Chapter 317: Green Light (3)
Youngho still could not hide his excitement as he landed at the runway of the Arirang Autonomous State.
His steps were light as if he was walking on the clouds. He wanted to share the joyful news to everyone but it was a shame that he could not since it was not official yet. If the word was spread because of his big mouth, it could spoil the whole thing.
Youngho thought for a second to share with the leadership group of the state, but he soon decided not to. It was because he thought of a Korean old story of a king that had donkey’s ears. It would be painful but he would have to keep it to himself for a while.
Looking at Youngho’s strange facial expression, Suh Min-seok asked if he was feeling sick.
“Mr. CEO, are you okay?”
“I’m a hundred percent fine. I guess I had been too nervous about meeting the president in a long while.”
“I was going to come with you but because you refused me, I got an earful from Mr. Park.”
“What? What for? You’re not my secretary.”
“I’m not a secretary but aren’t I like your business assistant?”
“Well, I’ll take you to business trips when there are things to discuss together but you don’t have to come along for every trip I take. I would’ve asked you to come with me if I needed. Just relax and enjoy your life as a regular salaryman. You don’t have to make great achievements in a short period. You’ll have to work to the point where you’d get blisters on your feet in the future.”
“I understand what you mean.”
Suh Min-seok’s face was brightened. It seemed that he had been under pressure of work and did not have time to relax. Since he followed Youngho around to different countries as soon as he started work, he must have thought that every day would be as busy as that. It was better for him to take it easy in order to achieve bigger things later.
Although the followers had resigned to work for Youngho, S Corporation did not find it offensive since they had been only new recruits and it figured that it would be helpful to have them nearby working for the company’s agent, Youngho.
Since S Corporation did not feel comfortable talking to Youngho directly, the company’s staffs like the fact that they could talk to the follower couple instead of talking to him. They could not get who Youngho really was. Sometimes he looked like a regular businessman, politician, or a member of a royal family. It was just difficult to figure out how to treat him. Since he met the Kazakh president frequently, sometimes it looked like that they would have to treat him as someone equally high as the president but it seemed that nothing would suffice to pay that much respect to him.
They were rather joyful to hear that Youngho had taken their employees since they had been their underlings and it would be easy to deal with them. However, it was their delusion to think that. Suh Min-seok and Kim In-hwa had been submissive employees before but now they had turned into tigers as employees of the agency of S Corporation.
“Deputy department head Kim, what’s taking you so long? Have you had any idea how long it’s been since I asked you to give me an estimated amount of the total investment?”
Suh Min-seok raised his voice.
This would have never happened when he was under Kim.
“Suh Min-seok, people in the headquarters are staying overnight to come up with the estimates now. Please wait for more.”
Kim now had to console Suh Min-seok since he worked for another company.
“I need to report this to the CEO and he won’t like it if this gets delayed. He’s going to visit the president next week. Why don’t you just give me a rough estimate?”
“Man! Suh Min-seok. You know how our company works. Why are you doing this? I’m going to give it to you before your CEO goes to the presidential palace. Do you hear me?”
Kim’s voice was finally raised too.
He felt bad since Suh Min-seok was grilling him when he was the one who knows so well about how S Corporation’s system meticulously checked documents that would be sent to other companies, but Suh Min-seok did not budge.
“H Corporation already gave us the estimate. I don’t know, Mr. Kim. I’m going to tell the CEO that you’ll be the one who’s going to report directly to him. Okay?”
Thinking about meeting Lee Youngho directly, deputy department head Kim was stressed.
He had been having nightmares lately because he was under a lot of pressure now. The success of S Corporation’s business in Kazakhstan was up to his team.
“Oh, come on, Suh Min-seok. Why do you do this to me? You need to save my face. You know how I feel about Mr. Lee ever since S Corporation’s president came here only to be rude. I’m under a lot of pressure here.”
The corners of Suh Min-seok’s mouth rose as he left S Corporation’s office in the autonomous state.
“Commissioner Kim, how many unoccupied residential houses are left?”
“We’ve got 14 now. There are also 20 houses that were about to be completed. We have just enough for the families of weapons technicians and Bentonite researchers that are going to move into the state this time.”
“That’s just great. They would’ve stayed at the hotel if we didn’t have enough.”
“I told single people to move to the dormitory but they never listen. They don’t do a good job at maintaining their houses and they don’t even eat well because they don’t cook. It’s just a shame.”
The employees of H Corporation’s consortium were given houses temporarily until the dormitory for them was completed but they still insisted on living in the houses even though their dormitory was now ready. It was because it was inconvenient for them since the dormitory was somewhat far away from the city’s downtown. Also, living in residential towns gave them more opportunities to interact with people since they were quite lonely apart from their homes.
The dormitory was about two kilometers away from the Arirang airport, and there was a line of buildings under construction, such as the ones for Arirang Hotel, different offices for different businesses, medical school, and general hospital along the way, and it was a little bit dreary. Moreover, it was not easy to walk two kilometers in the cold, so people were reluctant to move to the building.
“How many houses have you given to them?”
“There are 19 houses given to each corporation. They’d be given free meals when they go to the dormitory but they’re still postponing the moving date.”
Kim Chun who had lent houses gladly in for rents was now frustrated since more important people were about to move to the autonomous state.
“If we’re not short of houses, let’s postpone their move until the end of this winter. It’s because the dormitory only has a cafeteria as a subsidiary facility. It looks like H Corporation is delaying to make other facilities on purpose. Singles wouldn’t want to go there.”
H Corporation’s branch president Im had proudly said that he would be building a hotel-level dormitory for the company’s employees. He insisted that it would be a studio dormitory that would have all sorts of services provided for people but it only had a cafeteria at the moment.
