Black Corporation: Joseon

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The maniac who was crazy about all kinds of fields such as military and steampunk had been reincarnated.
However, his father was King Sejong the Great?

The mania-wise king and his crazy maniac son.
Along with the ministers, and countless humans who were getting exploited.

Even today, the night of Joseon was filled with the light of overtime.

Associated Names
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BCJ
블랙기업조선
Related Series
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Recommendations
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Recommendation Lists
  1. Interesting Historical Webnovel
  2. My Library Of Treasures
  3. An actual attempt at ranking
  4. Time Travel 101
  5. Ancient Times

Latest Release

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02/26/24 Blossom Translation c167
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02/06/24 Blossom Translation c154
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magicmau5
New magicmau5 rated it
January 31, 2024
Status: c822
Okay.... sigh. I have to say that I was really looking forward to reading such a popular novel. I even spent quite a while using multiple MTL engines to translate up to chapter 822, because I was really trying to give it a chance.

Pros:

Author did a ton of research for this novel, he needs to be commended for it. Although there are some errors which I'll elaborate on later.

Author has a pretty decent sense of humor, and the internal monologue of the MC (Hyang) was funny at times when he... more>> was frustrated with his father or his inability to create 21st century social or economic conditions in a medieval time period.

MC turns the Joseon people into trigger happy guys who love artillery and guns, even the women, who were already talented in archery. My fave quote was, "What kind of country is this? Everywhere you look, there's nothing but cannons! This isn't the Land of Flowers, it's the Land of Cannons!" - Dom Henrique of Portugal (aka Prince Henry the Navigator), after visiting Joseon for the first time (Ch 445).

MC was really funny about bringing some modern music to Joseon times, such as when he worked together with his younger brother to make ancient adaptations of the theme songs of the Dollars movie trilogy. The songs were originally from the old "spaghetti western" style film trilogy: A Fistful of Dollars (1964) ; For a Few Dollars More (1965) ; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). They star Clint Eastwood and are famous for the gun fighting scenes, which is really appropriate for the gun loving ancient Koreans lmao. This was in chapters 620 and 621.

What was even funnier is that MC started considering (end of chapter 621) how to adapt Darth Vader's marching theme called The Imperial March (music by John Williams, from the Star Wars movie Empire Strikes Back). Actually, he had been considering it in an earlier chapter but I thought it was just a random joke. Nope, apparently he's actually planning on adapting it and wants to research brass instruments like trumpets and trombones.

Cons:

The novel has quite a bit of action, but in over 800 chapters I read so far, the MC only directly participated in battle once. This is because he was a crown prince and later the ruler of his country, so he couldn't go to the front lines of battle. But it makes the story not as interesting, because although the MC in instrumental in creating weapons and tactics, he's almost like a hands off shopkeeper because his true interest lies in research and not in governing. He does basically anything he can to get out of doing any real work aside from research.

There are some problems with inaccuracies in historical research by the author, mainly about American history/culture (ch 759) : "'No matter what happens, I have no choice but to go with the American style.' The American culture of not being able to live properly without a car was slowly emerging due to the large land area and low population density." Although the population density is a little lower in rural areas in the US compared to heavily populated S Korea, the "not being able to live properly without a car" is due to capitalism in favor of American car companies, not a population problem. In the early 20th century, when trolleys and trains were spreading all over the country, the car companies felt a sense of crisis and intervened to buy up the small trolley companies. Then they proceeded to shut down the trollies, except for the historic one in San Fransisco. I live in a town where you can still see the old trolley tracks on a few hills, which is evidence of the vanished public transportation system (later partially replaced by buses, which basically only the poor or students use). We could also have been a land of trains like the UK, Europe or Japan, but we chose to favor car companies instead of train companies. Now, because of this capitalistic influence, passenger trains in the US don't have right of way. They have to stop and give way to freight trains, which is the opposite of practice in the UK and other countries where they focus on using trains in public transportation. This makes it hellishly slow to travel by passenger train, so that your scheduled arrival time becomes several hours later when you try to travel by train for a longer distance. It's so frustrating that most people get sick of it and just rent a car if they don't want to use their own car or don't own a car.

This is just one of the many policy pitfalls that happens to a country that is too concerned with capitalism — a lot of things become privatized that need to be in the hands of the public, such as long distance transportation and healthcare. I don't like that the focus of this story is heavily focused on championing capitalism for this reason, because I feel like the future of the Korean
Spoiler

empire

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in the book will turn into something like the IRL America, where so many people suffer because of things like lobbyists and even actual bribery in the judicial system.

