Chapter 209: The Path of Spring (2)
“Boss. It’s Choi Sunkil. I heard you came back to Baku.”
“Oh, I’m sorry that I’ve been away doing random things after making you in charge of Arirang Shipping. I’ve heard a lot about you from Mr. Park. Thank you for your hard work.”
“Well, this is what I’m supposed to do. It’s been going great. Do you remember the freighters that were in the market? They’re dirt cheap now.”
Choi Sunkil’s voice was full of confidence. Everything has been going well ever since he was hired by Youngho. He was excited to share the good news that the cargo ships that he had been eyeing on were now at one-third of their original prices in the market.
“That’s great to hear. Do you think two is enough? How about getting one or two more at this time?”
“We won’t have that much cargo anyway, so we shouldn’t overdo it even if they are cheap. That was why I failed. I won’t fail twice.”
“Okay. I’ll send you the money and you sign the contracts and as we said before, they will be named as ‘Zeynep 2’ and ‘Zeynep 3’.”
“Of course. Your sister in law will love to hear it.”
“Well, yeah. I’m forced to name my ships after her name since she’s the one who holds the leash.”
Youngho was really being dragged around by little cunning Zeynep these days. He worried about what kind of conditions she would have for using her name this time.
“The total price is forty-five million dollars for both ships together. I negotiated the down payment as ten million dollars with the financing company.”
“Only that amount of capital is enough?”
“Instead, they’re asking ‘Zeynep 1’ as a joint mortgage. Would you accept that?”
“Well Zeynep 1 is already under shipping finance, so it wouldn’t really matter. Let’s accept the offer and could you make the principal repayment first from freight revenue? For the time being, we won’t have our own profits. We only need to have funds for freight maintenance and payroll costs.”
“Alright. The bank will love to hear that.”
Many shipping companies were trying hard to get rid of their ships and lowering their prices. It was only a possible story because of the recession. As a result, Arirang Shipping could buy two ten-year-old 50,000-ton class freighters at such prices.
Also, it would not have been possible without having Choi Sunkil as the company’s professional management. He knew well about the circumstances of shipping companies and financing companies. Repeatedly saying that it felt like living a new life, he was truly enthusiastic.
Youngho was thankful for meeting such a person who was complementary to him.
It is said that human beings have gained a sense of determining their behavior through life information that has accumulated for tens of thousands of years.
The story of ‘the first penguin’ is often used in the western world to encourage people’s brave challenge. Penguins usually flock to the seaside waddling, but when in time to dive into the sea, they are reportedly hesitant, walking in place. It is not only because there are delicious foods in the sea, but also there are natural enemies like seals and sharks.
However, among the reluctant colony of penguins, there is always one brave penguin that jumps first toward the uncertain sea. Then, all of the other penguins that had been hesitant soon follow the first one and jump into the sea.
‘Just do it.’
The moral of the story is to be do something new despite the fear of uncertainty.
It is told that people do not always decide things rationally but many times, they also decide things by their own gut feelings within two seconds.
As for Youngho, it was more problematic that sometimes he decided on important things not even thinking for a second.
Today’s decision was an example of that.
“You’ve finally gone mad. Since I’m your friend, it’s partly my responsibility. Why don’t you hit me for that? Then you might come back to your senses.”
Amazed by Youngho’s absurd opinion, Jongil bashed on him.
“Dude, I’m saying we should wait for the result at least. I feel good about this time.”
“We won’t have anything left if you feel good about something twice. Man, I’ve been supporting you as my boss but the time has finally come for me to find my own way now.”
“Where would you go without me? You won’t last a day, you know.”
“I have Karajan and I have a son too!”
Jongil was upset since Youngho just claimed that Zeynep Corporation would be taking in charge of Azerbaijani private-sector’s managing underwriter for the Moscow-Azerbaijan-Iran Railroad business.
This was a prospective business that Russia’s influential economists and the global management consulting firm, McKinsey also approved.
A private underwriter must pay a few times more contribution than other corporations but Youngho was willing to outstretch Zeynep Corporation this time to establish a higher status for the time when he would have to negotiate with the Azerbaijani government. He was more convinced since Yaniv also decided to become the managing underwriter for the Russian private sector.
The reason for Jongil’s opposition was that the corporation would have to spend so much money on Arirang Farm in Kazakhstan for the next several years.
Youngho had already promised the Azerbaijani government that he would donate ten million dollars a long time ago. He thought that if he was going to donate the money anyway, he should use the opportunity to expand his business. Besides, there was a way for him to make more money, which Jongil did not know about yet.
