Lee Sungil was an excellent agent and him avoiding detection by Xia Lei during his time having him under surveillance was proof of this. This was also why Ahn Geungan had looked favourably upon him and sent him to China.
Lee Sungil was also happy to sell his services to Ahn Geungan. There was a chance of promotion in addition to the high salary, and more importantly, Ahn Geungan was likely to be the next President of South Korea. How could he not do his best in his work for the future President?
But this all ended an hour earlier and the situation for him made a turn for the worse.
Lee Sungil opened his eyes an hour later to discover that he was in a dimly-lit room. He was on a chair and his arms and legs were tied to it; he could not move.
No one lived in this room and spiderwebs hung all over the walls. There were a few posters on the walls and they looked to be 20, 30 years old based on the pictures of workers, farmers and soldiers; big brother workers holding hammers, women holding sickles and soldiers with their guns held high. There was a door opposite where he sat and it was tightly shut. He could not see outside the room.
“Damn it!” Lee Sungil struggled, trying to twist out of the ropes but was unsuccessful.
The door suddenly flew open and a man wearing a baseball cap and a blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty walked in. She was in tight-fitting leather and her breasts and buttocks were packaged tightly, the lines of her body seductive. Her face was expressionless and cold; she seemed mysterious. She had a black leather case in her hands and it was unknown what was inside.
The man wearing a baseball cap took his cap off and sat on a chair opposite Lee Sungil.
Lee Sungil saw his face and he was stunned. The man in front of him looked very similar to Xia Lei - he looked like a Xia Lei who was 30 years older.
“You are…” Lee Sungil was nervous and said probingly, “Who are you to Xia Lei?”
“Xia Changhe.” The man’s voice was deep. “I am Xia Lei’s father.”
“What do you want?” Lee Sungil struggled to hold the fear in his heart at bay and show a strong front. “I am an employee of the South Korean government. Let me go now and I’ll pretend nothing happened.”
Xia Changhe spoke evenly, “I know you’re Korean. I also know that you’re a Korean special agent named Lee Sungil, thirty years old. Last year during your mission you gunned down youths fleeing from the North. There was also a girl, just 18. You violated her, then killed her. Am I right?”
Sweat dotted Lee Sungil’s forehead and his voice started to tremble. “Wh, Who are you?”
Only Lee Seungil and the Heavens knew what he had done - or so he’d thought. This person whom he’d never seen before in his life knew about this too - it was just too strange!
Xia Changhe’s tone did not change. “Didn’t I already tell you? I am Xia Lei’s father.”
“Xia Lei’s father has been missing for six years!” said Lee Sungil.
Xia Changhe ignored Lee Sungil’s outburst and kept talking. “Ahn Geungan is a father. He’s a good father. He built an empire for his son, Ahn Suhyeong. He has billions. I cannot compare. We are both fathers but I cannot give my son much. But there is one thing Ahn Geungan cannot compete with me for, and that is my willing to do anything for my son and daughter, including killing people.”
Lee Sungil’s face had drained of colour.
Xia Changhe went on. “The grudge between you guys and my son should have ended when Ahn Suhyeong was released but you guys couldn’t leave it be. You just had to keep going after him. Couldn’t wait to start moving against him right after Ahn Suhyeong was released. We’re both fathers. Ahn Geungan sent killers and agents for his son’s sake, so how can I do nothing as a father myself? I can’t just watch you people hurt my son, can I?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Lee Sungil yelled, “Let me go! I am a South Korean agent! You should know what will happen if you kill me!”
Yelena opened the black leather case, revealing its contents.
The leather case held torture instruments - pliers for cutting off fingers, a small flamethrower, scalpels, nylon thread, a saw, a hammer and a few one-time-use syringes. All these things were kept spotlessly clean and they gleamed with a coldness; the sight of them made one’s skin crawl.
“Can I start now?” asked Yelena.
“No, it’s better to let me do it.” Xia Changhe stood and casually picked up the pliers from the leather case. He walked to Lee Sungil.
Lee Sungil was already full of terror but he was an agent who had undergone professional training after all and he did not show it. He held onto his last facade of calm. “You cannot do this. I am a South Korean agent!”
“I do things in a simple, direct way. You tell me what other people Ahn Geungan has hired and what his plan is and I’ll let you go. If you don’t, you’ll suffer. Let me warn you - don’t think that you can hold out just because you had some torture training. The training you’ve done is juvenile and laughable. I’m done talking. Do you want to live, or die?” said Xia Changhe.
Lee Sungil clenched his jaws and said angrily, “You think I believe you? You’ll kill me anyway. Don’t take me for a fool!”
A cold smile appeared on Xia Changhe’s lips. “Looks like you’ve made your decision. All right then. I’m also rather curious about your tolerance level. Let’s begin.”
