Monday, May 21, 2012

HotPot Tan

She was meeting him at Pyongyang II, North Korea’s version of food propaganda, their latest tool to subvert western thought though your taste buds. It may sound bizarre, but for North Koreans, bizarre is a way of life. They’d try the wi-fi network, she’d be the diversion, do all the talking, make a fuss and he’d see if the network was connected to the mainframe at the embassy. They were sure it would be, that’s how North Korean’s thought.

She’d known Tan for a few years but had never worked with him. He was pretty dull unless you got him talking about food or the inner workings of secure networks. Food could be interesting, networks were not her forte. She knew he’d been barred from the casinos in Macau. Hotel security had facial recognition software with his picture on their mainframe. The casinos didn’t know how many decks of cards he could count, no one did, not even Tan himself. It didn’t matter, by the time they’d counted the house was in a financial black hole. There were no tricks or gimmicks, just overwhelming brainpower. Tan thought it came from eating noodles, he loved spicy noodles. Five feet tall and two hundred pounds of fat and brainpower. Noodles for breakfast and dinner with several servings in between. He preferred them spicy but would eat them bland, it didn’t matter. There was always chili sauce close at hand. He ate more when they were hot and spicy. Spices caught his appetite and didn’t let go. His mother had made the best spicy hotpot. 

University had been a bore, the professors didn’t understand his questions and begrudgingly recognized his brilliance. One professor recognized this and knew where it would be put to good use. Professor Kan gave him a decryption exercise so difficult that it had taken weeks for an SIS team to decipher. Tan had it done in a few hours and termed the exercise – entertaining. Suddenly there were interviews on his political thoughts. He’s never thought about politics and told them so. He just loved Singapore. They searched his email, twitter and facebook accounts. There was nothing political, in fact there was very little of anything. One photo of him eating noodles on Facebook and he described himself as ‘male’, end of biography.

Ocassionally he got sent into the field, but never alone, he was too valuable to loose. 

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