Empire Of The Ring Chapter 394
Krasnoyarsk was already chilly.
According to Choi Sang-ho, who came out to the airport, frost fell in the morning.
Although the air in the autonomous state was chilly in the morning and evening, the sun was scorching in the daytime to the point where people had to seek shade whereas in Siberia it seemed that it was ready for winter weather already because it was 10 degrees higher in latitude compared to the autonomous state.
“Boss, I couldn’t attend the coronation because of the circumstances here. Congratulations on becoming a duke!”
“Oh, please. I know you’ve been busy here, but it’s a shame that we didn’t get to celebrate in the state together. And, please, do not call me a duke here ever.”
Arriving at the branch office in Krasnoyarsk, Youngho immediately went to check if the logging site was prepared for the harsh winter that would come.
The ice breaker ships would only be able to travel until the end of November, and would not be able to resume operations until February, so all supplies that would be used at the region for four months of winter should be procured now. The icebreakers of the state were unable to sail because they were small and vulnerable in the Arctic Ocean or the midwinter ice of the Yenisei River.
Both the dock and lodging construction at the logging site were said to be complete, but one should expect to be isolated because of the freezing cold that could even freeze oil. It was also not an easy job to last more than four months without supply. Four light armored vehicles were also ready, but if logging equipment broke down, winter work would be ruined, so thorough preparation was essential. There would be trial and error at the logging site this winter since it was the first winter for the logging business. Youngho only wished that people would not get hurt. There was no perfect preparation in Siberia. When everything froze up, people would have to wait until spring came for the ice to melt.
“How’s the movement of Chinese companies?”
“They still work the same in the logging area in the Taiga region, but they don’t snoop into the black market anymore.”
“What about the mafias?”
“Sergeenko is very busy these days. He’s frequently seen at the black market lately.”
“Do you think he’s in contact with the Chinese company?”
“I didn’t get to find out about that.”
“Does Sergeenko often come to the branch office?”
“He’ll drop by once every two or three days. He’s usually just here for a cup of tea.”
Youngho was worried that he might be only raising risk by encouraging Sergeenko to watch the Chinese company. If the Chinese authorities found out about this and intervened, it would only result in freezing the black market. It was time to focus on diamonds because natural rubies had nothing to do with laser technology. If Sergeenko over-reacted to Youngho’s request, it would not look pretty in the future. He would be able to find out what was going on as soon as he met Sergeenko.
Sergeenko acted quite politely, unlike before. Youngho asked why he was acting differently.
“I wouldn’t have dared to sit face to face with a duke if it was in the days of Imperial Russia. Even though I have the blood of the Evenk, I know the basic etiquette.”
“You can call me Mr. Lee like before. But where did you hear about that? Did Sergey ever tell you?”
“Chairman Nikolay told me. I heard that you helped him a lot this time.”
“I see. You have a close relationship with Chairman Nikolay, don’t you?”
“He’s helped me since I was a little kid. He took care of me when I was just a street brat, I stayed out of trouble and learned how to read because of him. There was a time when I couldn’t even be treated as a decent human being because of the blood of the Evenk in me.”
Even though Sergeenko became a mafia, he did not forget about the favor and grace that was given to him in the past.
When Youngho asked about the issue of the Chinese company, Sergeenko unexpectedly replied with caution. Youngho thought that he would be outspoken as a typical mafia boss, but it seemed like he was considering numbers of cases.
“Well, you’re very careful about this issue. I thought you would be enforcing Siberian law right away. Anyway, it’s a good thing for me. There’s nothing good about being noisy.”
“I warned the black market first because I didn’t want to put the Evenk people in trouble because of rubies. If the black market is closed for the Chinese company, they’ll probably seek another way to get rubies and diamonds. I thought I can figure out a way when that happens. It won’t be too late to make a decision then.”
“I don’t want to antagonize the Chinese company. If we can co-exist, then we’ll be more than happy to.”
“That’s what I was considering too. The Chinese company was already working with the central government. What’s the point of our involvement here?”
“What concerns me is that the Chinese company is too bold to act even though they’re illegally taking diamonds here. I’m afraid we’ll get caught because of their bold actions.”
“I don’t know what happened to them, but they’re taking a cautious approach these days. They don’t even show up in the black market. I assume something big has happened, but I’ll probably never know what it is.”
Sergeenko was also accurately grasping the attitude of the Chinese company.
Even though he would never know, Youngho knew the truth. It was because the company was completely shaken by the two previous thefts of diamond stones, which were done by Youngho and Jong-il. The first case was known to be because of the general secretary who fled with all of the valuables in the company’s safe, and the second theft was supposed to have been robbed. So, the company must have been shaken by the whole situation. They might be thinking they were targeted because they bought the stones in the black market.
