Chapter 62.2

“This might be a bit spicy. I added cheese to balance it out… I’m not sure if it suits your taste, Prosecutor. I also got some sweet potato fries and kimbap, so feel free to enjoy them alongside,” Se-young explained as he arranged disposable containers on a low table.

“Thank you. You went through all this trouble to buy these. We could have gone out to eat together…” Yi-soo expressed her gratitude.

“I bought it because I wanted to eat it. I’ve been craving tteokbokki since last night,” Se-young confessed with a smile as he entered the inner office.

Yi-soo used wooden chopsticks to pick up a long piece of rice cake and savored the pleasantly creamy and spicy flavor lingering on his taste buds. It was truly delicious.

“Oh, I should have made it a bit less spicy… It was a good idea to get Coolpis. Isn’t it too spicy for you, Prosecutor?” Se-young inquired with concern.

“No, I really like spicy food. By the way… what’s really going on?” Yi-soo questioned, cutting to the heart of the matter.

“Oh, right. I came because I wanted to tell you in person. I should share it with you before lunchtime ends,” Se-young explained, sipping a peach-flavored drink from a paper cup before releasing a short sigh. He then scratched his cheek with the tip of his index finger.

The warmth and playfulness that had filled his face momentarily faded, and he looked at Yi-soo with a slightly ambiguous expression, as if contemplating how to initiate the upcoming conversation.

“Well… Prosecutor, about Baek Su-jeong…”

“Yes.”

“It seems like we found the suspect.”

At Inspector Ahn’s words, Yi-soo gently laid down the chopsticks she was holding. The revelation that they had identified a suspect came as unexpected news, causing her to fixate her gaze on Se-young, silently urging him to continue.

If she were to speak first, the tremor in her voice might be noticeable at the end.

“After it changed from a suicide to a murder case, we requested assistance from the National Forensic Service. Ms. Baek Su-jeong… I mean, focusing on the victim’s bedding. Just in case DNA could be found.”

Silence lingered in the room as Yi-soo absorbed this information, and the weight of anticipation hung in the air as she awaited further details.

“To be honest, we didn’t have much hope, but fortunately, a small amount of DNA was detected on the pillow. It seems that the perpetrator unintentionally secreted saliva during the process of suffocating the victim.”

Thump, thump. Her heart raced, and unconsciously, Yi-soo placed her palm on her chest. The revelation unfolded before her— the culprit who had murdered her sister. Was he arrested?

Se-young continued, absently stroking his earlobe as he delivered the unsettling information. 

“We immediately entered the perpetrator’s DNA into the criminal DNA database and ran it. Surprisingly, it matched with only one person’s information. He served 4 years and 1 month for a special assault charge in 2013. His name is Kim Jung-hoon. He is 34 years old, currently located in Busan… although this is not confirmed.”

He retrieved a slim file from his bag and handed it to Yi-soo, containing documents detailing Kim Jung-hoon’s personal information.

Flipping through the pages and absorbing the contents, Yi-soo spoke with a heavy tone.

“Still… they haven’t located the suspect?”

“No. There’s no recent health insurance records or credit card usage. We even checked immigration records in case he fled overseas, but it seems he’s still in Korea.”

This man… to my sister. The weight of the revelation settled heavily on Yi-soo’s shoulders. Kim Jung-hoon appeared to have no apparent connection with Su-jeong. Rather than having a specific link, it seemed more likely to be a hired murder.

To conceal her instinctively trembling fingertips, Yi-soo clenched her fist. After taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling, she seemed somewhat calmer. Shortly thereafter, Se-young placed a photo on top of the file.

“This is a scene captured by the CCTV behind Shin Min-yeol’s villa. Despite Choi Juwon being a strong suspect, the case almost closed. However, after hearing your words, Prosecutor, we conducted additional investigations.”

Inspector Ahn laid down a photo capturing the CCTV footage—an individual adorned in a black cap, black mask, leather gloves, and an outer garment. The image depicted a man tightly wrapped in clothes descending from the building using a rope.

