Title: Holiday in North Korea
Best Korea (Schwerpunkt) - May 26, 2012 04:23 AM (GMT)
I feel like a good power struggle RP. Fuck it, let's do it. Most of these characters are fictional because, let's face it, power struggles aren't won by people with well-known names. Those of you who have read my previous stuff will probably recognize some, though.
Kim Jong-un: Supreme Leader of North Korea. He's mostly a puppet, slave to the interests of those around him.
Hong Kyu: Colonel-General of the Special Operations Force, Kyu is best known as the Kim family's problem solver. He has personally orchestrated the assassination of nearly two score pro-unification officials in the past two decades.
Hong Jung: Captain of the Special Operations Force and son of Hong Kyu. Jung has operated in South Korea as an agent provocateur for several years and only just recently returned to Pyongyang.
Ethan King: British linguist, currently on contract with Pyongyang as a translator. He has found himself second-guessing the decision to come to North Korea.
Kim Jong-gak: Minister of Defense would be his title in a sane country. Jong-gak is steadfastly loyal to the Kim clan.
The Pro-West Cadre
Oh Gum-chol: Colonel-General of the Air Force, Gum-chol is increasingly disillusioned with the Pyongyang leadership and has begun to quietly act against their interests.
Zhou Zheng: Hong Kong native and one of the only businessmen to operate in North Korea. He operates a steel foundry on the outskirts of Pyongyang, but is also known to be involved in defense sales to third world nations. He is the seventh arms dealer to use the nom de guerre of 'Zhou Zheng,' a tradition dating back to the demise of Lin Zexu.
Lucian Malthus: An Afrikaner who fled South Africa in 1994 and hasn't looked back. He has since sold his not-always-discrete services to the highest bidder. He is currently under the employ of Zhou Zheng.
The Puppets of Beijing
Choe Thae-bok: Assembly Chairman Choe is a worldly man, worldly enough to realize that Kim Jong-un could very well lead the nation astray if it veered for but a moment from its straight-and-narrow path with China.
Herman the German: Frankfurt native obsessed with 'Sacred Zhongguo.' Nobody knows quite why. This Sinophile is an intelligence analyst in the employ of Beijing and is currently being loaned to Pyongyang for 'regime stabilization' efforts.
Ri Yong-ho: The Vice-Marshal of the KPA, current Chief of the General Staff, Ri Yong-ho is a firm believer in reliance upon Beijing to maintain North Korea's independence.
The Pan-Korean Nationalists
Ryu Mi Yong: Head of the Cheondoist movement, she defected to North Korea in the 90's. She is the sole female of note to currently hold a position of power in the overwhelmingly patriarchal society of North Korea.
Seong Bae: A glorified thug who orchestrated the 'disappearance' of his predecessor in the Politburo. Outwardly, he is profoundly loyal to the Supreme Leader and has publicly condemned South Korea for slights real and imagined.
Ju Dong: Mid-level state official with an unfortunate name. Dong is an important player in cross-border relations and has numerous contacts in South Korea.
Milan Kondrashov: Major in the Russian Navy, Kondrashov is formally attached to the Pacific Fleet. He was dispatched to maintain the status quo.
Andrei Dashkevych: 'Ostap' is a Kuban Cossack. He reportedly trekked across seven miles of mountain and murdered two guards in the dead of night to infiltrate North Korea. He has since assumed the identity of a minor Russian diplomatic official that was quietly recalled.
Petyr Zherdev: Formerly of Spetsnaz, Zherdev was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet after calling in an artillery strike on a town full of Chechens. He is the team's resident sociopath.
Konstantin Zakharov: Ostensibly a civilian businessman who may or may not have been involved in the controlled release of neurotoxin that resulted in the deaths of over nine hundred Chechens. He is the personification of Russian-style capitalism, readily trading life for capital.
The Assorted Independents
Choe Yong-rim: The Premier of North Korea is the sole power of note that has yet to firmly cast in with any camp. It is not immediately clear if Yong-rim is looking out for Yong-rim or if he is simply undecided on which path to take.
Kim Yong-nam: Yong-nam isn't so much a nationalist as he is an intensely pragmatic and ambitious man. He wants whatever gains him the most power, but he's not quite willing to sell Pyongyang down the river to get it. Unless he's the one who owns that river.