Although MC has one wife and 2 concubines, the author seems to have a complete disdain for romance, and there is about 0.00001% of romantic development between him and his harem. I guess if you hate harem, this is a plus, but it gets to the point where readers know almost nothing about the lives of his wives and it skips that plot in favor of the lives of his sons. The author makes a point of having the government promote female equality in the workplace because of the ever present danger of "lack of talent" due to low population but I have this feeling that the author doesn't like women? I mean, in the New World that Koreans explore before Europeans in this fictional version, there are tribal elders who are women but the author only mentions them very briefly... which leads to the main reason why I dropped this novel.

I think the author is racist, specifically against the indigenous people of the Americas. At least, based on what was written, emphasized, neglected, or omitted in the novel, the author has an attitude regarding indigenous people from the Americas that is consistent with racist ideology. I hope those reading this review don't disregard what I'm saying here because one of my college degrees was in Ethnic Studies (the study of racism, xenophobia, ethnic conflict, etc) and I have taken a wide variety of history courses in different types of Native American history, as well as anthropology.

I think that the author was very good in his diligent research, and for the most part is a model example of a web novel author in that aspect. However, he did manage to get some things wrong about America as I mentioned earlier. I was born and raised in Oregon, a place where the forests are huge, which is similar to the virg*n environment of Sejong (MC's dad) and Hyang's (MC) time in their version of the New World. Oregon and other places in America and Canada, especially areas of vast forested land, are plagued with annual forest fire problems. This is because it was the habit of Native Americans prior to the coming of Europeans to be nomadic. Being nomadic wasn't just an issue of their technology (which is what the author claims) — the main problem was the forests. Forests in North America need to be lit on fire during winter or rainy seasons (this has been confirmed by modern science) in order to cull the underbrush which naturally accumulates. By building static infrastructure, especially structures vulnerable to fire made of wood like the ones the Koreans made in the novel due to limitations of lack of materials, the Koreans would be inviting future natural disasters like enormous annual forest fires that plague the IRL American and Canadian forested wilderness (it's not just a problem of climate change).

Maybe because the author wasn't familiar with the climate in the US/Canada, they weren't able to anticipate what would happen with a sh*tload of wooden structures in an area that needs to be culled with fire during the winter. I guess the lands where the Koreans pioneered would be fine for a few decades, but after that the underbrush which had not been given regular fire treatment during winter would be like a enormous pile of kindling. And any enemy Native warrior who was smart enough to take advantage of the weakness of wooden housing that the Koreans made would have definitely tried to burn down their houses at least a few times. I think that the author must not have many readers who lived in the rural/countryside US who are familiar with this kind of thing (forest fires are mainly a problem of US states in rural areas because the cities naturally don't have tons of trees to burn), or else their readers would definitely have told them of their error so they could correct it in time.

I also don't like how the author fell into the trap of portraying the Native Americans as ignorant savages with only "Neolithic technology". Basically the author dismissed the knowledge of the indigenous people as "oral history, no written language, useless" and only gave a small amount of praise for their natural physical fitness as warriors. This was a big disappointment to me.

First of all, the Mayans had the most advanced system of writing in the pre-Columbian Americas, which they used to create their famous Codices (which utilized their hieroglyphic script on Mesoamerican bark paper). These were later stolen or destroyed by conquering Europeans. So it's incorrect to say that all Native peoples of the Americas had no written script. Moreover, the Mayan civilization in particular had talents who engaged in creating calendars, studied astronomy, invented hydraulics and filtration systems, created chocolate, medicines, and other agricultural or scientific feats. I could list other technologies that native peoples of the Americas had before Europeans arrived, but that would be annoying... I'm disappointed that the author didn't pay attention to this research area.

Also, the author made an error about Native people's living conditions prior to colonization. While it's true that many Native people in North America used leather hide tents and "huts" to live in, that's not true for the whole continent. In places along the PNW coast, as well as in eastern parts of the US/Canada, Native tribes were used to living communally in large wooden structures called "longhouses". There was also a primitive method of splitting wood (in the East and West coasts) not with a metal axe but by taking advantage of natural flaws in the wood and spitting them lengthwise with stones in order to make canoes or housing. Imho, a longhouse is too big to be called a "hut" but I think that was what the author was referring to. If he was referring to the a longhouse as a hut, to me that terms seems derogatory.

