“I can’t believe this shit. I can’t believe it,” Black mutters.
That’s all he’s been saying for a while.
The large-scale incident that took place, involving over 150 suspects and victims, is the main piece on public news channels as the ‘Gogo Nightclub mass gang fight incident.’ There’s no sign that it will come off the news anytime soon.
The fact that the Guma Gang got high and started a fight seems to have drawn the public’s interest.
Every other case will be set aside while we’re busy dealing with this.
There are waist-high piles of documents stacked on the floor because they can’t all fit on our desks.
The total amount of time required in the arrest of a single suspect is, on average, 181 hours. Analysis of information, the actual arrest, the issuing of warrants, investigations to determine the validity of warrants, and so on. In other words, in order to clean up the mess of this incident, we need to put in a whole week’s worth of work hours for each and every guy that was involved.
Most of them were transported to the Gumun Police Department, but we took a fair number of them as well.
Mong-Doo suddenly starts dry-heaving. It looks like he’s starting to feel sick from having eaten nothing but cup ramen for the past few days.
The fortunate thing is that the Guma Gang is related to drugs, so their paperwork has been handed over to the narcotics unit.
I turn and stretch my stiff neck.
“Hey, kid. Have you got their statements?” the task force leader asks me, his nose still practically pressed against his computer’s screen.
I hand the statement transcriptions over towards his desk. “I’ve combined them with the statements we received from the other teams.”
The task force leader continues tapping away at his keyboard, looking like a breathing corpse. Preoccupied and seemingly having no time, his eyes are still glued to his screen.
I quietly take the statement transcriptions back. It looks like it’d be better if I read them.
“Tell me why you started fighting. Why you decided to fight and caused us all of this trouble, you sons of bitches,” Black mutters in a murderous tone.
“If it was for your organization’s honor or some shit like that… I’ll kill all of you, I swear to god,” the task force leader whispers under his breath.
Their eyes are bloodshot; they really look like monsters of some kind. People would think they were zombies, not police officers.
“About the Gogo Nightclub, it was apparently jointly operated by the Fork and Guma Gangs,” I say calmly as I look at the statement transcriptions… without stopping writing my report with my other hand, of course.
“Those Fork Gang bastards. From the look of it, they were selling alcohol, too,” Black mutters.
“The Guma Gang would transport drugs and alcohol by plane, and the Fork Gang ran the place that sold them… Well, that’s basically what’s written in the statements,” I say, summarizing the information.
“But?” the team leader presses.
“But they suspected each other of hiding a second set of financial records.”
This seems to pique everyone’s interest; all three of them turn around to look at me.
Of course, the interesting part about this is that the two gangs were suspicious of each other. After all, suspicion regarding finances by one side is something that will certainly be felt by the other.
My colleagues raise different opinions on what could have happened.
“So, that means that one of them was lying to the other.”
“Or maybe both sides were hiding financial records.”
“They operated on separate turfs, so that’s possible.”
“Their market share was significantly reduced last summer. That’s when the conflict began. It seems that there was also a problem with how the revenue was split,” I continue.
“Which side was the one that has a problem with it?” asks the task force leader.
“The Fork Gang. They were running the establishment and handling everything except the supply of the products, but they were receiving only 30% of the revenue.”
Business is best done by the experts. It’s clear that the Guma Gang, which already specialized in the illegal sale of alcohol and human trafficking, made all of this happen. It seems that the Fork Gang joined because they were offered good money for their services, but it’s still unclear how they got involved in all of this mess. The information we can get out of the small fry that we caught is limited, after all.
“Anyway, that’s the overall gist of the situation behind this case,” I say in conclusion.
“So on the surface, the gangs did this over their stake in the nightclub,” says the task force leader.
“Make sure to secure the financial records.”
“The narcotics unit is investigating them. They said they’ll leave them for us after they register them as evidence.”
The hidden financial records that caused the conflict between the gangs… just more material that needs to be analyzed.
“But if you had to say, which side won the fight?” asks Mong-Doo.
