Chapter 154: Tracy of The Lincy Foundation (1)
Small countries off the coast of the Black Sea did not seem to be the focus of terrorists. It might have been because those countries would not be enough of an issue on TV even if they launched terror attacks.
Georgia was one of those countries.
After landing at Tbilisi Airport where there was not even a special security check, Youngho went straight to get on a train to Batumi. This trip was accompanied by Kim Ilkwon.
Ilkwon had been very busy going back and forth between Vladivostok and South Ossetia instead of Youngho. It was because his fluent Russian came handy when dealing with difficulties with local people.
In South Ossetia, his role was to check security situations and train employees at Arirang Hotel.
Katya did not feel disappointed anymore for Youngho’s rare appearance in South Ossetia since she was busy managing the new hotel. Also, now that at the hotel’s rooftop, a cell tower was installed, she could make a video call to him on her smartphone.
“Miss Evna complained that you don’t visit here anymore. She said you should visit her when the snow melts to complete the settlement of accounts for the last year.”
‘Georgievna’ was Katya’s last name. In short, Ilkwon called her ‘Evna’.
“We can do that on papers, why does she want to do it in person? I don’t think I can work when I see her face, she’s too distracting.”
“She’s indeed beautiful. I almost can’t think when I see her either.”
“Oh, someone with a stone-like personality like you can be distracted too?”
“Boss, I’m a man too. Miss Evna is beautiful enough to catch any man’s eye.”
Katya’s beauty was not of the world. Youngho was restraining himself from visiting her because his heart went seesaw whenever he saw her, but he should be visiting her soon since Katya was a valuable business partner of Arirang Hotel.
Batumi was the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, Georgia’s region. The city was the best vacation land of Georgia, which had only top class seaports. With its beautiful nature, it was one of the wettest places offshore of the Black Sea and had a subtropical climate.
Because of the warm climate, the city was crowded with tourists. Though only 150,000 people resided in the city, there were unbelievable numbers of hotels and high apartment buildings along the shore. Indeed, it was not a lie that the city was referred to as ‘The Las Vegas of the Black Sea’.
People looked relaxed as they came to enjoy their vacation. Since most of the tourists were Turks, Youngho could hear Turkish on the streets.
Youngho fell in love with the city. Although he only came to buy a hotel, he had to rearrange his schedule to enjoy the city. There was a petrochemical complex near Batumi but the city itself was so refreshing and pleasant, which was not comparable to Baku. People were also nice and bright, which meant that the city was stable and secure. The public safety was also great that he spotted many women walking around the city at night.
Youngho stayed there for two days and it seemed the city was equipped with good transportation infrastructures. He came with little expectation, thinking that the city would be just like other cities around the Black Sea, but it was actually an awesome place that he could start his hotel.
Since winter was the peak season of tourism, there was no way that he could buy an already existing hotel at a good price. Building a new hotel seemed that it could be a better deal for him, so he started looking for an offshore site with a great view.
Youngho visited Yerevan, Armenia in a long time. He had two of his friends, Cho Chulhwan and Um Sangtaek, living in Armenia but because of the border between the two countries was closed, they seldom visited each other now.
As a businessman of Azerbaijan, Youngho had to visit Yerevan in secret. They still talked on the phone frequently but it was not same as talking in person.
Their clothing store was doing well, so they were financially well-established but life was still hard for them to live in a foreign country without anyone else. As soon as the two friends saw Youngho, they hugged him and their eyes turned watery.
“Man, don’t hug me too tight. My ribs are being crushed.”
Although the recent battles occurred in Nagorno-Karabakh, the aftermath had reached to them as well. As if they had inner struggles too, their faces had become thin.
“Dude, I almost forgot your face. Why didn’t you visit us more often?”
“I’m sorry. I’ve been busy due to terrorism all over the place and then I was stuck because of the sudden outbreak of war in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“Anyway, it’s over now. We were afraid that it might become a full-scale war.”
Knowing his friends’ concerns, Youngho spat out the words that had been in his mind.
“Why don’t you just settle down in Georgia? I’m saying because there is no guarantee that this is over.”
Relocating to another country would be a hard decision for them since they had just settled down in Yerevan. However, since they all had kids, it did not seem like a bad idea to move to a safer place.
“Actually, that’s what we’ve been working on. We’re still trying to convince our wives. I don’t think I can keep living in insecurity like this here.”
Since Youngho had brought only Kim Ilkwon only, the two did not go to a hotel but stayed at Cho Chulhwan’s house. Of course, they had to drink up all night to catch up. With his friends’ wives in mind, Youngho kept mentioning good sides about Tbilisi or Batumi Port to convince them to move to Georgia. He was almost forcing them to relocate even for a little while until the domestic situations were resolved.
It seemed that they were almost convinced by him since Armenians were friendly to Georgia. That was when Youngho told them his plan to build a hotel in Batumi. Because he promised them hotel management positions, they could not refuse his offer. It would take two years to complete the hotel building, so they could watch over the construction site and prepare for the opening of the hotel in the meantime.
