Empire of the Ring Chapter 221: Growing Pains 2

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For the Kazakhstan government, it was difficult to effectively manage people scattered in remote places and lived off ranching or farming since it was still a developing country. The country's land mass was twelve times the size of the Korean Peninsula, and the population was just over eighteen million. So, most of the population was concentrated in cities. It was difficult to see people a little outside of the city areas.
That meant that people in remote areas were often not included in the census numbers. It would be fair to say that the government had no intention of investigating the remote areas and the people who lived there had been living quietly as if they did not exist.


The people of Koryoin town were such beings. They did not bother to report any birth or the number of town's residents. It was partly because it was an easy process to get their ID cards issued if needed since they would be made without a word if they went to the administrative office.
However, now that they came to civilization, they had to change. They made their identity cards to prove themselves, received smartphones, made their own bank accounts, and so on.
They were given a fancy house that was unimaginable to them before and in many places of the farm, something like a dream came about living in brightly lit streets in the evening. Fortunately, adapting to a new environment was not too difficult. Since both the immigrants and Koryoins were adapting to living in a new place, no one was in a better position than others. What Koryoins had more than the immigrants were the money they made for selling the gold they had collected and they had the right to receive money for five kilograms of gold to be collected every year.


After the Koryoins moved out of their town to get to Arirang Farm, people who took over their old town were gold miners in Serbian ranch in Baku and 17 people of Arirang Farm's neighborhood watch. Not to be found out by the outsiders, the town was disguised as ranch workers' town. So, some livestock were kept inside fences.
The miners only worked 20 days in a month in Koryoin town to collect gold and return to Baku to rest for ten days. Because the amount of gold being collected was not so much, Youngho felt a little sorry to even call the miners from Baku. Because they spent a lot of time traveling from Baku to the Koryoin town, Youngho ordered to set up a place near the town where his airplanes could land. A 300-meter-long flat area dramatically reduced their travel time.


Three eight-passenger Cessna airplanes were landing at the town's temporary runways because tomorrow was the day that the miners from Baku would be returning their home.
Youngho was on one of the airplanes to visit the place.
So far, he had bought more airplanes and now he possessed two four-seater planes and five eight-seater planes, and nine of Serbian lads were working as all-weather pilots. Becoming a pilot was now many young Serbian people's dream. Twenty-five select young men were still learning the flying skills, so Youngho expected to buy some more airplanes soon.
Just in the evening, people who had finished collecting the gold were grilling lamb at an empty lot in the town. Since they knew that Youngho would be visiting them in advance, they had prepared a proper barbecue party for him.

"I'm sorry I haven't been able to visit more often when you're going through such trouble."

Youngho, who squeezed into a table, said while pouring drinks in people's cups.

"We know that Prince Consort is busy. You don't need to pay too much attention to us. We rather enjoy collecting gold since it's for all of us."

The Serbian descendants were thoughtful workers who willed to make sacrifices for the whole group. Their genuine hearts always made Youngho sorry for not being able to give them more.

"Are there any improvements?"

"We've been trying to get used to the work. For now, we can collect about three kilograms of gold. With help of modern equipment, the production rate will increase ten times more than now."

Even though Youngho was not an expert miner, he could tell that half of the valley's sand was gold. There would be a huge difference if they could separate the sand and gold with an automatic facility, not by human hands. Collecting the widely spread alluvial gold was also important but he had a higher hope that there would be a bonanza that was the source of the alluvial gold spread around the whole valley. Finding it was of his primary interest.

***

There was a place where numerous ethnic groups demanded independence in Asia. It was China. There were 55 ethnic minorities in China. They lived in an area of 65 percent of the country's territory but they only accounted for only 8 percent of the total population since more than 91% of the population was Han people.
If Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur, which were demanding independence, were separated, one-third of China's territory would be lost. Because those were border areas, they were important for the country's security, but they were also a valuable place to keep because of abundant ground resources across the highlands, mountain ranges, and grasslands. What was more, Tibet had a large amount of water supply, which was an invaluable resource to keep.
The ethnic minorities in China had been feeling a sense of economic and cultural deprivation for the Han people, and there was a religious burden here as well. This was because Tibet was Buddhist and Uyghur people were mostly Muslims under Chinese government which boasted communism.
The problem was that China had begun to open up culturally due to its involvement in the free market and this sparked those ethnic groups' desire for independence.


