Go Dae-man lets out a heavy sigh.
“Sir? Are you alright?” his secretary asks.
Go Dae-man can’t understand why Ji-hun would make things so difficult when it would be so easy to join the company.
To put it bluntly, it would be a simple task for Go Dae-man to set up a desk for his son at the office. But wouldn’t the public servant examination be a completely different hurdle?
It wouldn’t sit well with him to oppose the first thing that his son has chosen of his own will, but at the same time, he finds it difficult to approve of this choice.
Go Dae-man manages to catch himself before he gets completely lost in his thoughts.
“Send a message to Chief Kim,” he says to his secretary.
‘If that is what you want to do, then challenge yourself and do it. But you will have to achieve it on your own. This is your punishment for disappointing your father, and at the same time, it is an opportunity for you to make a leap forward. You have managed to come to your senses, but if you are defeated right away, then there is nothing to be done about that,’ Go Dae-man thinks.
He wants to test the will that his disappointing son has shown and see how strong it really is.
“Tell Chief Kim that he is forbidden from helping Ji-hun, so he can go through this alone,” he orders.
With that, he shuts his mouth tight, as if to conceal the state of chaos that his mind is currently in.
“I am Chief Kim,” says the man from the hospital room, who is of about the same age as Go Ji-hun.
“I know. I heard someone say your name earlier,” I say.
“Do you really not remember me?”
“No, I do not.”
“It seems that way. You are suddenly speaking to me in jondaemal.”
TLN: In Korean, the way verbs are conjugated and sentences are ended changes the tone of speech and conveys varying degrees of politeness. The informal tone is bandaemal, which is used when speaking to friends, and the formal tone is jondaemal, which is used when speaking to one’s elders or people that one isn’t close with. In this conversation, both Chief Kim and the main character are speaking in jondaemal.
Tears appear in Chief Kim’s eyes again. It’s embarrassing, but it’s not a bad thing. There has to be at least one person who reacts like this when someone comes back to life from the brink of death.
“My mother works as a housemaid for the main family. I grew up with you, Young Master,” Chief Kim says.
“Our family’s situation was not good, but the president took us in. He even paid my school fees.”
President Go Dae-man is a curt man, but he has a kind side to him as well. It seems that the image of him created by the media isn’t completely fake.
“I now work for the Gogwang Group’s secretarial section, and I am in charge of your care,” Chief Kim continues.
“Is there any separate work that I need to do?” I ask.
“No. I am responsible for your protection, transport, and managing your schedule.”
I can understand that. He’s the friend that the president put at the introverted Go Ji-hun’s side from a young age… though there’s too much of a difference in status to say they were friends.
In any case, he’s one of the few people who felt genuinely sad over Go Ji-hun’s death.
“So, you mean if I need anything, I can just ask you?” I ask.
“That is correct, but I’m afraid you must exercise some self-control for the time being,” Chief Kim says.
“What do you mean?”
“The president has confiscated your credit card.”
Shit. That’s a problem. It’s like having cake in front of me and not being able to eat it. Maybe I should have been more submissive when I was talking to him.
Well, there’s no helping it now. I’m grateful just to be alive again, and there are plenty of ways to earn money.
“Give me my phone,” I say to Chief Kim.
“Phone? You don’t have a phone, Young Master,” Chief Kim says.
“Because you never go outside.”
“Then lend me yours, Chief Kim.”
I take his flip-top phone, press the Nater1 button in the middle and search: ‘Hae-soo murder case.’
Timeline-wise, it should have been about a year since Hae-soo’s death.
Will something have changed now that I’m not involved? Or is there another me that still exists?
“Park Han-dong?” I say blankly.
Hae-soo is still dead, and the only thing different is the perpetrator’s name.
Other than the fact that he’s a jjajangmyeon3 delivery man instead of a pizza delivery man, the details are all the same. The accepted evidence, the motive suspected by the police, and the fact that the perpetrator claimed to be innocent right until the very end.
It’s evident that this person was imprisoned on a false charge as well.
“Shit. What should I do?” I mutter to myself.
My feelings are mixed. I get the feeling that I’ve gained freedom by taking it from someone else who has taken my place.
I’ve gained a new life, but someone else has lost theirs.
The real culprit is so obviously out there, so how could this happen?
“Is something the matter?” Chief Kim asks, a worried look on his face.
I erase the phone’s search history and hand it back to him.
“Chief Kim,” I say.
“Do you smoke, by any chance?”
“I am a smoker. But you are not, Young Master.”
