Chapter 248: Can you get me a phone number? (3)

“Requests are still coming in from our overseas allies.” (Chief Secretary)

“Oh, is that so?” (President)

A certain man relaxedly leaned back in his luxurious chair.

In front of him sat a huge desk that seemed a wee bit unnecessary, in terms of actual usefulness, and behind the luxurious chair he had parked his butt on, one could see the gold-plated emblem featuring a phoenix and a Korean rose.

This man leisurely perused the report before setting them aside on the desk in a languid manner.

“That is excellent news.” (President)

“Indeed it is, Mister President.” (Chief Secretary)

The man referred to as the President nodded his head.

“Truly, wonderful news.” (President)

His expression was overflowing with leisure and composure.

Yun Yeong-Min – that was his name, the President of South Korea. Although elected as the leader at the worst time in recorded history of humanity, he was unexpectedly spending some of the very best days in the history of the nation itself.

Now normally, a nation like Korea would be waaay too busy trying to sort out all the Gates opening up within its borders, as well as maintaining international diplomatic relations, but thanks to a certain golden goose that appeared out of nowhere, the international acclaim for the country was increasing exponentially.

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A nation nervously peeking its head around the corner hoping to request other government’s help was now in the position of receiving those said governments coming to seek it out, instead.

On top of this, the identities of the governments asking for help served to heighten the President’s moods even further.

Not only the United States, but China and Russia, plus a whole host of others, were currently requesting aid from him. In the past, he’d been too busy reaching out to these very same folks for help.

“What about that thing with Russia?” (President)

“It seems that the annexation of Ukraine is almost over, sir.” (Chief Secretary)

“And the reactions of the international community?” (President)

“Statements of condemnation are still being issued, but none of them have tried to do anything as they are currently too preoccupied with their own internal affairs, sir. Even the Americans and the Chinese can’t spare their military forces, so which government would be willing to help Ukraine out at this juncture?” (Chief Secretary)

“Okay. What about Mexico, then?” (President)

“Sir. From the get-go, they were hopelessly outgunned. They are being rapidly subjugated as we speak. That’s why I can’t begin to fathom why they decided to attack the Americans in the first place, sir.” (Chief Secretary)

“Well, it wouldn’t be as entertaining if only the normal things happened most of the time, don’t you agree?” (President)

The Chief Secretary shut his mouth.

Many, many people were dying right now. Even if those events were happening in lands far away, a nation’s President shouldn’t be muttering words like ‘entertaining’ in a situation like this.

‘He’s supposed to possess the air of a President, but….’ (Chief Secretary)

The thing was, someone like this man wouldn’t have been elected to this seat were it not for the chaotic times the country found itself in.

This man had preached radical ideologies during his campaign, while never failing to point out that the lives of citizens were in immediate danger.

Under normal circumstances, a candidate like him would’ve been kicked out pretty early on in the race, but in these uncertain times, he was judged to be the person with a straight-laced attitude and the right temperament to handle the incoming dangers.

Too bad….

‘….He’s incompetent.’ (Chief Secretary)

That was the most on-the-point, succinct evaluation of the current President – incompetent.

Hell, he wasn’t vicious, not even opportunistic, and morally so anonymous that he couldn’t even be faulted on that front, either. His only negative point was his incompetence, and unfortunately, that was the absolute worst ‘con’ for a nation’s President.

“What happened to Japan?” (President)

“They are still sending us requests for aid, sir. The Japanese Prime Minister wishes to speak to you in person through the hotline, sir.” (Chief Secretary)

“You have rejected him, yes?” (President)

“Yes, sir. For the time being, we used the pretext of you currently being unavailable. However, we won’t be able to avoid them for long, sir. After we kept dodging their calls, I heard that their Prime Minister is planning to personally come and pay us a visit.” (Chief Secretary)

“H-mmmm….” (President)

Yun Yeong-Min hummed happily again and again.

The Republic of Korea was enjoying her glory days. Never before in her entire history did the Korean Peninsula receive such wondrous treatment.

And the dear Mister President Yun Yeong-Min was chuffed beyond belief that such heyday coincided with his reign. Just who in this country’s history had exercised as much authority as he has done so far?

“It seems that the Prime Minister is starting to feel the heat now.” (President)

“That is so, sir.” (Chief Secretary)

“In that case, let’s help them out at least this once. However, the pretext feels a little inadequate, so shouldn’t this matter be handled on the levels of Prime Ministers?” (President) (TL: Korea has both the offices of President and Prime Minister.)

“Do you wish to speak to someone higher up, sir?” (Chief Secretary)

There was only one other person in Japan occupying a nominally higher seat than its Prime Minister.

