Chapter 44: < Protect – Episode 43 – Lee Joong Hyun  >
The kidnapping incident in Sao Paolo became a secret story about a rare political scandal. Especially the States was going through a lot of trouble because Jina Davis was the only one who survived. It might sound cruel to ask a survivor why they survived, but Allen Davis’ political opponents made sure not to miss this opportunity.
“In the end, it was a hearing for Fitzgerald.”
The hearing led by the upper house gradually heated up to slander and exposure of one another.
“Aren’t you looking forward to the next presidential election?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t think Allen will go down so easily.”
“Because of Scott?”
“He’s a talented campaign manager.”
In other words, they called it a political strategy. In the 21st century, many thought of prediction as a superstition, but there was no one who wanted to see the future more than politicians. But there was one thing to be cautious about.
“Willful negligence is a wrong political action.”
Politicians didn’t only play dumb when they want to dodge legal responsibility. Everything on their agenda had hidden intentions behind them. That was also why the deals made with political strategies were always interdependent. How sad was it that people could only trust each other if they knew their weaknesses?
“Anyway, Mr. Guardian is only human too.”
“What do you mean?’
“Think about what he’s doing on his homeland. He found his long-lost family and he’s taking care of them now. That must mean he’s planning to retire or…”
“Hiding a weakness?”
“Yeah. He’s no longer the invincible man we’ve been afraid of.”
“Tom. If that’s what you really believe, he’ll succeed.”
Michael Tobal, the vice-president of Genesis Quantum, shooked his head at what was said by Thomas Chenyabin, the vice-president of United Aircraft.
“Are you saying all of this is fake, Michael?”
“Then let me ask you this. Why do you think Soo Ho decided to go on sabbatical?”
“Is there another reason?”
“Yeah. Because as an arbitrator and an arbiter, he needs to maintain his identity.”
Ahn Soo Ho’s accomplishments were his special skills, but his vague nationality of being Korean helped a little as well. If he was from a powerful country like the States or China, he would have been stepped on from the very beginning. Luckily, they underestimated Korea, which gave Ahn Soo Ho some time to build his power and reputation.
Once Ahn Soo Ho became a tycoon, no one was able to mess with him. However, as if they had forgotten, people started to test Ahn Soo Ho’s immortal reputation.
“You’re saying it’s a trap.”
“Soo Ho is an experienced hunter. He exposes his own weaknesses while pulling out those with malice out of the darkness.”
“If that’s true, isn’t there a bigger problem?”
The biggest advantage that maintained Ahn Soo Ho’s reputation today was his location. Whenever something happened, he was always on an advantageous position as he took down his opponents. But this time, he exposed his location on his own volition.
“I don’t think he takes the challenges against him seriously.”
Michael didn’t say anything to Thomas’ sarcastic remark.
“It sounds like you’re still hung up about the past.”
As a wealthy man who led the international aviation industry, Thomas was degraded by Ahn Soo Ho at a party a few years ago. As soon as Thomas noticed Michael’s face stiffening, he smirked.
“Do you think I’m mad at Mr. Ahn?”
“You have strong pride.”
Thomas shooked his finger as if that was nonsense.
“Hating someone and conducting business are two different things. I’m just worried, that’s all.”
“About Soo Ho?”
“Yeah. I’m worried about him.”
Thomas acknowledged it and handed Michael a file.
“Rev gave it to me.”
As soon as Michael flipped through the first pace, he distorted his face and mumbled.
What were the people with money and power afraid of the most? Professional killers. People couldn’t survive poison and dodge bullets. The reason why Ahn Soo Ho got his immortal reputation was because he fought against professional killers. That was when he got the nicknames, Mr. Guardian, and Wizard.
“If Ahn Soo Ho shows his weaknesses, Angola will very likely attack him.”
The secretive professional killers never form alliances. But after the bloody battle, they didn’t face Ahn Soo Ho, but rather avoided him. That made the assassins that reigned over fear a little bothered. However, the fact that they couldn’t face Ahn Soo Ho alone hadn’t changed.
That was when the unwritten law that professional killers didn’t form alliances shattered. Angola was a special force that was prepared for Ahn Soo Ho, but they suddenly realized something. They realized how effective and productive forming groups was. Angola transformed into a professional assassination company, but the rich foes were always going to be rich, and the powerful were always going to be powerful.