In the first place, the two friends came to a foreign land far away from their home country because of Youngho. Although there was nothing more left for Youngho to take care of since he provided a store and jobs for them, the country was now frequently at war that something needed to be done for their secure lives.
It was not like Youngho did not have money anymore. Since he decided to make a world-famous hotel chain, he did not want to be stingy to his friends and family members. The two friends and their wives knew that they could have better lives in Georgia. They had to leave their homeland, Nagorno-Karabakh, once for the sake of their families and they could do that again.
Just like that, Batumi’s Arirang Hotel was now at the starting point, with its managers arranged already. Since Youngho already made up his mind and convinced his friends, he did not want to waste time. He gave them seed money to find a place to live in Batumi and asked them to find a great site for his future hotel. Their clothing store would be handed down to their relatives, so they did not have anything to worry about. By Youngho’s forceful push, they were getting ready to move to Batumi.
Youngho made time in his schedule to meet the business person that Edward mentioned. She was a woman in her sixties.
“Mr. Lee, I’ve heard a lot about you. You’ve been helping our people, so I asked Edward to introduce me to you.”
“It’s a pleasure. I was just lucky that I got to let the whole world know about the disturbing scene of genocide, Madame Kerkorian.”
“I own major businesses in America and I also made a lot of investment in businesses in Yerevan. I was carrying forward railroad construction between Yerevan and Nagorno-Karabakh but it was a total failure.”
A railroad business was not the size that could be completed by a mere corporation. It was a business that many underdeveloped countries had to get loans from outside in order to begin construction.
Her statement made Youngho worry about how big her corporation was, that she could plan a railroad construction by herself. He looked at her business card thoroughly.
‘MGM Resorts International. Tracy Kerkorian, The Lincy Foundation.’
She was a daughter of a worldwide billionaire, Kirk Kerkorian, who was an Armenian American. As a well-known woman entrepreneur, she had been running the Lincy Foundation after her father’s passing last year. The family had donated two billion dollars under the name of the Lincy Foundation for Armenia’s development.
Youngho was meeting an owner of a family that was running and moving the world’s economy in this era.
“Mr. Lee, I already know that you’re a CIA agent and you’re running businesses in Baku.”
Youngho felt naked in her eyes since she was boldly exposing his identity in front of him.
“I happened to be all that you’re saying about me. I can’t deny the fact that Edward played a key part in establishing my current state.”
“Everything was achieved because of your passion. Personally, I found your story interesting.”
Youngho wondered what it meant for him that a world-class billionaire was interested in his life. Would it mean that she wanted to be a business partner? Or was she making fun of his small businesses? Either way, he did not feel bad since it meant that he caught her attention.
“I only made money through the power of the CIA. My efforts played only a minimum part for my achievements.”
Youngho wanted to look as humble as possible because he thought she would only smirk if he explained what kind of hardship he had to go through.
“You’re too modest, I’ve seen many men as ambitious as you. My father also started small just like you. He was a pilot of a light aircraft that carried gamblers.”
‘What does she mean? Is she saying that I’m making money from illegal businesses?’
“Please don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying that my father started rough but bought companies one by one. In the end, he practiced charity, so he was a good businessman. He did not leave anything except for the Lincy Foundation to his children when he passed away. Since we’ve lived comfortable lives because of him, he wanted us to serve others through the foundation, although the foundation still has an unbelievable amount of estate.”
“I decided to use the money for my suffering Armenian people and you are the beginning point of my decision.”
Youngho opened his mouth but no words came out. He did not know what to say.
“I was just a lucky CIA agent who happened to witness a scene of genocide. Well, I’m a little richer than other agents though.”
Madame Kerkorian smiled at his remark. She still used her father’s last name since she lived by herself all her life.
For the next three hours, the two kept on talking.
“Armenians are peaceful people. They had been suffering hundreds of years of oppression. But, they won’t stand it anymore now. So, please, with your special abilities, help our people.”
From looking at Youngho’s eyes, Tracy already figured out that there was something special in him. She was trying to find out what his secret was.
“What about me made you think that I have special abilities?”
“Because of the tight security at the border of Nagorno-Karabakh, my security guards had to return without even trying, but you didn’t and you must’ve already figured out what kind of people they are when you stepped in this room, haven’t you?”
Her guards had extraordinary spirits, seemingly to have the equal or less level of skill as Kim Ilkwon’s although to Youngho, they’re levels were as of a child’s.
“I just passed by him but I could see that he is a person of great skills. A guard like him is only a handful in the world.”
“See, you figured all of that out in one glance. Also, Edward told me something. He said, there won’t be a lot of people in the world who could beat you and your friend. Now, please share your secret. I’m ready to make an investment on you.”
Youngho felt like he was pulled into a bad joke. How on earth would he slip out from this situation?