“I am starting from today. Let’s go to the rooftop.”
With Chief Kim following me, I look for the rooftop. I can see a lobby down a corridor on the way up.
Maybe because this is the VIP floor, the lobby is decorated like a hotel lobby. Marble floor, a sparkling chandelier, a large television screen hanging on the wall.
Maybe everyone’s rooms are more comfortable than this place; there’s nobody here. This is an insanely luxurious hospital.
I put a cigarette in my mouth, and Chief Kim lights it for me.
Has anyone other than my prison family ever treated me like this? No. I’m an orphan and spent more than half my life in prison, after all.
“Thank you,” I say.
“When did you start smoking? It doesn’t seem like it’s your first time,” says Chief Kim.
I give an awkward smile and stare at the Seoul nightscape, which I haven’t seen for twenty years. The bright, moving lights are beautiful.
This is what the outside world looked like when I was locked in a prison cell. It’s something that Park Han-dong will never see again. Only death awaits him after he serves his twenty-year sentence, after all.
A tear runs down my cheek from the pity and sadness I feel for him.
“Are you alright?” Chief Kim asks me, lightly grabbing my sleeve.
It seems that he feels uneasy to see someone who’s already tried to commit suicide once crying next to a rooftop railing.
I rub my painful noise. “I’m just… in a bit of a strange mood,” I say.
The night sky is immaculately clear, and my mind blurs like the smoke of my cigarette.
I don’t know what his face looks like, but I know exactly what kind of life is living now and how he must be feeling. I’m sure he wants to die. I’m sure he sees the whole world as his enemy.
I’m sure of what I need to do now. I have no choice but to become a cop and catch the real culprit.
This is for both my sake and the sake of the man named Park Han-dong.
“Chief. Is there any money that I’ve hidden away?” I ask.
“You do have some checks. You didn’t use them even after they were given to you, after all,” Chief Kim says.
Thank God. I don’t know how much I have, but it seems that I can put out the fires that need to be extinguished right away.
I mean, I don’t actually need money or anything. As I am now, I can do anything.
“Maybe I need to find an educational institution first,” I murmur to myself.
“An educational facility? What for?” Chief Kim asks, confused.
“A public servant training institution and a gym.”
“Why a gym?”
It’s too long to explain, and I can’t be bothered making him understand.
I put out my cigarette, open the door, and descend from the rooftop into the completely empty lobby.
A newsflash is playing on the TV. Its contents sound familiar.
“Next report. An investigation into the sexual assault incidents that have been occurring all over Su-an District has revealed that all of them have been perpetrated by a single suspect,” the news reporter says.
“Huh,” I murmur.
“What is it?” asks Chief Kim.
“We will hear more details from the head of the Su-an Police Department at a briefing of the investigation,” the reporter continues.
The Su-an Spaniel case2.
This was an incident that turned the whole of Korea upside down. Now that I think about it, it happened around this time.
As if possessed, I sit down on the sofa.
“Shh. Be quiet for a moment.”
The head of the Su-an Police Department comes out and grabs the microphone.
It was such a prominent case that all of the people in charge were replaced. It’s unfortunate, but the same will probably happen to this man, too.
The perpetrator assaulted thirty victims before they caught him, after all.
“Testing of DNA samples taken from the twenty victims from all over Seoul, the majority of whom are from Su-an District, has shown that they all match. These results confirm that they are all from the same perpetrator,” the police department head says.
“God. They’re still so far off,” I say.
“I’m sorry?” says Chief Kim.
“I mean there have been twenty victims and all they’ve shown is that they were all attacked by the same criminal. They’re still so far off.”
I still remember the details.
Two of the victims were a pair of underage sisters. The older one told the guy she’d do anything in order to protect her younger sister, but in the end, the fiend assaulted both of them.
At the time, the police were aware that a serial sexual assault case was going on, as they’d spent several years collecting the same person’s DNA. It’s just that up until then, the National Forensic Service didn’t have a database to compare the samples against.
Upon learning this, the sisters’ father was enraged and spread a photograph of his daughters to the newspapers. Their identifying features were censored, but the image of their bruised and swollen faces after the abuse they had suffered at the hands of the perpetrator shocked the public, and the police were unable to avoid public backlash.
The impact of this single image engulfed all of Korea.
That’s why they’re in a hurry to prepare these briefings, too – to maintain the police’s public image as best as they can.
I was busy cursing the police myself at the time, but looking at it now, I can’t really blame them. What could they do when this was the level of technology they had to work with?