It was not an exaggeration to say that Kazakhstan's stability depended on how strong its border against China was. Youngho was one of those who hoped to keep peace in Kazakhstan because he had now settled down in Kazakhstan and China's influence was a threat to his hope.
In Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Uyghur independence groups were fighting against the Han people because they were against the Han people's dominance over the economy and their spark might affect Kazakhstan's border at any time.
The US CIA was also quietly encouraging Xinjiang's independent and secretly helping armed independent organizations. The reason that the CIA had been keeping a close eye on the border area of Kazakhstan was that it was trying to empower the Uyghur people by providing armed assistance if necessary.


Youngho's establishment of Arirang farm in Kazakhstan and gathering Serbians were actively supported by the CIA as it helped the U.S. national interest as well.
Furthermore, there were aspects to encourage Youngho's involvement in activities in Kazakhstan. That was because someone had to be the connection and influence to the Kazakhstan government. That was why Serbian lads were recruited as agents. If Kazakhstan was stabilized, the U.S. would benefit from its territorial integrity. Otherwise, there would never have been any support for Youngho's businesses and activities in Kazakhstan.

***

The shameful event during transporting the fourth generation immigrants fell heavy on Youngho.
For the future of Arirang Farm's peace, he wanted to resolve this problem and unburden his people before it was too late.
Through this event, he found out that many people who were involved in the civil war were still struggling with guilt and traumas which could not be neglected.
Youngho had a long discussion with Kim Sungchan, Old Niksic, and Park Youngsun, whom he trusted as his counsels. Their solution was to identify past Serbian militiamen who were involved in the war and if they had committed crimes, the farm should collect a certain amount to compensate Bosnia to apologize for their past error.
If the compensation money was accumulated for a few years, the farm would be able to help Bosnian war orphans or establish a memorial stone for those who perished during the civil war in Bosnia. Since Arirang Farm was a town of Serbians now, accepting their past and making corrections for their errors was the best way to move on.
Especially, Old Niksic's will was strong.
He said that if some of the Serbian descendants did shameful deeds in the past, the whole people should be responsible to apologize and ask for forgiveness.
It was an ideal story but Youngho was not sure if the descendants could be forgiven now since the past could not be rewound.

"Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is asking for independence."

At Youngho's statement out of the blue, everyone looked at him.

"…"

"If our people made a mistake of oppressing other people due to sick nationalism, they can extenuate their crimes by helping people who are being oppressed right now."

Old Niksic seemed to be intrigued.

"Are you saying that we should help Uyghur people to atone for our crimes?"

"That's right. The problem of past Serbian militiamen is the problem of the whole. They were assailants but now they are also victims of the war. If we can help them heal their hearts, we should try even if it is too much to ask."

Youngho wanted to give a chance for the guilty people to atone for themselves.

"Prince Consort. If there's any way to atone for our people's crimes, we need to do it by all means. Their burden is too heavy for guilt and they're feeling ashamed before their children as well."

If the people had to make a choice to commit crimes in the past, making a better choice in a similar situation was the only way for them to get over their guilt from past mistakes.


Among the immigrants who came to the farm, the former militiamen who were deployed to stop Bosnia's independence were twenty-seven in number.
Those were the people who particularly made quarrels and problems after drinking too much during the winter. Although they left Serbia, they were still guilty for what they had done. It would not be forgotten no matter how much time passed. They would live unfortunate lives if they could not get over the guilt. They were destroying not only themselves but also the people around them. Youngho could not let that happen to the city he elaborately put together.

"The crimes they committed in Serbia are not going to disappear by compensating Bosnians with money. If they are guilty, they need to face your consequence. It's not done just because they moved away from their hometown."

Old Niksic became hopeful after listening to Youngho.

"I'll meet everyone and ask for their willingness to be involved. Please tell me what they're supposed to do in Xinjiang."

"It's to help them to find their independence. They'd have to risk their lives. If they can't do it, they don't deserve to be here."

If they took other people's lives and they were afraid to risk their lives, they probably did not deserve to be in Arirang Farm. Some might point fingers at Youngho since he was taking them to a dangerous place but he was sure that this needed to be done because Arirang Farm's moral values were at stake.

No one would welcome to see the father of a family leave to a foreign place when they just settled down in a new place. However, the families of former militiamen welcomed the idea. It was because the fathers had been causing troubles for their families.
Instead of acting like fathers, they drank without working and turned violent toward their families. It was something that Youngho had not caught since he took too many immigrants at a time.
Most of the people were highly motivated in hope of rebuilding their old kingdom but there were people who were below standards and who had been making mistakes over and over.
It was Youngho's illusion that any kingdom's descendants would be the same as the descendants of the knights in Baku.
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