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Empire Of The Ring 352 Food For The Soul 1

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"Why are you staring outside?"

"Hey, you are here. It just feels different without that idiot."

Youngho found Chul-hwan staring outside when he visited the administrative office of the Countryside Force.

"Yeah. I know."

"Maybe it's because he went to Korea."

"Well, yeah. I can't say I don't care about our home country anymore."

Cha Insoo had been traveling in and out of Vladivostok and sometimes was gone for a half a month. Though Korea was as far away as Vladivostok was from the autonomous state, they felt like Insoo was gone to somewhere farther away.

"Probably it's about time you go visit Korea too. We are not going to be busy for a while. Besides, you haven't used your vacation for a while."

"I've enjoyed enough vacation time in Batumi. I don't need an extra break."

"A few days off without worrying about anything will get you energized. The Countryside Force looks sharp now. Let them go on a vacation, and so do you."

"Well, I should give them some break. I've been pretty strict to them."

"You know what? Let's get some drink at my place tonight."

"Okay, sounds good!"

Cha Insoo's visit to Korea stirred up their mind, but he at least gave them a good excuse to grab a drink.

The news traveled fast, and some doctors including Kim Dong-sung joined their table for a drink. It was surprising to see doctors drinking and smoking. Youngho thought that they would not put anything harmful to their body. Suh Min-seok also joined the table although he did not drink.

"I was homesick and decided to have a gathering to fix it."

"I've never had homesick since I got here because the hospital is full of Korean doctors and nurses. Did something happen?"

"Insoo went to Korea with Kazakh naval soldiers for a battles.h.i.+p education, and it made me think how much I miss Korea."

"I thought you've become a foreigner a long time ago. I am quite surprised that you miss Korea that bad."

"How can I forget my home country? I was only trying to avoid thinking about it."

"It's good to hear you have a soft side, Mr. Lee. Now you look like an average Joe."

Their conversation went on for a while, and the drinks and snacks were almost out. Youngho asked Min-seok to make some ramen noodles for them.

"Min-seok, you ate all our snack for the drink. Go make some ramen noodles for us, will you?"

"Oh, we are out of ramen noodles now. Koryoins emptied the whole ramen noodles from the warehouse. It will take a few weeks until we get some more from Istanbul."

"We've got to do something with this ramen issue. This has happened before when we received a large group of Serbian immigrants. How come we are always out of it?"

"Well, I guess Korean ramen noodles appeal to people from all over the world."

Korean ramen noodles were popular in Russia. There would be no doubt that those instant noodles were popular for Serbians and Central Asians. It would last no more than a few weeks, even if the state placed orders for bulk of ramen noodles quite often.


"Should we make a ramen noodle factory in the state now? Ramen noodles are not that heavy, and it would be a total waste if we keep getting them delivered in large containers to the state."

"That doesn't sound realistic. We don't have that many people in our state."

"Well, think about it. If we want to produce instant ramen noodles, Sergey will want to trade that from us. What if we make Islam style ramen noodles? It could be popular in Baku or even in the entire Central Asia."

"That sounds reasonable. It shouldn't be that difficult to build a ramen noodle factory."

Kim Dong-sung agreed with Youngho.

"Would Korean manufacturers share their technique?"

"How hard can it be? Besides, we are all Koreans. They wouldn't be so mean to us. You want to call a few companies?"

"Yes. We've got nothing to lose. We grow the organic whole wheat we haven't used."

***

The followers came in with a research data of necessary facilities and instruments that were used in ramen noodle production process. The state already possessed a milling factory, and other necessary facilities could be bought in no time. Making noodles was not an issue, but the ramen base powder was. Korean manufacturers would ask for the royalty for sharing their base powder recipe, which Youngho was not happy about. Youngho thought it would be great if the state could create its own ramen.
The followers freaked out when Youngho asked them if they could hire a few food experts to make the state's own ramen brand.

"If it was that easy, Russian companies would've already done it instead of importing Korean ramen. There are reasons why Korean instant ramen noodles are popular."

"But we won't have any margin left if we have to pay the royalty."

"It still will be better that way. We will lose money if we launch a new unpopular ramen noodle brand."

"You are not confident with this?"

"I am being realistic. We can start by paying them royalty and use their brand. Then, we might find a breakthrough one day."

"You mean we offer a job to whoever comes out to teach us the recipe from the manufacturer?"

