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Past Life Returner 20

 

Teenagers will be teenagers, and it was an era where the school action genre was popular in comics and films. When I went training at various gyms in Seoul and regularly had freshly bandaged injuries, while my parents supported me, my schoolmates made a lot of noise. The rumors about me were cringingly childish for me to hear, as they said I was fighting off Secret Murim Clans or I was a candidate for Leadership in a Triad.(EN: Triads are Chinese organized crime families)

However, the inane antics of those young children ended after summer vacation began. Today was one of my vacation days, and I was enrolled in summer cram classes and playing basketball with my imaginary friend Sungho. Or at least, that’s what my mother knew about my schedule.

 

“Son, bring Sungho here one day. I haven’t seen the face of your best friend.”

“Yes.”

“Are you going to continue boxing?”

“I’ll stop if you want me to.”

“You always go a bit too far. I like that you started to exercise again.”

“Yes.”

My mother took Madecassol out of her apron pocket, and it was a familiar ritual these days. She would stop me from going out and apply the anti-scarring ointment on my wounds.

 

“It’s all right if you’re a bit rebellious.”

 

I replied with only a wordless smile.

 

“My handsome boy, my son. Come home early. Do you have your allowance?”

While I had used it all up, I would have no reason to live by a middle schooler’s allowance from today. There was money coming in.

 

***

 

[Il Shin Financial Holdings held a board meeting on the 21st and announced that they would establish ‘Jeon il Investments,’ a joint investment firm with Golden Wish, a foreign firm specializing in international investments. This decision has been made under the benefits the government promised…]

 

Because it was only a short article, it was not at the level that would be written up in the newspaper yet. A VIP high up must have ordered this press release to let the public have something hopeful amidst the anticipated foreign exchange crisis.

The picture attached was small and in black and white, and there were no specific numbers regarding the foreign funds this deal would bring in, and it just showed some unnamed foreign CEO was shaking hands with the CEO of a small holdings firm. While the article was exaggerating things by calling it a firm specializing in international investments, Gold Wish was only a hollow paper company. However, the government was already promising benefits.

Foreign capital was flowing out, and even domestic investors took out their funds as fear spread in the market. I understood that they would want to grasp anything at this point, but…

It was a pitiful situation, and it was then a shadow leaned over the newspaper I was reading.

I looked up to see the same foreign man as in the picture looking down at me. While his cap was pulled on low, his jaw exactly matched the picture.

I gave him the code word, and received the counter sign, and the man’s expression was not happy. He looked dissatisfied with why he had to do even this kind of dirty work, but he just laid down the briefcase he was assigned to deliver and hurriedly went away.

I went somewhere quiet and opened the case to see about a million dollars in hundred dollar bills. It would be about a billion won in today’s rates, and the money was from the slush funds that had come out of dividing our original company into innumerable paper companies.

 

***

 

One needed identification documents in the financial field to exchange currencies when the scale was a million dollars and up. However, the backstreets of Myeongdong still stuck to the transaction methods before the real-time financial system came into effect, and the old owner who dealt in dollars welcomed me with her open arms.

While a million dollars would be a small amount to her, who was called “Myeongdong’s Big Mama,” no one was exchanging dollars to won at all these days.

Therefore, the black market had also frozen down, and I was a customer who had graced her store in these hard times.  I was also a customer in my previous life…

 

“Can you carry all that alone? Do you want me to have my boys deliver that for you in a car?”

 

The owner asked as she pointed at the stacked money boxes. While her face was severe, she was friendly in her actions.

 

“I called a truck. Please have them load it and let me use your phone once.”

 

The owner picked up the receiver on the desk and brought it to me. I heard the call connect after I pressed the buttons.

 

<This is Speed Real Estates.>

<It’s me, Jungho Kim.>

<Ah! Mr. Kim. I had been waiting for you.>

<I’m starting now. Can I meet you in front of Gangnam Station after thirty minutes?>

 

The truck I had hired was waiting outside, and I climbed into the passenger seat after the money boxes were loaded. It was best to have the billion won in cash. It would be tied up if I used a bank account, and the account brokers would try to swindle me anyway.

 

“Mr. Kim!”

 

The real estate agent was waiting for me where we had agreed to meet and helped me move the money boxes from the truck. His sedan’s trunk and backseat were filled with money boxes. The agent’s expression was serious as he spoke.

 

“You must be doing something huge since you’re so young. I envy you.”

 

Even if the money in the boxes were from the black market, he seemed not to care.