“That’s why it wasn’t caught on the entrance CCTV. You can see he’s fully armed to leave no traces—a real pro among pros. I never imagined he would escape the scene like this.”

“It was a meticulously planned murder. The suspect is a man very familiar with this type of crime…”

“Yes, we suspect that the perpetrators of both cases are the same. The CCTV footage is a bit blurry, but Kim Jung-hoon’s physique is similar. There’s a high possibility that he escaped like this even after murdering Baek Su-jeong.”

“…Who on earth hired him?”

Her head throbbed. Nevertheless, it was a relief to have a clear lead. Yi-soo, who had been pressing her forehead, tightly held Se-young’s hands. 

“Thank you so much, Inspector Ahn. Thank you…”

“No need to thank me. This involves a prosecutor’s family, and it’s crucial to mete out proper consequences to those who underestimate the law and law enforcement.”

“Indeed… I hope justice prevails swiftly.”

Viewing the world through the lens of a prosecutor, a role demanding impartial judgment based on evidence, Yi-soo cast her gaze upon the families of victims. Yet, occupying that position intensified her empathy for the bereaved, amplifying the pain. Inspector Ahn, who had been gently clasping Yi-soo’s hand with reassuring smiles, seemed to recall a pertinent detail and spoke up.

“Oh, and regarding the issue you brought up a few days ago… I’ve assembled a team from the strong-arms division. We’ll commence the investigation shortly, so rest assured. It will be conducted with the utmost confidentiality.”

“Yes, I appreciate your help.”

The two exchanged soft gazes, a bond forged on unwavering trust. It was a relationship built on a foundation of profound confidence. Yi-soo deliberately lifted the corners of her eyes. Instead of succumbing to welling tears, she chose to release laughter. Lying down in that place, saturated with frustration, would change nothing.

Now was the moment to stride forward with optimism and seek out the guiding light.

***

In an office adorned with warm-colored interiors, a man stood with his back to tightly drawn curtains. His rigid posture conveyed a sense of formality as he reported to the individual seated at the desk. Despite the inviting ambiance of the room, his demeanor exuded an obscure aura.

“…The investigation results have confirmed a match between Attorney Yoon Hyun-seong and Prosecutor Seo Yi-soo. The vehicle number aligns as well; it appears to be a subordinate vehicle.”

“Is that so? How much does Prosecutor Yi-soo know, in your estimation?”

“While it’s uncertain whether she possesses the USB, as it wasn’t found on Baek Su-jeong or Shin Min-yeol, it seems to have passed on to her. Given her journey to Yangpyeong, there’s a high likelihood she has reviewed its contents.”

The listener raised his thin glasses and handed over the documents he had been scrutinizing. As the man awaited a response, he anxiously moved his fingertips behind him.

“I apologize; I should have been aware beforehand that Baek Su-jeong and Prosecutor Seo Yi-soo were family. I was unaware that they were adopted.”

“It’s alright, Director Kwak.”

“…I’m sorry.”

“Well, what can you do? The law dictates that we can’t change the past.”

The man, who had gently set down his fountain pen, offered a smile as he looked at the other person. Despite the pleasant curve of his lips, the eyes behind the glasses retained a cold and inscrutable demeanor, sending an involuntary shiver down the spine.

“…I’ll investigate whether Prosecutor Seo Yi-soo deliberately approached Attorney Yoon.”

At that precise moment, a vibration resonated from an unseen source.

“They say even a tiger will come if you talk about it… Go and see, Director.”

“…Yes.”

With palpable tension, the door closed. The man seated at the desk, who had been absorbed in his phone, tilted his head.

On the screen, a concise text message flashed:

[Come up. Let’s have a conversation.]

The man, wearing an amused smile, delicately wiped his black nameplate. ‘Attorney Kang Jin-won’—the elegantly engraved silver letters shimmered in the ambient office lighting.


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