Chapter 50: < Protect – Episode 49 – Audition  >
How did government heads and politicians accumulate achievements? First, they would go into development and redevelopment before they received support to carry out national projects. In particular, things that other local governments avoid such as nuclear energy, dams, waste disposal sites, and sewage might receive backlash from the residents, but it would lead to positive influences in regional development.
In the political world, creating a bigger world couldn’t be done with just one person. Someone had to push and someone else had to pull. The tricks this place used were competitions and events using regional specialties. They received funding by using the excuse of developing the region, but if people would look closely, it was nothing more than provocative beauty competitions.
If Korea had sound ladies comparable to peppers, pears, and apples, Japan had women of all sorts comparable to peppers, pears, apples, rice, barley, and mackerel. If the regional residents knew how much money was going into the region’s mascots, they would have been astonished. The community business in Japan was nothing but government controlled administration.
“In the competitions held at regional festivals, there aren’t age restrictions. Actually, someone even advertises it as a competition for minors. Whether they’re male or female, being young is a weapon. I guess what they say about age being influential is true.”
Producer Oda spoke what he truly thought. People often curse about people in the entertainment industry looking one way and thinking another, but today, he showed his true self as if he was confessing his love. Why was that? That was because the spirit Ahn Soo Ho emitted was captivating and made him likable. People liked him because of the profit as well as his charm.
“The ones that stand out get picked up by the regional office. If not, they’re picked for a fashion magazine to test the waters.”
“The region can verify that?”
“This may sound like bragging, but our country is a big one with a good system. Especially when it comes to the regional broadcasting industry. Have you heard of basement idols?”
Ahn Soo Ho shooked his head.
“It’s kind of like an idol minus league. There are many small stadiums in every city, so it’s not difficult to put on individual concerts. However, only a limited number of candidates receive the support to do that.”
“So that’s what basement means.”
He couldn’t help but smirk.
By basement, they meant under the ground. He realized how big the Japanese idol market really was. Since all he saw on the news were about Korean idols and K-Pop, he underestimated them. But the truth was that Korean singers weren’t the only ones who were popular. Japan’s music industry wasn’t the second biggest in the world for no reason.
“The office receives hundreds of thousands of profile postcards a year. That happens every year. It’s not just us. Osaka Eyes 10 also receives hundreds of thousands of applicants a year. Even though it requires a lot of confidence to even apply, most get dropped at the document stages.”
“Do you just send them back?”
“It must be a company secret.”
“It’s not a secret. Hm. Isn’t the Korean entertainment industry also connected to mobs?”
Oda, who initially trailed off, decided to talk about everything.
“I’m not sure. I heard it was in the past, but I don’t know anymore.”
“Is that right? Anyway, it’s embarrassing, but most Japanese entertainment offices are connected to a Yakuza. Everyone knows, but keeps quiet about it.”
“Do they get involved with the business themselves?”
“Since a lot of eyes are watching, they try not to. But…”
“I’m only telling you this. There are scouts who are looking for people who are not good enough to be real celebrities, but have some kind of potential.”
Just like Korea, it wasn’t easy to succeed as an entertainer in Japan. One had to have talent and luck, but the most important was background. These days, the offsprings of famous politicians and businessmen went the furthest.
“You can no longer expect to succeed just because you dragged yourself up to Seoul and worked hard. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible either. However, it’s more likely for those with better backgrounds to succeed in the entertainment business.”
The entertainment offices’ standards for picking new recruits started changing as well.
“Most people will succumb to a bag full of cash. The ones without a good background get lured quite easily.”
Oda’s audition was held at an outdoor venue. It was usually used as a parking lot, but it transformed into an outdoor venue today. He didn’t know what the Japanese traffic laws were like, but it seemed like they pulled some strings. Anyone who had driven in Japan before knew how strict the Japanese traffic laws were. It was highly likely for any rally application to get rejected because it would cause traffic disturbance.
