Yi-soo looked up, tilting her head back to gaze at the ceiling. The moment she stepped into the police station, she tried in vain to remove the ice cream stain from her light-colored pants using a handkerchief. Eventually, she gave up and changed into spare black slacks she kept in her office.
For the next two hours, she buried herself in paperwork without lifting her head. When she finally finished, she turned to Detective Ho-yeon, her companion.
“I feel so exhausted today… It’s only 4 o’clock,” she said wearily.
“Are you feeling unwell? You mentioned earlier that you couldn’t have lunch,” Ho-yeon asked.
“Oh, yes. But I managed to munch on some cookies I had left. I’m not hungry, just drained.”
“In your twenties, you should eat well. Once you hit thirty, your energy takes a hit. Staying fit requires exercise, but I’m too tired for that,” Ho-yeon said, tilting her head and licking her lips.
Yi-soo weakly smiled at the sight and rubbed her stiff lower back. Sitting all afternoon without a break made her uncomfortable.
Today seemed to drag on endlessly, like a river blocked by a massive rock. There was no apparent reason for her exhaustion, yet her body felt like it could collapse at any moment.
Have I been pushing myself too hard lately…? Not really, she thought, moving the piles of documents and reports aside. Perhaps a brief rest for her eyes would help. Yi-soo leaned forward, resting her forehead on her right forearm.
“Never lose composure at work” had always been her motto, but that seemed irrelevant now. She needed a moment to relax and regain her focus.
But within five minutes, Yi-soo found herself sitting up again. Her throat felt parched and raw, as if it had been scalded in boiling water. She struggled to stay awake, almost dozing off.
“Oh my, our prosecutor has fainted! Please, get up for a moment. I have something to tell you,” said a voice.
Yi-soo rubbed her forehead wearily and looked towards the speaker. “Chief Choi, Is the caseload too much?” she asked.
“Yes, yes. Cases keep pouring in endlessly! There are so many criminals in South Korea. Catch a few, and more will appear, and then more again. It’s like their souls attach to the ones who died while committing crimes. No, it’s me. Prosecutor. I turned fifty, and I really can’t comprehend it,” Chief Choi lamented.
“I wish we had more people like you, Chief. Please, give me the details; I’ll take notes,” Yi-soo replied, her energy dwindling.
As Chief Choi vented his frustration, Ho-yeon continued typing on the keyboard, unfazed by the familiar sight. Yi-soo realized that anger was a natural reaction to this absurd reality and stretched herself forward.
“Oh, the rest are typical cases, but this one… The chief asked me to handle it carefully,” she muttered.
“What is it?” Ho-yeon asked.
“Here at the top, it’s a special assault case. This is really… I don’t even know how to describe it.”
Despite her exhaustion, Yi-soo knew she had to do her job properly. She raised an eyebrow and picked up the top document, which contained the personal information of the defendant.
“Seo Jae-young… 29 years old, unemployed. Doesn’t he have any occupation?”
“Oh, well, yes. He calls himself an automotive YouTuber, but it’s not really a job per se. Well, that’s how it is with rich kids. Even in their thirties, they just live without doing anything,” Chief Choi explained with a displeased expression. The term “rich kids” caught Yi-soo’s attention, and she lowered her gaze to check the defendant’s family background, finally understanding the implications of Chief Choi’s words.
“His father is Seo Jeong-hyuk, the president of Geumsul Construction?” Yi-soo asked.
“Yes, yes. But surprisingly, the journalists haven’t made much noise about it yet. Well… I’m not sure if he used money to hush them up or if they haven’t caught the scent yet,” replied Chief Choi.
“The victim is a chauffeur,” Yi-soo read.
“If you check the hospital records afterward, oh my, his condition is really… It’s beyond words. His cheekbone was really… he attacked him with a golf club he had in the trunk, you know? He got 12 weeks of hospitalization. I mean, how badly do you have to beat someone to get 12 weeks of hospitalization? It’s just unbelievable…”
Yi-soo pressed her forehead against her hand as she flipped through the thick stack of documents. Although it had been two years since she dealt with a case involving a powerful perpetrator, the photos of the victim made her furrow her brows involuntarily. The bruising and golf club marks all over the body, along with a fractured jaw, were enough to make anyone sigh just by looking at it.