Chapter 29: Gunshots Fired in Nagorno-Karabakh (3)
Youngho headed to Main Police Department as soon as he reached Baku. Seeing Youngho arrive, the director took him to a reception room to listen to the news about Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Lee, how is the atmosphere in Nagorno-Karabakh?”
“When I visited, I saw two officials who usually stayed in Yerevan visiting the capital. The people residing in the region didn’t seem to welcome their visit. I heard them saying that the officials were trying to drag Russia into the war and intensifying the bad feelings between the two countries.”
“Well, did you get to see which officials were visiting?”
“I don’t know their names, but they were on newspapers so I brought one for you. The general public opinion says that they are pressuring the army to get involved in the war. Who likes to have wars anyways?”
“Oh, really? Let me see.”
“I want to kick their butts too. Because of them, my business in Stepanakert is not doing well.”
The director already knew about the officials whom Youngho talked about but wanted to hear more from Youngho.
“Mr. Lee, we know the movements in Nagorno-Karabakh already, and so we did not fight against their armed forces except to defend ourselves. We are a powerful nation, but we are trying to make peace because we are a member of the international society.”
Because you are a member of the international society? I don’t think so; you have your own agenda in this, thought Youngho.
“I also agree. This time, the Azeri government made a good decision in taking care of the battle.”
Youngho tried his best to say words that could gain the director’s favor. He wanted to give the impression that he was on Azerbaijan’s side.
“All right. Mr. Lee, I’m glad you stopped by.”
“Oh, and another thing. The militia asked me to order combat rations. Even though I’d love to make more money, I’m not sure if I should take their order because I’m a foreign investor in Azerbaijan.”
At Youngho’s new information, the director pulled his chair toward Youngho and spoke, “How many quantities are they ordering?”
“Well, they say they’ll order about 10,000, but it looks like they don’t have enough money. They wanted the price of five dollars for each. I’m not sure if I’ll gain profit from this. Won’t it trouble Azerbaijan if I take this offer?”
The director replied with a worrisome face, “Mr. Lee, I worked in the military in the past. Te thousand combat rations are just enough to feed the army for five days. Also, combat rations priced at less than five dollars are garbage. No need to worry about it. You can take the offer and keep maintaining a good relationship with the militia. If you lose money for this business, I’ll find another way to compensate you.”
“Phew, it just feels bad. I have lots of work to do my own but I’ve got to take it if I think about the beating.”
At the mention of the ‘beating,’ the director laughed hard. He left the room for a while and returned with a smile.
“Mr. Lee, you can buy combat rations from Turkey. Just in time, the Main Police Department is looking to buy some combat rations too. You can be our agency. We will give you commission as an agent.”
“Wow, that sounds like a good business. Let me know about the quantity in the future. I know a merchant in Turkey. I bought grape plants and farm equipment from him in cheap prices.”
Thinking of Mustafa, Youngho said in excitement.
“If we need large amount, the government will take care of the business, but we are just buying some to store in the Main Police Department. Please get us good ones with good pricing.”
“What? Are you asking for cheap ones like the militia?”
“No no no, the Main Police Department is not cheap like the militia. We’d buy ones that cost at least eight dollars.”
“Okay, I’ll get samples and negotiate with the Turkey suppliers. I guarantee that I’ll get better pricing than government officials.”
Youngho intentionally mentioned about the militia’s order, even though he reduced the quantities, and now he received a new business offer from the Main Police Department. Youngho gladly took the offer and left the building after shaking hands with the director.
It had been only five days since Youngho left the siblings, but the siblings welcomed Youngho as if they had not seen him for a long time.
Zeynep climbed on Youngho’s body and chatted about her English learning.
“Oppa, the English teacher will come to the farm and teach us now. We don’t have to go back to the apartment in Baku.”
“You want to stay in the farm everyday? Won’t you be bored?”
“No, I like it here. I have friends and the building is awesome. I can also ride a bicycle here.”
She kept talking without even breathing. Zeynep was having a blast because she made friends in the farm with Gerhardt’s children.