“That’s a pointless question to ask,” Black says dryly.
But Mong-Doo carries on, sounding genuinely curious. “If you go by body count, the Guma Gang came out on top. If you go by the number of people who were seriously interested, it’s the Fork Gang. The middle-ranking guys of the Guma Gang got caught, but Song Dae-Ak of the Fork Gang got away. Isn’t it the Fork Gang who won?”
“Shit, you call that a victory? The real winners are the guys in the narcotics unit. Sitting around and eating without having to go to the crime scene,” Black mutters.
“What about us?”
“Why do you need to ask that? We’re just the hard workers.”
“Hmm. I think we’ve gone past the point of working hard.”
Suddenly, the task force leader looks up. He looks refreshed; it seems that he’s just finished the report that he was writing.
“Come to think of it, what about Song Dae-Ak’s whereabouts?” he asks.
“We’re analyzing CCTV footage. We’ve already confirmed that he’s moved to the outskirts of Seoul. We’ve put out an alert for his car’s registration number,” I report.
“I see. Good work. Let’s eat something before we continue.”
We all stand up from our seats immediately, as if we were waiting for these exact words the whole time.
Clutching my growling stomach, I switch my computer’s monitor off.
The only breaks we get are for food. It’s really no different from just eating in order to survive.
Damn. I should go and check on Dal-gon again. As Song Dae-Ak instructed, he confessed to being responsible for the nightclub. And gathering the gang for the fight that took place. And the nightclub’s tax evasion schemes. Even the suspected drug-dealing and prostitution charges have become his crimes.
There’s a way to clear Dal-gon’s name, but it’s too early now. There’s still time until he faces court, so I should find a good opportunity before then.
Just as I begin to head for the cafeteria, the phone on my desk rings.
In my experience, calls that come right before meals are either pointless or extremely important.
In any case, if the phone rings, I have to answer.
I hesitantly pick up the receiver. “Violent Crime Task Force 2.”
“Narcotics unit here. Did you say you needed the financial records?” says the voice on the other end.
“You’re talking about the financial records for the Gogo Nightclub, right?”
“Yeah. I was gonna hand them to the accounting team, but then I remembered that you guys wanted them.”
We don’t absolutely need them right now.
My team members are watching me, wondering what kind of call it is.
I wave them off to tell them it’s nothing important and raise the receiver back to my ear.
This detective on the other end of the phone… I’ve heard his voice a lot somewhere.
“Come up now and take them,” he says.
“Yes, sir. I’ll be right there,” I reply.
I hang up.
“What is it?” Black asks.
“It was the narcotics unit. They told me to go and pick up the financial records,” I say.
“The financial records? They’ve finished investigating them already?”
“So it seems.”
“How did they do it so fast? Did they speed-read through all of them?”
I shrug. “Go on ahead and eat. I’ll be down there after I get the financial records.”
“Alright. Don’t take too long,” Black says.
My task force family heads down to the cafeteria, while I head upstairs to the narcotics unit.
The suspects here are probably quieter than the violent, wild suspects that we deal with… Never mind, I take that back.
I hear an ear-piercing scream as I enter.
Most of the suspects here are on drugs and are either half-crazy or totally out of it. Every single one of them has sunken eyes and dark complexions.
I can hear the intermittent sounds of people convulsing. Is this a hospital or a police department?
It’s lunchtime, so there’s only one detective here.
“I’m Go Ji-hun from Violent Crime Task Force 2. I’ve come to take the financial records,” I say to him.
“Financial records?” the detective repeats blankly, as if not knowing what I’m talking about.
An awkward silence passes, but the person I spoke to on the phone soon arrives.
As I thought, I know his face as well.
“Ah, I called him here, Detective Son,” he says.
It’s Wang Ong-Gu.
This is the detective who was in charge of the Hae-soo case. He was asked to carry out his investigation based on eyewitness testimony and ended up making me suffer through an interrogation that made no sense.
I can’t erase the image of him smiling as he watched me suffer.
Still, I didn’t think that I’d encounter him like this. The police department is big and work outside the office is frequent, so this meeting was unlikely to happen.
I look at his drooping eyes and lips that look like they’re sliding off his face. His keen, sharp expression hasn’t changed.
“Why the financial records?” asks the man named Detective Son with a frown.
“Hmm? Why do you ask?” says Wang Ong-Gu.
“It’s been barely a week since we started investigating the incident, and you’re already handing the financial records over?”
“A week is enough. We’re doing as much as we can, right?”
Wang Ong-Gu hands me the financial records with a sly smile.
I see an incredulous anger in Detective Son’s eyes as they follow the documents being passed into my hands.
“We’ll just get them back if we need them again. Our brothers say they need them, so how can we say no?” Wang Ong-Gu says, still smiling.
We’re not the first ones to ask for them, though.
Detective Son silently grabs his jacket and cigarettes and leaves. He’s probably headed for the smoking area on the roof.
The door slams shut so hard it almost breaks, causing the drug offenders lying around in the office to flinch.
Wang Ong-Gu’s expression hardens now that Detective Son has left. “What a bad temper,” he mutters.
“Excuse me, Detective Wang Ong-Gu,” I say.
Wang Ong-Gu turns and examines me.
These are the eyes that I saw in the interrogation room twenty years ago. There’s something nasty about his gaze, and yet it has a quality that grips at something inside the person he’s looking at.
Holding my breath, I stand and face him.
My body is getting all nervous. Is it because of the trauma of my past?
“Ah. You’re the youngest kid, right? The new one,” Wang Ong-Gu says.
I’m a topic of conversation at the police department. A handsome face, the track record of having caught the Spaniel, and the halo of the Gogwang Group over my head to boot.
Wang Ong-Gu extends a hand towards me in a friendly gesture. “By the way, where did you hear about me?” he asks.
He’s sharp after all. He gives the impression that he’s messy when it comes to dealing with his work, but his intuition as a detective is incredible.
I smile, showing no sign of disconcertion. It’s important to maintain consistent behavior.
“You were the detective in charge of the Hae-soo incident, weren’t you? I was a Hae-soo fan,” I say.
“Ah, that,” he says.
“The culprit denied his guilt until the very end, but you tidied up the case very nicely. It’s very inspiring,” I continue, doing my utmost to conceal my sarcasm.
Thankfully, Wang Ong-Gu doesn’t seem to have picked up anything strange. A fishy smile appears on his face.
“It was pathetic how he kept struggling to maintain his innocence despite the airtight evidence,” he says.
The definition of ‘evidence’ seems to differ to you based on who is about, doesn’t it, you bastard?
Curses that I want to shout at Wang Ong-Gu rise up in my throat, but I swallow them back down.
I can’t take this anymore.
Holding the financial records firmly, I nod my head. “I see. Thank you for the evidence documents. Enjoy your lunch.”
“Wait,” Wang Ong-Gu says suddenly.
“You went out to the night club as part of the support team, right?”
Wang Ong-Gu leans in. “Has there been any actual progress on the investigation?” he asks in a very quiet voice, as if he were discussing some kind of secret information.
“What are you talking about?”
“I mean exactly what I said. I’m asking if you’ve learned anything. The Guma Gang were involved, so I was wondering if there are going to be any more drug-related cases.”
I have a bad feeling about this. Why is this question being directed at me, the newest person in the police department?
I construct an innocent smile. Smiling is the best thing to do in a situation like this. It is a defensive move that minimizes the amount of hostility towards me.
“We’re still chasing Song Dae-Ak, but there’s been no further progress,” I say.
“Anything other than Song Dae-Ak?” Wang Ong-Gu presses.
“Forgive my ignorance. If it wouldn’t be too impertinent of me, could I ask what exactly it is you’re referring to?”
“Nah, never mind. I was just asking. Just curious, as a member of the same ‘family,’ you know.” Wang Ong-Gu glances at the clock and clicks his tongue. “Lunch time is almost over, and that goddamn Detective Son is gone all of a sudden.”
