Featured image “Weaver” by Arute (@ast05water)
You’ve met Will Harrison and Tiffany Hunsecker, Anna’s foes in Asia. Now get to know four of Anna’s closest foreign allies. They come from far away, separated from Arendelle by land and sea. Yet they’re as close to Anna and Elsa as you are, and help protect Arendelle’s international interests. “Allies of Arendelle” features four OCs that assist Anna with her goals in our Emerald Dragon arc: Kam Chik-loei, Tileke, Fujiwara Takako, and Luna de Borbón.
Kam Chik-loei (金織女)
With a nod of her head, Arendelle prospers. With a snap of her fingers, economies flourish. Making people wealthy is the power of Kam Chik-loei, the richest person in the British-ruled port of Hong Kong. Lady Kam serves as the comprador of the Princely House, Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman. She’s also the secret leader of the Crocus and Lotus, the Arendelle-allied but illegal triad society that’s locked in ongoing turf warfare with Harrison’s criminal allies, the Floodgate gang.
To call her Kristoff’s second-in-command is almost too simple. True, she’s a member of Bjorgman’s executive committee, and she sits on Kristoff’s board. But she’s so much more. She’s the procurement officer. The personnel recruiter. The guarantor. The underwriter. The chief interpreter. This isn’t even where her power is. Her authority comes from being the conduit through which all of Bjorgman’s money passes. There’s no transaction that she doesn’t oversee, no income or expenditure she doesn’t supervise. Depending on her snap judgement, a simple “Okay lah” or “No lah” can mean months of revenue or crippling financial losses. She’s the master of the Chinese world of trade, in which her boss would be lost without her.
When Sino-Arendellian trade began all the way back in 1713, the owners or tai-pans of the trading houses, Kristoff’s forebears, began employing middlemen who would represent their company in the Celestial Empire. There’s usually only one comprador per firm, for it’s an extremely lucrative and respected job, on top of the commissions that the comprador earns for every successful transaction. Compradors often surpass their bosses in personal wealth, and Lady Kam’s net worth is rumoured to be triple that of Kristoff’s.
For this reason, the relationship between the Eastern comprador and the Western tai-pan must be based on total trust. They might not share a culture or even political opinions, but their shared experience, joy, and worry is the company’s blood, sweat, and tears. And that matters much more than blood or surname.
When it comes to Lady Kam, there’s no one more caring and concerned about Kristoff’s wellbeing and future. Despite being a hard-as-nails and business-savvy manager, she’s privy to his membership of the Exalted, and knows everything about Anna and Elsa. “Aiyah, Kristoff da ge!” is her frequent refrain, with “da ge” a Chinese expression of affection translated into Arendellian as “big brother.” Kristoff might have a soulmate in Anna, and a bestie and fellow ice-lover in Elsa. But Lady Kam is more akin to a doting aunt or admiring mother, who presents a pleasant face to her sweetkins boy but is ruthless in destroying anything or anyone that might threaten him or his profits.
“I juggle a thousand secrets and operate from the shadows, but you’re such an adorable himbo that I must fuss over you and all your ventures, business and personal.”
The Lotus and Crocus
“For such a successful ice master, your heart is still as soft as it was when you were an orphan with only Sven for company. But the world is a perilous place. The trade empire you’ve built for Anna’s sake will be coveted and can be attacked. Let your comprador get her hands dirty, for that’s my power and burden. Keep yours clean, so as not to hurt your queen.”Lady Kam
The comprador has a dark side. It’s an open secret that the comprador can get her hands dirty in ways the tai-pan (Kristoff) can’t. Since the earliest days of maritime trade between the Arendellians and the Chinese, members of the comprador class were authorized to use of all their networks to help their companies survive in cutthroat times.
With Arendelle in the shadow of Harrison and Hunsecker once more, Lady Kam knows that these are such times. Especially when Harrison, a tai-pan himself, has his own faction of criminal support.