 

“Are there any changes in the contract?”

“Your conditions will be met. President Choi is said to own many buildings in Gangnam, and everyone in my field knows him. You can trust him.”

 

While the real estate guy said it indirectly, he clearly meant that since his customer was rich, he would not mind this small under-the-table contract. I had put out a condition for the office rental.

I would pay the rental fee for two years at once with cash but would not use my real name and identification for the transaction. While it was illegal, the real estate agent and the leaseholder agreed to my conditions.

I procured an office in the middle of Gangnam with an astounding rent fee because the buildings around here met my security conditions.

Only those with ID cards could enter, and guards were standing by 24/7 in the luxurious lobby. The real estate manager could only guide me to my office with a guard and a deputy of the leaseholder as our escorts.

 

“All you have to do is move in, and the cleaning is complete.”

 

I saw the deciding factor that made me rent here when the office door opened. A terminal, a phone cable, and office phone lay on the empty floor. Finally! It was more valuable to me than the money boxes the building employees were bringing inside.

This was when ADSL was beginning to be available, and the internet access point of this building had security that could not be gained in an ordinary household.

(EN: Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) is a type of digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines than a conventional voiceband modem can provide. ADSL differs from the less common symmetric digital subscriber line (SDSL). )

 

“I’ll pay you the fee now. Take these two boxes, and you’ll see that the amount is right.”

 

While there were suspicious gazes, cash transactions like this were not that unusual for the rich. The deputy’s face held a faint smile as he welcomed such a deal since cash like this will become part of President Choi’s slush funds.

 

“If you need anything regarding the office, you can contact me here.”

 

The deputy left his card and my ID card and went away with two boxes. While it was a deal where the cash came out of cardboard boxes, it was not unnatural in this high-class building. Real estate agents and deputies met many people with cash, and a name would be added to their rich clientele. Me.

 

***

 

That night, I finished installing the safe and the computer, which meant I finished my ‘secret base’ in a day. However, instead of various items and supplies, a computer was placed with an ADSL modem. I looked at the cable connected to the computer with satisfied eyes and pressed the power button.

I had been desperately waiting for the moment when I could be connected to the internet with decent speed instead of a slow telephone modem.

I lifted the receiver as I waited for the computer to boot. There was no need to worry about international call fees the moment I received the funds, and Jonathan would be in his office now.

It was seven in the evening in Seoul and six in the morning in New York.

 

<Sun?>

<I received the money and managed to secure an office. You have a pen, right?>

 

I gave him my office address and went into the reason I called him.

 

<You’re making fast progress. It seems that you’ll be able to wrap up things soon. Am I right?>

<It should possible. I can’t tell you the details over the phone, so I’ll fly to Seoul as soon as I can.>

 

While only Jonathan was doing the long flights, we could not set up a middleman. After two days, I took Jonathan, who had come from America to my office. There were various exercise machines in the office, and they took about half of the office space.

Jonathan clucked his tongue and tapped the sandbag. As I remembered the awakened Jonathan, his awkward movements bothered me.

 

“While I had guessed, you must be manic about exercise. Wait, is that a sword?”

 

Jonathan discovered the sword I had placed in a corner. From how his eyes glinted and he forgot about being tired, he was relishing my office’s strange atmosphere. Jonathan had been heading to where the sword was when he saw something else.

 

“You’re not the one who drew this, right?”

 

Jonathan asked in front of the picture I had hung on the wall. When I did not reply, Jonathan looked certain. The drawing was not framed, and the indentations of the pencil could be clearly seen. Jonathan talked about how realistic the monsters looked in the picture to explain how skilled I was at drawing.

He seemed more relieved than enjoying himself, and he sat as he asked me about my hobbies. He was asking about my parents, whether I had siblings, and how I had grown up.

I changed the subject to the suitcase he had brought along, despite the fact that  Jonathan obviously wanted to avoid it.

 

“Can I confirm the material you brought with you?”

 

The names of our paper companies filled a book, and they numbered over a thousand. I could also see how the funds had continued to move through them. Jonathan’s face was rigid after taking out all of the documents, and I knew why. The documents in front of me could be the fatal weakness that would imprison us for the rest of our lives in an American prison.

 

“If we hire good lawyers and are fortunate in the judges, it will be offshore tax evasion and not embezzlement. Either way, the amount is huge enough to be considered an unprecedented financial crime. However, everyone does this. We’re just different in scale.”

 

Editor: Userunfriendly

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