Chapter 1: Do You Believe In Love? (1)
… … …
“Cha Jiyeon! You call yourself a prosecutor?”
Department Chief Lee’s voice boomed in front of her.
She disliked it when people tried to keep her down, so Jiyeon answered boldly.
“Yes. I am a prosecutor.”
“Not that I see. You’re not one.”
She wanted to push her ID card in his face.
The government of the Republic of Korea recognized her as a prosecutor. Who was he to deny that?
“Do you know why? The prosecution is an organization. A prosecutor has to keep their mouth shut for the organization!”
“I open my mouth for the organization too.”
He was on the verge of striking Jiyeon. A sexual harassment scandal had swept the prosecutors’ office, plunging it into chaos. Jiyeon was the witness, and her superior, Department Chief Lee Docheol, was the perpetrator.
She saw with her own eyes the incident at last week’s dinner party.
There the department chief groped the rear of a young woman who recently became a prosecutor. The terrified woman protested, but he gave a drunken laugh and continued his advances on her. She was new to being a prosecutor, and the woman felt helpless about her situation until Jiyeon officially brought up the issue.
‘I saw it with my own eyes.’
It wasn’t easy convincing people to believe her. Lee said he couldn’t remember the incident, and the Personnel Department kept trying to cover up the problem. It was such a hopeless fight that even a junior prosecutor tried to stop her. But it was a fight that had to be won. It wasn’t just a problem for one female prosecutor. Jiyeon also felt violated by men’s leery gazes while working at the prosecutors’ office.
“Pretty prosecutor, huh?”
She’d heard about these kind of shameless people before. Even in law, even in the position of prosecutor, how many were subject to harassment just because they were women?
She had to fight this injustice.
Jiyeon took the situation in her own hands when she posted the name of the perpetrator on the bulletin board. The entire office was thrown into turmoil when the media picked it up. The Supreme Prosecutor’s Office hurried to set up its own investigation to find out the truth, and Lee, who had been riding a successful career, was facing the biggest setback of his life. He began to intimidate and threaten Jiyeon.
“I’m not the only one suffering here! What about the reputation of the prosecution! You’re going to take back the allegations…”
“Well, I don’t intend to retract my statement. It was you who shamed the prosecution.”
“It’s a problem than can be dealt with internally!”
“Is that so? If you had apologized from the beginning, would this have happened?”
“That is inconsequential… How can you not look sorry?”
“I’m not sorry.”
She meant it. Jiyeon was never sorry for these people. Never to those who use their power and status to trample on the underprivileged. She was not a prosecutor to look pretty for them; she was a prosecutor to punish them.
“You think I’ll let this slide?”
Jiyeon did not shrink one bit. She was speaking the truth. If she was afraid of this, she wouldn’t have become a prosecutor in the first place.
“If you’re finished, I’ll take my leave.”
She bowed politely and left the department chief’s office. She felt his glare like a dagger on her back.
… … …
On her way home from work she stopped by a local bar. She was a regular customer there, and the bushy-bearded owner would serve her a glass of draft beer and half a chicken for 10,000 won. That was tonight’s meal. The TV on the wall blared out the evening news.
“Eunseong Semiconductors’ record-high performance led the nation’s export growth this quarter. The company will reward its employees a record bonus…”
As Jiyeon watched the news anchor she drank deeply from her beer glass then lamented to herself.
“Hmph. Being a Eunseong employee would be nice. A record bonus.”
“Don’t prosecutors get bonuses?”
The owner, who heard Jiyeon, asked.
“Huh…what’s a bonus? The name of a chicken?”
Jiyeon grumbled. For her, having a bonus was like having a boyfriend. It was what others had but she didn’t. The bonus was due to the nature of her job, but it was tragic to not have a boyfriend.
Still, she couldn’t bring herself to have a romance.
There was no time, no chance to meet, and men who sometimes met her for drinks felt intimidated by her job as a prosecutor. Moreover, a terrible trauma nine years ago caused her to distrust men and close the door to her heart. When she arrived home to her apartment she took a shower, then rolled on to her bed to watch a drama.
Bzzzzt – She almost screamed at the buzzing of her cellphone.
She was wound up too tight. It was her big brother. When she was younger he was her strong black knight who defended her from the other bullies. Her brother Ji-uk wasn’t as smart as Jiyeon, but he was well-liked. It was after their parents’ divorce when he started falling down the wrong path. When he was in high school he always got into trouble because of fighting, drinking, and smoking. He said that he would not go to college and would just enter into his senior’s loan shark business.
Since then her brother’s life became twisted.
Jiyeon tried to set him on the right path in any way, but it wasn’t easy. He was a troublemaker, and he had to be taken care of like a younger brother or son. She looked at her brother’s message.
Jiyeon, there’s something strange, please call me.
Her brother’s voice had always been her support, yet after Jiyeon became a prosecutor he would often call with impure intentions. Mostly, he was attempting pass off his work as the “prosecutor’s brother.” He would do odd jobs that sometimes bordered on criminality. When it was something serious he would leave a message like this instead of making a phone call.
There’s something I need you to see.
I have someone to introduce you to.
There’s an item that’s going to be awesome and I need your help…
It was not something she should be involved with as a prosecutor. At one time, he sold Jiyeon’s name to a prostitution business owner. Jiyeon, normally a compassionate person, was furious.
“You want to see me take off my clothes? For goodness’ sake, wake up. Stop hanging around with shady people. Just work honestly and make money. Sell my name again and I’ll be angry with you!”
They had fallen out of touch after that. She wanted to make up for it… Jiyeon sighed and put her phone down. She fell asleep listening to the Bulletproof boy band, soothing her tired heart. Had her whole day really exhausted her that much?
Morning was waiting at the end of her sweet sleep.
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