Best Korea (Schwerpunkt) - May 26, 2012 05:00 AM (GMT)
The Evil That Men Do
A tired-looking white man, hair unkempt and eyes bloodshot from staring at the archaic CRT monitor in front of him for going on ten hours, rubbed at his eyes. "I cannot read their lips," he said for what must've been the nine thousandth time, his Sussex accent more pronounced than it had been before. "They are not looking at the camera. The resolution is, what, 320i? It's just not possible."
He cast a glance over his shoulder. The guard that stood there, in his immaculate dress uniform, did not appear to care. The man repeated his comments in Mandarin -- sorry, Chinese. No response. He tried again, this time opting for Korean. The guard still stood stoic, utterly indifferent to the fact that the Brit hadn't been out of his chair for more than eight seconds -- about how long it took to be pistol-whipped -- in over three hours.
The Brit ran a hand through his blonde hair. He reviewed the camera footage again. Two men walked into the lobby. They exchanged a few quiet words with a greeter and then took an elevator to the 97th floor. This floor, one of the many unfinished floors in the building, was a long elevator ride up. They rode in silence, pleasantly indifferent to one another. The crappy resolution of the footage didn't say much about them. It revealed precious few details about the white man; his black hair was graying but age did nothing to soften the perpetual scowl he wore. He wore a simple-looking grey business suit, one a half size too big to allow a shoulder rig to be hidden with ease. He wore one of those ostentatious hats with the wide brim, the kind you only see in movies featuring grizzled-looking detectives who spit nails and piss vinegar. He wore black-rimmed glasses, utterly unremarkable. Everything about the man was normal as could be. He looked tall when compared to his company but the Brit wouldn't have put him much over 6'1" -- 185cm for the more civilized folk. He was ordinary-looking if he did seem to be perpetually pissed off about something. His sole concession to uniqueness was the fact that he carried a cane.
The Chinese man, however, was nothing if not unusual. He wore a fedora -- yes, a fedora -- to go with his extravagant three piece suit, a suit that the Brit guessed was made of silk and not some machine-produced cotton. The chain of a pocket watch was visible on the left side of his vest, an addition that wouldn't have looked out of place on the set of Deadwood. He walked with his hands behind his back, bold-as-you-please, wherever he went. His close-cropped bear and short hair were the uniform black of his people. He had a rather average appearance, too, but the Brit was hardly a good judge of that. But the way he carried himself, the way he whispered commands to his tall, raven-haired colleague, and the way he gestured with his hands -- like an Italian, that one -- all spoke to his tendency towards gregariousness. He looked to be the type to wear a hole in the floor while pacing back and forth. He was given to tapping his chin, as the Brit noticed when he pulled the video footage from one of the front cameras -- footage of the Han Chinese man staring wistfully up at Ryugong Hotel, tapping his chin in thought.
Once the doors of the elevator opened, which happened after what felt like an eternity, the white man exited. The Chinese man followed a moment later after apparently fixing a now-troublesome cuff; the action was intended to waste time, to allow the white man, his apparent bodyguard, to conduct a cursory scan of the hallway. The short man then stepped out of the elevator and followed the bodyguard to room 9708. It was the third to last room on the floor. There was no video footage from inside the room.
The two men stepped out of the room after a twenty minute interval. The white man again conducted his cursory scan of the hallway. Satisfied no one was watching, he drew a silenced weapon and fired three rounds into the window. The glass, tempered to withstand high wind force and a great deal of trauma, did not shatter. He didn't seem to care. He ducked back into the room and came back out a few short moments later, an unconscious form carried over one shoulder like a sack of meat. The white man then threw the unconscious body into the weakened glass -- glass that promptly shattered, leaving some poor, dumb bastard to fall hundreds of feet to his death. If he wasn't already dead, that is. Some words were exchanged. The Brit couldn't make them out.
The two then took the same elevator down to ground level. A man had just been killed and they were utterly unperturbed by that fact. The businessman did draw out his pocket watch while on the way down to the lobby. But, aside from that single action, they stood in silence and nearly immobile. No one bothered to question them as they departed; no one thought to detain them. They simply walked out the front door.
For his part, the Brit still sat on that uncomfortable chair, watching that low-resolution video on an old-as-dirt computer monitor, wondering why in God's name he had accepted that contract on behalf of North Korea of all places.
