Chapter 7: < Protect – Episode 6 – Park Ok Nam  >
Ahn Soo Ho didn’t come down to Jejudo only for its fame as a popular tourist destination in Korea.
One may ask why there was a snack shop in a tourist destination, but not all businesses in Jejudo were for the tourists alone. In contrast to the visitors, the residents live their everyday lives on the island. The beautiful sunset upon the ocean unfazed who lives here. Being moved by its magnificence of the view vanishes once they get used to it.
As soon as the door opened, the wind made the bell rang harder.
“Hello. How many?”
The lady who started her formal greeting stopped midway.
Ahn Soo Ho wondered what sort of expression he’s making.
They both had a lot they wanted to say to each other, but it had been over 20 years since they last spoke. The mother he remembered was full of energy, so why does she look so old in front of him now? Time is cruel. Kyung Ho knew he would hate her before he even went there. But he had never hated the woman by the name of Park Ok Nam for a single second.
Why? Because he understood.
“Father crossed the line.”
When he died and came back to life with the queen grandmother’s help, his father blamed his mom for it all. Since arranged marriages were common back then, they were never affectionate with each other, to begin with. If anyone’s at fault for his parents’ divorce, it would be his foolish behavior. The people in their neighborhood called her a slut.
“Koreans are so nosy…” Why were they so interested in other families’ affairs? If one crossed the line, it would harm them.
“How have you been?”
“Good. What about you, Mom?”
“I’ve been good too.”
His mom sacrificed her custody of him because of his father’s threats. He felt sad even though it wasn’t because she didn’t love him. It’s because a child without a mother is much more noticeable than a child without a father.
“Why are you crying? Mom, I didn’t come here to talk about the past. People will think I’m a loan shark that came here to collect.”
“Who are you? What are you doing in our store?”
A girl in a school uniform glared at Ahn Soo Ho with a mop in her hand. She had a few friends with brooms and dustpans in their hands. She felt her forehead with her hand. Why does he have a sad feeling about this?
“Hey, come on. Calm down.”
“Who are you?”
If Ahn Soo Ho called for his mom because he wanted help while the confused girl wearing a school uniform called for her mom. Park Ok Nam, who was in the center of it all, tore up. The other female students backed off thinking it was none of their business.
“Did you call her mom?”
Ahn Soo Ho realized something when he heard that. The little sister he only knew through papers reminds him of when Mrs. Park was younger.
“Did you call her mom?”
It surprised Lee So Hye for a different reason. She remembered a photo hidden in her mom’s wallet.
“Ahn Soo Ho?”
“Hey! How dare you call your older brother by his name? Were you always this cheeky?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
She put down her mom and bowed to apologize.
“Come here and comfort your mother, little sis.”
“Mom, why are you crying?”
She went to Mrs. Park and comforted her. Whether it’s a man or a woman, that one drop of tear weighed a great amount of power. Even though it’s awkward, it got rid of the cold vibe and made the other person curious. As the girl observed her older brother whom she had never met before, she proclaimed an explicit statement.
“We have no money!”
It was obvious she was attacking him with her gaze.
“Wait, are you calling me the creditor? At least debtors can stand dignified.”
This is not a great start.
“I’m not here to collect anything…”
“Oh yeah? I recorded that.” Lee So Hye took out her phone from under the table and cheered. “I recorded it, so you better not go back on your word!”
“It’s illegal to record without the other person’s consent, little one.”
“I don’t care. What do you want? Agh!”
She crouched down after getting hit over the back of his head by Mrs. Park.
“Don’t treat your big brother that way.”
“Agh! That’s hurt!”
“I don’t care. Did you have dinner?”
As she pulled Lee So Hye’s cheeks, she looked back at Ahn Soo Ho. It was no longer awkward with the son she hadn’t seen in a long time. Ahn Soo Ho just smiled.
“No, I’m hungry.”
“Wait here. You girls wait too.”
The female students in the corner sat down in response to what Mrs. Park said posthaste.
“Are you really So Hye’s big brother?”
“I know, right? She never had such a tall brother.”
“Hey! Your surnames are different!”
“What is this? Is there a secret behind your births? Oh, my god!”
Damn it! He had a secret behind his birth when not even rich people had those in real life.
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Ahn Soo Ho.”
“His voice is so deep! He’s a real grownup.”
“Tall guys are so good-looking! You’re so tall!”
“He is! Forget all the guys under 180 centimeters!”
It was madness.
“Be quiet! Do you want free food or not?”
The female students quieted down in response to Lee So Hye’s authoritative voice. Ahn Soo Ho gave her a thumbs up without even realizing it. That was the best threat one could make in a capitalist society.
“Capitalism for the win!”
Nothing is impossible when you have money. Lee So Hye, who made the uniformed sisters quiet down, went right into a census.
“How old are you?”
“37 this year.”
“Wow! You look young for your age.”
“I thought you were in your twenties.
The female students noticed their financial backer’s glare and quieted down again.
“Are you married?”
“Then are you divorced?”
“I’ve never been married.”