“Jongil, you should be thankful that you’re serving me as your boss. You know what I’m saying?”
“Phew, who’s going to be that gullible and invest money for your words?”
“He told me that this is going to be his last business. He’s going to pour out everything he got to take advantage of this. He will also want to expand his influence not only over Russia but also in Azerbaijan. If I’m the private underwriter here, we’ll cooperate with each other and share profits.”
“If I say I don’t have enough money to contribute, he’ll certainly pay for me. He’s rich.”
“You’re turning into a con artist now.”
“They say the best businessman starts a business without paying a single penny but I still pay ten million dollars. If you keep diminishing me like this, there won’t be your portion in this.”
“Okay, okay! Jeez.”
Jongil seemed to be convinced. Youngho spotted a tip of his mouth was slightly raised.
It is said that a tiger does his best even when he catches a little rabbit.
Youngho would also have to do his best if he was going to be in charge of the private sector of Azerbaijan of the railroad project which was an unprecedented project linking the main artery of the Caucasus Mountain Range.
Now that he found his prey, he would have to use his full force.
The three countries had now finished consultation and they were now at the stage right before the basic survey for specific lines of the railroad.
Since the consortium of private companies in the railroad project was investing in all sectors, Youngho would have to find a way to outstand among them. The thing was that other companies were somewhat passively involved because they were reluctantly intervening in the government’s policy.
Large oil refineries would invest a little too much, but they would not be willing to take on a troublesome underwriter position, they would rather be satisfied with their equity participation. The toughest opponent for Youngho was a construction company that was directly run by the Transport Minister himself.
Youngho could not understand what kind of country the high-ranking official owned and participated in all kinds of government projects even if he was an opening pledge of the country.
However, this was the Caucasus and many impossible things were possible here. That was how Youngho could make it so far with his bare hands.
If the Transport Minister steps up to become the underwriter, it would not be private consortium anymore since the government would be involved.
To prevent such thing, Youngho’s priority was to collect information to find about the minister’s Achilles’ heel. If the mister intervenes, Youngho would be leaking his malpractice to the public although he hoped such thing would never have to happen.
“Insoo, can you dig into the Minister of Transport’s private and official lives? Didn’t you say that our security crews are guarding a minister’s relative?”
“I’ve heard that family is a mess. Why are you going to bother them? Nothing good will come out if you get involved with them.”
“It’s not what we’re going to involve in. We’re just going to slip out his malpractice to the press later. It’s not fair if an official enters the private consortium.”
“Oh, was that what you’re going to do? Okay, we can find as much information as you need.”
“Ilkwon. The North Korean representatives returned home. Only one left and he’s desperately opposing but you don’t need to be worried anymore. Tell your family that they can freely roam around Baku now.”
As North Korea ignored international conventions such as firing missiles, the Azerbaijani government had also called for the withdrawal of North Korean representatives in the country as a means of pressure under the U.N. resolution.
“Boss. Is that true?”
“You know I usually don’t say something twice.”
Kim Ilkwon was swelled to hear the news.
For the meanwhile, he could travel overseas freely but he disguised himself whenever he went out to Baku downtown. He had to be extra careful since he was a North Korean defector and if he was found by North Korean representatives, he would get in trouble. He felt a sudden relief.
Youngho was also relieved now that he could take Ilkwon anywhere without any worry.
Sometimes restrictions in behavior also cause mental receding.
The existence of the North Korean representatives had been subtly suffocating Kim Ilkwon’s family for a long time since they could be abducted and dragged back to North Korea if they were found. If that happened, Youngho would have gone to North Korea to fight for them but thankfully, such thing did not happen.
From that day, Kim Ilkwon’s family and his wife’s family went to downtown so frequently as if they lived there. It proved how much the fact had freed their minds.
The spring had just begun in Kazakhstan but Baku was already full of blooming flowers.
It amazed Youngho how flowers would bloom with only a little moisture in such dry, barren land. The leaves began to sprout from the vines of his farm as well.
Youngho took Leon to the vines whenever he had free time thinking that seeing nature’s wonders would help him develop a more stable mentality. If he was going to grow up into a leader of the Serbian Kingdom’s descendants, he would have to have a warm heart.
Youngho only wished that his son would grow into someone who loves literature and music, and someone who has compassion for others instead of living a harsh life as he did.
Since he had heard that kids who had frequent contacts with nature from young ages would have great stability and sociability, he was going to let Leon play in fields and mountains for most of his time.
Youngho’s face seeing Leon wobbling on the vineyard was peaceful than ever.