"Exactly. Just like how the pilots and mechanics from Cessna decided to stay at the autonomous state. We will subtly and slowly beguile them to send their profile to the marriage consultant, and they might find their future spouses here."

As soon as In-hwa finished talking, Min-seok's face turned white and his body was trembling. She might have done something to scare him after he made a terrible mistake by sending his profile to Karajan before.

"What? You want to start a comprehensive food company now?"

"Once we start a ramen noodle factory, it won't be too much extra work to make snacks. Chocolates or crackers maybe? We can make safe and clean products on our own, and it will be helping to build light industry in the country. I bet the Kazakh government will thank us for that."

When the plan to launch a ramen noodle factory was announced, people started to throw some ideas. Especially, Kim Chun was excited about the project. There were enough flours and milk produced in the state, and all they needed were people who would share their recipes. Many housewives in the state had nothing much to do during day time, and they wanted to help. Of course, Youngho planned to pay them well so they could support their families too. Meanwhile, Youngho was concerned about how ramen noodles production would affect Kazakhstan's economy and the food business around the area.

"Let's think about it after successfully establis.h.i.+ng the ramen noodle factory."

"Boss. If you are concerned about how others would evaluate our move, we can open the issue to the public."

"What do you mean?"

"We can tell them that we are going to produce Korean food products in our state because the transportation cost is overly high. Then the Kazakh retailers might also get interested in our factory."

"We've got a small market. We don't have a lot of population around here."

"We have Central Asia and South Russia. It's not small at all. We can tell them how we are competing with low-quality Chinese products. That's all the justification we need."

"Do they have that much repulsion for Chinese products?"

"The whole of Central Asia has negative feelings against China because of their bad history. They hate Chinese product as much as they hate Russia. But they have no other option but importing cheap Chinese products."

Chinese products were not necessarily the worst, but Central Asia had been dependent on Chinese products too much. Youngho thought this might work better than he thought.

***

"Over 300 thousand ramen noodles a year?"

"Yes. There are 5,500 people who are over ten years old in our state. If we a.s.sume they eat ramen noodles five times a month, it would be 330 thousand ramen noodles a year."

"Just how many ramen noodles have they had so far?"

"We asked Commissioner Kim. He said the number was that high after he restricted the number of ramen noodle supplies to the residents. If he didn't, people would've consumed way more than that. We've spent around 200,000 dollars for ramen noodles only."
Youngho could not believe that the state spent 200,000 dollars on ramen noodles in a year.
Ramen was free in the beginning, but later the state charged the price with no margin left.
When he added the cost for other instant food supplies and snacks, the number was much more than he expected. Now, Youngho could understand why Kim Chun asked for snack production along with the ramen noodles. The food supply factories seemed to be a requirement, rather than a choice when he thought about the increasing population.

"Phew, I think you guys should go to Korea and gather some information about food supply factories."

"I don't believe they will offer to help since they don't know us. We need someone in a high position in our state to come with us."

They made a good point when he thought about the hierarchic culture of Korean companies.

"Insoo is in Korea."

"He will be busy with the work he is given."

"How about you guys take Jong-il."

"That would work. We will be glad to go anywhere with him."

Jong-il would also like to go with these youngsters since he loved the two. They seemed to make a great team together.

When Youngho told Jong-il about visiting Korea, he went frenzy. It seemed that he had forgotten why he was going to Korea for a moment since he started calling everyone in Korea to let them know about his visit.
Since Jong-il seemed to have forgotten about his family as well, Youngho asked him to take Karajan and his children along the trip. Although he did not have parents, he still had his brothers and their families living in Korea. It would be great if he could visit them at this opportunity. Jong-il was busy for the next few days preparing for the trip.

After sending them off at the Baku Airport, Youngho felt extremely tired.
On the way back home, he talked to Fatima who came to say goodbye to Jong-il and the follower couple with Youngho.

"I am glad he is finally gone. It would be a quiet week."

"Honey, let's take our kids and go to the autonomous state."

"How about their school?"

"The international school won't make a big deal about it. There are many kids who would travel for a couple of months with their parents."

"Is that so? Why don't we go on a trip too?"

"Oh, honey. You need to work harder to cover for the people who left to Korea. I think our kids will be happy to visit the state."

Kids were sleeping quietly in the back seat.

"You are right as usual. They will turn into devils when they wake up. We can't take them anywhere else. Let's just go to the state."

Fatima laughed.

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About Empire Of The Ring 352 Food For The Soul 1 novel

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