“Fatima, you should stop helping out with the Baku stores if you want to learn English well before going back to school. You should be able to write essays in order to be in school. You can drive around the farm with the work car in your free time.”
In Youngho’s mind, he intended to keep people from seeing her face as she visited the stores. He was worried that someone with bad intentions would take Fatima away.
“And Szechenyi, I know that you’re studying hard now, but you should keep training too.”
Szechenyi learned the Korean word ‘hyung’ and used it naturally for Youngho like Fatima and Zeynep used ‘oppa’ for Youngho. They even impressed Youngho with their study of Korean when they bought a basic learner’s Korean book and studied by themselves. Youngho was touched that the siblings were trying to communicate more with Youngho. Maybe it was because they were not sure how long Youngho would stay with them. No matter how many times Youngho said he would be with them forever, they were still insecure.
Youngho planned on taking them to Korea when he would take his employees for a professional development course. The siblings knew nothing of it yet because Youngho wanted to surprise them. Youngho was sure that the siblings would change once they were welcomed and accepted into Youngho’s family in Korea.
Youngho tried to maintain a good relationship with other businesses in Baku after the terror caused by the porcelain merchants in Baku, but the situation was not going well for Youngho. He just found out that the clothing retailers whom Youngho stopped having businesses with were up to something against Youngho. They held a grudge against Chunho Merchant, only thinking about how Youngho reacted when they returned to him asking to start a business again.
Recently, there was a wave of gang boss arrests. In order to turn the public eyes from the battle against Armenia, the Main Police Department set to getting rid of Mafia in the region. While investigating the belongings of a mafia group, they found a list of requests that had Chunho Merchant’s name on it.
The request had many specific things, but it basically ordered Chunho Merchant’s ruin, even if that meant getting rid of Youngho. After finding that out from the director, Youngho decided to get rid of the clothing retailers. They got away only with a warning from the police, since nothing had really happened. However, Youngho was afraid that they might come to Youngho’s house and harm the siblings too. He could not stand the thought of sacrificing the siblings because of his business. Youngho was extremely upset and started planning what he was going to do.
Dark at night, Youngho, covered in black clothes, ran like the wind, avoiding CCTVs in the city of Baku. Even if he was taped in the cameras, they would not see him because he was moving too fast with the leather shoes on. When he arrived at the retailers’ storage unit, he lit the fire on a petrol bomb and threw that in at the window of the storage unit. The fire spread and got bigger in no time.
The storage was what the retailers used to store clothes traded in from China. They had stored expensive down jackets and padded coats in piles. After seeing a fire engine approach, Youngho headed to another place. In a few minutes, the largest office of the three retailers was getting consumed by flames. Then, Youngho threw the bottles to the construction company’s office and storage unit. It was the company that almost ruined Youngho’s farm business in the past to cover up their faults.
Youngho knew exactly where to go and how to get there in the city of Baku. Lastly, Youngho went to the houses of the clothing retailers and set fire to their roofs. He threw rocks through their windows, to allow them to escape before the fire got bigger. Youngho might not be fond of them, but he did not want to physically harm them either.
Youngho did not predict that he would use the mystical ring and leather shoes in this kind of job. He felt guilty, but he had to do something to protect the siblings, which were now his family. To not get caught in cameras, he ran at full speed. He could run at the speed of almost 50 mph. He had burned everything that the retailers had.
He knew that no one would guess that one person did it because it happened spontaneously within such a short period of time.
The police and local retailers considered that the clothing retailers had been attacked as retaliation by the local mafia because their list of illegal requests was exposed. Now that all of their belongings were burned, people guessed that the mafia was behind the fire.
Baku’s rich people tended to store money in a safe in their houses, not trusting banks. So, the retailers would have lost literally everything from the fire. It seemed like Youngho overreacted to them, but he knew that they would try to get back Youngho at any time if their circumstances allowed it. Many of merchandisers in Baku did not possess business ethics.
Youngho did not want to damage his competitors’ businesses to make money, but he would not just wait and stand by for the enemies harm him. Youngho had risked his life to come so far, building the foundation of his business with his own hands. He just defended his business and family successfully, and he was at all not sorry.
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