Chapter 8: < Protect – Episode 7 – Park Ok Nam  >
When Ahn Soo Ho looked into it, he realized how unfortunate his mom’s life was. The men she met after divorcing his father were sweet at first, but they turned out to be nothing but loud yet empty vessels.
“Lee Hyo Geun.”
He may have been a “Lee” of Jeonju, but he was far from a capable man considering his impressive background. Mrs. Park Ok Nam, who remarried Lee Hyo Geun, gave birth to a son named Lee Jung Hoon and a daughter named Lee So Hye five years later when she was 40 years old. It was a pregnancy at a later age. He doesn’t know why she made that risky choice, but the little sister he met today was one cheerful girl.
“Something’s going on here.”
His brain had never betrayed him ever since it fully matured.
“Do you have to do this?”
“A promise is a promise, Director.”
Daesan Hotel Resort was more crowded at night. Since it was a business in the service industry, the hours were always uncertain, but today their workload was full in particular because of a welcoming ceremony held for an executive who got in through his connection with the vice-chairman. The hotel had no connection or association with anyone in the banquet hall.
An ocean development company, a wind power generation team, Daesan Channel Broadcast Station, a newspaper company, and a Security Service were there, as well as a giveaway event and an entertainment agency. Large corporations sure had a lot of connections. It would be faster to look for what field they haven’t entered yet.
“Welcome, Director Ahn. I apologize for my late introduction.”
“This is General Manager Jang Geun Young of Daesan Hotel Resort in Jejudo.”
If Oh Joo Kyung hadn’t whispered in his ear, he would have made a mistake during their first meeting.
“Are you the general manager?”
“I am, Director.” The man shifted towards him in an awkward composure. “I actually have a favor to ask you…”
“Please go ahead.”
“I’ll tell you a little later.”
It wasn’t him, but Oh Joo Kyung who dragged him around to introduce him to the Daesan family. People might think she’s his wife. They said they got a famous comedian to host the event, but as someone who doesn’t watch Korean TV much, he does not understand what’s so funny about the entire thing.
“I feel like I’m the only stupid one here.”
He decided to just laugh along.
The event dedicated the middle of the ceremony to make way for people to give their speeches. Ahn Soo Ho, who stepped up onto the platform, had countless gazes directed upon him. There were curious leers and immature ones. There were few familiar gazes, with most of them being ambiguous. They have deferred their judgment of him.
“What a beautiful evening.”
As soon as he did a parody of a famous line from an actress, his peers left out a quiet chuckle.
“I got this position through my connection with the chairman. But as some of you know, I’m not a permanent employee, so I have little power. There’s no need to be tense around me. If you want to make a good impression, I suggest you go to Deputy Oh over there.”
Ahn Soo Ho whispered into the mic.
“She’s the actual person of influence.”
“Haha.” This time, they laughed a little louder.
“To the bright future of the Daesan family!”
“To our bright future!”
As soon as he chanted followed by a burst of laughter, everyone raised their glasses. Oh Joo Kyung, who met Ahn Soo Ho as he got down from the podium, had a mysterious look on her face.
“You were better than I expected, Director.”
“Really? Is that a compliment?”
“Yes. One moment.” She must have received important news from her earphone.
“Director… your mother is here. What would you like to do?”
“Direct her to the guest room.”
Even though Oh Joo Kyung was taken aback, Ahn Soo Ho wasn’t very surprised. He headed toward the guest room. The guard opened the door as soon as he greeted him with his eyes. Ahn Soo Ho stopped Oh Joo Kyung from following him in.
“Wait out here.”
She gave in and backed off. It had been two hours since they parted, but his mom was in a horrible state. Even though she had no visible wounds, her clothes told him she was in a scuffle.
“Did he take it from you?”
The mom couldn’t speak in response to his straightforward question.
“Just divorce him.”
“Soo Ho, I’m…”
“This is your life no matter what other people think.”
Mrs. Park Ok Nam may not have wanted a second divorce, but Ahn Soo Ho wanted that for her. Handing over five hundred million in cash was all planned out. But he didn’t know he would take the bait so soon.
“Is he only pretending to be a good person?”
Lee Hyo Geun, whom they thought was a good person, wasn’t a good person after all.
“Where’s So Hye?”
“She went to the library.”
Ahn Soo Ho called Oh Joo Kyung over from afar.
“Bring So Hye here. Actually, let’s go to her. Get ready.”
“Yes, Sir.” Seeing how she didn’t ask where she was, Daesan Group kept a close eye on my mom.
“What about Kyung Hoon?”
“He’s in the States.”
He already knew that too.
“Stay here and rest. I’ll take care of it.”