“Well, I’m relieved to know that we have enough houses for now. I received permission from the president about receiving weapons experts to the state. If they want to call their friends and former coworkers, have them call silently.”
“That’s great to hear. I was afraid that the word will slip out because I already have five people moving into the state even though I looked for them in silence.”
Kim Chun was not so fond of doing a business related to weapons at first. He was concerned that the autonomous state would be blamed for it.
“Was there any further instruction from the president?”
“No, but he said that he’ll give us good news soon. Let’s wait and see. Also, he said that he’ll make Zeynep Wine the official wine of the presidential palace…”
“What? Our wine is going to be the official wine? That’s quite a milestone.”
“Hah, commissioner. You’re never fond of drinking. Why would you welcome that?”
Kim Chun did not care for Youngho’s complaint.
“Boss, I’m just happy that you’ll be drawing money into your pocket.”
“What? I won’t make a profit from providing the wine to the presidential palace. In fact, I should refuse to receive money even if the president wants to pay me.”
“Why are you being stingy to provide wine to the palace? Can’t you see how much advertisement effect it will bring to Zeynep Wine?”
Zeynep Wine would be naturally featured on worldwide TV news when it became the official wine of the presidential palace. There was no better advertisement than this.
“Oh, Commissioner. You should pick the grapes by yourself at the harvest next year. You’d know why free wine makes you so bitter.”
As Youngho was discussing transportation of this year’s wheat crop to Azerbaijan with Kim Chun, Park Young-sun entered the office. He looked dirty as if he had come directly from the field but his face was bright.
Kim Chun greeted him.
“Dr. Kim, you should take it easy. I’m afraid you might get ill for working too hard like that.”
“Commissioner Kim, compared to how diligent you are, I feel like I’m traveling freely all the time.”
Park Young-sun’s face was especially bright today, so Youngho also made a comment.
“Dr. Park. You look different today. Did you find anything?”
“Oh, Mr. Lee. I can’t lie to you. I found underground water. I came here directly because its pressure was quite high.”
It was exciting news since high pressure of water meant its volume was huge.
“Dr. Park. Where is it?”
“It’s near the Bentonite field.”
“Let’s go there right away. I’d like to see it with my own eyes.”
Youngho was witnessing a gushing spring before him.
The state had found several underground water resources but they did not have enough amount of reserve for the state’s needs.
It was a success of several years of making countless holes in the ground and investigating on the surface of the state through satellite pictures.
Youngho did not know what to say.
Water was life in Kazakhstan. Although the state was adjacent to the Ural River’s branch, it was not an easy job to draw water from it. Since it was too expensive to install waterways like a spider cob in the area that was larger than Seoul, people had to be satisfied with only making a small area of farmland and empty-looking pastures. However, when water was coming out to the surface, it meant that there was a huge river flowing under the ground.
“Dr. Park. Isn’t this place where it was confirmed that it did not have underground water?”
“Yes, it was. That Bentonite clay had distorted the surface satellite pictures. The dense particles made anything impossible to penetrate through.”
“Does that mean that there’s Bentonite buried in here too?”
“I would presume so. We’ll be able to find out when we have a thorough investigation, but it’s a secure place since there is a layer of rocks under the layer of mud. The ground won’t sink even if we pump out the underground water. If the underground turns out to be a river, that’ll be the best case scenario.”
Even if the ground sank, the place could be used as a reservoir but then it would not be easy if the area was too big.
“First, stopping that water would be our priority.”
Youngho wanted to scoop the water that was smeared on the ground because any drop of it was golden in the autonomous state where water was hard to find.
The small city was in a festive mood.
The word that underground water of which its volume could not be estimated was found; spread fast throughout the whole state and everyone was excited about the news.
The state had been using the Ural River’s water, reservoirs, and nearby underground water reserves to farm and to live. People had enough water but since underground water was a limited resource, many of them lived in fear of losing water.
The news of a huge reserve of underground water was a new hope for the residents.
Youngho thought that he should not let this joyful occasion pass without a proper celebration.
“Commissioner Kim. How about we call it a day today to have some fun?”
“Boss, are you sure it’s not you who can’t handle the excitement?”
Kim Chun looked at Youngho in suspicion.
“You know you’d get blamed if you ignore our residents when they’re joyful like this. They’ll think that you have no wits.”
Youngho could not calm his heart.
Water in the autonomous state was the future.
Especially, if the underground water turned out to be a river, it would be a blessing of life.
“It looks like a nice day to get drunk. We should share this joy with everyone by throwing a huge party.”
It looked like the whole population of the autonomous state was out in the central square.
There was not enough room for Youngho to step in, so he had to go take a spot at Arirang Hotel’s café.
Kim Chun kept on bringing drinks as if he had been hiding them somewhere.
“Commissioner, where have you been hiding those drinks?”
“You know, we bought daily goods to stock up our warehouse when the Crimean and the Black Sea situation was at its peak. I also got drinks just in case. The autonomous state is not a ‘no drinking’ country. We’ve got to have some drinks at least. I wouldn’t want to get complaints from the residents. You’d never help me in that case, would you Boss?”
It was Youngho who fought hard against the alcohol consumption regulation policy, so he would indeed never help Kim Chun in that case. However, the number of drinks he stocked up did not seem to be ‘some’. Youngho wondered how ‘a lot’ would look different from what he was seeing now. Come to think of it, Kim Chun had an open hand. His personality seemed to have changed a lot like Youngho now.
What was more, another person who took a further step has recently appeared.
“Commissioner Kim, I heard that we’re short of sausages. Should we release some more from the warehouse?”
People would stop drinking shortly after snacks were gone but Suh Min-seok the follower just volunteered to get some more snacks.
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