“If the others are going to return soon, I’ll stay here for you. Please go and eat,” I say.
“You’ll do that? I guess you have my thanks.”
And with that, Wang Ong-Gu leaves, not even turning around to look back at me.
Hmm. The grumbling in my stomach is no joke. But I’ll have to bear with it, since I won’t get a good opportunity like this again.
I walk over to Detective Wang’s desk and go through the stuff I can see.
But there’s nothing of interest here. It’s surprisingly tidy, and there’s nothing but work-related documents.
The pocket of the jacket draped over his chair catches my eye.
I put my hand in the pocket. I hear the rustling of the plastic material and something inside.
I take it out. It’s a bank receipt. It’s for a withdrawal of 2,000,000 won. The remaining balance is 30,000 won.
I put the receipt back in the pocket and go through Wang Ong-Gu’s bag.
Shit. It’s totally empty. Nothing’s going my way.
Just then, all of the narcotics unit detectives return from their lunch.
“Huh? Aren’t you the new guy in one of the violent crime teams?” one of them says.
“What are you doing in here?” another asks.
The detectives stare at me while picking their teeth.
Hmm. The spicy smell that has wafted into the office tells me that today’s lunch at the cafeteria is yukgaejang.1
I casually get up from the chair and dust off my hands. “I came to pick up some evidence, and Detective Wang said he was off to eat.”
“Seriously? You should hurry. Today’s yukgaejang is pretty good,” one of the detectives tells me.
My nose is pretty damn accurate.
“I think I’m probably too late,” I say with a small laugh. “Well then. I’ll take my leave.”
With that, I exit the narcotics unit.
I don’t think there’s any hope of me getting any lunch.
Clutching my grumbling stomach, I return to our office, where I’m greeted by Black’s scowling face.
“Did you have to write the financial records yourself? What took you so long?” he asks.
My fellow task force members are patting their full bellies and drinking coffee.
Wow. There’s bread and milk from the convenience store on my desk. I’m so touched.
I smile awkwardly and hold out the financial records. “I got a bit held up.”
“There was yukgaejang today, but it was really shit. You’re better off eating that,” Black says, nodding towards the items on my desk.
“And upload those records as evidence,” says the task force leader.”
“Yes sir,” I respond.
I eat my bread and sip my milk as I go through the papers.
They’re just ordinary financial records. Packed with numbers, accounts and people’s names.
Hmm? There’s a name written in small letters in the corner.
A celebrity who started out as a child actor and then gained popularity as an idol. He was popular, but everything came crashing down for him in an instant because of drunk driving and sexual assault charges.
In my previous life, he was buried in all of that stuff, so it was hard to even know how he was doing.
“To think I’d see this name here,” I mutter.
“Who?” asks the task force leader.
“DK. The former child actor.”
“He was supposed to make a return to cinemas last year, but it looks like that’s gone down the drain. There’s no more news about it now,” says Black.
“Why?” I ask.
“Hae-soo was the female lead in that movie. So they had to cancel the filming, obviously.”
Even after her death, Hae-soo’s face was occasionally seen in theaters. She was a popular actress, so there were a lot of unreleased works featuring her.
Hmm. DK and Hae-soo. This means that they were connected right up until her death, right?
“Should I try contacting DK?” I suggest. “We can see if his account records match these financial records.”
“Huh. You know his contact details?” Black asks in surprise.
“Don’t forget, our newest member is the son of a conglomerate leader,” Mong-Doo reminds him.
“Oh yeah. Wow. It must be nice, knowing celebrities’ numbers,” Black says.
I laugh. “It’s not like that.”
It really isn’t. But there’s no need to reveal everything here. I need to meet him in person, after all. I need to meet him and hear what he has to say about Hae-soo.
I go out into the corridor and call DK’s management agency.
“This is Detective Go Ji-hun from Violent Crime Task Force 2 of the Su-an Police Department. I have some questions for Mr. DK regarding the incident at the Gogo Night Club.”
1Yukgaejang is a spicy Korean beef soup.