“Soo Ho, I’m fine.”
When she grabbed his shirt as he turned to leave, he felt her hands shaking. She couldn’t help being startled by the sudden shock. Even though her mouth said she was okay, something scared her instincts. Ahn Soo Ho clicked his tongue in his head.
“Ahn Soo Ho, do you really love me?”
It’d be a lie if he said he didn’t see this coming. He hugged Mrs. Park Ok Nam tight. Her shaking got even worse. His mom’s embrace, which felt big when he was little, felt tiny today.
“Don’t worry, Mom. It’ll be okay.”
He would do everything to make this happen.
“Dad! How could you do this?”
Young Lee So Hye wasn’t crazy about money because she had a weak mentality. Ahn Soo Ho knew that too. She became cheeky because of her father, Lee Hyo Geun’s nosiness. Lee So Hye, who lied to her mom about going to the library, was in the middle of a part-time shift when she got a call from a friend saying there was a fight at Eunhye Snacks.
She knew what was going on. Her older brother didn’t come to borrow money, but he came to lend it instead. Her naïve mom probably told her dad about it, and it bound her dad who hadn’t gotten his act together to do something foolish.
“Wow! Look at you!”
Lee Hyo Geun looked at Lee So Hye who was worked up with anger like a madman.
“So Hye, let’s talk about this at home.”
“No way! I’m not going anywhere until you hand over the money! I won’t!”
“Let’s call the police, Mom. That girl needs to learn how the world really works.”
The former wife and her son scoffed at Lee Hyo Geun and Lee So Hye’s scuffle.
“Look here! If you had a conscience, you wouldn’t be able to do this! Wasn’t tricking my dad and making him your surety enough? What makes you think you can take the money my mom got? That money was to pay off our debt!”
“Wow, you sure have a lot to say for a little wench. You should know when not to butt in. Tsk, tsk. How badly do you have to raise someone to get a wench like that in our Lee family? What happened, Father?”
“Don’t talk like that to your little sister.”
“She’s not my little sister. We have different moms.”
The dad who was trying to comfort the jerk looked very pathetic. Lee So Hye hated the current situation. If one remarried, stay loyal to that new family, but Lee Hyo Geun kept seeing his former wife and son behind her mom’s back. At first, she liked his warm nature, but as time went by, she frowned at his excessive kindness.
“You can’t trick me.”
The surety incident involved his former wife and his side of the family. Her mom was the only one who knew nothing. The only reason she couldn’t expose her father’s betrayal was because her past hasn’t freed her mother yet either. The photo hidden inside her mother’s wallet made her pity her father.
But this isn’t right.
He can’t take the money her former husband’s child gave her and spend it on his former wife and son. There was no way her mom would have consented to that, so she became sick and tired of Lee Hyo Geun, who tried to seem like a good person.
“Take care of your own family first, Dad!”
What a crazy son of a bitch. She suddenly tore up. She wanted to complain about how ridiculous it was, but there was no one around to listen.
“What’s with all the noise?”
“I’m glad you’re here, uncles.”
Even though the son called them uncles, they were not related. Lee Hyo Geun’s former wife, who opened a shop here just like Park Ok Nam, had a talent for leaching off of men. Even though she lost her enchanting touch due to old age, she was still popular among the seniors.
“Madam Kim, what’s the matter?”
“This little wench is causing a scene.”
“Really? My son is a police officer. Do you want me to call him?”
“Oh, that famous Superintendent Oh? I know him well.”
“Haha. My son is pretty famous in Jejudo.”
That was their indirect way of saying piss off before they call the police.
“Let go of me!”
Lee Hyo Geun grabbed Lee So Hye’s arm, but she shook it off.
“Tsk, tsk! You should listen to your elders.”
“Kids these days don’t listen. Those commies ruined our kids’ education. Back in our day, no one dared to talk back to their teachers!”
“At least our governor isn’t a commie.”
“That governor is really educated. Didn’t he graduate from Harbard?”
“It’s not Harbard. It’s Harvard.”
While the old men chatted, they lost interest in Lee So Hye. The former wife’s son approached her and whispered, “Just get out of here. We’ll pay off your debt, okay?”
“Why would you pay off a debt you passed on to us?”
“Ugh, seriously. You really need to learn how to shut up.”
He picked his ear as if it had an insufferable itch. Lee So Hye panted with an angry look on her face.
“Fuck, you’re just asking for it now.”
“Ha! Let me teach you a lesson…”
The son was about to raise his hand when he heard the loud and clear voice making his heart sink. He felt like he could die if he didn’t stop what he was doing.
“It looks like your hand habits took after your father.”
