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Empire Of The Ring 98 A Guest Of The Farm

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Back in his Navy Special Forces training days, Youngho asked a question to a drill instructor why they needed to be trained so harshly. The drill sergeant said that the Special Forces trainees were trained so that they could be secretly sent across the North Korean border for an a.s.sa.s.sination operation someday, since Korea is still divided. He added that North Korea's Special Forces were trained even more harshly, so they needed to get stronger to the extent where they would not even blink to such hard drills.
In the past, many soldiers in the Special Forces units competed with each other with the number of times they had been to North Korea. In secret, they would invade North Korea and only two to three out of ten of them returned. The ones that did not return were probably caught by North Korean armed forces.
Youngho was reminiscing of those days now because he saw many representatives of North Korea visiting Baku. They identified themselves as officials from representing departments, but except for a few administrative staffs, most of them were special agents from North Korea.
Azerbaijan established diplomatic ties with both South and North Korea, so whenever there were special national events in Baku, Youngho spotted many North Korean representatives from a distance. Most of them had smaller body figures and tanner skin than South Koreans, Youngho could tell they were North Koreans just by looking at them. They had sharp and keen-looking eyes just as if they were trained to be special agents. It was unknown if they did not have enough financial support from their headquarters but all of them stayed at the official residence and not in a separate hotel. Since Youngho did not have any point of contact with them, he did not pay attention.
The South Korean special agent from the emba.s.sy visited Youngho. He thanked Youngho that he was complimented by the government since he had confirmed with him that there would be no more reveal. Thanking him was not the only reason for his visit.
Apparently, one of the representatives of North Korea secretly contacted the South Korean emba.s.sy seeking asylum but he did not want to go in South Korea. The agent asked Youngho if he could take care of the refugee in Baku.
"Mr. Lee, this North Korean's family is all imprisoned in the North Korean political prisoner camps and he'll soon be summoned to be imprisoned too. He and I go way back and we've been secretly maintaining touch. He's a trained person and a security guard of the North Korean representatives."
Knowing that his family would be executed if he went to South Korea, the North Korean representative had nowhere to go now, so he wanted to stay in Baku until he comes up with a plan to get his family out of North Korea. The South Korean agent a.s.sured Youngho about him since he had pa.s.sed secret information about the department of North Korean representatives and the North Korean Army's Special Forces to the special agent already.
Youngho asked about Jongil and Insoo's opinion since taking a North Korean refugee was related to the security of the farm. They did not have any opposing opinions but agreed to take the defector. They thought that no matter how hard the team of North Korean representatives searched for him, they would not find him hiding in their farm. They were also curious to know the level of North Korea's Special Forces.
Even though North and South Korea were tragically divided and they are technically still at war, Youngho considered North Koreans the same family from the same root like other South Koreans. Youngho wanted to help the refugee since he was trying to get out of North Korea where people were brutally punished or executed if they did not comply with their dictator. Since the Korean special agent a.s.sured him about his ident.i.ty and he asked Youngho's help directly, he decided to take him in his farm.
***
Kim Ilkwon, age 28, graduated from Kim Jong-il Political Military University, an agent of Operations of the Labor Party, this was the North Korean representative refugee's profile.
Kim Jong-il Political Military University was a special university that trained special agents. The school was known to only enroll elites from high schools of different regions after they pa.s.sed strict physical and intelligence tests. Once agents were graduated from the university, they were given a certificate of a high status and treated distinctly as elites.
While in school, students learned two or more foreign languages and technical skills for various types of machinery, and for the rest of the time, they focused on physical training. That kim Ilkwon with a special background became part of Youngho's farm family now. He was now hired as an employee of the farm. Since he was trained to become an agent, he did not use North Korean dialect and was fluent in English and Russian. It was a result of long-term Spartan education.
Kim Ilkwon worked hard with the desire to go back to North Korea someday and rescue his family members from there. Except for sleeping hours, he focused only on working even for extra hours.
Jongil and Insoo wanted to have a combat with him to see his level of strength but they did not have any chance since Ilkwon always seemed busy. He ate meals at the farm cafeteria and slept in the night security guards' lodge. Youngho called him from time to time to take it easy but he would not listen, he needed to make money to support their family's escape.
Youngho called Kim Ilkwon and told him that he could lend him the money for his family.
"Mr. Kim Ilkwon. Even if you work here for months like this, you won't have enough money to cross the North Korean border to rescue your family. I'll lend you the money so you can save your family first."
"Mr. Lee, I appreciate your offer even if they're just words but I haven't planned the escape routes yet and didn't even find a broker as well. I'm just working hard because I can't just sit and wait."
"If you find a way to bring them to Russia, I can take care of them from there on."
"…"
"I have some friends in Russia who can help us."
"Mr. Lee, I don't know what to say. I'm already thankful that you offered me a shelter here. If I can only take them out of the North Korean border, I'm certain that I can bring them here but I don't know how I'd do that with my ident.i.ty now."
He had a North Korean diplomat's identification card but it was useless now. If he carried that when pa.s.sing the North Korean border, it would be a suicidal mission.
Youngho had an easy way to resolve this but he did not know how far he should be helping Ilkwon.
"When you bring your family here, are you planning to go to Korea?"
"No. Since I speak foreign languages a little bit, I'd like to live away from Korea. Living in South Korea is just not appealing."
