Cast of characters




Miss No




Mr Go








Miss No had taken up position behind her desk and reached down to an unmarked box at her feet.




She removed a pair of portraits – two almost identical-looking men yet different in age:





Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea and his son Kim Jong Il, with their pasty, re-coloured faces, stern looks and molded 1950’s Las Vegas nightclub singer’s hair; wearing blue-grey high collar trademark workers’ jackets.




Then out came the bottle of North Korean spirits. Miss No periodically purchased the item from the raw fish restaurant in downtown Chinju.





A friend of the family owned the store and sold the wine as a novelty.




The final touch was a clean soju glass, which she positioned near the bottle. But something wasn’t right. It was too clean.





She smudged some fingerprints on the shot glass.




* What is with all the North Korean paraphernalia? *




Comrade Go arrived and Comrade No wanted him to be comfortable while she issued his orders so, lacking another seat in the office, she invited him to sit in her big chair while she paced about.




“Let me pour you a little drink while we talk,” she said in a motherly tone.




Go’s face was expressionless and he looked straight ahead.





“Thank you Comrade No.” He held up the glass with both hands – traditional Korean drinking style.




Comrade No de-corked the bottle and filled the glass. “One shot!”




Go downed the dose of syrupy red wine in one quick blast.




She asked, “Are the information brochures loaded into the institute van?”




His monotone answer: “Yes Comrade No”




“You are to leave the institute, talk to no one, drive to Ulsan and deliver the newsletters as we already discussed.”




“Yes Comrade No.”




“Make no contact with anyone there. If someone in the street approaches you, merely point out my phone number on the bottom of the leaflet.





Then you drive right back here. We will debrief and you will be released from this assignment. Is everything clear?”




“Yes Comrade No.”




“Carry on Comrade Go.”








He arrived in Ulsan in good time to carry out his orders.





Parking had been a headache for the first pamphlet drop – the vicinity of the Ulsan Rotary Institute.




Go wasn’t used to this new white, unmarked van. It was a psychological ploy by Miss No – to divorce him from his big black mafia car for institute business.




He loved his car because he felt right down in the thick of things and could hide behind its tinted windows.





In the van you rode up high and were the centre of attention.




Go never liked being above things or people. He didn’t like to intimidate them.





And, back to the matter at hand, he had the darnedest time trying to park the van.




Even though its total volume was probably less than his mafia tank, it seemed to be twice the size.





His solution? Pull the sleek, white beast up on the sidewalk.




Pedestrians were initially irked but obediently moved out of the way as a crazed, obviously overworked delivery driver burst out of the vehicle, slid the side door open, and lugged out a cumbersome pile of propaganda.




Already gasping and soaked with sweat, Comrade Go waddled into the lobby of Mr Kang’s institute building and dumped the box right by the elevator.





He slit the plastic strip open using his penknife so that passersby could quickly grab a pamphlet.




* What are the pamphlets for? *




Kang’s other institute was near the city University and the area was under a lot of construction.





Street after street of old bungalow houses were being replaced by apartment towers.




Many had already filled up with residents and Go was able to quickly deliver the last few cartoons of flyers by putting stacks in the towers’ lobbies.





He seemed so bent on his mission that the one or two apartment security guards who were about to stop him stayed back in their shacks and turned a blind eye.




So far so good; perhaps too good. A little amber light in Go’s programmed head was warning him to proceed with caution.




As he briskly made his way back from the last apartment to the van – which he’d left idling at the side of the road a half block away – he passed a man in the street whom he sensed was looking at him.




His instinct was to keep looking straight ahead, get back to that damn vehicle and blow this pop stand. His work was done.




But the by-passer, whoever it was, now seemed to be calling after him! Was it that last security guard who’d hassled him, or a parking enforcement guy?




* Who is it calling after him? *




As a rule, Go didn’t talk to strangers so he ignored the man’s shouts, rammed his foot down on the gas peddle and shot into traffic with a screech.





Checking his mirrors, he saw that the man was trying to wave him down!




Go sped up even more, ran a red light, and swerved around a garbage truck.





He cut right and bombed like a madman up a tiny, narrow alley, and breathed a sigh of relief as the pursuer finally dropped out of sight.




What the hell was that all about?




He checked his mirrors and looked around out the windows. Whew! The coast was clear.




His temples perspired profusely. He could feel his heart thumping and he desperately gasped for breath. He sat for a second and collected his thoughts.




Back to Chinju.








Tomorrow: Kang’s business has been getting some bad press.