Chapter 29: < Protect – Episode 28 – Vitali  >
Ahn Soo Ho, who returned to Daesan Hotel before midnight, put the three girls in a suite room and talked to Do Kyung Ho privately. They were supposed to meet tomorrow, but he couldn’t wait. He didn’t realize this earlier, but the bruise had darkened on his face, which reminded him of that animal that inhabits China.
Ahn Soo Ho didn’t care if he got mad, and went through his minibar fridge.
“What do you want?”
“A canned beer.”
“You’ve gotten weak, my friend.”
Ahn Soo Ho, who handed his friend a beer, drank whisky out of the bottle.
“What about Hye Jung and the kids?”
“Did you beg for forgiveness?”
It was evident that he failed from Do Kyung Ho’s bitter smile.
“Just bow down to her for the time being.”
They clunked their drinks and drank without a word. The view outside the window wasn’t so bad. The busy employees of the big city had no time to look up at the sky. The city life was a lot more convenient, but modern conveniences didn’t guarantee happiness.
“Modern conveniences don’t guarantee happiness.”
Happiness was all about a person’s view.
“You don’t have to worry about Park Sang Goo. He’ll be taken care of soon.”
“Stay at the hotel for a few days.”
“It’s for the best.”
Do Kyung Ho stared at his friend without a word.
Someone had to disappear for it to end. There must be people who cherish and love Park Sang Goo, but Ahn Soo Ho didn’t care about that. It might sound selfish, but in order to prevent future trouble, he must eliminate all the people he had grudge against. Do Kyung Ho, who chugged his beer, might have been either drunk or excited because he opened his mouth again with a red face.
“I… I thought that as long as I lived honorably, other people would eventually acknowledge me.”
Even when he was harmed while trying to liquidate his past and became a new person, he still continued to work hard.
“But as time goes on, people treat me even worse. And I was okay with that since I thought it was a debt I had to pay.”
He thought it was the price he had to pay for making other people shed tears of blood. However, as time went on, he became scared. He felt suffocated at the thought that his wife and children could get hurt because of him.
“How nice would it be if we could change the past? If I could, I’d go back to the day you talked me out of it. You were always right, Soo Ho. You always were.”
Do Kyung Ho’s last words sounded like groaning. His condition wasn’t normal. Ahn Soo Ho, who took his drunken friend on to the bed, took out his phone.
“It’s me. Did you look into it?”
“You were right, Soo Ho. It’s not just the States that’s behind Japan. Russia pretended to hold hands with China, but they actually had a connection with the States too. Moscow has thirty percent of Red Sea Trade Company’s shares. This isn’t something a middle manager can do. It must have been at least a director.”
“Look into the Russian ambassador.”
“Isn’t he your friend?”
“We’re only friends when we need each other, so it’s just business.”
The next morning, Ahn Soo Ho shared a meal with Kim Dae Chan.
“Have you heard? There was a gathering with Korea National Association and rich people in their 30s yesterday.”
“Yesterday? It’s not something that can be settled overnight… They must have different views.”
“The reflation policy the government proposed was ridiculous. They shifted the blame on a national project that needs thirty trillion won. I don’t know if you can call it compensation, but they offered to pretend like the investigations and the National Assembly hearing never happened.”
“Is that it?”
Ahn Soo Ho put the sandwich down from his hands.
“What did we offer?”
“We’re going to use the company reserve to invest in the country. They’ll probably say they cooperated with the government policy for job creation.”
“Is that it?”
Ahn Soo Ho, who wiped his mouth with a napkin, put both of his hands over his mouth. If he hadn’t, he would have said something harsh. All they did was waste time talking about useless topics in a setting that was difficult to arrange. Even if the first negotiation was for testing the waters, they should have decided on a guideline that was understandable.
“When’s the next negotiation?”
“The day after tomorrow.”
“Should I participate?”
“My father would hate that.”
“He probably wants you to lead it… but if the tile-roofed house actively gets involved, the situation will get crazy. They probably have a connection with Daesan. What did they say?”
“Apparently, the president has braced himself for the worst.”
“Is the president and Lee Ji Heon in different cliques?”
“I don’t know. But it’s still the beginning of the term, so the president’s power is really strong.”
Among elected officials, it was common for them to peak in power in the beginning of their term but as they approach the end of their term, they were faced with a power vacuum. That was where the term, “lame duck” came from.
“What’s the president’s name again?”
“Lee Joong Hyun. How do you not even know our president’s name?”
“I’m not interested.”
“Tsk, tsk! What’s the point in voting? The country won’t change as long as the young aren’t interested in politics.”
“Which part should I be laughing at?”
In democratic societies, votes among the youth in their 20s and 30s were very low. Compared to the older generations, the younger generations didn’t care if there was an approval rating or not. A person having an interest in politics, discussing it, and going out to vote was voting action at its highest level.
However, they talked about and differentiate conservatives and progressives in such a trivial manner, and when someone uninterested in politics ran for office, they acted like the whole world was going to end. The progressive changes that the press and internet talked about were more like delusions. That was because no one knew what was going to happen until the voting results came out.
The predictions of election professionals were completely useless. The majority of the younger generations were progressive. It was true. However, the younger generation might have awakened and changed after opposing the older generation, but making their actions into reality was a whole different story.
“I’ve heard some interesting things in the secretary’s office, Soo Ho.”
“What did you hear?”
“You’re getting along well with Deputy Oh, huh?”
“She’s a good woman. Oh! I’m talking about her as a secretary. Don’t get me wrong.”