If he went to Korea, the Korean government would treat him well because of his background but he would have to live quietly hiding from the public's eyes, losing his freedom. As a refugee who had been a high official and a diplomat of North Korea, he would attract the South Korean press, and soon his profile would be revealed to the public. It would not be safe for him since North Korea could send spies to a.s.sa.s.sinate him and his family. It was better for him to live overseas rather than living in fear of North Korea.
"How about staying here?"
"…"
"I'm just saying because my farm is a perfect place for a hiding place."
"If there is a place for us to settle, I wouldn't say no to it. Thank you so much Mr. Lee."
"Then, I'll make you a Russian pa.s.sport, that way you can go to Russia and other countries as well."
Youngho called Sergey on the spot. He took a photo of Kim Ilkwon and sent it to Sergey. He was going to take Ilkwon under his wings since he liked his faithfulness and sincerity. Being the same Korean people, he did not need any more reason to help him who did not have anywhere to go. He thought it must be a destiny having to meet him in Baku. It couldn't hurt to have a sincere friend near him.
Youngho still did not know him well enough to discern if he was not going to betray him but he felt that he would regret it if he did not help him when he needed help the most.
***
Kim Ilkwon was deeply grateful for Youngho's help. If he delayed more, his family in the political prisoners camp would become more damaged because of the way they were treated. It would be his worst nightmare if they did not have enough strength to escape from the prison when he goes to rescue them. On the day that Ilkwon received his Russian pa.s.sport, Youngho drank with him for the first time. Jongil's special friendliness made Ilkwon feel more comfortable around them. As they got even drunk, Jongil insisted that Ilkwon should call him 'hyung' and finally he said it. Being only three years apart, 'hyung' sounded better than 'Mr. Jongil' or 'Mr. Lee'.
***
"Mr. Lee, I just sent the last truck for wine delivery."
"It's hyung, not Mr. Lee."
As Jongil scolded him, Ilkwon's face reddened.
"How can I call him hyung? He's a famous businessman in Baku and my boss. He's different from you."
"We're all friends here, so you're discriminating us?"
"I can never do that. He's my savior, I should respect him."
"Man, you are just inflexible. That's alright. Then you can just call him 'boss' instead of Mr. Lee, I don't like that at all."
"Dude, what about Mr. Lee?" Youngho interrupted.
"You know, we don't have that much of an age difference. Isn't it just awkward?"
Jongil was speaking the truth. Korean people always liked to stick to formality according to people's positions or ages. Especially Kim Ilkwon who came from North Korea, he was even more conservative than South Koreans.
Looking at the two having a little argument with each other, they seemed to have gotten much closer after last night. Ilkwon, who could not even look at people's faces directly now talked back to Jongil. Being a runaway who betrayed his own country, he must have been under tremendous pressure. He did not show it to others but as they drank together and got drunk, he opened up his heart a little bit.
He said that it was hard for him now that he did not have anywhere to be loyal to. He used to encourage himself to work for his own country and people but after his families were all imprisoned, everything went down the drain.
He thought that he would feel free to abandon cosmetic loyalty but since he did not belong anywhere, he was confused with his ident.i.ty. Now he was lost in international society. He could not hold his tears when Youngho handed him his Russian pa.s.sport, hee felt like his ident.i.ty was restored. He was confused that people who helped him and trusted him were South Koreans whom he was educated as enemies to destroy for his entire life. Not to mention, Youngho offered a shelter for him and even his family, he could not be more thankful.
***
"Hey, we used to be in Korean Special Forces too. You're kidding when you said you run 40 kilometers in three hours, right?"
"I'm speaking the truth as it is. What do you think I get from lying to you, Jongil hyung?"
Ilkwon insisted that he used to run 40 kilometers in three hours with 30 kilograms of a backpack filled with a sandbag and swim 8 kilometers at least when he was training to become an agent. In order to graduate from the university, all trainees should pa.s.s that line. Jongil did not believe him, it was surely unbelievable. Youngho thought that Korean Special Forces has a long way to go if Ilkwon was saying the truth.
Ilkwon added that he also learned hiding, lethal moves, controlling various weapons and explosives, a.s.sa.s.sination, and so on in the university and after graduation, all the agents go in the real field and experience the real missions.
Even though it was named a university, it was, in fact, an agent training inst.i.tute.
Once they were determined, they could a.s.sa.s.sinate key figures of South Korea, any time they wanted but they were suppressing it because of the international opinion. It was ironic since North Korea launched ballistic missiles multiple times when the nation suffered in poverty but it seemed that North Korea still could not launch terror attacks.
Kim Ilkwon was planning to travel to North Korea. It was possible to get there by flying to Vladivostok, Russia first and going from there to Najin, North Korea by train. There was a train connecting two regions Khasan Station of Russia and Najin, North Korea. It ran twice a week.
Now that he had a Russian pa.s.sport, he could go in there easily. The problem was bringing out his family. They should cross Tumen River but money could resolve the problem.
In the city of Khasan, there were a lot of brokers for people escaping North Korea, he could pay them to save his family. A broker asked him to pay ten million won, so he needed 40 million won to save all four of his family members. Of course, it would be impossible for him to take out four of them by himself but the prison guards were known to be easily bribed. Youngho was surprised to hear that they even would escort their prisoners out to Tumen River if paid a lot of money.
It was only possible because once people were imprisoned in the political prisoner camp, they were considered dead, so even if they disappeared, the guards would just report them dead and that would be it.
Youngho confirmed his routes through multiple sources and gave Ilkwon 100000 dollars. It was enough money to deliver their family safely to the Tumen River and Vladivostok. He thought that if Ilkwon never comes back to him, he would just consider the money as lost, he decided to give the benefit of the doubt. Youngho told him to bring his family to Vladivostok, then he could make their fake pa.s.sport again through Sergey, so that they could travel to Baku.
As he left the farm, Ilkwon's eyes turned watery. It was a dangerous journey ahead of him and he might never return if he was caught by the North Korean authorities. He left after swearing that if he returned safely, he would be loyal to Youngho for the rest of his life.

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About Empire Of The Ring 98 A Guest Of The Farm novel

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