“Hello, I’m the manager on duty. How may I be of assistance? Do you need any help or information? We do have customers at the moment…”
“Certainly, I’m here with a few inquiries. Could you kindly share your name, please?”
“I go by Jeong Su-bin.”
“Thank you, Ms. Jeong Su-bin. Would it be possible for us to find a spot to sit and talk? It shouldn’t take up too much of your time.” Yi-soo maintained a courteous demeanor. Su-bin appeared somewhat uncertain, as if grappling with a certain unease, yet eventually agreed and led Yi-soo.
Finding a table far from the patrons, Su-bin spoke cautiously, her voice hushed. “If you’d like something to drink…”
“No, I’m fine, thank you.”
Yi-soo took a moment to organize her thoughts, determining where to initiate the conversation. Eventually, a composed tone emanated from her plump lips. “Approximately three weeks ago, there was an incident involving a unique injury case near this cafe. It occurred diagonally across from here. Have you perhaps witnessed anything related to it?”
“Recalling something from such a while back…” Su-bin trailed off.
“It has indeed been some time,” Yi-soo agreed, “I understand. By any chance, when do you usually conclude business hours at the cafe? The posted hours indicate operations until 9 PM.”
“We continue to serve customers until 9 PM, after which we proceed with cleaning and administrative tasks… Typically, we finish closing up around 9:30.”
9:30 PM. The presumed timing of the incident rested solely on Gi Dong-yeong’s memory. A discrepancy of half an hour could potentially hold notable significance.
Possibly, Su-bin had been a witness to the scene. Yi-soo was mildly apprehensive, but her training as a prosecutor enabled her to maintain control over her emotions. With a subtle smile and a soft-spoken demeanor, she posed her question.
“Is there an exterior CCTV camera installed around this cafe?”
“Yes, there is one positioned near the entrance,” replied Su-bin.
“I understand. I’m interested in knowing the camera’s coverage area.”
As Su-bin trailed off, she absentmindedly rubbed the back of her hand, revealing her evident tension. Even this small gesture conveyed her unease.
However, something seemed amiss. Could there truly be a reason for her to be so visibly uneasy merely due to the presence of a prosecutor? Following a brief hesitation, Su-bin bit her lower lip, betraying her inner conflict.
“The camera’s coverage isn’t particularly expansive. As you can observe, this neighborhood is quite affluent, resulting in robust security measures… We haven’t had to review CCTV footage very often. Furthermore, the maximum storage duration is limited to 15 days… Given that the incident in question occurred 28 days ago, there wouldn’t be any footage remaining.”
Upon hearing Su-bin’s explanation, Yi-soo suppressed a sigh and lowered her head. It was customary for CCTV footage to be retained only for relatively short periods. Numerous pieces of evidence had to be relinquished in this manner.
Recognizing this reality, Yi-soo refrained from pressuring Su-bin any further. Most importantly, the individual before her had no discernible connection to the case and was an ordinary person.
Possibly, she’s struggling financially.
As Yi-soo pondered this possibility, Su-bin, who had been exhibiting evident hesitation, lowered her voice and whispered, “Prosecutor, however, concerning that assault incident…”
“Yes, Ms. Jeong Su-bin.”
It was evident that Su-bin wished to disclose something. Yi-soo seized this opportunity and met her gaze, attentive and receptive.
However, she refrained from applying any pressure or haste. With a countenance that exuded trust, Yi-soo’s demeanor suggested it was safe to share. A nod from Yi-soo served as an unspoken encouragement. Su-bin emitted a sigh, her fingers tracing patterns on her palm repeatedly.
“The individual who got assaulted… he was the driver, right? I’m not entirely sure about his name.”
“Yes, Gi Dong-yeong. Did you witness the incident unfold on that day?”
It felt akin to stumbling upon an oasis in a vast desert. Yi-soo subtly leaned forward, engrossed in Su-bin’s narrative.
“Actually… I did witness something. On that day, we had our cafe open a bit later than usual. A regular customer dropped by… But the scene was dimly lit and somewhat distant, making it hard for me to see clearly.”
“However, you’re aware that Gi Dong-yeong was the victim of the assault.”
“He’s a familiar face here. His resemblance to our late father is quite striking. That’s why I’d occasionally treat him to desserts or the like.”
Su-bin momentarily sealed her lips, the weight of the events from that day evident in her troubled expression. Yet, the silence was short-lived.
“I saw the man who lives in the neighboring house… He was striking the driver with a golf club. However, I couldn’t muster the courage to report it anywhere. The prospect of shuttling back and forth to the police station seemed daunting, and I worried about potential repercussions if my involvement came to light…”
“What sort of repercussions are you concerned about?”
“This building, housing the cafe… it’s registered under that man’s name. He could decide to evict us abruptly someday. This is how he acquired this space. And more importantly…”
Su-bin’s lower lip was clamped tightly, conveying her inner turmoil. ‘More importantly?’ Yi-soo’s gaze narrowed, awaiting the continuation of her account. But unlike earlier, the tale didn’t progress.