The footsteps that used to head to the police station every day without a plan came to an abrupt halt. It was time to find a different approach.
Following the suggestion of the nun, who recommended this place with a compassionate face, saying it might be ‘God’s will,’ she took pictures of the flyers with her camera and read them aloud using a voice app.
That’s how she ended up here.
“Well then, shall we start with the neighbors? Recall everything you remember.”
Seoryeong furrowed her eyebrows.
“Have you ever thought that your husband and the neighbors might be in cahoots?”
It was indeed a new approach. The police never told her this possible scenario.
Barely in her early twenties, perhaps. Seoryeong thought about the woman before her.
She coughed and habitually corrected her focus on the topic. She smelled like cookies and cigarettes mingled.
Is she with short hair? Seoryeong squinted her eyes. Clearly, even at this moment, her vision was gradually getting clearer.
“They seem to have moved systematically under instructions. Whether it’s a multi-level or a point organization, they intended to exploit you to the core. But there must be someone who gave all these orders. Who the heck is it…”
The sound of the keyboard rang. She remembered a few names, schools, and companies about the neighbors, as those were the only things that came to mind. She randomly spilled out what she could recall.
Since visual information couldn’t be obtained with her eyes, Seoryeong had to remember more carefully from other aspects. Things like footsteps, smells, voices, and even trivial small talk.
Utilizing all her memories, Seoryeong handed over insignificant pieces of information to the employee.
“Well, let’s start investigating the neighbors then…!”
Exactly a week later, she received a phone call.
“Who the hell are you living with?”
It was a completely furious voice.
“Oh young woman…! Watch your dialect! “
There was a tumultuous disagreement across the receiver.
* * *
The sofa was still as uncomfortable as ever.
Even after a week, the employee in front of her still had the unmistakable smell of cigarettes and cookies.
Beside her was a middle-aged man, presumably, clenching his fist with a serious expression, observing Seoryeong.
The young employee seemed to be having a hard time lately, and the middle-aged man’s ample body and bald head hinted at his age.
Seoryeong can now see better.
If everything used to be as blurred as objects seen through mist, now her vision had recovered to the level of an unwiped glass window.
“Hello, Miss Han Seoryeong.”
The man uncrossed his arms and greeted her.
“I’m Jeong Pilgyu, the team leader of the Blast SA Information Analysis Team.”
Blast…? Did this little errand center have a name like that?
Seeing Seoryeong’s furrowed brows, the employee continued, “To ordinary people, it might sound unfamiliar, but Blast is a private military company. We have government authorization to provide military services in overseas conflict zones.”
For Seoryeong, who had worked as a care worker since she was 20, this was like a story from a distant land.
To Seoryeong, who had been working as a caregiver since her twenties, this was like a story from a distant land.
“This errand center here is a small business run by our team, and usually, when we train employees or, especially when we need to enforce discipline, they end up here.”
The gruff man stared at the employee, He Channa.
“Let’s keep the introductions brief―Miss Han Seoryeong.”
“I’m sorry, but it seems that we cannot take on the request you’ve made.”
With a polite yet firm refusal, Seoryeong remained silent for the time being.
Ironically, He Channa looked anxious too.
“This man!” she exclaimed, sharply raising her voice as she turned her head rebelliously.
He Channa took a deep breath and stared at Seoryeong with fiery, burning eyes.
“Most of the neighbors’ names were fake…! Even the schools and companies were all made up! But not all of it was fake. This bastard probably didn’t even know that I would dig into the neighbors’ personal information.”
“Hey, hey, He Channa, ease up on the dialect!”
Despite Jeong Pilgyu hitting the back of her head, her spirit showed no sign of diminishing.
“There was a bachelor raising a dog, you know? Even if all the others were fake, the dog’s name was real…!”
Seoryeong raised her eyebrows at the unexpected clue.
“When I checked the registered name of the dog at the animal hospital, it turns out it’s not even 1.5 hours away from our South Korean sister’s house. The guardian’s name in the medical records was different. 67-year-old Kim Yeonmi.”
“So I pulled out Kim Yeonmi’s credit card receipts for the past five years, and oh―we were truly naive!”
As she exclaimed sharply, she stopped speaking and took a deep breath.
“This is what came out.”
At the same time, He Channa nudged the man with her elbow.
Then, with an expression as if warning her to not go crazy with herNorth Korean dialect, Jeong Pilgyu reluctantly handed her a pad.
However, Seoryeong didn’t react, and Channa, realizing this, began reading the receipt details aloud.
“National Intelligence Service Grade 9 Exam Questions, National Intelligence Service NIAT Basic, Applied, and Advanced Courses, National Intelligence Service Written Exam Preparation.”
Seoryeong remained frozen. It was a completely unexpected turn of events. Jeong Pilgyu, wiping his face with a dry towel, continued speaking, looking exhausted.
“Mrs. Kim Yeonmi has a son. It says he works for a publishing company, but usually, field agents are adept at disguising their affiliations.”
“Anyway, the truth is that the son passed the National Intelligence Service exam. If he’s been circling around Han Seoryeong as a field operative, this isn’t a scam or a multi-level organization, but possibly a member of the intelligence agency.”
Seoryeong moistened her dry lips slightly.
“He might be an NIS agent. At this point, we can only suspect that possibility.”
“Then what about my husband…”
Her hands trembled slightly. At this moment, the shock was no longer the most important thing.