“He mustn’t go down. He mustn’t grow weak.”
At least as long as they were alive.
“You’re worrying about him with a very selfish reason.”
“Aren’t you worried, Michael? We all put ourselves first.”
Ahn Soo Ho was kind of like a safety insurance for the pleasant and extravagant lifestyles of the rich all around the world. If it wasn’t for buffer zones like him, the world would have been more saturated with blood and death.
“Ahn Soo Ho is our Maginot line.”
The Hosoo Entertainment foundation ceremony remained a legend. The stories of him bringing up his helicopters and private jets blew up into over-exaggerated rumors about him coveting Hollywood. The first victim of these rumors was Jang Seol Hyun, who had attempted to work in Hollywood before. During a fashion magazine’s fall shoot interview, she answered an unexpected question without any hesitation.
“I’d be happy if he sent me.”
It was a very carefree answer that Jang Seol Hyun would say. Hosoo Entertainment, which was the topic of conversation in the entertainment world, prepared for an even bigger bomb, and as they wrapped up the M&A and opened the shareholders’ meeting, they requested a delisting. The organizations involved with the stock market probably felt like they got stabbed in the back. A portion of the foreign currency Ahn Soo Ho brought in was used for a treasury bond, and another portion was used for a press arbitration alliance.
One might wonder how much money a civic group could squeeze out of the nation, but there were countless publicly funded groups that were living comfortably like aristocrats. Because they didn’t pay taxes? That’s not it. The money that was handed out, in the beginning, swelled up like a snowball later on.
“The press is being friendly.”
“I’m sure they are. We sure paid them enough.”
Ahn Soo Ho smiled bitterly at Oh Joo Kyung.
“Draw a clear line with Daesan Group.”
“You’re done for the morning.”
“Oh yeah! Have you thought about my proposal, Ms. Oh?”
Ahn Soo Ho offered Oh Joo Kyung a job at Hosoo Entertainment. Even though she was the secretary of the great Kim Dae Chan of the Daesan Kingdom, there were plenty of talents in Daesan Group that could replace her.
“Give me a little more time to think about it.”
“One week. If you don’t answer in a week, I’ll ask someone else.”
He set a clear date. Even though he wanted an immediate answer, moving from Daesan Group to a company that was just starting out could look like a downgrade. That wasn’t easy to do for Oh Joo Kyung, who dreamt of breaking the glass ceiling as a businesswoman. But even if she declined, they were still going to see each other. As long as Ahn Soo Ho was a director at Daesan Group, they would continue to see each other. Once he was left alone, he looked out the window.
“I need to settle it with Navarros.”
As the American senate hearing progressed, Empire Kozern was pushed to a corner. It would have been more normal for Aragon Company to be put down, but the backup scenario was quite well thought out.
“They made Fitzgerald into the star of the hearing.”
Alexandro Stanish Fitzgerald might remind poeple of a comedian’s nickname, but that was his real name. It was comparable to the name, Kang Meong Goo in Korean. It was quite a ridiculous name. It wasn’t like all words made sense just because someone wrote it down. His alone time ended in no time. Do Kyung Ho wore a clean suit as if he wanted to look like an average employee, but he obviously looked like a gangster. Ahn Soo Ho sighed as soon as he saw him.
“Did you use a whole bottle of hair grease?”
“Why? Does it look weird?”
“That wouldn’t have been Hye Jung’s doing. Who did it?”
“A hair salon called Reverse Salon…”
Seeing how it looks tacky, he might have went to a massage parlor disguised as a hair salon. He sighed again.
“Who manages it?”
“Do you remember Kyung Taek?”
“Ahn Kyung Taek?”
Ahn Soo Ho wasn’t the only Ahn in the neighborhood he lived in. It was not a family of great notable power, but his father’s other relatives in his family tree were fairly high up. Ahn Kyung Taek was one of the underlings that followed Ahn Soo Ho and Do Kyung Ho around. In contrast to Ahn Soo Ho, who went to the Naval Academy, Do Kyung Ho started throwing fists right out of high school, and that was when they became friends.
“I know what you’re thinking, but Kyung Taek washed his hands off of this a long time ago.”