It's great that the fictional version of kings
Spoiler

and later emperors

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of the Korean peninsula were able to coexist fairly peacefully with the indigenous people, strive to avoid discrimination, gave them smallpox vaccinations/modern medical treatment, and let them buy Imperial mainland goods. That alone is a monumental improvement on ens*avement by Europeans in reality, who aimed to eradicate their culture and history, and basically treated them as animals without souls. However, the author doesn't have much knowledge of Native American culture and customs, at least not as much as a person who has lived near to Native American reservations for much of my life (which is understandable) or someone who also deliberately studied their history in college. If you're familiar with indigenous culture and pre-European customs like me, you'd know that the indigenous people of North America, Central and South America were not completely ignorant.

A big point of contention I have with the plot of this novel is that those natives who lived in the vast forested north (now Canada and America) have a long history of being forest caretakers. Their purpose in living a semi nomadic or nomadic lifestyle was often to follow the movements of animals they hunted, but also to allow themselves to burn the forests during winter or rainy seasons. This was based on millennia of wisdom from their ancestors. Moving from nomadic to static housing structures would definitely be opposed on a cultural basis by the native peoples, and although many would be attracted to the money they could make with the Korean colonists, I am sure that a large proportion of native peoples would oppose living in permanent structures because it would be diametrically opposed with the wisdom of their forefathers. I mean, the indigenous people of that region had no modern science but they did have many years of experience and oral history that would have taught them to avoid living in permanent housing in order to maintain the health of their forests (and thus, maintain a sustainable source of food, etc).

Native people of North America paid close attention to the health of ecosystems in a time when almost no one cared about the environment or knew much about biology. That was due to religious reasons. Their religions were based on deities and creation myths from the animal kingdom, and if you analyze the source of their spiritual and shaman customs, you can tell that maintaining proper ecosystem balance, managing relationships with the land and animals, was of utmost importance to them. I think that it's unrealistic for the author to portray the native people who encountered Sejong's expeditionary forces to readily treat their technology with reverence. Because it would be very obvious for anyone who observed the manufacture of products, mining and other relatively primitive steam punk technology employed by the Koreans that that kind of technology is harmful to the environment. And therefore, the indigenous peoples would have heavily resisted industrialization because it was in direct opposition to their culture of maintaining harmony with the environment. Of course, there are always Native people who like to embrace capitalism in favor of making a quick buck, but that mainly would happen in the wake of a policy like the US which aimed at eradicating Native languages and culture. Since the Koreans didn't want to eliminate Native culture or religion, I would think that indigenous people who were able to maintain their cultural heritage would have had some opposition to changes in thinking towards capitalism which takes advantage of spoiling virg*n resources and not thinking in the long term. Native Americans were famous for considering the future of their people in terms of many generations, while European and Asian pioneers were stuck in a thinking pattern focused on one or two generations of riches and success. Which is another area where I think the two types of mindsets would have had a significant clash.

I'm also disappointed in the lack of research on indigenous peoples in the Americas because they could have taught or enhanced several skills for the Koreans, which they had honed over millennia. Modern policemen, the military, scholars and those in sports medicine have since proved these skills to be highly superior to European or Asian standards. I'm talking about:
tracking
hunting
edible plant identification
wilderness survival skills
camouflage, stealth arts
ultra long distance running (as in ultra marathon distances, without injury)

These skills are often inseparable from their religious views and practices (their skills are directly related to their viewpoints). This is especially true for the skills in tracking, stealth, and ultra long distance running. Native people of the Americas developed highly advanced methods of tracking, including animal signs identification and a natural rolling gait (style of walking) used in tracking small and large game. These methods can be used to track people who are lost or kidnapped and in warfare, which is strange that the author didn't mention them at all so far as of ch 822. Without access to horses, native peoples in Mexico (the Mexica, or Aztecs) and related Uto-Aztecan tribes in North America practiced frequent long distance running in order to deliver messages and also as part of their religious observance. All of the skills I mentioned can be learned about though normal methods of research, which is why I was disappointed that the author, who has a hyper focus on artillery and warfare, failed to do due diligence on Native skills which could have brought Korean military methods a lot of benefits. As it is, I find it distasteful that the author didn't manage to avoid the trap of describing the indigenous peoples as an ignorant and childish people who were mainly driven by base desires and a competitive spirit.

Probably my biggest issue with this novel is the arc about the Mexica (Aztec) conquest, in which the huge opportunity to change a negative aspect of history for the better by a reincarnator was completely wasted.