Lee So Hye rested her chin and asked the last and most important question. Just like the discussion of Hamlet’s life and death, she thought every other question was meaningless in comparison.
“What’s your salary?”
“Hm, in the one hundred millions?”
Ahn Soo Ho smirked at the way Lee So Hye rolled her tongue.
“What a cheeky little sister.”
But he’s not sad about it.
Ahn Soo Ho had known Mrs. Park Ok Nam moved to Jejudo after her remarriage for quite some time. The reason isn’t anything special. He found her while he looked into what could become his weakness. It’s true. A family was something that could become a person’s biggest weakness. He had to bribe Lee So Hye and her friends to get away from them to finish talking with his mom.
“Aw, you must have no luck with men. Are you Mrs. Park because you’re unlucky?”
She laughed out of absurdity in response to his joke.
“I can’t change my fate.”
His mom’s new husband was a good person. That was probably why she could rely on him even though she had a lot of painful baggage. But like how too much affection is bad between neighbors, great people had a clear flaw. They can’t turn people down. In the end, he was unable to refuse his relative’s request and got himself into trouble.
“How much is it?”
“Why? Are you going to pay it off for me?”
Mrs. Park became daring after having a glass of soju for old time’s sake.
“How much is it?”
“Three hundred million won.”
Ahn Soo Ho took out his phone and called Oh Joo Kyung.
“Ms. Oh, you know where I am now, right? Then bring me five hundred million won in cash. Yes. Oh, the welcoming ceremony? Hm, okay. You have yourself a deal.”
As soon as he hung up, his mom urged him with a sobered face.
“What did you do? Are you a loan shark?”
“A loan shark? What do you take me for? You know you can’t deposit the cash right away, right?”
“Yeah, I know. What on earth are you doing these days?”She didn’t forget to ask her hearts out while answering each question well.
Meanwhile, the store closed early, and a knock came from the locked door. Oh Joo Kyung came in as soon as Ahn Soo Ho unlocked the door. She nodded at him and bowed down to his mother.
“The five hundred million won is in fifty thousand won bills.”
“You didn’t get it from the bank, did you?”
Ahn Soo Ho gave the bag to Mrs. Park.
“Here! This is your birthday present for the last twenty years I missed.”
She stumbled while receiving the bag. Five hundred million won in cash was heavier than she expected.
“Oh yeah! And just in case you misunderstand…”
Ahn Soo Ho signaled Oh Joo Kyung with a nod to pull out a business card from her handbag and hand it over to Mrs. Park. It was the card Daesan Group made for him.
“Director of Daesan Group? You?”
“I’ll be back tomorrow.”
What mother wouldn’t feel shocked after knowing the son whom she hadn’t seen for over 20 years gave her five hundred million won in cash? He loved his mom, but he neglected her during her hardship. Even though he could have lectured her about her new husband’s foolish behavior, he remained a spectator. A high-end sedan, a driver, and a few bodyguards line up before him as soon as he got out of the store. Ahn Soo Ho entered through the door the driver opened for him and sat in the back seat.
His mom still had a twinge of doubt in her eyes.
“Go inside, Mom. Tell So Hye I said sorry for leaving without saying goodbye.”
“You must be busy. Get going. Are you really coming tomorrow?”
“Yeah. I’ll drop by in the afternoon.”
She stared until the car left and was no longer visible. She sighed.
“I guess I have to attend the bothersome welcoming ceremony since I received the five hundred million won.”
“It may be bothersome for you, but it’s an opportunity for me.”
Oh Joo Kyung and Ahn Soo Ho showed faces of joy and sorrow.
“Why didn’t you go through the bank? Then you wouldn’t have had to contact me.”
“Have you played a real-time strategy game before?”
Ahn Soo Ho said something unrelated in response to Oh Joo Kyung’s question.
“Yes, I have.”
“Was that unexpected?”
“Yeah. You look like the type to look through fashion magazines.”
She had such an outstanding beauty and figure for a secretary.
“Anyway, in real-time strategy games, sometimes you can see your opponent’s weakness. What do you do when that happens?”
“I attack it.”
“Right? That’s what most people do.”
“But what does that have to do with my question?”
Ahn Soo Ho stroked his beard that grew out within half a day.
“Family is a weakness for just about anyone.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“So we… Hm, ‘we’ sounded weird. So on this side, there’s one unspoken rule. Do you know what that is?”
“To not mess with anyone’s family?”
“Yeah. I know it sounds corny, but that’s the rule.”
Not even the most reckless psychos messed with family. However, since the world is overflowing with crazy people, someone could sacrifice family for another person’s motive even today.
“Are you thinking someone messed with your family?”
“No, there’s no way.”
“It’s not my family they messed with.” He hadn’t thought about Mrs. Park’s new husband as his family even once. It’s a shame his parents got divorced. However, that didn’t mean he had to treat Mrs. Park and her new husband as his parents. “But the problem is…”
Could it be a coincidence?
“That man’s surname is Lee too.”
< Protect – Episode 6 – Park Ok Nam  > The end.