“You fucker!” Lee Sungil struggled madly but was unable to get himself out of the ropes.
Xia Changhe grabbed Lee Sungil’s left hand and slowly put his index finger in the pliers. He clamped down. Blood spurted and a finger fell to the floor.
“ARGH!” Lee Sungil let out a scream. The pain was so great he was left sucking deep breaths of air.
Before he could catch his breath, Xia Changhe put his middle finger in the pliers and clamped down right away.
“ARRRH!” Lee Sungil’s middle finger fell on the floor too and pain sprang down his every nerve. He was about to faint.
“Just this level? And you’re not embarrassed when you say you’re an agent who has completed torture training?” said Xia Changhe softly.
“Ptoo!” Lee Sungil opened his mouth and spat at Xia Changhe.
Xia Changhe nodded. “Now this is more agent-like.” So saying, he cut off Lee Sungil’s thumb and ring finger.
Lee Sungil could not take it anymore. He was going to pass out cold.
Yelena picked up a syringe from the black leather case and said, “This is the company’s new product. It can keep a man conscious.”
Xia Changhe accepted the syringe and casually pierced Lee Sungil’s neck with it.
Lee Sungil was soon brought back to alertness thanks to the drug. “Who the fuck are you people?” he screamed.
Xia Changhe did not say a word but he cut off the last finger on Lee Sungil’s left hand.
“Bastards! You’ll regret this!” Lee Sungil was being driven mad by the pain. He was experiencing indescribable pain but he could not escape it.
“Lee Sungil, I’ll give you one last chance,” said Xia Changhe coldly, “Answer my questions or I’ll start the real torture. You’ll feel like death is a release from your pain then.”
Removing all five fingers from his left hand was not real torture? Was that just an appetiser?
Lee Sungil took great gasping breaths, trying to internalise his body’s pain. His psychological defences were crumbling fast.
Xia Changhe put down the pliers and took the scalpel and a bundle of nylon thread. His voice was ice. “In ancient times there was a torture method known as ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’*. Only the best executioners can do it and I just so happen to be one. I rarely do this myself but for my son, I shall let you taste lingering death.”
“I, I don’t know…” Lee Sungil held on to this last bit of hope.
Xia Changhe wrinkled his brows. He wound the nylon string around Lee Sungil’s body. He did it skillfully and the thin nylon string tightened across Lee Sungil’s skin, closing around him like a fish net.
The scalpel descended a few minutes later and cleanly cut out a piece of Lee Sungil’s flesh.
“Ah…” Lee Sungil screamed. He crumbled.
Xia Change was focused as scalpel met flesh, and his expression was frighteningly serene. He was like an artist, turning a shapeless block of wood into a work of art. His indifference and practiced moves made him seem like a master executioner of ancient times.
Lee Sungil could hold on no longer at the tenth cut. “Stop! I… I’ll talk, I’ll talk!” he wailed.
Xia Changhe stopped and looked silently at Lee Sungil.
Lee Sungil cried and spoke tremulously, “Ahn Geungan has a collaborative relationship with the CIA. He used money to hire some people to keep watch on Xia Lei and the people close to him, and collect every bit of information on him. Ahn Geungan also offered the CIA an astonishing amount of money. The CIA started a program called ‘The Fisherman’. They plan, plan to… to capture Xia Lei in Russia.”
Xia Changhe spoke softly, “The look in your eyes tell me that you haven’t told me everything. Are you testing my patience? I have no more. Let’s continue.” He moved the scalpel to cut at Lee Sungil again.
“No, No…” Lee Sungil took huge gulps of air. “I also know that Ahn Suhyeong found a team of killers himself and hired them to assassinate Xia Lei.”
“I don’t know, I really don’t know. Let me go. Don’t kill me… Don’t kill me…” Lee Sungil cried. He’d never been so weak in his life.
“All right. I’ll release you.” Xia Changhe went to Lee Sungil’s back.
“Really?” Lee Sungil saw a ray of hope.
“Really.” Xia Changhe’s scalpel suddenly ran across Lee Sungil’s neck.
Blood spurted out like a fountain. Lee Sungil’s body jerked a few times, and was properly still.
Xia Changhe tossed the scalpel in the black leather case and sneered, “The Fisherman? They’ll get a shark. Clean this place up. We’re going to get ready to go to Russia.”
Yelena nodded and started on disposing of Lee Sungil’s corpse.
Xia Changhe took out Lee Sungil’s phone and scrolled to the last number Lee Sungil had called. He typed a message in Korean: President, all goes well. Xia Lei is very alert. I’ll contact you immediately when there’s new information.
He threw the phone at the feet of the corpse when he was done sending the message.
Yelena splashed petrol on Lee Sungil’s corpse and it crackled with flames a minute later…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’ - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingchi