I listened to Vice President Jang’s voice on the phone. “What do you want me to do?”
“Let’s give them another ten million dollars.”
“Then, I’ll make Pure & Nature your company within a month after signing the contract.”
“And the next one; the president of Yosung Foodville suddenly changed his words. He had roughly agreed to the sale last time, but now he says it’s too cheap.”
I gathered three fingers and touched my brow for a moment and said, “Now that the negotiations are going on, he’s suddenly greedy for money.”
“I think so.”
“Well, please wait a little bit. I’m going to make the meat a little bit softer.”
‘It’s good to negotiate with me, but it’s not acceptable to negotiate and change your words. It has been almost a year since Suyeon Group was smashed, and now there is a rumor going around in the industry and in public that I have destroyed Suyeon Group and Tak Mun-su; sometimes a rumor going around the market is true. Nevertheless, the president of Yosung Foodville seems to have overlooked that.’
“Ah… I see.” At my words, Vice President Jang didn’t ask any more questions, and just answered softly. “Then I’ll wait a little while, knowing it will happen.”
“In a week or so, he is going to be a little more polite.”
“Yes, boss. The next one is…”
Vice President Jang started to continue. But then, a long cry was heard from the room outside. I was so surprised that I said to him, “Wait a minute.”
He replied in a slightly amused voice, “Yes, boss.”
After asking him to be excused, I looked back. My daughter Seo-hyun, who seemed to have just fallen asleep, was bursting into tears as if she had never done so before. I began to soothe the wailing Seo-hyun, holding her in my arms.
“Why, my baby? Why?”
But Seo-hyun didn’t stop crying. In the meanwhile, my wife came in, opening the door.
“Seo-hyun, Mom’s here.”
I handed over the crying Seo-hyun, and then picked up the phone again.
“Vice President, please, keep talking.”
Jang continued without delay. “This is from Vice President Chung Yong-kyun of the View Box. The opening ceremony of the hundredth View Box store will be held in Shanghai, and it is said that party secretary Jiang Fengyi is attending the event. Chung asked me if you might not want to attend and say hello to him at that time. He heard that they wanted to see you.”
Shanghai was the central part of China’s economy before or after the Chinese financial crisis. I needed to meet the party secretary for the first time there.
“I see. When is the event?”
“It’s the seventeenth of next month.”
“I see. Well… let’s go on a business trip to China, then. Why don’t you accompany me?”
“I’ll join you on that day.”
“And… do you have anything else on the agenda?”
After I finished talking, I turned my head. My daughter Seo-hyun was rolling her eyes gently in her mother’s arms, as if she had not cried.
My wife looked at me and said, “Don’t be stubborn and go to work. I’ll take care of Seo-hyun.”
“Yes…” I was going to tell my wife something, but I nodded reluctantly. Actually, there was a mountain of work to be done, but seeing my daughter was putting me off going to work because I was so happy.
“Yes, then…” I said in a slightly sad voice, kissing my daughter in her mother’s arms. “I’ll be back from work soon.”
‘All fathers will be the same, but my hard work is for my daughter. My case is a little different from other fathers.’
Donning a suit, I went to work. Secretary Park and Lee welcomed me, “Are you here?”
I raised my hand and said, after receiving their greetings. “Secretary Park, I am going to Shanghai on the seventeenth of next month.”
“I just got a call from Vice President Jang, and added it to the timetable.”
“Oh, really? Then you two need to get ready, okay?”
“Yes, boss.” “Yes, boss,” the two answered at once. I nodded and started to go into the president’s office. But then, Secretary Lee grabbed me.
“I had a call from Paul Ocean. He said that everything was ready, so he hoped you could come and confirm it.”
“Hmm… really? ” I stood in front of the president’s office and thought for a while. “I think I’d better go and get back before I go to China. Leave a message for him that I’ll visit next week, no, two weeks from now.”
“Yes, boss. He sent you an email, so check it out.”
“If you have any difficulty with English, let me know…”
I said, shaking my hand. “I am a victim of a typical Korean-style English education. I can’t speak English, but I can read it like a native.”
The secretary said with a slightly knowing smile, “Yes, boss.”
