Chapter 27: < Protect – Episode 26 – Vitali  >
Ahn Soo Ho didn’t have any personal feelings about Park Sang Goo. If he wasn’t so greedy, they wouldn’t have had to interact with each other. Do Kyung Ho, who was taken to the ER, received treatment and testified to a police officer. Park Sang Goo wasn’t the only part of Do Kyung Ho’s past that was catching up with him. That was because he had quite the reputation among the police as well.
“So you’re saying you don’t know them at all?”
“Yes. I saw them for the first time today. Are they a gang?”
Do Kyung Ho asked the police officer questions while he laid in bed. The police officer scratched his head with the corner of his notepad.
“They’re not associated with a particular organization… A half gang maybe? They’re kind of like violent thugs. Think about it carefully. I’m sure someone you know has a grudge against you.”
“I’ve been retired for seven years, Officer. I’ve never communicated with them, I swear.”
“I know. I know that!”
The police officer was at a loss for words. Do Kyung Ho was famous, but that was because of his eccentric behavior more than his evil reputation. There were many police officers who actually liked him. The police station that was in charge of the area where Do Kyung Ho set up his shop didn’t have a bad perception of him.
“Okay. Please get some rest.”
Jung Hye Jung saw the police officer off in Do Kyung Ho’s stead. Thanks to her husband’s protection all she had was a little wound. Jung Hye Jung, who was taking out her phone to ask her parents-in-law for help with the kids, was surprised when someone grabbed her wrist.
“I sent some people to the kindergarten, so all you have to do is confirm.”
“Huh? Soo Ho?”
She was relieved to know that it was Ahn Soo Ho who grabbed her wrist.
“How did you know we were here?”
“That’s not important. When the kids get here, follow that person to the hotel.”
A man in sunglasses approached from the corner as soon as Ahn Soo Ho made a hand gesture.
“I have to talk to the guards…”
As soon as Jung Hye Jung followed the man in sunglasses out, Do Kyung Ho came out of the ER room with a frown on his face. His frown got worse as soon as he saw Ahn Soo Ho.
“You’re in rough shape.”
“They all came at me at once.”
They walked side by side out of the hospital. They had already paid the hospital fees, so they could have just left if they wanted to. They sat down on a bench in a garden that was decorated for the patients’ mental well-being.
“Is it Park Sang Goo?”
Do Kyung Ho asked in a heavy voice as soon as he sat down.
“Tsk! I should have listened to you… I’m sorry.”
“If you’re sorry, do better for Hye Jung and the kids.”
They sat without a word for quite some time. Do Kyung Ho’s frown didn’t go away as if he was still in pain or like he was suffering from anxiety. Was it 10 minutes later? Jung Hye Jung approached with a smile.
“I’m meeting Yoon Ah and Yoon Ki at the Daesan Hotel. Thank you so much, Soo Ho.”
The expression on the husband’s face as he watched his wife disappear right after that was quite the sight.
“She’s mad, right?”
“Yeah. I have to beg for forgiveness.”
After Do Kyung Ho let out a virtuous laugh, he looked at Ahn Soo Ho with a serious gaze.
“This won’t stop, will it?”
Do Kyung Ho clenched his teeth. He didn’t care about his pain. The problem was what his beloved wife and children would have to go through.
“But that was reckless. Even if they used neighborhood thugs, I can’t believe he did that… Has he changed?”
“Everyone changes over time.”
“But you didn’t, Soo Ho.”
“I don’t know.”
Ahn Soo Ho smiled bitterly.
The times when he shed tears of longing for his mom and the times when he faced unfair judgment were long gone after so much time had passed. Time changed everything. There wasn’t anything that didn’t change.
“Let’s talk about this tomorrow. Don’t worry about the shop.”
He patted his friend on the shoulder and called the man in sunglasses with his chin. Ahn Soo Ho stood there until he could no longer see Do Kyung Ho’s broad shoulders.
“I didn’t know you were so unyielding, Joo Kyung.”
“I apologize, Director.”
“No need to apologize.”
Oh Joo Kyung suddenly appeared and stood next to Ahn Soo Ho.
“Has something changed?”
“Lee Kyung Joon would like to meet you.”
“That persistent bastard.”
“Should I turn him down?”
“No, book him for a meeting in four days.”
He would probably babble on about the military connection. It was the military authorities that caused Korea’s abnormal democratization. Just like how the States was obsessed with civil control, the authority and responsibilities of the military command were thoroughly dispersed. However, Korea used North Korea’s threats as an excuse to stiffen the military as if it was sacred ground. They had only ever pretended to be a regime, and never actually reformed the military. The military was highly influenced by connections, almost as much as the legal world.
“If the public finds out the truth about the Korean military, they’ll be appalled.”
No matter how screwed up the Korean political world might seem, it was no comparison to the Korean military. They were an enchanted hall with no common sense.
Ahn Soo Ho went to Gimpo Airport. When Emily and Rachel, who were finishing off their trip to Korea, and Lee So Hye saw him waving, they ran into his arms. The jealous gazes of many could be felt as he hugs three pretty young ladies.
Even though they were all skinny, all three of them added up to quite the weight.
“Wow! You look good in a suit!”
“I’m going to come back to Korea after I graduate, Soo Ho. Then you won’t be able to avoid me just because I’m young.”
“Me too! I’m coming back this winter too!”
It was chaotic to hear a mixture of Korean and English from the three girls. It was an adult woman who settled them down.
“Okay! Let’s get going.”
They had already met in Jejudo. In contrast to the kids who got close quickly, Oh Joo Kyung’s guard was still up. The chatter continued in the car leaving Gimpo Airport. Where should we go and what should we eat? The main topic of conversation was food. Seeing how they were still skinny with how much they eat, talking must burn a lot of calories.