….The Japanese Emperor.

“If only such a personage makes a request directly, or promises to apologise for the historical transgressions. I’m sure it’d get much easier for us to make a move, then.” (President)

“I shall probe them for an answer, sir.” (Chief Secretary)

“Mm. Very good. Good.” (President)

President Yun Yeong-Min worked extra hard to control the ends of his lips from curling upwards. Even if the Chief Secretary was his close aide, it’d be unwise to display such flippant attitude here.

‘This is so fun.’ (President)

Only up until a few months ago, he had to keep ulcer medication in his pocket at all times due to a stress-related illness. But now, he got to finally learn that how wonderfully grand and fun his position could be.

“We should thank our golden goose. Of course, it’s all due to my great skill in putting that goose to work, however.” (President)

“….I’m sure it is, sir.” (Chief Secretary)

The Chief Secretary frowned ever so slightly.

Put that goose to work?

Just what did he do to put that guy to work, anyway?

The President hadn’t done anything proactively.

No, all he did was acknowledge the requests from overseas allies, that was all. This so-called current President couldn’t even negotiate properly so he delegated such important matters to some regular civil servants, instead.

‘What a pathetic man.’ (Chief Secretary)

A man who had no talent nor previous accomplishments but relied on just public image to get to the most important public office in the country would eventually end up like this. This was the reason why high-ranking positions required someone with actual experience.

“For the time being, please keep a close eye on Japan and North Korea. The fact that our northerly neighbour is keeping silent makes me a little bit worried. Also, the fact that there are conflicts raging on in the international community, too.” (President)

“Understood, Mister President.” (Chief Secretary)

Knock, knock, knock.

It was then, they heard the sound of urgent knocking.

Who could it possibly be?

Well, it was rather obvious who would knock on the door to the President’s office. No, the real puzzling bit was why would anyone knock in the first place.

Because, intercoms weren’t installed just for show.

“Enter.” (President)

As soon as Yun Yeong-Min called out, the door was flung open in great haste. And a pale-faced secretary rushed inside.

The Chief Secretary frowned deeply at this sight. What was this unmannerly behaviour about?

“What happened?” (Chief Secretary)

It seemed that this person needed more ‘thorough’ education. His pride as the head of the secretary’s office was on the line here.

“A, a phone call just came in, sir.” (Secretary)

“A phone call?” (Chief Secretary)

“Y-yes. A call.” (Secretary)

The Chief bit his lower lip hard even before he realised it.

Who cared about some measly phone call?

They weren’t even answering the hot lines directly connected to the Japanese Prime Minister and the American President, so how could a phone call made by someone else be considered even more urgent?

“I won’t say anything for the time being, so please wait outside. I shall hand over your punishment for this gaff in due course.” (Chief Secretary)

The Chief Secretary turned back towards the President and bowed his waist deeply.

“My apologies, sir. I fail to properly manage the people under me.” (Chief Secretary)

“M-mm….” (President)

The President seemed just a tad unhappy, but he didn’t try to voice his displeasure. It’d be unbecoming of a President to take out his unhappiness on some small-time secretary, after all. This sort of matters should be handled by their Chief, instead.

“In that case, I….” (Chief Secretary)

“N-no, sirs! That’s not it!” (Secretary)

“Hah….” (Chief Secretary)

The Chief spat out a lengthy sigh unbeknownst to himself.

He had never failed to educate his underlings properly until now, so he was beginning to get flustered wondering how the current event could even occur.

Daring to even say ‘That’s not it’ in front of them, too? How could he even say that in front of the nation’s President?

How uncouth.

“For now, you’ll….” (Chief Secretary)

“I think you need to answer this phone call, sir.” (Secretary)

At this point, curiosity reigned stronger than anger in the Chief’s and the President’s head. Just who had called in that the secretary was panicking like this?

“Where is the call coming from? Is it America? Or is North Korea calling us through the direct line?” (President)

Those were the two places they could come up with.

Unfortunately, the secretary shook his head around wildly and gasped out in a half-torn voice.

“Yi, Yi Ji-Hyuk, sirs!!” (Secretary)

“Ng?” (President)

What did he just say?

Who was it again?

“The NDF’s Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk is demanding to speak to you directly, Mister President!” (Secretary)

“……….”

The President’s office was suddenly enveloped in an icy stillness.

*

“Mmm…..”

This was one hell of a strange spectacle.

In the middle of a huge round wooden table, a lone telephone sat pretty for everyone else to see. And then, a bunch of middle-aged men decked out in black business suits were staring at that very phone as if to bore a hole right through the dang thing.

