Chapter 8 – Can She Be Alive?
It wasn’t difficult to find the taxi with a number plate 30 Ga 12** at all.
The taxi driver recalled Hye-yeon when he was shown the printed pictures of CCTV footage. He seemed more convinced by the bundle of banknotes that was pushed in front of him. Anyway, he called Hye-yeon Jin an impressive beauty. Well, at least that part, he had it right.
The problem was what came after. Hye-yeon had gotten off at a busy subway station. What with about 100 hotels and an equal number, if not more, residences in the vicinity, this station was hustling and bustling with foreign tourists and commuters alike. Jin-wook had his underlings investigate by questioning the nearby stores and subway stations. Clearly, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
After the investigation turned up with decisive naught, Jin-wook wasn’t surprised. This was an expected result. Soon, he started deliberating about other possible means of solving this conundrum. However, after hitting a lot of dead ends, what got him thinking eventually, was Hye-yeon’s death.
The fact that the dead woman was alive meant that the case hadn’t been handled properly at the time. There had to be loopholes in the flawless story that was played before them. He was certain, now more than ever, that this ‘death’ was not as simple as it seemed. And there was only one way of finding out…
Jin-wook was no ordinary assistant. Neither was his background ordinary. In his days before Tae-jun, he was a fierce detective whose forte was finding people. No matter what, no matter where; dead or alive, if a person wanted to be found, Detective Jeong would never turn up empty-handed. His superior acumen had earned him the sobriquet ‘cadaver dog’.
Jin-wook was an astute mind. He was someone who knew the importance of cultivating resources, and he’d diligently done just that. Over the past 20 years, he had built an enviable network of police and people alike. And now that he worked for the Seoin family, this network was a very handy asset. Thus, through his acquaintance, he was able to be introduced to the officer who’s in-charge of Hye-yeon’s case back then.
However, the officer had been transferred to Paju. Without delay, Jin-wook made an appointment to ask him about the incident.
On the said day, Jin-wook arrived at the meeting place well before the scheduled time. As a detective, he had picked up certain habits along the way. He’d always made meticulous notes to enable him to have the bird’s eye view of the case in hand. And given his track record, this little habit had indeed brought him a long way. As he waited for the officer to arrive, he took out his usual notebook and started to recount the events surrounding Hye-yeon’s disappearance.
At that time, Tae-jun was on a two-week business trip to Europe. He was usually accompanied by his manager Mr. Lee, but Jin-wook was the one taking care this time as the continent was a little chaotic due to the terrorist attacks on people of color.
It was on the second day of Tae-jun’s business trip that Hye-yeon disappeared. She hadn’t returned home since the time she had stepped out in the morning. The CCTV installed outside the house only showed her getting into a taxi in a hurry.
By the time Tae-jun realized that she had vanished, it’s the fifth day of his business trip. Her cell phone was off, and there was no sign of her whatsoever. He’d immediately contacted her father. Mr. Jin said he would persuade his daughter as she seemed to be fickle for a moment, but Tae-jun didn’t hear from him since.
Throughout his stay in Europe, Tae-jun was a bundle of nerves. He was on the verge of losing his sh*t, especially when his stay was extended due to airport closure in the wake of the fresh terrorist attacks.
To Jin-wook, that time when he had to watch Tae-jun, was no different from walking on thin ice.
No sooner had their plane landed in Korea than they headed directly to President Myung-Je Jin’s house. Tae-jun issued a gruesome warning in the car.
[I won’t let her out of the house for the time being.]
However, what greeted him was a Hye-Seong Jin in mourning and not Hye-yeon, who’s supposed to be waiting for Tae-jun at the residence of CEO Myung-je Jin. Tae-jun was shocked but said nothing. Yet, something hard to describe seemed to have been broken in him. Recollecting that very moment, Jin-wook rubbed his rough jaw.
“Excuse me, are you Jin-wook Jeong?”
A man with a stocky build approached him. He was the person who Jin-wook was supposed to meet today.
Jin-wook rose from his seat and held out his hand for a handshake.
“Nice to meet you. I heard you were in Jinseong city at the time.”
The man remembered Hye-yeon Jin’s case even though it had been quite some time. They ordered coffee and went straight to the main point.
“I’ll be blunt. Can Hye-yeon be alive?” Can she be alive all this time?
“What do you mean?”
“I’m asking about the probability that the body of the autopsy report was not Hye-yeon’s.”
“Haha, this is so. I’ve never had such a question in my police career.”
If a dead woman was alive, it would mean that she wasn’t dead in the first place, Jin-wook thought.
It was the first time that the identity of the dead body was questioned. The death report could only be completed if the body examination report was required. What Jin-wook doubted was its authenticity. But the other man waved his hand.
“It can never be.” He outrightly rejected the theory. He was confident that there were no errors. “The DNA and the fingerprints were a perfect match. Also, the bereaved family confirmed that the body was Hye-yeon’s.”
The man’s words were no different to those officials who’d conducted the preliminary investigations. She was found in the river with no particular external injury. After identification, the body was handed over to the family. There was nothing strange about her death, no signs of struggle or robbery.
Who the hell is the woman walking around alive, what is going on now?! Jin-wook was confused.
Jin-wook could only scratch his wry ballpoint pen on his notebook as if it was to be blamed. The man who had been talking for a long time said nothing that was not already known. Then, he suddenly lowered his voice—he looked to have come to a decision.
“The truth is… to be honest, I don’t know if I can say this. But… there was… something strange about this case,” he said, cautiously.
“What is it?” Jin-wook couldn’t mask his eagerness.
“The body was supposedly drowned, but her lungs were not filled with water.”
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