Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 552
“If you see here, she’s never left the Gyungsang coastline. 80% of our employees are searching the Gyungnam and Gyungbook coasts at this very moment.”
Samshik etched lines on a large laminated map with a red marker to elaborate. The red lines did not leave the Chungmoo-Masan-Busan-Gijang coasts. Samshik poked the Jipeundari then circled it.
“This is Jipeundari, where she used to live. We’re also searching Chilgok, Indong, Dongmyung, Gumi, Waegwan, Buksam, Yakmok- areas that are within its 20km radius, just in case. Nupchi is in charge of the inland search.
Mu Ssang’s eyes bored into the circled area. His mother was most likely wandering the North Gyungsang seas because that’s what she considered her true home, where she spent a year with his father at 18.
‘Mother, did you hate Jipeundari that much?’
Jipeundari was his home, but it was nothing short of purgatory for his mother. If it weren’t for his father’s love for her, his delicate mother wouldn’t have lasted.
His mother used to offhandedly tell him about the abuse she faced in her married life from Jangpilnyeo. Jangpilnyeo discreetly harassed her when no one was looking, and his mother scared that she’d hurt the family, did not speak up.
It wasn’t just Jangpilnyeo. Everyone from the Park family back in Jipeundari tormented her as if it was a given. Of course, the abuse was instigated by Jangpilnyeo and the Jang family’s influence, but the other women’s jealousy also played a part.
Like that of a willow’s and glowing beauty, her supple body was foreign in rural countrysides like Jipeundari. His mother, an orphan, craved affection, but the only one who reached out to her was the Hadong wife.
How alone she must’ve felt! The amount of shock she must’ve felt when his father passed away! How horrendous the harassment must’ve been for her to lose her memory!
When he would wake and crack his eyes open at night due to the faltering shadow from the oil lamp, he could see his mother sitting underneath the light seven out of ten times. There she was folding socks or ironing his father’s work clothes or sewing her son’s clothes that tore while he was playing…. He heard her softly sing words of woe.
[….Young, I met my love at eighteen and became a woman. Other hardships pale in comparison with married life. No day wasn’t a backbreaking uphill battle. I didn’t open my mouth if it would hurt my love. When I overcome one hill, the next appears. Hill after hill, I lost my child. My love embraced this child-losing woman in his arms…. But, my honey said, there is hope when we grieve. I am the finger to his glove, fish to his waters, and I take delight in having a place to rest my weary body. My love’s affection is more profound than the ocean and higher than the clouds. My affections aren’t able to fill up a pitcher. Once, just once, I could give it to a single person….Ssang, my Ssang, my other half, my son. When I die, bury me at your father’s feet. This affection I couldn’t give to him here in life, I will provide by washing his feet with my hair in death….]
His mother’s woe was so delicately put. How much she must’ve loved his father to wish to be buried at his feet! Her passionate words of love made him shudder. She was a woman who could brush off harassment if it meant she could protect it.
But beauty is short-lived! Her loving home was destroyed, and she wandered the land without a place to go back to. They say the heavens’ plans don’t favor one individual but even so, how ill-tempered are the fates to his mother!
Mu Ssang felt something hot rise up from underneath his chest. Why did he endure the heartless abuse from Jangpilnyeo for five long years? Wasn’t it because he firmly believed that his mother would return one day?
The longing turned to resentment and faith into loathing. These childish memories came rushing back.
‘Mother, I’m sorry.’
Memories define who you are. It wasn’t that his mother didn’t come back. It was that she couldn’t.
Samshik flinched. A single tear rolled down from the nightmare’s eye. A myriad of emotions appeared on his usually indifferent face. It was like watching the colors bleed into existence. Who would believe that the nightmare shed a tear?
Samshik felt stinging in his chest. The nightmare wasn’t the Three Abstentions at this moment, just a young man looking for his missing mother. This intimidating being filled him with pity.
“What about the police?”
Mu Ssang hardened his voice back into place.
Samshik marveled. What kind of battles did this twenty-something-year-old experience in his life to be able to control his emotions this quickly? Just another example as to why his age shouldn’t judge him.
