Chapter 27: Chapter 27. A Casino That Opens Every Four Years, Part I
I pointed my finger at the middle of my forehead. Eight o’clock in the morning. On my way to work to the subway station in the early morning, the loud music grated on my nerves.
“I like No. 1. Joo Sung-won. I love you~ Please pick #1 Joo Sung-won~ Push me~”
Monday morning. It was a difficult time for anyone in the office, but I had been more nervous today than usual. It was because I couldn’t sleep well while watching the cell phone until late last night.
‘Why did you ask me the phone number if you weren’t going to text me?’
The irritation caused by lack of sleep combined with the high notes grinding my nerves was even more irritating. The source of the sound was in front of the subway station, the ladies in their original clothes were dancing to the rhythm repeatedly to the song, a retelling of the lyrics.
A man wearing white gloves on both hands had a sign reading “Joo Sung-won, No. 1.”
“Please give me a pick.” He turned left.
“Please push me.” He turned to the right.
I bared my teeth at him. There was no bad feeling for the women who were part-timers. Most of them just wanted to pay for their children’s tuition while getting paid for part-time jobs. The subject of my teeth was the name written on the T-shirt they were wearing.
‘Joo Sung-won, the mayor of Seoul now, is now running for re-election. Last time was Lee Hee-chul. I’m sure I will not select either one.’
Now, however, each entrance to the subway station was occupied with cars with numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. If I selected them like this, I should not vote at all. I shook my head in a flash.
‘Is an election campaign working these days?
‘In a dark era when they couldn’t get any information about what kind of politician he was, he might have been able to win some votes with such a childish campaign. These days, however, they can find not only a person’s career but also his remarks, any incidents, and political activities. Politicians who want to win votes in elections can study policies hard, keep their promises, and clean up their usual behavior.’
“Not that clown thing.”
I was not the only one who hated that sound. Many people, office workers, and students were heading to the subway station early in the morning, frowning at the noisy mess, or putting earphones in their ears.
‘I’d rather select a person who doesn’t do that.’ I went into the subway station with that thought.
When I arrived at the company, I saw a watch. 8:30. It was almost normal. There were twenty-five minutes left before the email came. I sat in my chair and closed my eyes to sleep. By the way, the melody that I had heard earlier was played automatically in my ears.
‘Please pick Joo Sung-won for No. 1. Push him.’
“Uh…” I gritted my teeth once again.
‘What’s the use of that?’ I used to say that.
However, it seemed to work a little. Now, with the song, it was automatically played along to the rhythm of the ladies. Somehow, I was upset that I lost to the childish lyrics, the repeated tune.
‘Well, let’s see what kind of bastards are out there.’
I gave up sleeping and opened my eyes. Then, I turned on my computer and went to the search site. ‘Seoul Mayor Candidates.’
There were countless sites, news, and blogs. It was a matter of course. The Seoul mayoral election was the focus of many local elections, as it was the biggest.
‘If the local elections are a casino that opens once every four years, the Seoul mayoral election is the biggest VIP room in the country. And, of course, as high as the stakes are, if he wins, the rewards are great.
‘For now, the population of the Seoul City amounts to one-fifth of the total population of Korea. Just by gaining high approval ratings in Seoul, he becomes the nation’s most popular politician. In addition, since Seoul is home to those who lead the entire public opinion due to the nature of the capital city, becoming Seoul Mayor means that he will gain a huge network of connections in political and business circles.’
So it was natural in a way that the former and incumbent Seoul Mayors were always up and down as the next presidential candidates. In fact, some people became presidents after serving as mayor of Seoul.
I searched for some news from the past, not from the 12 Hours After news.
A total of five people were currently in the Seoul Mayor’s office. They were representative of each political party. Three of them had a possible approval rating. The first one that stood out was Joo Sung-won, number one. The incumbent Seoul Mayor was seeking re-election. He was at No. 1 in approval ratings thanks to his easy running of the municipal administration when he had been selected last time.
‘Is the former officer a wise one? Unless something major comes up, he will be elected again.’
I slowly scrolled down. The next one I saw was number two, Lee Hee-chul, a politician with an unusual background. He had served as a pharmacist and CEO of a pharmaceutical company. He was also in second place in approval ratings as a person who had long been a party leader so far. In fact, he was the greatest antagonist of Zoo Sung-won.
‘Well, is there a possibility for this guy?’
I last looked at number three, Jung Kwan-soo, a politician with a four-term parliamentary seat. Of the three, his political career was the longest, but his approval rating was the lowest.
‘Well, I think I’ve seen him before.’
I searched for a little more on the three people. There were no candidates, no pledges that I liked.
‘Do I really have to vote this time?’
I hated low-profile campaigns, but I tended to vote hard. There were no political parties or politicians who I just supported, but I voted with the mindset of fulfilling my duties as a democratic citizen. But this time, there was no one I really wanted to pick. I dropped the search window. I didn’t even want to know more, because I didn’t like the candidates.
But when I lowered the search window, it was 8:55 p.m. Nearby, my co-workers were also preparing to take up positions and work.
‘Yeah, well, money’s the best.’
I shifted my eyes to the email. The first thing I clicked on was the Economy.
[The big distribution dinosaurs. Is their infiltration into the local businesses okay?]
Pass. Next was Entertainment. I had made money, I had had a unique experience. Somehow, I was attracted to it unknowingly.
[Chang Woo-bin was cast in ‘With the Gods,’ the work we expected.]
Pass. I felt like I could not make money today. I circled my mouse aimlessly. Well, that was all right. I already knew from experience that someday there would be news that would be worth money. I then tried to click on IT/Science like a habit. However, when I put the cursor over it, I didn’t click. What I originally wanted to see when I clicked on IT/Science was something like the following:
[A successful new drug development of XX-pharmaceutical with lung cancer recovery rate of 99%!]
[XX Chem developed next-generation batteries with overwhelming efficiency!]
[XX Games hit the jackpot with a new game!]…
Nevertheless, the articles which didn’t make any money came out instead.
[Hidden and pulled out, the principle of cat claws.]
[The world of quantum mechanical geniuses.]
[There’s a great possibility of alien existence.]
I pulled my mouse cursor off IT/Science. I turned it a couple of times on the monitor, with no place to go, and then moved it to Sports, a possible shot, with a mind to get at least $1,000.
But somehow, today, the Politics at the front attracted me. I wondered if I had been listening to their stories since morning. I unconsciously shifted my cursor to Politics and clicked right away. However, the title of the news surprised me.
[The candidates for the next mayor of Seoul are reduced to three.]
I took my hand on my lips for a moment, leaving the cursor over the article. It wasn’t because it was money-making news. Rather, why did the news about the Seoul Mayor come out?
‘Wait a minute, is this…?
I dropped my email and went back to the Politics column in the news window of the portal site. There were thirty days left for the current local elections. Political news was occupied by the local elections.
‘In a way, it is a matter of course. In a democratic political system, elections are a process and a result, an alpha and an omega.’
I looked for other news here. The inter-Korean dialogue was talked out and the issue passed, and the constitutional amendment, which had been discussed until recently, had gone awry. All that remained was local news. Most of them were about the Seoul mayoral race, which was arguably the biggest topic. I soon realized…
‘If I choose Politics for a month, the only thing that’s going to happen is the Seoul mayoral election, right?’