Chapter 5: < Protect – Episode 4 – Kim Dae Chan  >
Jejudo wasn’t a small island.
Assuming one was following the traffic rules, it would take at least two hours to get from one side of the island to the other. Daemado wasn’t a small island, either. Most people thought it was all useless land since it was so mountainous, but no land was ever useless. Besides the time when Russia sold Alaska for dirt cheap, the international society did all sorts of things to try to get one more inch of land.
Ahn Soo Ho only went to Daemado because someone even sent a helicopter to pick him up.
It may sound like a curse word, but it was actually a name. Shiba Yaos smirked.
“Didn’t you say my name sounds like a curse word in Korean?”
“It does, doesn’t it?”
Ahn Soo Ho answered confidently, but he didn’t believe him. Daemado was full of mountains and beaches, making it very scenic, but it wasn’t very suitable for young people with ambition. Even though Yaos’ family, the Shiba family, was community leaders of Daemado, they were weak compared to those of the mainland. But that didn’t stop him from winning the general election nine years ago when he was only 32 years old.
“What’s this about?”
“I heard you signed a contract with Daesan Group.”
“I’ve been bothered by everyone on this so-called vacation. But why do you ask? Is this a white man’s doing?”
“The States isn’t the only country involved with Daesan Group. Japan is in on it too.”
The CIA had been keeping up with what Kim Dae San and Kim Dae Chan had been doing. Since it was uncomfortable to contact him, they were using Japan to keep an eye on them. Shiba Yaos was simply unlucky.
“If China gets involved too, things will get really complicated… How involved is Japan?”
“The States promised to support our diplomatic relations.”
“What? Is this about Dokdo and comfort women problem?”
“That wouldn’t be bad, either…”
“A revision of the peace constitution?”
Yaos shrugged his shoulders.
“Japan and the States will always be alliances as long as it’s against China and Russia.”
“What do you get out of it? Chief Cabinet Secretary? Or Minister of Foreign Affairs?”
“It’s a little too early for me to become a minister.”
“Then it must be the Chief Cabinet Secretary.”
Instead of opening his mouth, he just smiled.
“Chief Cabinet Secretary in your early forties… You might become the prime minister by fifty at this rate.”
“That’d be nice, but you never know.”
Japan was a strange country that despised change.
Even though they liked sincerity and diligence, they didn’t like innovation. The Japanese DNA, which pursued stability by nature, distrusted the thinking processes of the outside world. The Japanese strongly believed that the ones born and raised in Japan were the best. People often call that the artisan spirit, but Ahn Soo Ho thought they just lacked flexibility.
“As you already know, I’m not a patriot.”
“But that doesn’t mean I’m a traitor either.”
Even though it would be sad if Daesan Group went down, associating that with Korea’s future was a dangerous way of thinking. Despite liking Kim Dae San and Kim Dae Chan as people, he couldn’t live their lives for them.
Yaos gulped in response to Ahn Soo Ho’s grave tone. Even though he was able to disguise his smiling face, he couldn’t put off his nervousness.
“Whether this is about economical logic or something else, I have no interest in getting involved in your struggle for rights.”
Because that matter had nothing to do with him.
“But remember one thing, Shiba.”
Yaos tensed up to the sound of his name.
“Don’t cross my line.”
His trip to Daemado interfered with his initial plans to go on an eating adventure.
Jejudo at night showed off a different vibe from the day, and the quiet country roads outside of the city center was filled with complete darkness. One could call it two faces of Jejudo. The underdeveloped parts didn’t look comforting, but rather frightening. If one watched ‘Korean Ghost Stories’, picking up a hitchhiker in Jejudo at night was simply a stupid thing to do.
“Because they’re ghosts from the underworld. Boo!”
Emily and Rachel were at a loss for words.