Spoiler

In my honest opinion, I don't think that large scale use of human sacrifices by the leaders of the Mexica warranted genocide by conquering nations. Hyang chose to take all the Mexica warriors as government s*aves, sentenced to hard labor overseen by their indigenous enemies. What resulted was basically genocide, because the once populous Mexica tribe was whittled down to what the author euphemistically calls "a minority in Mexico" where it used to be the majority. I find that kind of decision reprehensible. I think some readers would say you can't judge his actions by modern standards, but what's the point of a rebirth from modern times into the past if you can't fix some of the big mistakes that people made in the past? The biggest hatred that modern day Chicanas like me have of Spaniards and the real conquistadors was that the indigenous people were taken as s*aves and treated little better than beasts. Most of the Mestizo people in Central America and further south were the product of r*pe, and all the cultural artifacts and archeological treasures were either burned, destroyed or looted by the conquering Europeans. The author made the Koreans in this fictional version of history seem like the good guys because they championed the cause of the downtrodden enemies of the Mexica, but I feel like the author still disregarded the inherent dignity and worth of indigenous life by basically annihilating the Mexica people from the face of the earth. Maybe there are people who are reading this that say, "all the Mexica people were disgusting and worthless because of their human sacrifice customs", but I just want to say in response to that: there are countless good people who are descendants of the Mexica. People who became scientists, doctors, religious leaders, philanthropists, actors, and more... what was wrong was the superstitious ideology of the time. Once that was eliminated, the descendants of the Mexica became normal people. Isn't this common sense? Because of that, I am quite disappointed with the author's "Mexica punishment" treatment.

I felt uneasy, disgusted and disappointed when reading the section on the Mexica for many reasons. I really felt like the author had deeply seated anti-indigenous racist sentiments (believe me, I'm very familiar with that kind of mentality, having grown up around the distorted thinking of those who hate indigenous people and their culture). Maybe that's because about half of my ancestors were indigenous people from Mexico like the Mexica, so I was offended by a lot of sh*t the author wrote about in the section on the New World/New Land (a term which in and of itself can be considered racist). There are a few examples of humiliating descriptions or plots about the Mexica and nearby tribes, but the worst one is probably the friendly warrior who met the Koreans during the first "peaceful" foreign delegation to Tenochtitlan. The native warrior was a captive who was going to be used in human sacrifice, and when a Korean soldier yelled out an expletive at him, he misunderstood that his nickname in Korean was that expletive. Then, from that point on, that poor Native schmuck was called that expletive by all the Koreans he worked with — simply because it's hard to pronounce his actual name. WTF author???!!! Can you be any more offensive???? Okay, using that language misunderstanding as a joke was fine at first, but when it became a running gag, I was quite offended and annoyed. Is it really that hard to pronounce his real name? Even if it is, Westerners also think that Asian names are hard to pronounce, but we put up with it because we don't want to look like complete ***holes. I mean, that's common decency, to strive hard to pronounce someone's name in their native language as correctly as possible. Insisting on calling that poor guy by an expletive is a real copout... in short, it pissed me off.

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I guess it wasn't helped by a lot of comments I saw from Korean netizens on the chapters about the Aztec conquest which were mainly, "exterminate the cancerous Aztecs, Aztecs deserve to all die, the Aztecs were idiots" and similar. There are many cases where I read either blatantly antisemitic (there was a joking comment about "heil hi*ler"), racist, or otherwise extremely offensive comments (such as a comment wishing the Koreans would develop and drop some atomic bombs on Japan when the reader was annoyed by a Japanese character) while reading this web novel. Which is quite saddening and disappointing. <<less
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kjpo34
kjpo34 rated it
January 20, 2022
Status: c600
This is so great. I am learning so much about history from this. The author does incredibly detailed research and everything from creating a new currency to international relations and how to develop ships for trading to gain more materials is included. It's a real way to create an empire... hard guys lol joseon only has 6 mil ppl. I'm pretty sure if this guy was the crown prince of say Spain/Portugal or China in a hundred years those countries would be the size of US + canada at least
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prakx_rj
prakx_rj rated it
May 21, 2021
Status: c8
I have watched too many historical k-dramas, so I already know the story of King Sejong and King Munjong. I have a feeling that this will be great novel. Just hope that this novel will have alternate timeline as the Actual King Munjong has a sad ending.
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Banba
Banba rated it
June 15, 2021
Status: c12
I'm happy someone is translating this as this title is pretty well known in the KR alt-history scene. Of course, if you aren't used to certain terms in this genre, the translator is gracious enough to add context in their footnotes, or highlighted text to help you understand it more thoroughly. The story doesn't delve too much in mundane childhood details as it is sometimes the case with alt-his/isekai/possessing stories, and lets us focus on how the butterfly effect starts to change Joseon quite early in the story through the... more>> protagonist. All in all, I'm looking forward to reading more of this smash hit in ENG form. <<less
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Moim
Moim rated it
June 24, 2021
Status: c14
10/10 plot im already obsessed the bad thing is that this still doesn't have many chapters

