Goomoon, which is right next to Su-an, is the center of the whole nation’s adult entertainment industry. An astounding 20% of Seoul’s alcohol consumption takes place here.
As one would expect, dozens of cases and incidents arise in this district every day. It’s a place of endless disturbances caused by troublesome drunkards, fights between customers, and sexual assaults.
It is also therefore the dispatch area that is most often avoided by the Goomoon Patrol Division.
But things are on another level today.
My sweaty hands are clasped tightly together.
The inside of the car is ripe with tension.
“Take a right turn here. It’s faster this way,” says the task force leader.
“Yes, sir,” says Mong-Doo, obeying the instruction and turning the steering wheel smoothly.
Our destination is a nightclub on Goomoon’s main street. We’ve received information that two gangs operating in the district are simultaneously making movements.
The Fork Gang and the Guma Gang. They’re infamous not just in Su-an, but other regions as well.
“Judging from the atmosphere, I’m guessing it’s a gang fight?” the task force leader mutters, a worried expression on his face.
“I suppose so,” says Black.
“Man, that’s really strange. I don’t think they have anything to gain by bumping shoulders.”
Since both gangs have huge influence, they don’t have conflicts over unimportant things. Bloodshed would just give opportunities to other organizations that are clawing their way up.
“In any case, it’s a good thing for us,” says Mong-Doo, grinning. “Let’s use this opportunity to round them all up.”
He’s really happy; that grin has been on his face since the moment we moved out.
The voice of one of the Task Force 1 detectives, who set out before us, comes through the radio.
“The West and East Patrols are going to be late,” he reports.
“What? Why?” asks our task force leader.
“They said they’re chasing rape and murder suspects.”
“I’m sure they’ll join us when they’re finished.”
“The incidents are overlapping for some reason, so a lot of them have been dispatched out there today.”
The task force leader sighs. “Have they figured out how many Fork and Guma members there are?”
“It looks to be about 150 of them in total.”
“A, a hundred and fifty?”
The task force leader’s mouth opens in surprise. Black gently reaches over and closes it for him.
“Those crazy sons of bitches. What are they thinking, starting this shit in the middle of the day?” Black mutters as he wraps bandages around his fist like a boxer preparing for a match.
“I guess they’re doing it because the weather’s nice,” says Mong-Doo, humming happily to himself.
The task force leader sighs, looking pale. “It’s like I’m having a bad dream.” He glances at me with a worried look, as if wondering if I’ll be able to handle this. “Do you do any exercise?”
“I don’t go around losing fights,” I say.
“Oh. That’s good to hear. Very good!”
I’ve spent the past year in police school devoting myself to exercise. I’ve been focusing on boxing in particular, as it can be applied to actual fights.
Go Ji-hun had a good physique but lacked stamina, and boxing was the best method for me to get back the sense for fighting that I had in my previous life.
Thanks to that, my body that was smooth like a model’s now has an impressive layer of muscle on it.
Of course, I’m still a long way off being like Black, though.
He wraps his bandages around his hands meticulously and grinds his teeth. “In any case, those Fork bastards are in for it now. We’ve been waiting for this.”
Does he have some kind of grudge against them? I’m starting to feel a little sorry for the Fork Gang members whose faces I don’t even know.
The Fork Gang. Its leader is Song Dae-Ak. It’s an organization that relies on brute force, originating in the slums of Yongyeok.
Its members are known to stab their enemies with forks and whatever else is in reach when they’re outnumbered. This behavior, which was seen often when the gang was still growing, is the origin of their name. But as I’m shown a photo of Song Dae-Ak, a different image is more prominent in my mind.
“Isn’t ‘pork’ more appropriate?” I murmur.
TLN: In Korean, there is no F consonant, so it is replaced by a P consonant. As a result, “fork” and “pork” are pronounced exactly the same.
I see a stubby nose, greedy-looking eyes and a body with plentiful mass. The image that I get is one of a wild boar.
“Take a better look at his face. It looks far worse than pork,” says Black.
“Why are you carrying a photo of him? Did something happen?” I ask.
Black shows me his neck. I can see three white, dot-shaped scars on the right side. Could it be?
“I got stabbed not even by Song Dae-Ak, but by one of his underlings. Fucking hell. I was halfway across the river to death but managed to swim my way back,” Black says.
Mong-Doo looks at the scars in awe. “Wow. They’re very clean stab wounds.”
“Shut up and drive. Don’t take your eyes off the road,” Black scolds him.
The task force leader laughs. “You said they’re a rare kind among the gangsters in Su-an, didn’t you? The only ones who rely on muscle to earn them money. What was their slogan again?”
“‘Protect the tradition of violence.'”
“Ah, that’s right. What a bunch of funny guys.”
I don’t know much else about them, but it seems that they’re the most unsophisticated organization out there.
“But why is the Guma Gang at it as well? They normally don’t even show themselves,” the task force leader mutters.