“Those lazy shits don’t care. We gave the sketch to five different stations, and not one of them passed it on to another. So we had no choice but to do it ourselves.”
Mu Ssang nodded. Muho hyung once told him that he sent a cooperation request to the Board of Education and the police when he disappeared in the Bangtae mountain, but he found the request shoved inside a cabinet, neglected. So, as Samshik said, they’d have to do it themselves. So he could vaguely understand his master’s words when he said that relationships could not be pushed without reciprocal agreement.
“Why is CEO Park looking for her?”
Mu Ssang asked out of the blue.
“He didn’t give us a reason.”
Samshik shook his head. That was probably true. Park Inbo was someone who bode his time and withstood all the humiliation for 40 years to completely trap the Jahre family and shake them to their core. As someone who embodied the phrase, ‘revenge is a dish best served cold, he would never have revealed his intentions to some gang leader.
“Ah! CEO Park used the phrase Hwaegeunbochoon quite often around me. Though I never knew what it meant.”
Samshik remembered, desperately trying to give more information.
Mu Ssang flinched. Hwaegeunbochoon is an excerpt from a poem that Yoo Jahre, teacher of Zhu Xi of the Song dynasty, wrote titled Jajuheechuksa. Directly translated, it means protecting the roots to bloom in the upcoming Spring. It could be used when biding one’s time under challenging times to strike at the opportune moment. It is almost synonymous with the phrase Washinsangdam(Perseverance) and was befitting for Mu Ssang’s grudge-holding uncle.
However, the context of the same poem reads [I will stay on my path even if others criticize my purpose. I am afraid of nothing except for letting myself down.]
Thus the speaker indicates that he did not act in such a way to deserve criticism. He is only ashamed of his conscience. And if one were to shed a different light on the subject, the words Hoigeun contains a sentiment of regret, and in Bochun that of reparation.
What did he regret? And what was he planning to do for reparation? No one understood his uncle quite like Mu Ssang. There was no chance that there was some newly-found love for his family- not in a thousand years. So then, what was the reason for spending all of these resources in this search for his mother? They say knowledge is poison without the complete picture. His mind was in disarray.
“Thank you for your efforts.”
Mu Ssang reached out for a handshake. Samshik, and in unconscious impulse, grabbed the nightmare’s hand with both of his and bowed deeply.
“This is paid work, after all. We’re closing in on her movements. There will be good news soon.”
“Thank you. Have the inland searchers also relocate to the coastlines. She will not be anywhere near Jipeundari unless she regains her memories.”
“I will. CEO Park placed a twenty-thousand dollar reward in addition to the fees we’re already receiving. This is vital to us as well.”
“That so? I will put my name on the line. Consider me in your debt, and I will come to your aid just once when you ask for it.”
Samshik retorted without thinking.
“I don’t give empty words.”
“Thank you. I will try my best.”
Samshik bowed so deep his nose almost touched the floor. The nightmare’s word had more value than anything else. They may have come up to the surface, but the foundations of their money lending and service practices were still very much a part of the criminal underbelly. There was a constant struggle of interests involving scheming and gang fights. The words’ fighting fair’ didn’t exist where they were. Weapons and backtabbing were standard procedures.
Every organization knew about the nightmare, and no organization dared to cross his name. Then, if and when money fails to save his life, he’ll be able to invoke the terror. It was an unexpected lifeline.
‘Holy shit! Did I save the world in my past life or something? I better give Nupchi overtime for this.’
The bastard that brought in the nightmare had transformed into the employee of the month. Whoever gets involved with the Black Mamba is either ruined or hits the jackpot. If anything, Nupchi was the one who saved the world in his past life.
“Was Samshik Capital created to target the Jang family?”
“How did you know?”
Samshik asked, startled. He grew more curious about the nightmare’s identity. Samshik Capital was a paper company CEO Park created to dismantle Jangpilnyeo and her family. The services and the money lending were their fronts to hide that fact.
“How far are you in?”
Mu Ssang answered the question with a question of his own.
