The Seoulpa Rings are a group of Korean organized crime syndicates established outside of Korea.
Membership (Average): ~30
Membership (Largest): 150
Members & Associates per Ring (Average): ~145
When the Yakuza purged their ranks of Koreans in North America, they did not succeed in killing them all. One of the survivors was a Korean oyabun, Park Jai Kyu. Rumors are that he was half-Japanese, the offspring of a powerful oyabun and his Korean lover. The story goes that he survived due to his having magical talent, specifically precognition and clairvoyance. On the other hand his survival may have been due to effective planning. Whatever the truth may be, he established the Seoulpa Rings.
Due to them lacking the resources to challenge the Yakuza directly, Park and his followers went underground. Each individual recruited his or her own followers, creating many gang across the Northwest which became the first Seoulpa Rings. In the beginning each of his followers recruited 12 new members, who in turn were ordered to seek out 11 recruits. Within several months, each of these "gangs" had 145 members and they began to establish their own small spheres of influence in the Seattle underworld.
This happened in other cities across North America. When Park came up with the plan, he made sure to pass it along to those he trusted elsewhere in North America. Whom were all Koreans whom had survived the purge in their cities, and they too began to form their own Seoulpa Rings once he started in Seattle. Only when the new recruits had proven themselves to the "ringleaders" were they informed of the organization's true nature. That they had joined a loosely confederated network of Rings that were dedicated to taking market share from the Yakuza and eventually challenging them for control of the underworld. The Jo-poks back in Korea assisted the Seoulpa Rings, helping them survive and then expand outside of the Seattle sprawl.
The Rings are basically personality cults, in which they are formed around a specific individual and usually disintegrate if that individual is killed or removed from power. Often senior lieutenants will break off from their parent Rings to establish their own independent outfits, which is usually done with the approval of their former leader. The individual Seoulpa Rings are not overseen by a central body like the Mafia. Despite this direct conflict between the Rings is rare, therefore no turf wars, no campaigns of assassination, and so on unlike the mob wars between Yakuza clans, Mafia families, or the Triads.
In contrast the average Mafia regime or Yakuza clan, the average Seoulpa Ring is pretty small, consisting of less than 30 sworn members. Individuals who have passed the blood initiation into the Ring from their front gangs. In a manner similar to the made men within the Mafia, they too control a larger network of associates on the street. Due to the necessity of protecting the smaller Ring from their larger rivals, the members never inform the operatives on the street that they are actually in the employment of a Seoulpa Ring. Which results in those operatives assuming that they are just part of a local gang.
For several years after the Seoulpa Rings were established, they consisted of Koreans only (especially the leaders). During that period, they recruited only from within the Korean community in Seattle. Which was done to minimize the possibility of them being penetrated and subverted. That soon changed and as they grew, they recruited from outside the Korean community. The Rings recruit humans and metahumans of all backgrounds and races, and normally consider the potential candidate's loyalty and abilities to be of much greater importance than whatever heritage or bloodline they may have.
They often pick up those with talent who were "castoff" from rival syndicates, especially the Yakuza. In the criminal underworld, the Rings are likely the most "equal opportunity" crime syndicate. In Seattle there were Rings with large numbers of Russian, Anglo, Vietnamese, and Amerindian members. That being said whatever prejudices the Ring's leader has, the rest of the gang has too. The Choson Ring for example is rabidly anti-Amerindian, which may be due to its conflict with the First Nation gang. In turn the Komun'go Ring heavily recruits from Native Americans. Likewise Rings which have leaders who support Humanis are hostile to metahumans.
As the original members were all fluent in Korean, they used normal Korean phrases to recognize each other when communicating, as a form of code. Because their language uses honorifics (similar to the Japanese language), the protocol mode was used in the sign-countersign identification exchanges in their recognition codes. It has worked so well for the Rings, that members who speak Korean continue to use the system.
For those members who don't speak Korean, the Rings use an incredible number of symbols, handshakes, signs, phrases, and so on, most of which is based on ancient Korean history and art (or more precisely the Rings' interpretation of that history and art). Many of the Rings' non-Korean members speak enough of the language to get by in the outfits.
The Seoulpa Rings have a "two-phase" recruitment system in which the new members are first initiated into what they believe is the local gang. If they prove themselves to be worthy in the eyes of the Seoulpa Ring's leader, they are then inducted into the Ring's core group. The Rings often have one or two gangs which are fronts for recruiting. Which resulted in expanding connections between the Seoulpa Rings and the gangs.
How the Rings Operate
Initiation rituals within the Seoulpa Rings are designed to weed out moles or potential spies, which is likely a legacy from the early years of the Rings when they had to be on the look out for assassins from the Yakuza. These rituals are normally pretty brutal, as they also serve as "tests of strength". It varies by Ring, with some of them having a ritual that involves more physical torture over psychological torture or vice versa.
Seoulpa Rings are scavengers which use every resource possible to the utmost and are willing to take greater risks than rival syndicates. The Rings often exploit opportunities that present themselves before rival organizations even realize the opportunity exists. Compared to the larger crime syndicates, the Rings are far likelier to cooperate among themselves which lets them be a match for the bigger syndicates when it comes to any type of job. Basically, the Seoulpa Rings are a federation of criminal outfits which share the same functions and goals. Though each outfit has its own way of doing things, its own separate hierarchy, and what motivates the various outfits may be different, they all end up helping each other survive while they strike at the larger syndicates.
Together, the Rings form a crime syndicate but individually they are more like second-tier gangs. Most of them operate only within a single city or a district in that city, though some of them have connections to Korea and/or Rings in other cities in North America in which they form smuggling networks. When a Ring becomes too big and attracts the attention of law enforcement and/or their enemies, it fragments into 2 or 3 smaller gangs. By splitting up and recruiting, they evolve and change their face and shape. Thereby keeping a low profile. When attacking rival syndicates, the Rings will focus on a specific organization. The Rings will hit the Yakuza, then they'll strike at them again, and finally the Yakuza will be attacked again. Due to this single-minded obsession of hurting the Yakuza, the Rings have not grown as fast as they could nor grown in power.
By the standards of organized crime, the Rings are very "progressive"; Ring soldiers commonly use combat cyberware and magic. Some of the Rings even preferentially recruit magic users and recruit from gangs and others with magical talent, and use spirits, ritual sorcery, and spells in their criminal operations, used to potent and frightening effect. Seoulpa hitmen are much like those in the Triads, and are more willing to innovate and plan with intelligence and imagination than their counterparts in the Yakuza or Mafia. Seoulpa hitmen are also noted for their loyalty, and are almost impossible to coerce into informing on their superiors and benefactors. Matching their comfort with other aspects of the Sixth World, the Rings will also hire Shadowunners to perform covert and subtle jobs, commonly sabotage targeting the Yakuza, but also thefts, smuggling, and occasionally a kidnapping.
Due to their size, the Rings are forced to limit their activities to specific kinds of criminal operations. Usually the Rings will focus on burglary and street gambling, and occasionally drugs, BTL chips, and prostitution. They normally leave the type of operations which require significant investment to the major syndicates (e.g. Mafia, the Yakuza, or the Triads). On occasion, several of the Rings will collaborate and pool their resources to run a sophisticated operation whose target is usually a Yakuza enterprise. Which are temporary operations with the individual Rings going their separate ways after they've divided up the booty. This may be changing as some of the Rings have become specialists in higher-level crime (e.g. the Choson Ring) or have established long lasting operations which challenge the Yakuza in the bigger rackets (e.g. the Komun'go Ring).
The Rings have always been considered a wild card in Seattle's shadows. A Seoulpa Ring is small in size, compared to a Mafia family or Yakuza boryokudan, and tightly organized, and tend to operate individually of other Rings. They have a reputation of being ruthless and adaptive to new technologies and magics, although the Rings' power has begun to wane with the growth of the Native American mobs and the encroachment of the Vory.
When the Shotozumi-rengo was formed, the Shotozumi-sama offered peace to the Seoulpa Rings so they could unite against their common foe the Watanabe-rengo. The Seoulpa Rings rejected the peace offering and attempted to assassinate him. War followed in which the Shotozumi-rengo virtually annihilated the Seoulpa Rings of Seattle. Only two remain, the Choson Ring (which absorbed the surviving remnants) and the Komun'go Ring.
The Seoulpa Rings expanded to a couple of the states that were formed out of the United States. They expanded to cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles,, New York City, Chicago, and Atlanta. Though the Seoulpa Rings were mostly wiped out in Seattle and were extinguished in Chicago, there are Seoulpa Rings elsewhere in the country. In the city of New York City, it's Seoulpa Rings continue to be major players.
There are also Seoulpa Rings working outside the country, especially in Russia where they are expanding in the country with Vladivostok being a Seoupla Ring stronghold. Another nation with Seoulpa Rings is the Allied German States, especially in the German state of Franconia. Backing the Seoulpa Rings in Germany and perhaps elsewhere is the Eastern Tiger Corporation.
Rings of Seattle
- Choson Ring
- Komun'go Ring
- Tartarus Ring
- Divine Revenge Ring
- Phantom Lake Ring
- Red and Yellow Ring
- Lee Brigade
- Changgo Ring
- Underworld Sourcebook p.63
- Data Trails p.36
- Runner Havens p.87
- Underworld Sourcebook p.65
- Underworld Sourcebook p.65
- Underworld Sourcebook p.92
- Underworld Sourcebook p.64
- Hard Targets p.60
- Underworld Sourcebook p.93
- The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America p.21
- California Free State p.104
- The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America p.122
- Underworld Sourcebook p.33
- The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America p.37
- Stolen Souls p.120
- Stolen Souls p.135
- Sixth World Almanac p.151
- Target: Smuggler Havens p.52-54
- Deutschland in den Schatten II p.259 (Germany In the Shadows II by Pegasus)
- Deutschland in den Schatten II p.305-306 (Germany In the Shadows II by Pegasus)
- Datapuls ADL p.39 (Datapuls AGS by Pegasus Games)
- Ghost Cartels
- New Seattle, 105-106
- Runner Havens, 87
- Seattle 2072
- Shadowrun Third Edition, 317-318
- Shadowrun 2050
- Shadows of North America, 51
- Target: Smuggler Havens, 52-54
- The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America
- Underworld Sourcebook
- Mob War!, 54-57
- Stolen Souls, 120, 135
- Deutschland in den Schatten II, 259, 305-306 (Germany in the Shadows II by Pegasus Games)