There was a variety of contestants at the audition.
There were contestants who prepared comedy, song, dance, Japanese traditional theatre, and even magic. What was more surprising was the age group. Even though it was an idol audition, seeing how there was a grandmother in her 70s, it must be a regional festival after all. There was even those conducting business for the spectators of the audition, so their standards weren’t as strict as that of a major agency.
“Is he one of the scouts?”
“Yes. He’s from Kanemoto Production.”
In response to Ahn Soo Ho’s gesture, Logan gave his subordinates a look. Ahn Soo Hoo went to shake hands with Oda with a smile.
“I’ll positively consider investing in you, Mr. Oda.”
Oda was taken aback by the sudden goodbye since he had even booked a fancy restaurant for them, but he couldn’t pressure him to stay for a meal. So he had no choice but to let him go.
Ahn Soo Ho went to a nearby café.
He rented out a 7th floor café that looked down upon a crowded shopping district in Ebisu. After making the barista, servers, and manager leave, it was just Ahn Soo Ho and his men. The coffee that Logan made was actually edible.
“You’re stingy, Soo Ho.”
“I was being generous.”
Mercenaries were just as obsessed with coffee as they were with alcohol. Since one would have to drink boiled water on the battlefield, it was common to mix it with something. So caffeine addiction was just as big of a problem as alcohol addiction. Someone got flung in front of Ahn Soo Ho, who was enjoying coffee in front of the window.
It was the scout from Kanemoto Production that Producer Oda pointed out earlier.
“Wh…who are you?”
“Don’t be scared. Mister?”
“Mr. Anja? If you answer my questions, there won’t be any problems.”
Anja was intimidated, but he didn’t surrender either. Ahn Soo Ho looked for fear within his eyes. However, he noticed that he wasn’t scared of him at all. Making him surrender with fear wasn’t the right thing to do.
“Call your superior.”
When Anja hesitated, Ahn Soo Ho glanced at Logan to bring the 007 bag then made him open it. If one bundle of 10,000 yen was 1 million won, there was more than 30 million won.
The money made Anja’s eyes roll. Was it not enough? When he hesitated, another 007 bag was added.
60 million won changed the situation completely. Anja excused himself and took out his phone. After speaking with an obvious superior, he passed the phone to Ahn Soo Ho.
“Who are you?”
The person on the line asked who he was.
“Just pass along this message to your boss. I have something to tell him about cherry blossoms. Oh, and if you don’t take this request seriously, things will get tough for you. I’ll be waiting for a call at this number.”
He said what he wanted to say and hung up. Anja walked off with his two 007 bags and no one stopped him.
“Do you think you’ll get a call?”
“I’m sure they’ll call out of curiosity.”
The phone rang just in time. Ahn Soo Ho shrugged at Logan and answered the phone.
“Who are you?”
A different voice asked the same question that was asked earlier.
“My name is Ahn Soo Ho.”
His heavy groan told him that he wasn’t a small fry.
“Are you in a position that can take responsibility? Mister?”
In what was called Cherry Blossom Revival or Cherry Blossom Association, Kurosawa took up one of the highest ranks of merit.
“What is it that you want, Mr. Guardian?”
“You’re still maintaining a close relationship with Korean National Association, aren’t you, Mr. Kurosawa?”
He trailed off as he answered.
“Give me the black box.”
He let out another heavy groan.
“Or have a war with me. But I’m warning you. A Yakuza won’t be helping you with this one.”
He answered with another groan.
He didn’t find them the least bit pitiful for being cornered with a checkmate move. Cherry Blossom Association was so dirty that the Korea National Association was nothing in comparison. Cherry Blossom Association’s way of dealing with this was to conspire and use their opponent’s weakness, and the Korean faction that was categorized as pro-Japanese were fools in comparison.