There was no law that said no more similar cases would happen, so the company must be keeping a low profile for now.
Sergeenko tilted his head saying that everyone except the under-clerk at the woodworking plant was fired at the Chinese company.
“I`m just taking a wait-and-see approach because the Chinese company is not taking any special action. But if it’s as bad as before, I’ll act upon it. Fortunately, the under-clerk that we’ve been dealing with is still there, so you’ll be able to use the logs piled up in the storage yard for a while.”
“Since we’re starting logging in October, we don’t mind if we don’t hang on to the Chinese company’s logs.”
“You know logging work is difficult. Why would you do such a hard job? It’s way convenient to take a mountain of logs that is already at the dock.”
He was right. Youngho could buy cheap raw woods that were already waiting for him at the dock, so he did not have to trouble his workers for the woods. It was much more economical to purchase lumber that had already been cut down.
Youngho was glad to see another side of Sergeenko today. He was cautious, considerate, and knowledgeable about the Siberian region. It seemed that Youngho could listen to his advice on any issue in Siberia.
“Boss, Sergeenko seems to be a smart guy. I have a different perspective on him now.”
“You think so too? He’s not just an ignorant mafia. I was so impressed by his deep thought. He’s fully qualified as a partner.”
“He’s been asking Choi Sang-ho to sell them combat rations saying that his buyers and the military commander’s buyers won’t overlap. He was sure that his markets would be more diverse.”
“Did he really?”
“He told him that he had been willing to ask, but he couldn’t find the chance. He knew that Choi Sang-ho couldn’t say no.”
“I see, that’s quite smart of him. Find a way to secretly supply the combat rations to Sergeenko. Tell him we’ll supply in small quantities, and if there’s no problem, we’ll supply in large quantities. Since we made a deal with the commander first, we can’t supply a large amount at the moment.”
“I see. I’ll instruct Choi Sang-ho.”
“Tell him to be extra careful when unloading at the dock. It won’t be good if Klimov’s guys and Sergeenko’s guys run into each other.”
“Should we supply ramen to Sergeenko as well? Combat rations, we’d have to consider about Klimov, but does it matter if we supply instant noodles to Sergeenko?”
“I heard Klimov has asked for more ramen. He’s not going to be happy if we supply ramen to mafias.”
“We can tell him that it was to bribe local mafias. Commander Klimov makes a lot of money by selling combat rations. He’ll understand it. Right now, the supply of combat rations can’t keep up with the demand, so we should try to appease the mafia.”
“Okay, let Choi Sang-ho handle it then.”
Youngho did not expect much from distributing combat rations in the Siberian region, but it turned out to be quite profitable. He did not have to worry about paying for labor because the products were only sold to wholesalers, and he was paid fully in cash at the dock, so he did not have to worry about not getting paid.
If Sergeenko would join in this business, the food factory in the state would eventually have to be expanded since it was not impossible for mafias to expand their markets throughout the whole Siberia.
There was a slight problem; It was a secret trade. However, if Klimov, the commander of the local military unit, and the mafia organization would step up, it would not be a problem at all. There were plenty of ways to get away with it because it was not a luxury item but just an instant food. This was Siberia with its own laws anyway. Commonsense was not so common here.
Youngho was discussing the operation method of the local branch office with Hong Sung-ki when Nikolay called him. He wanted to meet Youngho for dinner at the hotel he was staying.
It seemed that he was now comfortable enough to move around the city since he was only in his mansion afraid of being spied on by authorities in Moscow before.
Later in the day, Nikolay appeared at the hotel, accompanied only by his chief secretary. He now looked like a totally different person as he had put on some weight.
“Thanks to you, Mr. Lee, I’m free of worry these days. I’m even gaining weight.”
“I haven’t done much. I just made a few phone calls.”
“Hahaha… But it doesn’t change the fact that you did something that no one could have done for me. Thank you again.”
“Oh, no problem. I did what I could do as a businessman.”
“Shall we eat first?”
It was still early to eat dinner. Asking for a meal meant that he wanted to talk for long in private.
“Then let’s move to a new place.”
“The food served in the sky lounge here is very good.”
“You’ve come all the way here to see me. I’ll treat you today.”
“Well, I’m honored to be treated by a duke.”
“It’s a self-imposed title in the autonomous state.”
“It was my dream to live like you, Mr. Lee. You know, I made it hard for my family because of my greed. I’d like to buy a small piece of land in Europe, could you help me? I’m finally free and my family has gone through a lot because of my business. I want to serve my family now.”
“Well, there’s a good place for you.”