Ahn Soo Ho smacked his lips at the lukewarm response as he drove in the driver’s seat. No matter how long he has lived abroad, he was still Korean by nature. The night drive was quite pleasant, and finding two lost sheep in the middle of the roads brought him enjoyment. Emily and Rachel were Australian high school students who were visiting Korea during their vacation..
Two underage girls traveling on their own in foreign countries might sound fine in other people’s perspective, but that wasn’t true at all. Emily’s uncle ran an orchard on Jejudo, but it was still wrong for two young girls to go around late at night. Even though Korea was relatively safe, wandering around remote alleyways and entering quiet forest trails would simply be asking for a crime to happen.
“Anyway, thank you, Soo Ho.”
“If that’s hard to pronounce, you can call me Jason.”
“Your English is great, Jason.”
“I’m fluent in English, French, and German. Just like Jason Bourne.”
“Wow! Are you bragging?”
“I can’t help being so great.”
The two high school girls enjoyed his non-Korean response.
“Here we are.”
The grim face of a middle-aged white man could be seen in front of them. His long beard made him look even rougher. However, his expression turned into a smile as soon as he looked toward Ahn Soo Ho.
“I can’t thank you enough.”
“Don’t worry about it. It was no problem.”
He was surprised by the white man’s fluent Korean.
“You seem surprised.”
“I didn’t expect you to be so fluent. You must have lived here for a while.”
“It’s been over twenty years.”
Ahn Soo Ho nodded. If he has been in Korea for over twenty years, he must be more unfamiliar with English instead. David Cox. His Korean name was Lee Chul. He was naturalized in Korea because of a woman. His wife, who was scolding the two troublemakers, looked like she was quite popular among men when she was younger.
“I’ll be going now.”
“Just like that? Why don’t you stay for dinner?”
He was definitely different from a Korean. Ahn Soo Ho didn’t decline his offer. As soon as Emily and Rachel went inside with drooped shoulders, Lee Mi Hyun expressed her gratitude.
“I’m sorry for the trouble they caused you. My name is Lee Mi Hyun.”
“I’m Ahn Soo Ho. And it was no trouble at all. They actually saved me from a very lonely drive home.”
“You don’t look like you live in Jejudo.”
“I’m here on a business trip vacation.”
Seeing how Lee Mi Hyun took a census as soon as they met, she was undoubtedly a Korean. The house on the orchard was more spacious than it seemed. The living room window was connected to a well-decorated terrace where a barbecue grill, cooking utensils, and ingredients wee set up.
Ahn Soo Ho quickly started to help.
“You’re our guest…”
“This is the least I can do for a free meal. Please let me help.”
Lee Mi Hyun didn’t seem to hate it, and Lee Chul just smiled brightly. They must have liked his initiative. They started eating as soon as Emily and Rachel arrived after washing up and getting changed. He had no idea that he would enjoy a Western barbecue in Jejudo, so he felt lucky and fascinated.
They used a combination of Korean and English, and had a great time.
People might think they were old friends, but they only met for the first time today. That was what made it that much more incredible. It had been like that since he was little. He was able to see through people whom no one else could read. He would just see it. He could see what they were thinking, how they felt, and how they would respond.
“What kind of work do you do?”
“Oh, didn’t I tell you?”
Toward the end of the meal, he became friends with Lee Chul, and Emily and Rachel called him by his name. Besides Lee Mi Hyun, who kept her guard up, no one else felt suspicious of him.
“I work at Daesan Hotel Resort.”
“Wow! You’re an elite!”
“No, I’m not. I’m just a villa caretaker. Oh, Emily and Rachel. You two should come visit before I go back.”
“What about me?”
“You and your wife are always welcome.”
“Wow! Do you mean that?”
“Do I look like the type to say empty words?”
“No, of course not.”
The tipsy Lee Chul laughed loudly to everything he said. There was usually a special connection among middle-aged men. While Ahn Soo Ho was enjoying dessert and tea time, he felt his phone vibrating. He excused himself and answered it in a quiet corner.
“The winning bid is twelve million dollars. Are we doing it?”
