn’t expect the boy to understand at the first word. However, living within the facility, he would eventually learn what he should and shouldn’t do.
“Teacher Jung! Take him with you!”
Kyung-wan followed the prison guard known as Teacher Jung. Teacher Jung had instructed Kyung-wan to address the other guards as “Teacher.” Kyung-wan nodded in agreement.
The juvenile detention center was different from a regular prison or a juvenile correctional facility.
Could one describe it as a halfway point between a prison and a school?
It placed a strong emphasis on cultivating social skills and rehabilitation through basic education in subjects like Korean, English, and math, as well as various programs. Naturally, there were no hard labor or Emperor’s Forced Labor-like tasks here.
“This is Lee Kyung-wan, who’s joining us this time. Everyone, please get along with no issues.”
“My name is Lee Kyung-wan. I hope we can all get along.”
With a composed expression, Kyung-wan lowered his head and surveyed those looking at him. There was no one displaying interest; they all had indifferent or cold gazes. There was no liveliness. Well, if they had realized that more than half of their lives had gone down the drain, they probably had no room for malicious interest in others.
If he had been more of a troublemaker or antisocial, he would have been sent to a juvenile correctional facility instead of a juvenile detention center, where the crimes were more severe.
“This is your room.”
“It’s small, isn’t it?”
Teacher Jung frowned at Kyung-wan’s response. He didn’t quite appreciate the different reaction from the new arrivals he usually encountered. Such civil servants typically didn’t like dealing with variables.
He soon introduced Kyung-wan to his roommate.
“This is Kong Tae-sik. Get along well.”
“Hello, I’m Lee Kyung-wan.”
When Kyung-wan shook hands and greeted him, Kong Tae-sik nodded in response with an inscrutable expression.
Afterward, Kyung-wan received personal belongings and instructions on how to live from Teacher Jung. The emphasis was on the system of rewards and penalties that he explained in detail.
In a nutshell, if I were to explain it, it’s a system where they reward you with points for listening well, being good, and living diligently, but they give you demerits if you act like a jerk and cause problems. The key point here is that this reward-penalty system serves as the criteria for things like parole in a prison setting and release from a juvenile detention center.
For the boys who wanted to get out of this messed-up place as soon as possible, it was a sufficient motivator to aim for points.
The reason Teacher Jung emphasized the reward-penalty system was obvious. It was because it was efficient in controlling the kids.
“Do you understand?”
“As you know, education will take place, but don’t think of this place as a typical school.”
Kyung-wan nodded. It felt like they had mixed the military with school. Then, was the military like a prison?
Anyway, life was thoroughly controlled, and the days progressed according to a schedule.
Dinner was quite decent. It wasn’t a prison, and it was better than the food at a juvenile detention center, right? They say these days, even prisons have better food than the military.
After dinner, they did laundry and bathed, and then there was something called “mental education,” which involved listening to the radio or watching TV.
Only after enduring a program filled with preachy messages about how people should live correctly did they finally get some free time.
[“Ahh! Don’t lie down!”]
[“Room 14! I said don’t lie down!”]
The sound coming from the speaker in the room prompted Kyung-wan to sit up and lean against the wall before the speaker turned off. It was Room 14, where Kyung-wan was staying.
Kong Tae-sik, who had been assigned to the same room as Kyung-wan, looked at him and asked,
“Why did you come here?”
Kyung-wan replied, “I think I overdid the extermination of harmful animals.”
“What’s ‘harmful animals’?”
“What do you mean by ‘extermination’?”
“Getting rid of them.”
“Ah. So you killed something like a cat?”
“I didn’t kill it.”
“Something like that.”
Without Kyung-wan asking, Kong Tae-sik explained why he had come here.
“I’m a habitual thief.”
His home environment was dire—his mother had left, and his father came home drunk. Eventually, the boy ran away, and for a minor with no guardian, the world was too cold.
“The background of the crime of habitual theft had such circumstances.
Kyung-wan nodded. To him, it was just a cliché story.
“Yeah. We have to make a living somehow.”
In response to his nonchalant words, Kong Tae-sik’s expression stiffened. And he didn’t say anything more.
At Kong Tae-sik’s reaction, Kyung-wan inwardly sighed.
Why would Kong Tae-sik confess to his own crime? It was because of the desire to gain a group of people to share their hearts through the commonality of sin.
He must have been lonely. Considering the background he had revealed, he could only have been lonely.