Even though he wasn’t yelling, Ahn Soo Ho’s voice filled the room and quieted everyone down.
Lee So Hye ran into Ahn Soo Ho’s arms as soon as he opened it.
Even though they just met, her crying makes his heartache. Does this mean step-siblings are family too? After he scanned his surroundings with his cold gaze, he met eyes with Lee Hyo Geun.
“It’s nice to meet you, Lee Hyo Geun.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m Ahn Soo Ho. My mother inconvenienced you greatly.”
“Ahn Soo Ho? Ahem.”
He shifted his expression with an uncomfortable groan. That’s because it reminded him of the scuffle that took place a few hours ago. Park Ok Nam, who was obedient, rebelled against him today. Everyone had already hurt Lee Hyo Geun’s pride because of the surety incident, so he lost control of his temper and smacked her.
“Who are you?”
The jerk son found the courage to butt in. But, there was no such thing as a home advantage here.
“My name is Ahn Soo Ho.”
“Ahn Soo Ho?”
“I’m So Hye’s older brother.”
He tilted his head. The Lee Hyo Geun’s son he remembered didn’t look like him. Or is he a cousin? He couldn’t remember if they had relatives with the surname Ahn living in Jejudo.
“So? Are you here to fight too?”
“You should watch your manners.”
“Not to bastards like you.”
“Wow! I guess I can’t win with words. You win.” Ahn Soo Ho shook his head as if he had given up.
“That’s no way for a young person to behave in front of elders.”
“I know, right? The mainland people have no manners.”
“Yeah. Look how mannerly Madam Kim and his son are.”
The customers, pimps, or whatever the elders were, smirked at them.
Ahn Soo Ho tended the elders with respect because of the queen grandmother. Kim Dae San is an exception. But today, these elders got on his nerves.
“If you don’t want to smell what’s behind the folding screen, shut your trap. Or just leave while you’re at it.”
“This son of a bitch.”
The elders reeked of the foul odor of their mouth panted and cussed. The former wife’s jerk son joined in.
“If you don’t get lost, I’ll call the police. One of these uncles has a son who’s a police officer.”
That’s like saying his in-laws’ third cousin is the top of his class. Ahn Soo Ho smirked again.
“Don’t worry, everyone. I already called the police myself.”
It surprised them as if they were a Chihuahua facing an Alaskan Malamute. As soon as the door opened, police officers filed in, one of which was Superintendent Oh Jin Hwan, they mentioned earlier.
“Jin Hwan. That punk…”
The underling did not finish cursing at Ahn Soo Ho. That’s because the officer went to Ahn Soo Ho and sucked up to him.
“You know the charge, right?”
“Yes. We’ll arrest everyone. What are you doing? Handcuff them immediately!”
The police moved in an orderly fashion to handcuff the former wife, her jerk son, and Lee Hyo Geun as an add-on.
“You’re arrested for tax evasion, fraud, blackmail, theft, and assault! You have the right to remain…”
To them, the Miranda warning probably sounded like a scream from hell, but to him, it sounded sweeter than a love song.
“What is this? Jin Hwan?”
“Jin Hwan? You punk! What do you think you’re doing to Madam Kim?”
“Stay out of this, Father! What are you doing? Get everyone else out of here!”
The strong affection that exists among neighbors of the same community was useless this time. The police had swept the place clean. Ahn Soo Ho left the exhausted Lee So Hye with Oh Joo Kyung and approached Superintendent Oh Jin Hwan.
“That must have been difficult.”
“This is nothing for you to apologize for, and I’m not the one who should hear an apology either.”
Oh Jin Hwan’s head ached. Why did they have to mess with an executive of Daesan Group of all people? If it was a subsidiary company, he could have tried something, but executives of the head office were more powerful than the CEO of any subsidiary company. On top of that, he was someone the chairman and the vice-chairman valued, so he got his act together. This isn’t something even the chief of police can handle.
He saluted to Ahn Soo Ho without even realizing it. Oh Joo Kyung, who was waiting with Lee So Hye in the car, passed him the phone from which Kim Dae Chan’s voice could be heard.
“Hey! Is this why you went to Jejudo? You used the sabbatical and me as an excuse.”
“The first step to any big deed is controlling the household. What about you? How did it go?”
“We got him. I got a call from a Russian ambassador as soon as we caught him.”
“By Russian ambassador, do you mean… Vitali?
“Why? Do you know him?
Even though they knew each other from shooting each other in the buttocks that still counts as knowing each other.
“He’s from KGB.”
“If Russia comes off strong…”
Ahn Soo Ho smiled brighter than he had all day long.
“This will be fun.”
< Protect – Episode 7 – Park Ok Nam  > The end.