The Guma Gang, also known as the Gusan Drug Gang. They’re a bunch of guys who operate mainly in Goomoon, and as their name suggests, they make their money from drugs.
They’re relatively new compared to the Fork Gang, but perhaps due to the large amount of money they have, they’re growing at a considerable pace. They’re a large organization and their drugs circulate across the entire country.
But they deal in so many different kinds of drugs, and it’s hard to get a good understanding of the whole situation – who the leader is, where the drugs come from, where they arrive at. The organization is structured in such a way that the guys who have been caught so far were nothing more than small fry who didn’t have any information to reveal.
The Guma Gang seem more well-organized than the Fork Gang.
I don’t know which of them is going to come out on top, but I’ll make sure their dinner tonight will be a meal in jail.
“We’re almost there. Please check that you’re all wearing your stab-proof vests properly,” says Mong-Doo.
The task force leader runs his hands over his body. Despite all the experience he has, it looks like he can’t help being nervous.
I wrap bandages around my hands, holding my police baton.
It looks like I’m in for a proper rite of ritual.
“We’re here,” says Mong-Doo.
Thankfully, the adult entertainment district is quiet during the day. Few stores are open, and there aren’t many people passing by, either. In fact, most of them seem to be residents on a stroll, curious at the arrival of the police.
Mong-Doo gets his own police baton from the boot of the car.
“Wow. This reminds me of the old days,” says the task force leader.
There’s a sign that reads ‘Gogo Nightclub.’ It’s a neon sign that isn’t lit at the moment, but it’s still a large, flashy sign that catches the eye.
There are police officers and detectives gathered around the front door. Some of them are from Task Force 1 who left at the same time as us, and it seems that some are from other police departments. They’re all disorganized; it seems like they came here in a hurry.
“It looks like all the support response teams are here,” one detective says as he looks around and sighs.
“Are we the last ones?” our task force leader asks.
“The other teams that got here earlier are on standby at the other doors.”
There are three known exits to the building. A front door for customers, a back door for staff, and an underground parking lot that is connected directly to an elevator.
“We think the elevator is for VIPs. It’s towards the inside of the building,” one of the detectives explains.
“We’ll have been on standby in the underground parking lot. We’re thinking of entering through both the front entrance and back entrance at the same time,” says another.
The plan is simple.
The first part of the plan is, we blockade every way in and out of the building, and then we enter and suppress the fighting.
The second part is, we focus on arresting the middle-ranking members of the gangs, prioritizing the securing of Guma Gang members. We already have an almost-complete understanding of how the Fork Gang is structured; it’s more urgent that we get a better idea of the scale of the Guma Gang.
I can see in the detectives’ expressions that they’re determined to make the most of this opportunity.
A short while later.
Reports come in by radio.
“The lockdown of the parking lot is complete.”
“Okay. We’re entering through the back entrance.”
The detectives at the front door entrance open the doors.
“We’re entering through the front entrance as well,” one of them says into his radio.
The corridor leading further into the club doesn’t have a single light; it’s pitch-black. We’re navigating by following the sounds of the indistinct, eerie screams. It feels like we’re venturing into a cave to clear it of monsters.
We descend a floor to see bright lighting flickering on and off. After passing through a corridor, we can clearly see the stage below.
“These crazy fuckers,” our task force leader mutters under his breath.
Under the lighting, there are dozens of young men caught up in a free-for-all brawl, screaming at the top of their lungs.
“Die! Die! Die, you son of a bitch!”
Furniture of all kinds is flying across the room. The gray floor is splattered with dark-red blood and unmoving men. It’s total madness. I’m unable to take my eyes off this chaos.
Black slaps my shoulder, bringing me back to my senses. “Don’t panic and get yourself killed. Be alert,” he says.
“… Yes, sir,” I respond.
The team who came in through the back entrance reaches the stage first. It looks like they’re bewildered by the extreme scene before us as well.
“Police! Everyone stop where you are!” the detective leading the other team shouts over the screaming.
But nobody stops. The men don’t even show any signs of hesitation as they continue fighting… though they’re very loud, so it is possible that they didn’t hear the detective.
The detective unholsters the pistol at his waist and points it at the ceiling.
“Can you not hear me telling you to stop?” he shouts.
He hesitates for a moment, then pulls the trigger. There’s a loud bang as the blank round in his gun is fired.
About half of the brawling men stop fighting for a few seconds.
But that doesn’t last long. The half that didn’t hear the gunshot throw their next punches, and the fight continues.
“What the hell? What’s wrong with them?” the detective next to me whispers to himself, looking confused.
It’s common sense for gang members to stop fighting and whatever else they’re doing to try and flee when the police did show up. After all, they’re going straight to jail if they get caught.
But these guys have shown a somewhat different response. Half of them are trying to escape, but the other half are throwing themselves at others as if they’ve lost the ability to reason… as if they’ve really gone insane.
A thought suddenly occurs to me.
“Be careful! The Guma Gang! They might be on drugs!” I shout in warning to the detectives below.