I went into the president’s office with that remark. After a month of work, Secretary Lee quickly adjusted herself to her secretarial work. She was smart enough. I went to the mailbox. When I opened the mailbox, I found an email from Paul Ocean, just like Secretary Lee had said.
‘Sir, I’ve found the right area.’
I clicked on it. It said, ‘It’s a sheep ranch near Reykjavik, and the landowner is Olavir Hardarson. He says he is willing to sell it if paid a reasonable price.’
I read the name aloud, “Olavir Hardarson.”
‘Looking at the ‘son’ ending his name, he is exactly a typical Viking descendant with that Icelandic name.’
I read the email further. ‘…I don’t think I can find a better place than this, considering the circumstances and the ground around. I hope the boss comes and looks at it. When the contract is completed, our people will start construction. P.S., I’m enclosing the pamphlet I mentioned last time.’
I received the attached file in the email. It was a picture file. Written on the front of the picture file was “Doomsday Preppers”, which meant “people who are preparing for doomsday.” What appeared in the file looked similar to a structure commonly found in model houses of apartments in Korea, which were equipped with living rooms, bedrooms, and so on.
But what this differed from them was that this real estate model would be applied to the basement of Iceland. Paul Ocean was quite an eccentric, rich man with assets of ten million dollars, far less than myself. However, he became obsessed with science fiction about the end of the world, and started to build a shelter for himself and then sell them to others.
I didn’t know whether his business went well or not; it was probably the latter. There were not very many nerds like him. But he was taking this seriously anyway, and I happened to be able to find him, as I was preparing for a nuclear war with Plan B.
‘Okay… if I make a shelter here… we can last at least thirty years, right?’
‘Iceland has been seen in the news continuously, after I searched around fifty countries in the state setting of the future news. In addition, many of the conditions are good. Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the other side from the United States and China, it has nearly the same area size as our country, but has a population of less than four hundred thousand people. It is similar in that all the people living in Wonju City, Gangwon Province, are scattered and live all over our country. In addition, natural resources are abundant, the ground is secure, and there is nothing for anyone to attack during the World War. Therefore, Plan B has been set up there.
‘The price is between three million dollars and fifty million dollars. In fact, I am willing to spend more than a billion dollars if there is a nuclear war. No, I can actually pour all my money into it. If a nuclear war breaks out, it will all become a piece of waste paper. What does it mean?
‘I have budgeted a maximum of fifty million dollars for now. That’s not much for me. My futures trading team, which I have doubled the size of, make two hundred million dollars a month. If I’m sure I can’t stop the nuclear war by the end of the day, I’m willing to move to Iceland early and expand the level of building my kingdom underground. Iceland is a country with advanced finances, so if I say that Korea’s richest man will come, they will welcome me.’
Time passed again, and it was December 2023. About two years was left until doomsday. I’d been making money and building personal connections in the American and Chinese political worlds, but as time went by, I put a little more weight on building a shelter in Iceland. Every time I saw the information Crow brought, I thought, ‘I can’t stop a nuclear war this way. They are both thinking about a nuclear war.’
“Mr. CEO, here is this month’s report.”
“Crow, thank you very much.”
The December report was about Harry Carterfield, chief of Naval Operations. The report was virtually full of U.S. state secrets, making it more of a spy’s intelligence document.
‘… if I sold it to the Chinese government for money, I’d get tens of millions of dollars.’
The information was that sensitive. Anyway, when I read the US defense confidential information, I found that the U.S. actually thought of China as an enemy, and was drawing up war scenarios. Nuclear war wasn’t an option, but as super-power versus super-power, they had it in mind to use force.
The problem was that China was the same way. China also had an intention to extend the blockade in the South China Sea and move on to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, they had a plan to occupy Taiwan as their territory.
‘Hoo… I can’t stop a nuclear war… but there will be a war. I haven’t done it yet, but I feel more and more skeptical. This is perhaps the way the wheels of history will roll. Whether I am the president of the United States or the president of China, I wonder if I can stop this war.
‘Do I really need to establish a kingdom in Iceland? I’ll be king… Seo-hyun will be raised as a princess…’ I had such a queer imagination, and then I giggled. I didn’t think that would be too bad. I would throw myself into this as much as I could, and I would have to find happiness there if I could not. I really thought so at this time, though I changed my mind soon.
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