But Kyung-wan had no intention of forming a relationship that would lick each other’s wounds through the medium of sin. Habitual theft? Unfortunate backgrounds? It was all just that, mere struggles and suffering. The attempt to establish empathy between themselves through such trivialities was pathetic.
“What on earth does he know about me?”
Kyung-wan decided to offer advice that would become blood and flesh to this pitiful child’s sympathy.
“Loneliness is also a skill.”
“What do you mean?”
“Think it over. You’ll figure it out.”
Awkward silence hung in the air once more. Only the sound of commercials could be heard from the small television.
Free time was over, and everyone had work to do. That was writing their diaries.
The time allotted for writing in the diary was limited, and the diaries were collected for inspection the following morning. Naturally, if the diaries were written diligently, there were rewards. The diaries were used as material to understand the boys’ psychology and guide them, so it was indeed helpful in the rehabilitation and reform process when written sincerely.
It was also a good way to secretly report any unjust incidents that the correctional officers or, rather, the teachers might not be aware of.
Kyung-wan also wrote in his diary.
I thought they were going to inspect our rear ends, so I thoroughly cleaned mine, but luckily, they didn’t inspect. It seems different from prison.
The room is clean, and the food is good. I don’t like how busy the daily routine is, but they say we’ll have heating in the winter, so it seems like a comfortable place with a full stomach.
“Teacher Jung, have you seen this?”
“What is it?”
When senior teacher Kim showed a diary, Teacher Jung asked what was going on. Then, he raised an eyebrow as he looked at the contents of the diary shown by Teacher Kim.
“It seems like this kid went to some sort of training camp.”
“Pay close attention. This one is not your average guy.”
The boys who came to the juvenile center might not have criminal records, but those in the know had ways to find out. The teachers at the juvenile center already knew what had brought Kyung-wan there.
If they didn’t pay attention to a boy who had turned six healthy boys into cripples and idiots, then who should they pay attention to?
There were kids who had come in due to injuries, but Kyung-wan’s propensity for violence was more than enough reason to be cautious.
= = = = =
“Ah… I don’t want to get up.”
Kyung-wan rubbed his eyes and reluctantly got out of bed. It was the beginning of a long day of work.
He washed up, conducted a headcount, and then made his way to the training center. According to Teacher Jung, who was guiding him, he should be grateful for being born in a good era. In the past, middle and high school students used to mix together for education sessions like, ‘This is what happens to your teeth if you smoke,’ but in today’s world, where online education has developed so well, you could learn whatever you wanted, adjusting the pace and level to suit your needs. What a wonderful world it was.
Not only the basic humanities subjects like language, literature, and math, but also various certification exams related to computers and skills could be studied if you wished. It meant that even a boy’s home graduate could become a law school student, just like in the dramas.
Kyung-wan nodded, and Teacher Jung led him to a computer. A headset, keyboard, and mouse were placed there. From now on, this would be Kyung-wan’s seat.
As he watched Teacher Jung set up the computer, Kyung-wan recalled his words. Could he study whatever he wanted? Could he succeed in society?
It was a hopeful statement, directed at those who had the aptitude for learning.
Kyung-wan stared blankly at the educational video playing on the screen. It was indeed well-taught. These instructors had made a name for themselves, breaking through the fierce competition in South Korea’s private education boom.
However, human memory is fleeting, and no matter how much the top-notch instructors tried to cram knowledge into their heads, retaining it ultimately depended on one’s own abilities and efforts.
“Are you able to concentrate?”
“Just a little longer,” he replied.
“Perhaps, while watching the lecture videos, the teachers who had been quietly monitoring from behind were discussing as they observed the screen, fearing that someone might accidentally enter the wrong website. It’s been one night now. To understand what kind of person Kyung-wan was and to guide him, they needed to figure out who he was.
And on the second day, Kyung-wan finally caused an incident.
“You hit a friend,” Director Ko Baek-cheol called Kyung-wan for counseling. Kyung-wan responded with a calm expression.
“He’s not a friend, but it’s true that I hit him.”
“Well, you know, it’s something that commonly happens among young males full of vigor. It’s like establishing a pecking order.”
“We don’t have that kind of thing at this school,” Director Ko said. There may be differences in how we treat age, but there’s no pecking order here. These kids have lived rough lives without anyone’s protection. The basic principle was to separate them thoroughly from each other, except for physical education classes, to guide them on what a proper pecking order structure is. Keeping them in a unified communal life under the supervision of teachers, so they don’t form groups outside the teachers’ view. The formation of such groups only leads to a negative influence on the children.
Kyung-wan lowered his head.