“She’s actually a very talented woman. I’m not just saying that because she works for me. I’m cheering you guys on.”
“My mom’s already making me feel anxious. Why do you have to be like this?”
Kim Dae Chan smiled brightly to Ahn Soo Ho’s complaining. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an appropriate prospective bride in the Kim family to introduce to him. Kim Dae San had always been sad about that, but even though Oh Joo Kyung wasn’t a Kim, she wasn’t completely unrelated to the family either.
“Are you really not going to get married?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe if I find the one… but that’d just be an inconvenience.”
Ahn Soo Ho’s life was that it wouldn’t be weird even if he died somewhere. It wasn’t respectful to pursue love with such a risk.
“What happened with the entertainment agency? I thought I heard it wrong.”
“My little brother wants to be a celebrity. So I’m buying a few companies here and there.”
“Do you expect me to believe that?”
“Does it sound weird?”
“Stop the nonsense. What’s the real reason?”
A cup of tea was the perfect way to end a meal.
As soon as Vice-Chairman Kim Dae Chan visited the hotel, the entire staff looked nervous. They knew the kind treatment and bowing makes the rich feel uncomfortable. The rich may have a lot of money, but they were people too. The rich couldn’t avoid a bullet or be invincible to a stabbing.
Ahn Soo Ho put down his glass and sighed.
“Do you know why I wanted to be on sabbatical?”
“Hm. It wasn’t just so you could take a break, was it?”
“The people who know me outside of this country think it’s weird but feel relieved that I insist Korea as my country.”
There were many countries who wanted Ahn Soo Ho. The States, England, France, Russia, and even China and Japan wanted him.
“But one thing’s for sure. It’s not out of patriotism.”
“Yeah. I had a feeling.”
Ahn Soo Ho’s Korean nationality had nothing to do with patriotism.
“Do you know the reason?”
“Because it’s vague?”
He mainly works as an arbitrator. If the States and Russia got into a war, it wouldn’t matter too much if the ones involved came to a settlement, but if not, the problem would get serious. In cases like those, what they needed was a trusted arbitrator on each side.
“My homeland isn’t a strong country, but it’s not a weak country either.”
No matter the circumstances, Korea was an indecisive country that was not this or that. It was a pitiful country that got pushed around between the States, China, Russia, and Japan. However, it was not always good to be a citizen of a powerful country.
“Among the kidnappings that happened last year, sixty percent of them were American.”
That means six out of ten kidnapped turn out to be American.
“And then it was France, England, and Japan. What does that tell you?”
“There’s a connection between economic power and kidnapping?”
“Then national power and kidnapping is related?”
Kim Dae Chan raised both hands as if he didn’t know.
“If you just look who is getting kidnapped, China and India are in first and second place. But countries who don’t pay to retrieve those bodies don’t know who’ve been kidnapped. Why? Because kidnappers don’t ask China or India for money. The bodies just went missing.”
The kidnappers knew that there was a slim chance of getting paid by China and India for a kidnapped body. So the victims’ families had to come to a settlement since the country didn’t do anything about it.
“Where do you think our country stands?”
Kim Dae Chan didn’t answer and waited for him to continue.
“It differs case by case.”
Whenever a Korean got into an accident or went missing in a foreign country, the Korean government didn’t apply any diplomatic pressure. Of course, there were times when they got actively involved, but they usually just gave it to the investigation authorities and watched. Even though they were recognized as the courteous country of the East, on an international stage where a fierce war was taking place, no one cares to acknowledge a courteous country. Frankly, Korea was ranked even lower than North Korea.
“They also knew that Korea could not provide me with any kind of help. But imagine if I allied either with States, Russia, or France. What would happen then?”
“There would be a disturbance. So you’re trying to take over companies in order to prove that you have no interest in leaving Korea.”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
Ahn Soo Ho had no interest in the country, and the Korean government couldn’t make use of him.
“As long as the Korean peninsula stays in the gray zone, they’ll let their guard down with me.”
That was the driving force behind all his relationships with Yankees, Muslims, and brown bear friends. He must have Korean businesses in someone else’s name, in order for him to be acknowledged. No matter how much he goes around telling people he was not going to change his nationality, people wouldn’t believe it. But he couldn’t manage an industrial company either.
“I already set up a bar… Businesses regarding people are the easiest.”
“Just stay with the group. Do you know how hard the old man is trying to get you to stay?”
“Is he senile? Tell him I’m going to resign as soon as my contract ends.”
How many people in the world would be able to treat Kim Dae Chan like a senile old man? Kim Dae Chan realized his time was up after he exchanged gazes with the chief secretary. It was time to go back to his busy schedule. Before he got up, he called another secretary.
“This is my gift to you, Soo Ho.”
Kim Dae Chan left after that. Lee Joo Hwan didn’t like that the vice-chairman said something that could easily be misunderstood.
“Oh, don’t misunderstand, Director. He didn’t mean I was the gift.”
“Right? I almost misunderstood.”
Ahn Soo Ho smoothed his chest and almost kicked the pretty boy with his foot.
“Does this company only hire people with good-looking faces and bodies?”
He concealed his grumbling with a smile and offered Lee Joo Hwan a seat.
“So what’s the gift?”
“Here it is.”
The document Lee Joo Hwan brought out had a lot of legal jargon in it, but this was the gist of the message.
‘I’ll buy both FNB Entertainment and Shinhwa Entertainment for you.’
Ahn Soo Ho stuck both of his thumbs out.
“Wow! That’s my rich man! Oh yeah!”
< Protect – Episode 28 – Vitali  > The end.