... more>>
Spoiler

so the first two chapters are about his life in the modern world and him being obsessed with history and invention after that he got a job as a civil servant and then later quit to work in smithy after that he died of an explosion and was sent to the past. He was then regarded as a prodigy because at the age of 4-5 he read many books that are for adults then went on to inventing things

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nakie08
nakie08 rated it
October 17, 2023
Status: c109
From all the rave reviews I honestly expected better. Ruthless court politics and such. Instead this work honestly reads like a farce. The "politics" amounts to: MC proposes absurd thing, ministers disagree, MC berates them, the king yells at ministers, ministers kowtows and apologize. Later, amongst themselves, the same ministers who got berated would praise the MC for how smart he is. Rinse and repeat. Also did I mention the MC is still like 8 years old during all that? And the great King Sejong is reduced to riding the... more>> coattails of his son, just agreeing with and implementing all his sons proposals while having no agency of his own. Yeah. It's all kinda ridiculous honestly.

Joseon during this time was very conservative so I kinda expected a bit more nuance in introducing progress than having a tantrum until he gets his way. <<less
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Hawk73
Hawk73 rated it
September 16, 2023
Status: c77
Black Corporation Joseon is one of the most realistic and immersive alternate history fiction books I've read.

An eccentric genius, he takes the words of a mentor "If you don’t want to be criticized as an otaku, be successful! Become a talented or successful fanatic, then you won’t be called a ‘damned otaku, ’ but a ‘enthusiast with a maniac hobby!" to heart, he is uniquely positioned to change history as the first son of King Sejong the Great, a genius in his own right who invented of the korean alphabet,... more>> and who is regarded as one of the greatest rulers in korean history.

I will start off with Cons, because I believe if someone doesn't realise them going in, they won't have the patience to enjoy it.

Cons: This is a realistic novel, and thus is slow. The historical figures in the novel are often real historical figures, and thus are treated with respect. Many other novels can get away with antagonists that are evil, s*upid, and annoying, and thus cathartic to slap down and destroy. Unfortunately, the main antagonist in this novel is the poverty of the people, the limited treasury of the kingdom, the lack of human capital due to the inaccessiblility of good education for the populace, the restricted authority of the monarch, and the poor geopolitical situation of Korea. These are complex issues, and are worked through realistically which means slowly.

Pros:

The story is very realistic, as it tries to reflect the real world situation in that time period. Honestly amazing world building by the author, I hate when history element of historical fiction is only a caricature of the real thing, but in this novel it is very realistic. There are very few instances where a technological discovery has felt unrealistic, and it has instead been a steady progression in the right direction, as the MC able to point them in the direction of the truth, but often not knowing the little details he leaves it for them to proove it so he can use that discovery to pave the way towards the next them. There is also a good dynamic between father and son, as Sejong as one of the few people that can keep up with the main character, and sometimes the genius of Sejong scares the MC a little with how much he can infer from so little information.

I also enjoy how the MC is taking business practises from the modern world to make workers more productive and motivated. It almost makes me feel sorry for Joseon's employees- I mean citizens.

With the butterfly affect already beginning to take hold, it already shows a ton of promise, and I look forward to seeing how the world created continues to progress. <<less
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Error0107
Error0107 rated it
August 8, 2021
Status: c15
I LOVE IT! The characters along with the world building is truly a magnificient one. I just hope that I can read more chapters. Hehe
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Akci
Akci rated it
September 3, 2023
Status: c42
I'm quite bored. The story is mostly Hyang preaching the ministers how to do things 21st century people do and King Sejong asking the Crown Prince how to do things and what to decide. King Sejong isn't depicted as smart much. He's mostly good for asking for Hyang's answers. Other characters almost never appear. It's like there's only one character that is the MC and the rest are just the MC's conversational partners or whatever drive the kingdom building events forwards.
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bullistic
bullistic rated it
January 21, 2024
Status: c146
I really enjoyed reading this novel. It has kingdom building, technology, smart lead, politics, and a bit of comedy. Translated really well. The lead is inventing "new" things for ancient Korea to strengthen it. There are even arcs that deal with trade between ancient Korea and China / Japan / Middle East. I highly recommend this novel. There is also a web comic that has been published (once a week).
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