“A retired man is managing a massage parlor?”
Do Kyung Ho had nothing to say to Ahn Soo Ho’s sarcastic remark.
“Do Kyung Ho. Don’t you know what kind of people I despise the most?”
“That’s right. I hate pimps.”
Even though prostitution was illegal in Korea, Korea was a competitive republic of sex that was quite comparable to the well-known sex tourism country, Thailand. On the outside, the Korean society was very conservative, but on the inside was crawling with uncontrollable desire.
“Everyone makes mistakes, Soo Ho. Isn’t it too cruel to be punished forever for one mistake?”
“Listen to you!”
Ahn Soo Ho glared at Do Kyung Ho, who took Ahn Kyung Taek’s side.
“It sounds like there’s something you need from him.”
“It’s nothing like that.”
Do Kyung Ho, who hesitated with his mouth closed, lifted both his hands as if he couldn’t do it.
“There weren’t that many guys who found proper jobs after leaving the field, and the one who helped them making a living was…”
“Ahn Kyung Taek?”
Ahn Kyung Taek had to put his foot back into the organized society in order to make money.
“How many are there?”
“How many scumbags are hanging on to you with their mouths open hoping for food to drop?”
“Ahn Soo Ho!”
Do Kyung Ho got angry at Ahn Soo Ho’s explicit expression. No matter how horrible his life was, he believed he at least kept his loyalty. However, it would not help to be angry when he was the one who needs help. Do Kyung Ho cooled down and then felt relieved.
Even if loyalty was important, as the head of a household, he was burdened by his brothers who went astray. Do Kyung Ho opened his mouth with a lighter heart.
“Are they all unemployed?”
“Only six of them. The rest are working as laborers and whatnot.”
“At least half of them have their shit together. Okay. Bring them to me.”
Ahn Soo Ho smirked at Do Kyung Ho, who threw a fuss with his butt shaking. He might be happy now, but only time could tell if they would like the job or not. Ahn Soo Ho took out his phone.
“It’s me, Logan.”
“Why are you calling me first? You’re not telling me to get lost, are you?”
Logan and his entourage were busy going sightseeing around Korea.
“No, I have a favor to ask you. Actually, let’s call it short-term employment.”
“Employment? You said there wouldn’t be any missions for a while.”
“There will always be work to do. And this isn’t a mission.”
“Then what is it?”
“Teach a few guys a lesson.”
“Sure. Who should we beat up?”
“No, not that kind of teaching.”
It was embarrassing, but mercenaries weren’t different from thugs.
“French Foreign Legion.”
He exclaimed as if he understood what Ahn Soo Ho said. Among mercenaries, there were many who used to be soldiers or police officers, but there were also former gangsters, criminals, and lunatics who liked guns. For crazy bastards like that, their bodies or their minds had to be remodeled to transform them into reliable comrades. Mercenaries called that being reborn.
Not metaphorically, but literally. In that aspect, the French Foreign Legion was a great example. Even though they were shadowed by the States, they were also an immigrant country, and there was nothing that brought generations closer together like military training. If a person would think of France they would be reminded of positive things like liberal democracy and equality, but they had more respect for force than any other country.
“You can cripple them.”
Do Kyung Ho watched in fascination as Ahn Soo Ho spoke in foreign language on to the phone. As soon as Ahn Soo Ho hung up, Do Kyung Ho opened his mouth to ask him a question, but the door swung open before he could.
Oh Joo Kyung barged in with agitation.
“Hey, calm down, Ms. Oh. What is it?”
She managed to calm her breathing, but she was unable to hide her red cheeks.
“The president is coming to Star Tower! They said the advance team has already departed!”
Ahn Soo Ho wasn’t surprised, and clicked his tongue instead.
“This man has great showmanship.”
His start might have been as Korea National Association’s scarecrow, but as soon as he gets a grasp of living power, he would open his eyes to the hidden truth. The separation of legal, administrative, and judicial powers in Korea was an abnormal composition of power formed by the administration, and depending on how it was used, the president’s influence was as powerful as those of any country’s dictator.
“Lee Joong Hyun…”
‘I hope he’s a man of common sense.’
< Protect – Episode 43 – Lee Joong Hyun  > The end.