Chapter 20: Discovering a Father

Sung-min Kwon did not understand what the man meant about his father having killed Lt. David Chan. Kang Yu could read this on his face.

“Ah, come sit down, son, and let me tell you what your father did for me.”

Again with the ‘son.’ But Sung-min only bowed again, then sat down in front of the enormous desk. Yu went back to his chair, sat, then clasped his hands and laid them on the desktop.

“Yes,” said the old man, “I can see your father in your face. He was a very handsome man.”

Sung-min smiled and nodded.

“How much do you know about your father?” asked Yu.

Shaking his head, Sung-min said, “Not much at all, I’m afraid. Only that he lived most of his life in Hawai‘i. He had left there and was coming to see you when he was killed in Seoul. I was born after he died.”

“Ah,” said Yu, “that is most unfortunate. All boys should know their fathers. It’s a most important bond for growing up and getting along in the world. But there is nothing tragic in not growing up under a father’s guiding hand. Especially if the boy can be brought up by a surrogate father. Did you have someone to fill that role?”

“No, no, sir, it was just me and my mother. She never married after my father disappeared. I never even saw her date another man.”

Yu nodded. “Son,” he said, “do you know anything of what your father did when he lived in Honolulu?”

The young man shook his head.

“We met there, your father and I. Your father was a great chef. Not a cook, mind you, but a true chef, a man who could prepare food better than anyone I’d ever known.”

Sung-min nodded, was curious.

Kang Yu said, “Cooking is an art in the hands of a master, and master he was. I first heard about your father from some of my friends. He had a small restaurant in the area they call Kaka‘ako. His food was extraordinary, they said, and his preparation was quite the show. He was an entertainer when he cooked his meals.”

The young man smiled again and tried to picture what this might look like.

“So I went to see this master chef and entertainer, and I was amazed by him. He would cook in front of you on a giant cooking surface that included a huge wok. He would hold a knife in one hand and a spatula in the other, and he would chop up all of the ingredients in front of you, tossing them and the utensils around in the air and behind his back. It was indeed quite entertaining, but even more important, the food was exquisite. I knew right then that I wanted him to be my chef. And I made him an offer after the first time I saw him in action.”

“So you hired him right there, sir?”

“Yes, son, that very night. He came home with me and he never left me. From that moment we became not just employer and employee, but brothers.”

“Wow,” said Sung-min, sounding very much the enthusiastic boy. “I’m so happy to meet someone who knew and loved my father like that.”

Kang Yu smiled and sat back in his chair. For a moment it seemed as if he were reliving moments from his past. Then he looked back at Sung-min.

“And then,” Yu said, “he became even more important to me than a chef only. He became, son, my best assassin.”

Sung-min blinked rapidly for several seconds. “An assassin?”

Kang Yu laughed out loud. “Ah yes, my boy, your father was one of the most accomplished killers I’ve ever known. And you know those skills with a knife? Well, knives became his chief way of dispatching my enemies.”

This took some time for Sung-min to digest. An expert with knives and an expert killer. His father. It seemed like some kind of fairy tale.

Then it hit him. He said, “My father left me two knives. Throwing knives.”

“Ah,” said Kang Yu, “do you have those with you?”

“I do,” said Sung-min. “He,” he turned to the man, “has them right now.”

“Chul-soo,” said Yu, “please let me see them.”

The man brought them around the desk and handed them to him. Kang Yu undid the string and opened them up in front of him. “How beautiful,” he said. “I bought these for him?”

Sung-min nodded.

“Yes, these are the finest knives made here in Korea. I gave them to him for his thirty-fifth birthday. It was just before I left Honolulu. He stayed with on working with my son, Byung, who took over my operations there. My son used him many times to take care of any business problems he encountered. And Lieutenant David Chan was the last problem your father took care of before he left for Seoul.”

“When you say he killed this Lieutenant, was it someone in the military?”

Kang Yu’s lip curled and his eyes turned icy black. “No, not the military. He was an officer in the Honolulu Police Department, and he was relentless in his determination to tear my business down. He never ceased in that burning desire to destroy everything I’d spent my entire life working for, so finally, my son had your father kill Chan.”

“And you say that’s when he moved back to Korea?” asked Sung-min.

“Yes. I will give him this. Chan, next to his father, and his father’s partner, Chang Apana, was the finest mind that had ever served the Honolulu Police Department. He was a worthy adversary, to say the least, and had it not been for my connections with various well-placed friends, who knows but he would have succeeded in his quest to destroy me.”

The idea of his father having been an accomplished killer spun around in Sung-min’s imagination. Although he’d never see the man or even a photo of him, he could picture someone who looked like him using his knives to cut down his enemies.

“Well, do you?” asked Yu.

Sung-min came out of his reverie. “I’m so sorry,” he said, “I was picturing my father using his knives.”

Yu laughed. “It was quite a show, I guarantee you. Cooking and killing. But I was asking, do you ever use these knives?”

“Oh yes,” said Sung-min. “I most certainly do.”

“And are you good with them?” asked Yu.

Sung-min beamed. “Oh yes, I am very, very good with them.”

“Ah, that’s wonderful to hear, son. I think what we need is a demonstration.”

“I’d be very happy to give you one,” said Sung-min, standing.

Yu gestured for him to sit back down. “Not right this minute, son, although I admire your enthusiasm.”

Waving for Chul-soo to come close, Yu whispered something in the man’s ear. He stepped back and bowed.

“Please go with Chul-soo, son. He will take you to a room in the single men’s quarters. In the next day or two we shall have that demonstration. I bet it’ll be a corker. In the meantime, get yourself settled in.”

Chul-soo signaled for Sung-min to come with him. The young man rose from his seat, bowed, and turned to follow the man out the door.

“And, Chul-soo,” called Yu, “show him a place in the range area somewhere where he can keep his skills up to snuff.”

And with that Sung-min Kwon became a member of the Kang-ho Yu family business.

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