Their gazes were filled with subtle hints of anxiety and fear.

“He made a call, you say?” (President)

“Yes.” (Secretary)

“And for the time being, the call’s been disconnected?” (President)

“It took a bit of time, so he got annoyed and hung up, saying that he’ll call us back after having a meal first.” (Secretary)

“He’s exactly as I’ve heard. Down to a T.” (President)

Everyone, from the Ministers of various government entities as well as the Prime Minister, and those who held the crucial positions of actually running the government itself, the heads of various departments as well as the intelligence chief – the higher-ups of the political world that controlled the Republic of Korea had gathered around in the President’s office right this moment.

“How should we handle the current situation?” (President)

The words spoken out aloud by President Yun Yeong-Min ably expressed the minds of everyone gathered here.

“Well, there is one person who’s more or less resistant to crisis like this one, no? Where is the Foreign Affairs Minister?” (President)

“….We can’t get in touch with him, sir.”

“It’s a direct summon from the President, yet what do you mean, you can’t contact him?!” (President)

“The moment Yi Ji-Hyuk’s name was mentioned, he dropped the call, sir. He’s apparently disappeared from his department building, as well. We’re currently searching for his whereabouts.”

“Groan….”

What on earth was going on here?

“D-Defence Minister.” (President)

“Yes, your excellency.” (Defence Minister)

“I told you to call me Mister President, didn’t I? Look at the era we’re living in right now. In any case, what do you think? Technically speaking, isn’t the NDF a branch organisation of the Defence Ministry?” (President)

The Defence Minister looked at the President with a dumbfounded expression on his face.

“Both the KSF and the NDF are organisations completely under the Office of the Presidency, sir. I mean, when I asked you to give me the authority to command them in the past, you denied it saying that they were not affiliated with the Defence Ministry, didn’t you? But now, you’re saying that they are? Did you reorganise the governmental structure while I wasn’t looking?” (Defence Minister)

He could’ve said ‘no’, nice and simple, so why did he have to go and retort like that?

I heard that all military men are hot-headed and straightforward, but maybe this guy is a fake general? I mean, why is he being so snarky like that? Is he actually from the communications department, instead? (President’s inner monologue)

“In that case….” (President)

President Yun Yeong-Min’s eyes were now fixed on one person. With the current situation having devolved this far, there was only one person who could resolve it.

“Director.” (President)

“….Yes, sir.” (Director)

The director of the KSF, Bae Jeong-Kuk, stared back at the President with an unreadable expression.

“Don’t you have any methods available to you? They are under your wings, aren’t they?” (President)

Bae Jeong-Kuk’s complexion waned at a visible rate.

Under my wings?

God d*mn it, then why did you even give the go ahead for the NDF’s establishment in the first place?! (Director’s inner monologue)

He was already feeling pretty unhappy regarding the redeployment of his best men who had been minding their own business under the pretext of creating a brand new task force, as well as the fact that they were given the full autonomy. But now, the President wanted him to do something about it when a problem occurred?

“This matter has been out of my hands for a long time, sir.” (Director)

“Is that something you should say as the director? You think it’s okay for you to fail in controlling one of your own subordinates?” (Defence Minister)

The Defence Minister said something pretty upsetting just then.

The relationship between the Defence Ministry and the KSF was already pretty acrimonious, so there was no way that these two men would enjoy a cordial banter in here.

“In that case, why don’t YOU do it, then?” (Director)

“What was that??” (Defence Minister)

The director glared directly at the President.

“Just who was it that gave them the right to self-govern and took them away from my direct command, sir? And you want me to do something about it now?? With what authority should I order them around with? It’ll simply be faster to just summon the direct superior to that man!” (Director)

“The direct superior?” (President)

“That’ll be Seo Ah-Young.” (Director)

“………..”

The complexions of everyone here immediately became worse.

Who here didn’t know Seo Ah-Young was directly responsible for Yi Ji-Hyuk? That info was a must if you wanted to become a high-ranking public official in South Korea.

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The reason for these people looking even poorer than before was pretty simple, though.

‘The Insane Witch.’

On the outside, she was known as the Flame Witch.

Her insane personality was so infamous that it was now on the level of official status. Yet, they needed to summon her here?

No way they’d do that when they might get humiliated by her.

“K-hmmm!”

Rrrrrr….

It was then, the phone’s bell vigorously rang out.

The hearts of these men surrounding the phone fell to the pits of their stomachs.

Nervous tension quickly filled up the office.

< 248. Can you get me a phone number? -3 > Fin.

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