Chapter 4: < Protect – Episode 3 – Kim Dae Chan  >
One might think the chairman of Daesan Group would have fancy French food all the time, but Kim Dae San actually had cheap taste. What appeared on the table was fish cake soup and Japanese sake. It wasn’t because he loved Japanese food, but because the food he ate as a child was from Japan before the liberation.
“Are you ever going to get married?”
“Why do you ask? Do you want to set me up?”
“If you want.”
“Come on, old man. You only know rich businessmen and politicians. I’m not suited for that kind of suffocating lifestyle. Oh, I’m not talking about you or Dae Chan though. You may be rich, but you have cheap taste.”
Ahn Soo Ho picked up a fish cake skewer and laughed.
“You boring punk. Okay, fine. What are you going to do for a year?”
“What do you think? I’m going to have a lot of fun.”
“That’s only fun for a little while.”
“Only for workaholics like you, old man. I’m a pro at having fun.”
“Isn’t having fun tiring too?”
“Haha. What are you talking about?”
His outspoken remark made the butler flinch, but not Kim Dae San.
“Why don’t you join me, old man? Shouldn’t you be retired by now?”
Even though the grandfather’s generation deserved to be respected for their devotion and efforts in the miracle on the Han River, they had the Korean chronic disease of not being able to enjoy their retirement. It was true that beautiful people are beautiful even as they leave this world. Since retirement and old age come for everyone like death, it was an inevitable fate.
“You don’t really think of yourself as the country’s king just because people call you the king of Korea’s business world, do you?”
“I can’t say that’s completely untrue.”
“I knew it. That’s a disease, you know.”
Ever since the old man said he needed luck, Ahn Soo Ho saw what was coming. Koreans and Japanese have an overly strong sense of responsibility, and it was a custom or fixed idea that most Koreans fail to realize. Some people might say a strong sense of responsibility was good, but from Ahn Soo Ho’s perspective as a man who had lived abroad, foreigners often see strong sense of responsibility as arrogance. That was because a strong sense of responsibility would cause one to stick their nose into everything.
In contrast to Asians who value responsibility, Westerners liked to draw a clear line. Taking responsibility for everything by yourself was simply impossible. The West had a hard time understanding why the East saw the future of a company as an individual’s responsibility.
“Old man, it’s not like you’re the king of Korea. You don’t have to take responsibility for this country’s future. You’re just an old man with a lot of money. If you’re that worried, make a donation or start a charity. Or why don’t you run for president?”
Kim Dae San giggled. No one else around him had been so frank with him. They all just said he was right and bowed down to him.
“Father, I’m home.”
Kim Dae Chan came in and greeted Kim Dae San, and Ahn Soo Ho responded with a wave.
“I see you’ve already had a drink, Father.”
“Haha. I’d like a drink poured by my son for a change.”
The rich liked alcohol, but they tend to avoid it for the sake of their health. The three men sat quietly and drank. Perhaps being in good company and having good alcohol made words unnecessary. As soon as the drunk Kim Dae San was escorted to his bedroom, Kim Dae Chan loosened his tie and sighed.
“That old man is still a good drinker. I don’t know what to do.”
“Wow! Are you saying the great Kim Dae Chan can’t even handle a few bottles of sake? You must be getting old too.”
“Hey! I’m forty-five years old, man!”
“Doesn’t real life start at sixty?”
“That’s bullsh*t. Just wait until you’re forty. You’ll be looking for Viagra.”
“Good thing I’m still in my thirties.”
“Time will pass faster than you think.”
Kim Dae Chan swapped out the food and drinks with the flick of a finger.
“Did you hear from Father?”
“Hear what? That he needs luck?”
“Is that all he said?”
“Ha! He didn’t say the most important thing.”
Ahn Soo Ho shrugged to his friend’s dumbfounded response. After Kim Dae Chan swirled his glass of whisky, he showed a bitter smile and opened his mouth.