Cherry Blossom Association lured capable men of Korea and got them to help them maintain their affairs with their lovers and to have mistresses. There was a high chance of getting caught in their own country since there were many eyes watching, but if they had organizational support abroad, it didn’t matter what they did there. It was rare nowadays, but there were many politicians and businessmen who had households in both Korea and Japan in the 70s and 80s, and those mixed bloods went back and forth and worked as lobbyists.
“I’ll give you 10 minutes to agree.”
Kurosawa continued to reply with groans.
“What’s a black box, Soo Ho?”
“A dirty bomb.”
“A dirty bomb?”
“It’s a metaphorical expression. Or is it an ambiguous expression? You can interpret it literally as a dirty bomb.”
If China obtained information through kidnapping, confinement, threatening, and secret observation, Japan did it in a softer manner. They made an effort to make them cooperate willingly rather than forcefully getting the information.
“Do you know why Japan can’t get rid of Yakuzas?”
“Is there a reason?”
“During World War II, Yakuzas even took the lead of greater East Asia and worked for the military as colonies. They were kind of like intelligence agents. And after the defeat of the Japanese imperialism, they used the reconstruction to dominate the labor market.”
Since the Japanese government wanted shipshape labor at the time, they wanted to bury any complaints that came from the laborers in poor conditions. Yakuzas used that as an opportunity to train the civilians with violence and suppression.
“Cherry Blossom Association is similar to Yakuzas, but not exactly. Their ranks are different.”
If Yakuzas had dominated the labor force, Cherry Blossom Association put their energy establishing stratification of knowledge.
Ahn Soo Ho smiled at the sound of his ringtone.
“I’ll give you the black box. But under one condition.”
“You’re not in the position to do that. Tsk! Okay, what is it?”
Cornering them too much could cause an unexpected situation, so he had to avoid it.
“I want to meet with the Korean president.”
“Why? You can just make a request to the Korea National Association. Oh, do you want a formal meeting?”
“Yes. I want a Korean Japanese summit meeting.”
Ahn Soo Ho stroked his chin. Seeing how he was asking him to do it instead of going through the foreign affairs department, he must have had a cunning plan, but he didn’t want to worry about that.
“Thank you. I’ll send it to you right away.”
After going into deep thought after the call, he got out from his seat and looked back at Logan.
“Let’s go back.”
“To the hotel?”
Ahn Soo Ho showed a relieved smile.
The private jet heading from Japan to Korea was quite noisy. That would have been a problem on a normal plane, but it was okay on a private jet.
“The seats are so comfy!”
“It’s more comfortable than my bed!”
“You’re exaggerating. Wait, it is!”
How many people would ever be able to sit in first-class? Business seats weren’t cheap either. Japan and China were quite close, but it was very expensive to fly from Korea to the States or Europe. Ahn Soo Ho, who was reading a newspaper in the very front seat, smiled while flipping the pages.
- A list of politicians who lead foreign sex tourism in Japan, China, Thailand, and the Philippines had been released!
- National embarrassment! Fallen national prestige! A ripple had been caused in the sex tourism industry!
- An emergency talk with President Lee Joong Hyun! Corrupted officials would be eradicated! Support the pan-nationals!
- Was there a dark connection between the national defense foundation and the welfare association? Was it another national defense corruption?
Ahn Soo Ho picked up the cabin phone and dialed a number.
“It’s me, Chul.”
“Was that you, Ahn Soo Ho?”
Yoon Chul’s voice could be heard over the phone.
“What do you mean?”
“Forget it. I know you’re the type who doesn’t talk much…Okay, why are you calling?”
“How much has Soo Jung dug up?”
“The national defense foundation and the welfare association are already on the news. Isn’t it too dangerous?”
Oh, did Kim Soo Jung reported that? Then that would make it easier.
“Call Lee Kyung Joon.”
Was it 14 years since they last saw each other? It sure took a long time.
“Tell him to crawl over here.”
< Protect – Episode 49 – Audition  > The end.