Chapter 2.1

A surge of panic coursed through Yi-soo’s veins, her heart seemingly malfunctioning while her mind spun out of control. With a pallor creeping onto her face, she fixated on the note, reading and rereading its contents as if hoping for a hidden message to emerge. 

Unable to contain her anxiety any longer, she reached for her cellphone, her fingertips trembling as they hovered over the speed dial number one. Summoning her resolve, she dialed Su-jeong’s number, desperation clinging to each ringtone.

“What are you up to? Where are you?” Yi-soo muttered under her breath, her voice laden with concern. But all she received in response was the ceaseless ring, the unanswered call amplifying the unease stirring within her. 

She attempted to reach out multiple times, her worry mounting with each unanswered attempt. The thought of rushing to the police station gnawed at her, but the cryptic contents of the note held her back.

Above all else, Su-jeong was a tenacious journalist, fearlessly pursuing dangerous scoops that exposed politicians’ scandals and delved into the inner workings of third-generation conglomerates. Threats and bribes were familiar adversaries in her line of work, yet she remained resolute in her commitment to her journalistic mission. Vanishing without a trace, only to resurface unscathed, was a signature move in her repertoire.

As Yi-soo sifted through her memories, a semblance of calm settled upon her anxious mind. With a glimmer of hope, she brought the cellphone to her ear once more, determined to gather any information that might offer solace.

“Hello, is this Hanje Daily? I’m looking for Baek Su-jeong from the Social Affairs Department. Has she reported for work today? I’ve been unable to reach her, and she’s my family.”

The voice on the other end, after a brief pause, responded, “Baek, you say? Hold on a moment. Hey, rookie! Did Baek come in today? No, not Jinyoung, Baek Su-jeong!”

A mix of relief and concern washed over Yi-soo as she awaited a response. Her heart fluttered anxiously, teetering between hope and trepidation.

“No, she took a few days off recently,” came the reply, tinged with a hint of nonchalance. “Ah, I just spoke to the rookie journalist, and she mentioned that Baek had some time off. You know, after breaking a major exclusive, Baek usually retreats into seclusion. It’s become a reflex for her. But don’t worry too much if you can’t reach her.”

The calm voice of a man, likely Su-jeong’s senior, resonated on the line, assuaging Yi-soo’s concerns. It appeared that the situation was not deemed significant within the confines of the Social Affairs Department. With a nod of acknowledgment, Yi-soo brought the conversation to a close, gripping the USB tightly, its true purpose still shrouded in mystery.

I must uncover the truth… What could it be? 

Tick-tock, tick-tock—the wall clock’s second hand emitted a soft click as it gradually swept to the right, marking the passage of time.


“This… seems rather challenging. It’s far from your run-of-the-mill security measures,” Ji-hyuk muttered, frustration etching lines of vexation across his face.

Yi-soo countered, “But impossible? How can it be? I need to know what’s in it…”

Ji-hyuk, who had been attempting to crack the code for quite some time, slouched back in his chair, his expression a mixture of annoyance and defeat. His unruly curly hair, reminiscent of a chestnut-brown poodle’s mane, added a touch of whimsy to his appearance. He and Yi-soo had forged their friendship during their first year of high school, their bond standing the test of over a decade.

Throughout his student years, Ji-hyuk had displayed an exceptional aptitude for programming, which led him to pursue a major in Information Security. Soon after graduating from college, he had been scouted as an expert in the field by a prominent IT company.

“This USB is like a fortress in terms of security,” Ji-hyuk explained, his voice tinged with both admiration and exasperation. “There is a potential bypass method, but I have to warn you, there’s a 90% chance that all the files inside will be erased. Perhaps even a 95% chance. It’s designed to repel any external attempts at access. If you’re willing to proceed, I can give it a shot, but you need to understand the risks involved.”

“Ahh… This is driving me insane,” Yi-soo muttered. From the moment she laid eyes on the USB, she had anticipated its resistance. However, even Ji-hyuk, whom she considered the epitome of expertise in this field, found it challenging to handle.

Yi-soo’s temples throbbed with a mix of frustration and anticipation as she pressed her forehead with her palm, releasing a deep sigh that echoed through the room. She couldn’t help but speculate about the contents of the USB, convinced that it held a truth capable of shaking the very foundations of South Korea. Given Su-jeong’s penchant for unearthing significant incidents, it seemed only natural for her to attempt it.

“Is there absolutely no way to open it?” she inquired, her voice tinged with a glimmer of hope.

“Not at the moment. Just by looking at it, I can tell it’s an enterprise-grade security USB, accessible exclusively through their company’s computers. It probably requires high-level clearance, like that of an executive. Additionally, there must be a password input,” Ji-hyuk explained, his tone laced with a hint of resignation.

“Y&K… It seems like it could be a prominent corporation. Does anything come to mind?” Yi-soo probed, her memory working diligently to decipher the meaning behind the uppercase letters emblazoned on the USB’s surface. But Ji-hyuk shook his head, his expression devoid of recognition.

“Y&K… Y… Yun?” Yi-soo mused aloud, the initials triggering a flicker of familiarity within her. She had definitely heard those letters before. Yet, in the midst of the sudden upheaval, her memory refused to cooperate, concealing the answer she sought.

Calmly sifting through the recesses of her mind, Yi-soo’s eyes widened with realization. “Yoon & Kang!” she exclaimed.

“Actually, I was just about to show you what I found during my search. Perfect timing,” Ji-hyuk chimed in, a hint of excitement seeping into his voice. “It appears right away on the internet search page.”

The screen reflected in Yi-soo’s eyes, revealing the unmistakable presence of ‘Yoon & Kang Law Firm,’ their English initials neatly condensed to form the abbreviation Y&K. How could she have forgotten the prestigious law firm that had held the mantle of South Korea’s largest for decades?

Yoon & Kang stood as the pinnacle of every aspiring lawyer’s aspirations. It was the coveted dream, the ultimate goal that bestowed an unparalleled sense of pride upon those fortunate enough to be dubbed Yoon & Kang attorneys. The allure of exorbitant salaries, influential connections, and abundant perks captivated the legal community.

Admittedly, the law firm had gained a reputation for its rigorous demands, pushing its lawyers to the brink of exhaustion, their average sleep dwindling to a meager four hours. Nevertheless, its remarkable lineage remained undisputed.

What set Yoon & Kang apart was their unique approach to talent acquisition. Unlike many companies that placed a premium on prestigious educational backgrounds, Yoon & Kang placed unwavering emphasis on skill and capability. It became the dream destination where aspiring legal minds from all law schools across the nation could courageously present their challenge.



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