Best Korea (Schwerpunkt) - June 3, 2012 02:47 AM (GMT)
POSCO Steel Mill, Pyongyang
It was a bright and cheerful day in Pyongyang. The sun was shining in all its pride, the city skyline stood against the blue sky in resplendent glory, and the city was alive with joy and happiness at the glory that was Kim Jong-un's reign. Happy couples shared walks down clean, safe city streets and fathers played with their children at the local park. Passing strangers would greet one another with wide smiles and cheerful waves. Paramilitary officers spent their time rescuing kittens from trees, safe in the knowledge that criminals were nowhere near. And over it all loomed the happy visage of Kim Jong-un, stately as he looked down upon his people from half a million signs and television screens.
Said utopia did not extend to the new POSCO steel mill, nestled amongst some hills on the outskirts of Pyongyang. The happy-go-lucky expressions that were so often showcased in the daily propaganda were absent here, replaced by grim stoicism and veiled distress. There was no laughter in this building filled with machinery and fire; there was only the rhythmic pounding of the stamps, the infrequent squawks from the intercom speakers placed liberally on the factory floor, and the rattling of the omnipresent chains. Light did not come from the happy sun; it came with the dull humming of fluorescent lights. The air was filled with the miasma of despair. Guards stomped along catwalks, lording over the workers like prison wardens.
A pair of armed guards made their way through the factory floor, escorting a man in a ball cap wearing a violently yellow collared shirt. The man, for his part, carried a rather cumbersome box of some sort over his right shoulder. The crossed the floor wordlessly until the man inadvertently bumped the box against a post, eliciting a stern threat from the rifle-toting guard at his side. The guards led the man up the stairs at the rear of the factory floor, through a pair of double doors that required a keycard, past a guard post, and finally into the office section. Then they made him wait.
And he waited with the practiced patience of a chess player. He was never offered a chair; he simply stood, apparently indifferent to the discourtesy. He was shown into the room after a few long minutes. A Han Chinese man sat behind a large desk of mahogany. He wore a black vest over a white shirt; his jacket and fedora hung upon a wall mount behind him. The man himself had rather unimpressive features, looking perfectly average in every respect. A white man stood behind him and off to the side, an almost perfect contrast.
The two men in the room, for their part, eyed up the visitor. He wore the ghastly yellow-red combination of a DHL employee, carried an oversized brown box, and was one of probably five score white men in the entire city. He stared at the businessman with his pale green eyes, apparently indifferent to the bodyguard lurking off to the side. And the businessman stared back.
At length, the businessman cleared his throat. "I gather you are not here to make a delivery," he said, gesturing towards the box.
The faux-DHL-employee shrugged. "It was an easy way to justify getting through the gate." He had a well-concealed accent, if indeed he had an accent at all.
The businessman folded his arms and leaned back into his obnoxiously luxurious chair. "I dare assume you are here for a reason," he said simply.
The delivery man nodded. "I'm here for your... other services."
"Other services?" the businessman asked, raising an eyebrow. He wore the 'I have no idea what's going on here' mask like a professional.
The visitor rolled his eyes, greatly exaggerating the motion. "I saw you in Sudan and you were not handing out malaria shots," he sad rather matter-of-factly. "Weapon shipments are hard to come by here. That's why I'm here, Zheng."
The businessman frowned and cast a glance towards his bodyguard. He then returned his attention back to the visitor. "Let's talk business, then."
The delivery man took a deep breath. "Twelve AN-94 assault rifles with bayonets, Kobra optics, laser sights, and three thousand rounds of ammunition. I also need six GP-30 underslung grenade launchers, with appropriate variation in munitions type but with an emphasis on smoke. Further, I require three samples of the SVDK -- not the baseline SVD -- with a variety of PSO optics, including both day and night sights. Bipods as well." He paused. "Any problems so far?"
Zhou Zheng, who had been scribbling this down on a notepad, merely beckoned for the man to continue.
And so he did. "I will also require eighteen ballistic vests, one case of grenades, two VKS sniper rifles with day and night optics with fifty rounds, three RPG-7 launchers with three dozen PG-7VR rockets, one crate of C4 with a chemical formula consistent with those employed by NATO forces, two dozen MP-443 pistols with three hundred rounds, two Igla launchers with eight missiles, one KSVK 12.7 with twenty rounds, six North Korean copies of the AK-74 with standard-issue attachments and kit, two laser range finders, two dozen parachutes, and two dozen KPA uniforms."
