“Did Attorney Yoon take the case?” Yi-soo inquired.
“Yeah. I’ve assembled the team. Is there a problem?” Hyun-seong responded.
“No, no issues, really,” Yi-soo replied. They weren’t officially engaged, so there shouldn’t be any professional problems. They could request a change of prosecutor, but that might lead to someone else handling the case, not her. Besides, Chief Choi wouldn’t want any complications.
The real problem was that the opposing party was standing right in front of her. On the other hand, Hyun-seong didn’t seem too surprised. He poured wine into his glass, his large hand gripping the bottle.
“You knew I’m the prosecutor in charge, didn’t you?” Yi-soo asked.
“No, I only found out from you,” he admitted.
“You don’t look very surprised. Well, it’s not a challenging case anyway.”
He filled the glass halfway, knowing the trial would be at the Southern District Court, but he didn’t expect Yi-soo to handle it. Though he hid it well, it was a bit of a surprise. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a major event to be astonished about. He took another sip of the wine, its full-bodied flavor complementing the grilled steak.
“I wonder how you’ll be in court. Even if the opponent is Prosecutor Seo, it won’t change the outcome much,” he remarked.
“I guess you think you’re going to win,” Yi-soo muttered.
“It’s pretty obvious. Even you must predict the result, Prosecutor Seo.”
His arrogance showed he hadn’t faced much defeat before, and there was no evidence to argue otherwise. Though her pride stung, she couldn’t deny Yoon Hyun-seong’s confidence.
“You’ll have to wait and see if it’s a long or short battle. Attorney Yoon won’t be making decisions alone,” Yi-soo remarked.
“Yeah, it’s a team effort. We might even have another former prosecutor join, but it’s not confirmed yet,” Hyun-seong replied.
“You can be quite cutthroat. Is this how the top law firms in South Korea operate? I’d rather fight fairly and squarely.”
“The game’s rules are known to the players,” he said with a knowing look.
Yi-soo raised an eyebrow. Although favoritism towards former officials was fading in the legal profession, it still existed in covert ways. The relationships between judges and attorneys were often close-knit. If your immediate senior was on the defense side, there would inevitably be some influence unless the presiding judge was particularly prominent. Society, after all, had its hierarchy.
Yi-soo sighed and continued cutting the steak. Despite the slightly cooled atmosphere during their conversation, the juiciness and flavor of the steak remained unchanged.
“…Anyway, there’s no point in discussing it further here. We can continue in the courtroom,” Yi-soo said.
“Agreed. Talking work after work hours ruins the appetite.”
Using a silver knife, Yi-soo cut an asparagus in half. There was no benefit in discussing professional matters in a private setting just to appease Hyun-seong’s curiosity. The food on the plate wasn’t much, so it quickly disappeared. Yi-soo finished her garnish and set down her fork and knife.
For dessert, they were offered ice cream and black coffee, but Hyun-seong declined the coffee to preserve the wine’s aroma.
“Aren’t you having any coffee? What a waste,” Yi-soo said as she polished off her meal, including his share. Although the portions weren’t huge for each dish, the fourteen-course meal filled them up. After wiping their mouths with napkins, they left their seats and headed to the counter.
“Did you enjoy the meal?” the middle-aged employee with a dignified face asked politely.
“Yes, it was delicious. Thank you,” Hyun-seong replied.
“Thank you. How would you like to pay?” the employee inquired, placing the bill on the counter.
Without even checking the receipt, Hyun-seong instinctively pulled out his wallet from his jacket’s inner pocket. Yi-soo firmly grabbed his forearm, catching his attention.
“Why? Is there something you want to say, Seo Yi-soo?” he asked.
“Let me pay today. It feels a bit awkward to always be treated. I can afford it too,” Yi-soo insisted.
She took out a black wallet from her handbag. It was the kind of money one usually reserved for special occasions, but being indebted to someone wasn’t her style. Before handing over her card, she glanced casually at the receipt inside the bill. As soon as she saw the amount, her pupils slightly trembled.
Why is a single bottle of wine so expensive…?
The wine alone cost nearly as much as their entire two-person meal. The unexpected amount gave Yi-soo pause; it was almost equivalent to her monthly salary. Spending such a sum in just two hours of dining felt like a heavy burden.