“We’re far behind on schedule from doing everything by the books. The lands we have for collateral are 2,700 wet farmlands and 300 dry, 5,000 wet farmlands, including 100 Jungbos of forests (1 Jungbo is 3,000 pounds or ~10,000m2), 1,200 dry farmlands, and 300 Jungbos of forests. So 90% of the Jang family’s land is our collateral. They’re currently priced at 8.5 million dollars altogether.”
Samshik said triumphantly. The amount of land that the Jang family possessed in Indong, Gumi, Andong, Sukjuk, Yakmok, and Sunsan was extensive. So if they could take 70% of the lands that were a part of the collateral, the money they’d make on fees alone would be 80,000 dollars.
“8.5 million, huh? All this talk about the Jang family looking down on the Choi family in Kyungjoo, and that’s it? They were that arrogant when their wealth doesn’t even add up to being 10 million!”
Mu Ssang lamented. 8.5 million couldn’t put a dent in anything. How many farmers were subjected to the Jang family’s abuse? How many lands were taken from their rightful owners because of their lending schemes? He found the insignificant fight the Jang family and his uncle were waging against each other to be utterly deplorable.
Samshik’s mouth gaped open. If 8.5 million isn’t significant, then what is? He was at a loss for words from Mu Ssang’s confidence.
“The capital needed to purchase those lands are coming out of CEO Park’s pocket?”
“You caught on to everything. I get one percent of the transaction. Over half of the collateral lands are in our possession already. CEO Park is our top client.”
“Ha, the Jang family be coughing up blood if they found out.”
“We are working entirely within the legal boundaries.”
Samshik had nothing to hide in this regard. Even those Jang family blokes gave up on their attempts.
“That’s not my business, owner Jin!”
“Yes, what do you need?”
“How much money is being spent on searching, miss Kim Malsoon?”
“Including the labor, transportation, and food, it costs about 2,500 to 3,000 dollars per person per year. So it’s costing us 15,000 every month now that we’ve increased our numbers to 60 this year.”
“15,000 a month, huh?”
Having been a gangbanger his whole life, Samshik could not recognize the French check Mu Ssang pulled out. So he just sat there and stared like a bull on ice.
“200,000 dollars. It’ll be about 170 million won in our currency.”
The check slid out of Samshik’s hands. Stunned, he dove after the statement as if he’d dropped a priceless artifact and picked it up. Samshik looked at Mu Ssang full of questions.
“You need money to get work done. One hundred million wons’ for you to do exactly that. Please increase the search party’s headcount to 180 and complete it within three months. If you bring her back safe and sound in the next three months, the remaining 70 million won is yours.”
Samshik exclaimed. He lost count of how many times he became bewildered like this after meeting Mu Ssang.
‘Is this a scam?’
His eyes bore into the check. He shook his head. If the nightmare asks for money, you give it to him even if you go into debt. There’s no reason for the demon to trick him.
“Hyungnim, you’re incredible.”
He couldn’t help but bow down at the presence of the god of wealth. Samshik was so obsessed with money he made something like ‘samgeum’ the slogan for his organization. CEO Park may have deep pockets, but he was nothing compared to the nightmare.
“Owner Jin, you’re much older than I am. Isn’t it a bit odd to call me hyungnim?”
“You know that age doesn’t matter in this line of business. So please, call me as you’d like. Hehehe!”
Samshik was confident in what he said. If the nightmare, with all his strength and wealth, wasn’t the hyungnim, then no one was.
“In time, I will, then. Now, can you do this for me?”
“I will do my best. But, no, I will make it happen.”
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Samshik clenched his jaws. The money was secondary. If he could get the nightmare to back him up, this country’s alleyways were as good as his. He’d have to find Kim Malsoon in the next three months, even if it takes all his goons and money to do so.
“I’ll trust you. You don’t have to go to the CEO of Hyangshim Fabric anymore. Ask me for the necessary resources and report to me on the progress.”
Mu Ssang gave him his phone number and his address.
“I will find a mother for you, hyungnim.”
Samshik blatantly called her ‘mother.’ Now that Mu Ssang was his hyungnim, it was only natural that he’d call Kim Malsoon’ mother..’