Zheng paused and looked up. "You seem to be planning quite the party."
The delivery man shrugged. "Would you believe me if I told you I was hunting defectors?"
"No," the Han businessman replied. "I suppose not. But this isn't my business. Method of payment?"
The buyer grinned. "Payment already delivered, Zheng. We're paying double the market rate for this hardware. Consider this an investment in future good relations."
"Now you're speaking my language," the arms dealer turned steel magnate replied, grinning. "You'll have your hardware within two weeks. The C4 with the specific chemical composition you require may take an extra week; I have to bring it in from out west. Is this acceptable?"
The man in the DHL cap nodded. "Pleasure doing business."
A few minutes later, after the man had been escorted out of the building, Zheng turned his attention to the hitherto silent bodyguard. "FSB?" he asked.
"GRU," the baritone bodyguard replied. "The FSB prefers poison and silenced pistols."
The businessman shrugged. "Not my concern. All that matters is that I get paid."
Best Korea (Schwerpunkt) - June 16, 2012 08:48 PM (GMT)
A Radical New Approach
Ethan King slowly rubbed at his temples. He found himself wondering, for the seventh time in the past minute, what in the hell possessed him to come to North Korea to play glorified interpreter. He was once more seated in a not-exactly-comfortable chair, staring at a television screen that would've been classified as an antique at his old employer. Another guard stood behind him, lightly tapping the magazine of his assault rifle to the beat of the elevator music. Oh, yes, there was that -- he was stuck in a room smaller than most elevators, surrounded by nothing but drab concrete slabs, and forced to listen to the next Ringo Starr struggle to keep the beat of some song he had never heard of.
The upside was that the video quality this time was marginally superior. Last time he had been able to work out the fact that the two men never said a word. He earned three dislocated fingers for that. And here he was, facing the very real threat of summary execution, trying to figure out what a bunch of men in black masks were saying.
The video itself was pretty short. His briefing -- an up-jumped lieutenant shouting at him, really -- explained that North Korea's 'spectacular computer experts' pieced the video together from seventeen different video cameras. He believed it. What he didn't believe was that they were computer experts, much less spectacular -- he'd seen better jump cuts on YouTube. But it probably wasn't a good idea to mention that.
The contents of the video, however, were a bit more forgiving for him than the contents of the hotel video. Four men, clad in black and carrying black assault rifles, apparently burned through the door lock with thermite. They then proceeded into the building, undetected, and set about skulking through the facility. Two guards went down to knives and another was shot; the gunshot didn't seem terribly loud, but nor did it seem like the quiet silencers in video games. Probably some fancy pistol.
After that it was a lot of rifling through containers. They took two unremarkable boxes. One of the black-clad men shouted 'prot-something,' the second half of that word lost in the inhumanly loud clatter of assault rifle fire. Another man shouted something that sounded like 'grenate' before throwing a fist-sized rock... which then exploded, cutting down two North Korean soldiers in a hail of shrapnel. What were they, German? That made no sense. It couldn't be.
Then there were all manner of Korean soldiers there. One tripped some sort of mine, costing him his life and the life of the unfortunate bastards behind him. One of the black-clad men shouted what might have been 'zasada' -- it was hard to tell over the gunshots -- before violently tearing up a manhole cover. He said something like 'kanal' after that, gesturing for the others to depart. They conducted a fighting retreat, suppressing the Korean soldiers as they exfiltrated. The boxes they came for were unceremoniously thrown down the shaft.
The man who up-ended the manhole cover, which was a surprisingly difficult thing to do, contrary to what movies would make you believe, set some sort of bomb and closed the manhole behind him as he scrambled down the ladder. A few long moments passed before the soldiers reached the sewer entrance. Then there was a flash and the room filled with some sort of smoke. The nearest soldiers felt, clutching at their throats and eyes, while the others did their best to run away, not so much as sparing a thought for the dead.
Watching the soldiers asphyxiate was difficult. But the Brit did it. After it was over -- and it took a long time to finish -- King folded his arms. He addressed the guard without turning around. "Russia," he muttered. "Russia never changes."