Tomiko Phan had been born in Seoul, South Korea, as the only daughter of an ROK marine officer and his Vietnamese war bride. But, from the age of one onward, she had been raised in Japan, as a result of her father's transfer to the South Korean embassy in Tokyo.
She had been a nineteen year-old freshman, attending Doshisha University in Kyoto, when her parents' marriage finally broke up. Consequently, she had been forced to drop out of school and work alongside her mother, as a cleaning woman, at the Vietnamese embassy. The bitter resentment this fostered in Tomiko prompted her to legally change her surname, to her mother's maiden name, on turning twenty-one. Following which, at the urging of her Zainichi boyfriend, she had joined a militant student organization-- called the Chongryeon--composed entirely of Zainichi who were pro-North Korea!
It was as a result of her arrest for assaulting a police officer (from whom she had technically been defending herself during a somewhat overzealous crack-down on a riot between the Chongryeon and their anti-North Korean counterparts, the Midan) that she first encountered Park Kim Jung.
The latter had spent a good deal of the Cold War serving as a North Korean operative of the KGB. He had even studied with a Japanese ninja cult, known as the Heikegani-ryu, on their behalf! Nowadays, however, he worked strictly for the Vladivostok branch of the Russian Mob. Serving as an intermediary between them and the Okada Clan of the Yakuza.
Or, at least, that was what he had led most people to believe.
In reality, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the North Korean government had reassigned Park to Beijing. There, he would now be working, on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, to set up a martial arts school in Japan. A martial arts school that would cater exclusively to Zainichi! And it was only to the worthiest of those students that he would personally teach the secrets...
...of Heikegani-ryu ninjutsu.
So were born the Am Jha Hwa Rang. Literally, "the Flowering Youth of Darkness!" But, often more alliteratively referred to as "the Knights of the Night." Yet, by whatever name they were talked about, the talking was invariably done in hushed whispers.
There was no whispering, however, when the chunin of the sub-sect asked their surviving trainees...The Question.
"Do you now swear eternal loyalty to the Am Jha Hwa Rang above everyone and everything else? Including family, friends, and any and all laws of the outside world?"
Those few who had shown even a second's hesitation in answering in the affirmative were summarily executed. In her case, though, Tomiko had meant it when she said "yes!" Whereupon, Park Kim Jung had stepped forward to congratulate her. Adding, as he did so, that he already had her first assignment.
"A businessman named Nakafusa wishes to cleanse his company of perverted capitalistic filth. Lovers of child pornography who go by these aliases!"
He presented her with a computer print-out with six names.
"We have traced their web-surfing activities to an American West Coast branch of his corporation," the seventy-something North Korean told her: "You will infiltrate that company; discern their true identities; and eliminate them, accordingly."