“I want stir-fried Korean sausages in Sinrim-dong!”
“I want pork ribs in Mapo!”
“I want spicy rice cakes in Sinsa-dong!”
Everyone responded to Lee So Hye’s suggestion with a weird expression.
“Spicy rice cakes in Seoul…?”
“You really are the daughter of a snack shop.”
“What’s’ the difference between stir-fried Korean sausages and spicy rice cakes? And we ate a lot of pork in Jejudo already. So we have to eat Sinsa-dong rice cakes while we’re in Seoul!”
“So I can prove that my mom’s spicy rice cakes are the best in the country!”
One might ask why she had so much pride in her spicy rice cakes as if she was Kim Jeon Il talking about his grandfather, but she had a unique dream of becoming the next owner of Eunhye Snacks. She had a very simple dream for someone who got good grades. It was not even a famous restaurant, but a common snack shop. What was more astounding was that it wasn’t a joke.
“Should we go to Sinsa-dong?”
“You’re the best, Soo Ho!”
Lee So Hye clapped with happiness, but Emily and Rachel booed Ahn Soo Ho for taking his family’s side. He was surprised by how she could communicate in English without much difficulty. He knew she was somewhat good since she was doing good in school, but he didn’t know she would be this fluent. For someone who had never been abroad, her pronunciation was very similar to those of natives.
“I’m proud of you.”
He felt proud for some reason.
“Aren’t you going to go to college, So Hye?”
“I wasn’t going to at first, but I’m thinking about it.”
“Don’t worry about the tuition.”
“Heh, that’s why I wasn’t going to go. But I changed my mind.”
So Hye stuck out her tongue and smiled. It means she would go to college as long as she had his financial support. She was not even thinking about it. It seemed as though the clever girl had already planned to mooch off of her brother. Ahn Soo Ho didn’t hate it. He would have scolded her if she was indulged in luxury, but she was very frugal with her money just like her mom.
He was thankful she grew up well.
“But Jung Hoon on the other hand…”
Sure, most boys in their early twenties were like that, but he showed off way too much. He wanted to become a celebrity so he could show off to even more people. However, since it seemed like he had some potential, he plans to keep watching over him.
“I’m sure we’ll get an answer within the next few years.”
In the entertainment world, youth could only be used as a weapon for a set period of time, and it was just a matter of time before another rising star appeared. Having talent was important, but background had a big influence. However, having a good background didn’t mean someone with no talent could succeed, so there had to be a good balance of the two.
It was uncertain if the merchants worked together or if the public officials thought of it, but Ahn Soo Ho’s first impression of the Sinsa-dong rice cake town was government control.
“I have no idea what the characteristics of this street… No, I do.”
White girls in Hanboks walked by speaking Russian, and a sexy black woman in a one-piece Hanbok made an exclamation in French.
“Spicy rice cakes must be popular in Seoul these days.”
The kids were surprised too.
Ahn Soo Ho didn’t know this, but a tour package of Namsan Tower was popular these days. It was funny and sad at the same time that foreign tourists joining or watching candlelight vigils were starting to become a trend. As it was commonly said, it was like people watching from their point of view, it was surprising that there wasn’t a riot with so many people in one place.
It took 30 minutes to get settled in the spicy rice cake shop.
“Huh? It looks like they’re filming something.”
“I just thought it was crowded because this place is popular. I guess it was because they were filming something.”
As soon as they went up to the 2nd floor, they saw the spicy rice cake town in a single glance. The shop on the other side of the street had more spectators than customers. The occasional screaming were actually sounds of cheering.
“What’s going on there?”
Ahn Soo Ho handed the employee fifty-thousand won and asked the question. Even though the tip was a little much, the Korean bought into it.
“Oh, they’re filming a variety show, and the guest is Kang Mi Na.”
“Kang Mi Na? I’ve heard that name before…”
“Don’t you know Yesterday’s Mi Na?”
The employee, who was surprised by what Ahn Soo Ho said, carefully asked.
“You’re Korean, right?”
He didn’t understand how a Korean didn’t know Kang Mi Na. It seemed as though he was a real Mi Na fan. It was deplorable that such a young guy was a huge fan. He looked as if he would have poisoned his food if he hadn’t received a tip, which made Ahn Soo Ho thought.
“Should I move shop or not?”
Thankfully, the food arrived before the Mi Na fan disappeared.
But why does it feel like the cheering was getting closer? The stairs to the 2nd floor got noisy followed by a team with cameras and lights. What were they doing? A celebrity acted cutely and then was fed spicy rice cakes from a couple near the door.
That was when he understood. It was like a mission game. A different celebrity went to different tables, and one arrived at Ahn Soo Ho’s table. Lee So Hye, Emily, and Rachel found it enjoyable, but he just thought it was bothersome.
Seeing Kang Mi Na’s face reminded him of who she was. When he went to Bar Lafargue with Jang Seol Hyun a few days ago, they passed each other. She gave a suspicious gaze then, but today, it seemed as if she was saying she knew who he was.
“The thing is, I like you.”
Kang Mi Na, who confidently stepped up to pass the mission, would have made any other man die with her cuteness, but not this man.
“This much, this much, this much, this much.”
This b*tch! Where the hell did her tongue go? As the dance routine and song continued, Ahn Soo Ho’s face turned so sour that they couldn’t keep filming. If it was for variety, he should have thrown a fuss and treated her like a goddess, but he was the first and last great, great magician.
“The truth isn’t beautiful.”
The pursuit of truth was always tiring.
As soon as everyone’s focus turned to Ahn Soo Ho’s lips…
He declared a failure as he stood in the center of the world’s attention.
< Protect – Episode 26 – Vitali  > The end.