Oh yeah, the perpetrator was caught by pure coincidence, too. He got arrested after he got drunk and sexually harassed an employee in a store, I think?
“As such, the Su-an Police Department and the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency will form a new investigation force centered around a regional investigation unit, and we officially name this case the ‘Su-an Spaniel Case,'” the police department head says.
It’s no use. This is the first of two times that the investigation headquarters will change.
“The perpetrator mainly targets women who live alone, breaking into their residences at night to commit his crimes. He is also demonstrating great caution,” he continues.
This is the crucial part that made the perpetrator so hard for the police to catch.
A hat, man, and gloves were a given; he even filled the gaps in the soles of his shoes with glue. The police couldn’t even tell what kind of shoes he wore.
On top of that, he was clever enough to make his victims wash themselves after committing his crimes. He was careful enough to collect every towel he used to wipe away any evidence. The little DNA the police did manage to scrape together couldn’t be compared against anything.
“Please secure your homes at night, and report any suspicious individual to the police. Thank you for your cooperation,” the police department head says.
I don’t remember exactly how long it was, but there was a period in which the criminal was inactive. About a month, maybe?
At the peak of the public’s caution and alert towards him, he withdrew and stopped showing himself.
“A portrait of the suspect has been created based on descriptions given by the victims. We at the police department ask for the attention and support of the public at this time. We are also offering a reward of 100,000,000 won to the individual who provides the information leading to the suspect’s arrest,” the police department head concludes.
The sketch of the suspect appears on the screen… with his hat and mask and all, so only his eyes are visible. I remember the police getting a lot of shit for this.
“How the hell can they identify him with that?” mutters none other than Chief Kim.
Double eyelids, medium build, 170-180cm tall, mid-thirties. Finding him with that description would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. I could go outside right now and grab some random guy, and he’d fit that description.
“Chief Kim,” I say.
“Did I ever like exercise?”
“I can’t say that you’ve ever done anything that resembles exercise.”
“Not even a little?”
“Not even a little.”
Hmm. That’s a bit of a shame. Go Ji-hun was rather tall, after all. Still, he holed himself up in his room, so I suppose he wouldn’t get any exercise that way.
I start rubbing my long legs. There’s at least some muscle on them.
“Is there something wrong with your body?” Chief Kim asks.
“Chief Kim. Please go back home and check how many funds I have,” I request.
“Is this related to the training facility you mentioned earlier?”
“Mmm. Among other things. I need to get some exercise, and there’s someone I need to catch.”
“Are you referring to the second-born Young Master? Go Min-guk?”
What is he on about, all of a sudden?
Go Ji-hun had two brothers. The first-born, Go Dae-han, and the second-born, Go Min-guk.
As the powerful heir to the Gogwang Group, he had a crazy amount of influence on society and the economy.
In contrast, the second-born son of the conglomerate had a carefree image and was running a single affiliate company.
Both are Korean in name but have American citizenship.
“Huh? Am I wrong?” Chief Kim says.
“Why would I want to catch my older brother?” I ask.
“Because things are so damn crazy between you,” Chief Kim says, and then he puts a hand over his mouth, seemingly shocked by the words that just came out of it.
“Are they really that crazy?”
“Looking at it this way, having amnesia doesn’t seem to be a completely bad thing.”
“Given that I’ve basically come back from the dead and still haven’t seen anything of him, I’m starting to get an idea.”
“They are both abroad for business. They will not return until next week.”
They’re away for business, but there’s no effort to contact me personally. No matter how you look at it, my relationship with them is worse than being strangers.
The press conference has finished, and the news anchor is making a concluding remark.
“… I hope that the ‘unfruitful’ police investigation makes some progress and the criminal is caught as soon as possible,” she says.
Why do I get the feeling that she’s being careful to not use the word ‘incompetent?’ Ugh, I would be fuming if I were that police department head.
“By the way, do you think the Spaniel will be caught, Chief Kim?” I ask.
“The one who catches him will be promoted immediately, won’t he? Every police officer will have their eyes peeled,” he says.
It’s 100,000,000 won, after all! Money is money, but it’d also guarantee extra points on the police officer exam.
“You’re right. Catching the criminal would be a huge deal,” I agree with a wide smile.
1‘Nater’ is a spoof of ‘Naver,’ a service that just about every Korean uses, like Google.
2‘Spaniel’ is a Korean term for serial rapist.
3Jjajangmyeon is a Korean-style Chinese noodle dish.