So very gay.
And, thus, in between all of these library picks, I decided I needed some smut. A quick search landed me a delightfully entertaining (but unfortunately not fully scanlated yet) manhwa called Dangerous Convenience Store, about a super gay store clerk that falls for a gangster.
I tend to really love odd couple romances (and gangsters), so this one was right up my ally.
Here we have Yeo Eui Joon a college student who has a lot of debt. Not only are his parents unable to pay for his tuition, he also has an older brother in the hospital whose medical bills need paying. Thus, Eui Joon is really happy to have found part-time work that pays really, really well. Unfortunately, the reason it pays so well is because the convenience store is frequented by gangsters.
Despite the great pay (it’s explicitly time and a half), Eui Joon is considering quitting because he is literally terrified every shift. He is a bit of a wispy gay boy and so he’s an easy target. Eui Joon gets pushed around a lot, even sometimes beat up…. and gangsters love to leave you with the bill, so that’s no good when you’re only working there for the money. One particularly bad evening shift, Eui Joon prays for a savoir to come and rescue him, some handsome prince, a knight in shining armor.
Or, as it happens, in a dark suit.
Enter Bum Geon Woo, hottie mafia boss.
Geon Woo kicks a low-life out of the way and, still kind of verbally abuses Eui Joon, but, you know, for the convenience store regulars, he’s actually kind of nice? More importantly, Geon Woo’s mere presence is often a deterrent to the worst of the delinquents. Even the dumbest of the bruisers can take one look at Geon Woo and knows not to start sh*t.
Eui Joon is grateful, but not stupid–Geon Woo is terrifying. In fact, when Geon Woo is beating up the low-life, Eui Joon reads surreptitiously reads an online article on his phone about gangsters. The article gets him so rattled that when Geon Woo demands he “hand it over,” (meaning his credit card,) Eui Joon thinks he’s asking for a pinkie to be chopped off. In a fit of terror-fueled stupidity, he awkwardly lays his pinkie in Geon Woo’s open palm.
There’s a pause and the reader is like, “So, sparks?” but actually Geon Woo is like, “What the f*ck, dumba$$, I want my card.”
It’s embarrassing to Eui Joon, and the moment goes unspoken but it seems to kind of softens something between them. Maybe the fact that Eui Joon is a full-face, to the tips of his ears blusher does, in fact, spark something in the tough guy Geon Woo’s heart.
But not a lot comes of this first meeting, this cute-meet… at least not for a good long while.
It’s true the Geon Woo comes in every night and gets the same things– booze and cigarettes–but it’s not like they talk. Eui Joon starts to have some fantasies about him, particularly after that time the Geon Woo adds the jumbo-size condoms to his usual items, but this man is a stranger, dangerous, and… did I mention dangerous??
With summer coming to a close, Eui Joon heads back to college where we discover he’s out to his best friends and they all know that he’s been mooning over a certain upperclassman since the first day of school. This guy is all the things that Eui Joon wants in a man: strong, handsome, tall, and kind to those in need. If only he were also gay!
Well, best girl friend happens to see the upperclassman getting handsy with another dude and so she passes on this good news to Eui Joon. There’s hope. Dude is probably bi! Eui Joon wastes no time. The next opportunity he gets he confesses his love to the upperclassman.
The upperclassman says, let me consider it.
Eui Joon is ecstatic. That night, at midnight, when Geon Woo comes in for his booze and smokes, he actually notices Eui Joon’s mood and asks him if he got laid or something. Eui Joon loses his mind and tells this scary gangster all about this person he likes and how he’s so happy he has a shot.
Geon Woo, being a man of little words, just listens.
Then, back at school we discover that the upperclassman is kind of a player. He take Eui Joon out only to drop the bomb–he’s already got a lover, but he would really, really also like to get it on with Eui Joon. Even drunk, Eui Joon is against this. The upperclassman walks him home and is clearly hoping to take advantage. In fact, he starts to press his luck against drunk Eui Joon, when who comes around the corner but Geon Woo…. in one of the few stretches of credibility in this manhaw (if you ignore the whole gay gangster set-up), we discover that all along Geon Woo and Eui Joon have been NEIGHBORS.
This final intervention of Geon Woo’s turns a corner. Their relationship begins in earnest.
I actually don’t want to go into too much more detail about the ins and outs (pun intended!) of this couple. If you are, like me, fond the this kind of odd-couple dynamic OR fond of tough-guy-who-slowly-shows-his-vulnerability-in-love trope, then this manhwa is as much for you as it was for me. The art is appealing to me too–there’s something about manhwa art where the bodies seem a generally elongated or disproportioned in a way that jumps out to me, but the manhwa artist here does some wonderful things with Geon Woo’s body-language, in particular, that more than made up for that.
My only disappointment is that it’s not fully scanned and translated yet, because there seems to be a gangster-related plotline coming down the pike for Geon Woo…. and I am always down for that kind of storyline, especially if it leads to some hurt-comfort/realization that this gangster is actually very important to Eui Joon.
The other thing to be aware of if you read this on any of the pirate sites is that the scanlators are annoying. They editorialize in their translation notes WHICH I HATE and they add a whole lot of memes and gifs expressing their take on the relationship and what they want to have come next at the end of some of the chapters. It’s super distracting from the story. I do not need someone else saying “Kiss already!” in the actual white space of the comics. It feels like someone you don’t know talking during your favorite parts of a movie. I skipped them, but it’s hard not to assume there’s not more story at the end, or that a translation note might actually be useful, and so I felt very interrupted by the blather. Honest to gods, if I wanted to read the comments section, I would read the DAMN comment sections. If you have the option to NOT read Scan Bean’s version, I would take it. Though I would not count on Chili Tangerine Scan’s to be any less intrusive. This seems to be a thing in the manhwa scan fandom. I ran up against it reading Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? as well–although at LEAST those were confined to the actual translation notes.
To be fair, the best option is ALWAYS to read it direct from the publisher if you can. I will say that it’s not easy to find a copy of it that’s not pirated? If someone has a link, I would happily list it here.