In the complicated networks of Chinese society, it’s inevitable that compradors deploy elements outlawed by the emperor or Western powers (or both). While the British authorities in colonial Hong Kong don’t discriminate between gangs in the criminal underworld, Lady Kam foresaw that Bjorgman, a benign firm that trades ice over opium, would run into a malicious gang like the Floodgate. This fearsome cartel of organized crime has thrown in its lot with Harrison and his vast business network across China. Shortly after signing her agreement of employment with Bjorgman, Lady Kam quickly founded her own clandestine association to protect Bjorgman’s commercial interests: consiglieres, bodyguards, spies, and armed escorts. The members of her private army swear a secret pact to not just Bjorgman, but also to the queen of Arendelle herself. This effectively makes the underground warriors, martial artists, and hardened mercenaries that work for Lady Kam traitors to not just China, but Britain as well.
It’s a sacrifice, made by dozens of men and women, that Anna doesn’t even know about. “But she doesn’t have to,” says Lady Kam confidently, “unless she’s willing to bear the emotional cost of learning what lengths I go to in order to protect her and Kristoff.” Kristoff has entrusted her with the future of the Princely House, and to a lesser extent, the economic prosperity of Arendelle. That’s enough repayment for Lady Kam. And besides, why rush with spilling all the secrets? After all, Lady Kam has many of them, some hiding in plain sight… and Kristoff never asked, so why tell?
“Are all Arendellian men and women so adorable?” she muses. “No matter. The time will come when I bare all to him and Anna. She seeks the elixir of life. I have plenty of time. For now, it’s enough to protect them both with all the resources at my hands.”
NEXT “ALLIES OF ARENDELLE” PROFILE: TILEKE!
5 thoughts on “Allies of Arendelle: KAM CHIK-LOEI, Comprador of Bjorgman”
This post gives me some cultural familiarity, but also makes me politically nervous.
In any case, I would assume a person working in Hong Kong / the Guangdong region would have Cantonese as their first language. The Mandarin (‘da ge’, ‘Jin Zhinü’) is fine, but considering that even the ‘founding father’ of modern China has an English name taken from a Romanisation of Cantonese (Sun Yat-sen), I would propose renaming the character Kam Chik-loei, following an approximation of Cantonese, instead.
Also, why is she named after the famous star fairy? Is she going to have a cowherd? 😉
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// Internet crashed TWICE while writing you my reply, so I’ll be briefer than I intended:
1. I’m gonna change Jin to Kam just for you! ^_^ You’re right, I used Mandarin Pinyin because of its modern universality, but Jin to Kam is frankly a small change with a big positive impact for the historical setting.
2. Oh yes… Lady Kam’s connection to the Emerald Dragon arc is hiding in plain sight.
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I’m honoured m(_ _)m
If you need a consultant for the languages in South China (not just ‘Chinese’ ones, by the way!) or Mandarin I’m available (though I think you might know others more qualified).
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Letter to Lady Kam.
My name is Michael, Trade Minister of Arendelle and Uncle to Quern Anna, Snow Queen Elsa and a very good friend and mentor to Kristoff.
He has told me a lot about you and how you’ve become basically the “Jack-of-all-trades” and valuable right hand to him and Bjorgman house. I hope that when they arrive in Hong Kong, you will receive them very warmly.
Your proposals were accepted by the Ministers and signed off by myself, PM Viola Mundilfari and Queen Anna signed and sealed them. I gave them to Kristoff over dinner @ The Lonely Reindeer, a fine dining establishment here in Arendelle.
I look forward to someday meeting you, as well as conducting further business with you to keep Bjorgman house and Arendelle/Northuldra operating in the black ink.
Trade Minister Michael.
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What an honour to receive a letter from a gentleman Kristoff holds in high esteem! You’ve indeed been the talk among some of my employees, being the trade minister of Arendelle and someone quite close to Her Majesty. I’m sure you and Kristoff have worked together many times in directing the economic future of your kingdom.
Whether you ever accompany Her Majesty on her trips, or I sail to Arendelle one day to visit Kristoff, rest assured that I will always have my doors open for you and your friends and family. I would love to meet Elsa in the flesh when the time comes. For now, rest assured that despite the perilous nature of Anna’s voyage, I as comprador have plenty of resources to keep her comfortable and protected.
In this colony of Hong Kong, profit is our pleasure. Wealth is our weal. And I would love nothing more than to seal more deals with you.