“Pay via bank transfer, and don’t leave any records this time.”
“Deputy Director Eaton was looking for you.”
Jeremy Eaton O’Hare was an influential man leading the CIA.
“Things have gotten really complicated after Empire Konzern. Africa’s side is looking suspicious, and the embargo is delaying the announcement regarding the many people that have been kidnapped. Sealy and Delta have been dispatched, but I heard they might have failed. Anyway, it’s complicated.”
“It looks like only the brokers will strike it rich.”
“I don’t know. I heard the catch is so big that all the brokers are cautious about gulping the whole thing down.”
Powerful nations like England and France preferred to use external contractors for delicate matters. The reason was because they could pass on the responsibility to someone else as long as they paid well enough. The Pentagon and the CIA, for instance, paid astronomical amounts of money to countless external contractors and brokers.
“Use the Deep Breath guys.”
“Henry won’t like that.”
“I don’t care. Just bring me what I want by noon tomorrow even if it means you have to sweet-talk a bunch of the Chinese.”
“Yeah, I got it.”
After he ended his call, Ahn Soo Ho said farewell to Lee Chul and his family. Was it possible to become like family in just a few hours? He believed that all relationships depend on how much effort one put into it. There were people who were just uncomfortable to be with even after 10 or 20 years, and there were also people who would become part of the family after just a few hours.
When Ahn Soo Ho returned to his residence, he was greeted by someone he didn’t really want to see. To him, he was someone who would make him feel uncomfortable even after 10 or 20 years later. He was his Naval Academy classmate who caused Ahn Soo Ho to drop out.
“Lee Kyung Joon?”
“Long time no see, Ahn Soo Ho.”
“Is it appropriate for us to be this friendly with each other?”
He noticed a lieutenant colonel badge on his naval uniform. Lieutenant Colonel at 37 years old? He was promoted very early. Lee Kyung Joon didn’t seem happy about the poor treatment as if he didn’t want to come either. He got straight to the point.
“I want you to back out of Daesan Group. I think you’ve misunderstood. We’re not trying to bring Daesan down. We’re just trying to eradicate corruption and restore a healthy corporate culture.”
“I don’t know which part to laugh at.”
He laughed due to the absurdity.
“Soo Ho. Haven’t you experienced how scary real power can be?”
“Are you talking about when I got kicked out of school? Yeah, I have.”
Everyone thought Ahn Soo Ho dropped out, but the truth was, he was kicked out. After that day, he didn’t think he could ever become a patriot.
“Piss of while your legs are still intact.”
“Ahn Soo Ho!”
As soon as Ahn Soo Ho called security, Lee Kyung Joon backed off with a mixed expression on his face, but he didn’t stop his nonsense.
“You’ve always been too reckless.”
“I don’t want to see you ever again.”
Lee Kyoong Jun left after that, but the unpleasant feeling lingered for quite a while. After blankly staring out the window, Ahn Soo Ho suddenly took out his phone.
“Dae Chan. It’s me.”
“I heard Lee Kyung Joo went to find you.”
“Was it their doing?”
Lee of Jeonju.
Even though Korea became a country after the fall of Joseon and the Japanese colonial era, the elite class that ruled the society still served the clans that descended from the days of aristocrats. Even though there were many collateral lines of Lee, they believed they were the only true successors of the name. They dwelled on past glory without anyone knowing.
“The president is of that clan, right? This is getting interesting.”
“No, it’s not. It’s getting annoying.”
Ahn Soo Ho just smiled. Actually, he might have thought he was smiling, but other people would have been startled by his twitching lips and sharply raised eyes.
“I’m going to rewrite the contract, Dae Chan.”
He’s going to relieve his sh*tty mood and repay an old debt all in one go.
“You’re not having any fun, are you? I’ll make it fun for you.”
But, it would surely have the opposite effect on someone else.
< Protect – Episode 4 – Kim Dae Chan  >