Getting into a fight while drugged up would certainly cause a loss of one’s ability to think with reason.
Several of the men begin to run away in fear, right into the back entrance team. The detectives flounder about, getting caught up in the fight as if being swept up into a wave. This really is a top-notch mess.
The detectives of the other teams hastily run down the stairs.
“We need to move too!”
“Be careful not to get hurt!”
“You bastards! We told you to stop!”
Black stands there, watching the scene with a look of concentration on his face.
“What are you doing? Aren’t we going as well?” I ask.
But he continues surveying the area with an intense gaze.
A moment later –
“Found you,” he murmurs, and then he leaps over the handrail.
Black reaches the stage before the detectives who took the stairs. He really is a strong guy.
Mong-Doo regains his senses and pulls on my arm for us to follow him. “I guess he found the guy who stabbed his neck.”
Is that really possible in such a short amount of time?
Shaking my head, I follow Mong-Doo down.
Mong-Doo is holding his police baton in a peculiar way, using both hands. His face looks innocent, but he is impressively nimble and his strikes are powerful. With swift, two-handed swings, he brings the nearby gang members crashing into the ground one by one like leaves in fall.
So, Mong-Doo was short for ‘club.’
TLN: Club/cudgel in Korean is mongdoong-i.
One of the men hit by Mong-Doo shouts out in pain, and the others look around for a place to escape.
“Fuck off!” one mutters.
“The bank door! Get through the back door!” another one shouts.
The guys who are running away crowd around the back door that is the closest, most obvious exit. They’re probably the guys from the Fork Gang. They’re resisting, but they’re currently trying to escape rather than fight, so there won’t be any big problems in restraining them.
The real problem is the druggies.
“Stay down!” I shout as I throw my fists mercilessly at the men who lunge towards me like zombies.
One of the bastards charges at me with a broken beer bottle. This is one of those moments where I wish I had the stun gun that’s currently on my bookshelf.
I turn my body outwards to avoid the attack and counterattack with one fist.
I’ve already done this dozens of times, and my body is starting to feel tired.
Black looks like he’s finished with his business. He’s holding a guy by the hair with a satisfied look on his face.
“Hey! Where are you from?” he demands. “The Bangmun neighborhood? Gusan?”
He’s going around asking the gangsters whether they’re members of the Fork Gang that’s based in the Bangmun neighborhood or the Guma Gang that’s based in Gusan.
The moment that gangsters name their organizations, beating them during questioning is against the Punishment for Violence Act. That’s why Black isn’t asking for the name of their gangs.
“Th-the Bangmun neighborhood,” the guy he’s questioning replies.
That means he’s from the Fork Gang.
Black smiles in satisfaction. “Take a few more hits, then.”
The gangster cries out in pain as he receives another punch.
With Black in the lead, we begin separating the gangsters that are crowded together and attached to one another. The guys who are senselessly punching each other, being punched and trying to run away. This can only be described as complete pandemonium.
And then –
“Hey! That bastard, that bastard is Song Dae-Ak!” a voice yells from somewhere.
It’s a nearby detective, and he’s pointing towards the VIP area behind the stage.
Song Dae-Ak is trying to get out of this place under the protection of his subordinates.
As I try to chase after them, a bunch of other guys run at me from behind and grab me.
“Hey, let me go!” I shout in frustration.
“Hyeong-nim! Please get out of here!” one of the gangsters holding me shouts.
“Please stay safe!” says another.
Wow, this is amazing. It sounds like a conversation from a third-rate movie.
I try to shake the gangsters off me with all my strength, but they are incredibly stubborn. Or maybe it’s because they’re huge.
The heavy bodies wrap themselves around me like the legs of an octopus, not letting me go.
“Hey, what the hell are you doing!” says Black as he comes to help me out.
The gangsters change targets. Black looks more threatening than me, so they all dive on him, making him unable to move freely.
“Look at you. You’re not going to let go of me?” Black says to one of the gangsters holding him.
The gangster groans as Black’s fist connects with his skull.
“Hold on! We have to keep holding on!” one of the other gangsters shouts.
As Black struggles to get the gangsters off him, I chase after Song Dae-Ak.
The elevator’s going to be blocked off anyway.
The VIP area consists of rooms connected to a central corridor, like the chambers of a beehive. The corridor is so narrow that two adult men would barely be able to pass each other if walking in opposite directions.
At the end of the corridor, I see the detectives who ran over here ahead of me. They seem to be blocked off; they’re just stomping their feet in frustration at being unable to advance any further.
“Seriously, fuck you, you pieces of shit!” one of them shouts.
“Hey! Song Dae-Ak! Stop struggling and come quietly!” another one yells.
The five bulky men have set up a blockade in this tiny corridor. They’re tall and are clinging onto the detectives, preventing them from getting through.
I can see Song Dae-Ak and a familiar-looking man behind the scuffle. But I can’t really see properly because the lighting is dark.
The two of them quickly disappear up the stairs to the second floor.
But that face… It was definitely…