“You know how unique our country is, right?”
“After Japan, China, and Russia knocked us down, our country is divided with a dictator on the other side… You could say we have quite the history.”
“From the outside perspective, Korea isn’t the best place for an investment.”
“Yeah, yeah. Get to the point already.” Ahn Soo Ho butted in as soon as it seemed like the conversation was going to drag on.
“You cold bastard!”
“We can’t let our personal relationship get in the way of business. So what’s your point?”
“It’s become a custom to get rid of one or two large corporations in order to gain popularity every time the government changed.”
“Oh yeah. The presidential election took place last year. Did they threaten to ruin our old man’s business?”
“We’re just staying alert.”
“You make it sound like it’s going to happen. Hm. This isn’t something the president can do himself… Is the States involved?”
The question wasn’t for Kim Dae San, but for himself.
Has Daesan Group interfered with the States gain? It has. Since Daesan Group wasn’t an American corporation. Daesan Group’s gains benefited the Korean economy, which meant they put the American economy at a loss. One could say that it was the truth, but assuming a foreign country’s gain meant the local country’s loss was a one-dimensional way of thinking. If Daesan Group’s stock prices rose, American investors would be happy, so any hidden losses could stay hidden.
“Did your lab develop something useful?”
“Something useful… I can’t really say.”
“Has your company been in good terms with China?”
“No. We’re actually frustrated because of a Chinese corporation.”
“Then what could it be? You must have gotten on a white man’s bad side.”
Even if the States looked like the were being stubborn, it has always been thoroughly calculated. If Daesan Group brought them profits, they would do everything they could to protect them and maintain a good relationship.
“I’ll look into it.”
“You know I can’t give you a discount though, right?”
“I don’t need it.”
The two men smiled and clinked glasses.
“Where’s the wife and kids?”
“With my wife’s family.”
“Who were they again? Jinsung Group?”
“Yeah. You remember.”
The Ahn Soo Ho Kim Dae Chan knows didn’t give special treatment to rich people. But then again, rich families of Korea were nothing compared to the royal family abroad.
“You were always smart.”
To know the direct numbers of each country’s influential people was a very big deal.
“Did Jinsung’s side catch on?”
“I don’t think so. It was even hard for us to find out.”
If they weren’t number one in Korea’s business world, they wouldn’t already have a traitor on the president’s side.
“I don’t know. If the States is really involved, they probably know that you found out the truth. If not, they’ll find out soon.”
“Will they use an intelligence agency?”
“Of course. The company has always made good use of economic assassins.”
“Company” was code for the CIA.
“If you look at Iran and Central and South America, economic assassins are much more effective than the military if you want to turn the government around. I guarantee there’s a spy within your staff, too.”
“Yeah. Hold on.”
He excused himself to answer his vibrating phone.
“It’s me. Yeah. Yeah. Really? Okay. Yeah, put a stop to it. Okay.”
After hanging up, Ahn Soo Ho neither smiled nor frowned and looked at Kim Dae Chan.
“I think we’re in trouble.”
“What do you mean?”
“It looks like Empire Konzern is involved too.”
He sighed like Kim Dae Chan did a little earlier.
“Apparently, a hedge fund has made their first move. You probably know them too. They’re called Prause.”
Ahn Soo Ho shrugged, and Kim Dae Chan slapped himself in the cheeks with both hands to sober up.
“Sorry, but I have to go.”
“Don’t strain yourself.”
Ahn Soo Ho made a toast for Kim Dae Chan as he hurried away.
“I’m sure he can handle it.”
In contrast to the Ahn family, Kim Dae San and Kim Dae Chan of the Kim family were not to be underestimated.
The next day, Ahn Soo Ho went to Jejudo.
As the only Korean island with exotic flavor, it has been getting more and more Korean and foreign tourists every year. Someone was waiting for him as soon as he got to the airport.
It was a familiar face that he had seen two times before.
“Welcome to Jejudo, Director Ahn.”
“Would you like to check?”
After looking through the files Oh Joo Kyung handed over, he clicked his tongue.
“That old man is very meticulous… Tsk.”
“Right this way.”
“Okay, I’m coming.”
Ahn Soo Ho followed her to the parking lot as if he had given up. It was the same driver, and he had seen the security team before as well.
“This is really excessive for someone like me.”
“It was the chairman’s orders. You’re getting a lot of attention these days, Director Ahn.”
“You sound unhappy about that, Ms. Oh.”
“You can call me by my name or position from now on.”
“I can’t do that. I’ll be out of here in a year.”
“Is that so? Then please call me whatever you like.”
When he said about being out of here in a year, Oh Joo Kyung made a very peculiar face. Was she doubting him? Well, it didn’t really matter if she believed him or not.
“Would you like to go to your residence?”
Daesan Group had built pensions and resorts all of over the country for their employees, but it expanded so much that it became its own operation division. Daesan Group’s hotel franchise opened seven branches in Korea, three braches in Japan, and two branches in China, with a total of 35 branches all over the world. That meant the Daesan brand could be found in almost every tourist destination.
The Daesan Hotel Resort in Jejudo had the biggest facilities, and therefore had many guests as well. But that didn’t mean it crowded like a flea market. The recreational facilities were for stress relief, not for getting pushed around by mobs of people. Beside the hotel resort was a vacation home just for the chairman’s family.
“He’s just swimming in money, isn’t he?”
In contrast to the unique and castle-like exterior, the interior was very practical. Wasn’t this more like a banquet hall? Well, they did say they hold parties from time to time.
“Please don’t mind me and tend to your own matters.”
“But the chairman requested that I…”
“So a grown woman is going to follow a man everywhere he goes? Do you like me, Ms. Oh?”
Oh Joo Kyung was taken aback by the random remark.
“Do you like me?”
Has it been a day since they’ve met? It was too short of a time to discuss such feelings. And above all, as an employee of the company, she didn’t have the courage to turn down her superior.
“It’s a simple question. What are you thinking about?”
“I… I do.”
“Did everyone hear that? Ms. Oh likes me.”
The housekeeper and employees were taken aback by Ahn Soo Ho’s ridiculous announcement. Oh Joo Kyung found out that he was teasing her only after she saw his grinning lips.
She took a deep breath.
“I can leave you alone as long as I’m able to contact you.”
“Great! Is there anything else I should know, my beloved Ms. Oh?”
“Director! Oh, I apologize.”
Oh Joo Kyung yelled, and then immediately apologized.
“I must have crossed the line with my joke. I’m sorry.”
“That’s alright. There will be a welcoming ceremony tomorrow afternoon.”
She accepted Ahn Soo Ho’s quick apology and continued to speak with a calm face.
“A welcoming ceremony? For me?”
“But whenever an executive comes down…”
“Ugh, that’s such an eyesore. Don’t you think we should stop these customs that are only meant for the people on top? You must all be tired. It looks like you even cleaned this place extra well because of me.”
He rubbed the window with his index finger. There wasn’t a single trace of dust just as he expected.
“I’m not your superior or a guest you have to serve. I’m just an employee of Daesan Group. So please don’t make this tiring.”
His self introduction and expression of his stance ended there. Even if they continued to bow down to him, it was no longer Ahn Soo Ho’s responsibility. As soon as he was left alone, he skipped unpacking his bags and went out onto the terrace. Jejudo was in Korea, but it didn’t look like it. Ahn Soo Ho noticed his vibrating phone and answered it.
“What is it?”
“The kiosk is ready. What’s the budget?”
“Start with five million.”
“Is that in won?”
“In US dollars.”
The call ended there, and the most urgent matters were wrapped up.
It’s time for an eating adventure.
The saying that eating was the most important thing was an eternal truth.
< Protect – Episode 3 – Kim Dae Chan  >