After going round the village, we realized that half of the villagers were named Qin. When asked if there were any families who recently held a funeral, one of the villager’s eyes wandered left and right before he insisted he didn't know and shut the door.
The Qin family were all relatives and close friends. They clearly knew something but refused to divulge any information.
After a round of questioning, the villagers had their guard up against us. Just as we were at our wits' end, I saw Bingxin crouching under a locust tree talking to a little boy who was sniffling. "Little one, answer a question and I’ll buy you some candy, alright?"
The little boy nodded and Bingxin proceeded to ask, "Do you know who recently had a death in the family?"
The little boy pointed to the big yard right in front of him. Bingxin rubbed his head and smiled. "Good boy!" Then, she handed him five yuan so he could buy candy.
"You really have your ways!" I laughed.
We walked into the big yard and knocked on the door. A middle-aged man with white hair on his temples answered the door and asked coldly, "Who are you looking for?"
"I just want to ask a few questions. Has your family had a funeral recently?" I asked politely.
“It’s the Lunar New Year. How dare you curse me? Get lost!"
The middle-aged man was just about to close the door but I wedged my foot inside the gap. Tears rolled down my face as I grimaced in pain. I suspected he had used all his strength. I flashed out my badge and said, "Please cooperate!"
His expression turned to hard resolve as he repeated, "My family hasn’t had any deaths recently! If you don't believe me, you can ask around in the village."
I looked him in the eye and said, "Your hair has just turned white, hasn’t it? Perhaps a relative of yours recently passed away? I’m guessing it's your daughter? She met an online friend and committed suicide for love."
At this point, these were merely speculations. How could a country girl and a Korean boy know each other? The biggest possibility was an online relationship.
The man bit his lip. "Nothing of the sort happened. You’re barking up the wrong tree!"
Then, he pushed me out and shut the door with a bang.
His expression betrayed him completely but he refused to admit it. What a stubborn man! I felt helpless at how defensive the entire village was against the outside world and refused to answer any questions. Bingxin asked, "Why don't we get a search warrant?!"
"We don't have key evidence at the moment so we might not get it. Besides, it’ll take quite some time and by then, it’ll be too late," I added.
"What should we do then? The suspect is clearly right in front of us!" fretted Bingxin.
I sighed. I finally recognized how important Xiaotao’s presence was. There was nothing else we could do but head home.
Just as we reached the village entrance, Lao Yao called and exclaimed, "Xiao Song-song, I found it!"
There was only one Korean who had been reported missing recently in Nanjiang City and his name was Zheng Zaihao, a foreign student about 20 years of age. I got Lao Yao to send me his photo.
Within seconds, I received the photo which matched the dead man. Bingxin clapped her hands with glee, "Song Yang-gege, it’s amazing how quickly you’ve found another lead!"
I smiled, pausing in silent contemplation. Hacking into the embassy database was classified as illegal means. The South Koreans would definitely protest if they found out. Of course, straying from ordinary procedures would yield quick results.
"Let's go back and hit him with a surprise!"
"There’s no way that man will speak," Bingxin lamented.
"Watch me play a little trick!" I laughed.
So there we were, back at the man’s house. A few knocks on the door and we were greeted by a frustrated face. "Why are you here again? I already told you that no one has died in my family."
I held up my cell phone and showed him Zheng Zaihao's picture. "You know this man, don’t you?"
His pupils contracted for a brief moment, but as expected, he still denied, "I’ve never seen him!"
I gave a cold laugh. "Is that so? He has now reported to the police and accused you of kidnapping and false imprisonment. Because he’s a South Korean, this involves diplomatic relations so the police are paying special attention to the case. Do you want to talk at your house or would you like to take a trip to the station in a couple of days? How would it look when a police car drives into the village to take you away?"
The man swore loudly, "That fucking Korean bastard caused her death. I was merely teaching him a lesson. How dare he make a false accusation!"
The man knew that he had spoken too rashly. His voice faltered, "Let’s talk inside!"
The living room was shrouded in dimness since there weren’t any lights and the smell of joss paper and red candles still lingered in the air. He must have held the ghost wedding here.
The man brought out a picture of a smiling young girl in her prime. "This is my daughter, Qin Lu," the man introduced, his tone sorrowful.
He explained that Qin Lu had just graduated from high school and was going to take the entrance examination for a medical school in the city. She had to work in the city while preparing for the admission exam. Qin Lu was the apple of his eye so Mr. Qin regularly visited his daughter in the city whenever he had the time. However, Qin Lu recently behaved very strangely. She seemed distracted and often stared into the mirror and giggled to herself. These details had no way of escaping his observant eyes. He realized that his daughter was in love. She was all grown up. He didn’t have the right to interfere but he repeatedly warned her to protect herself well.
More than a week ago, the city police asked them to collect Qin Lu's body which was a bolt from the blue to the family! Qin Lu's mother suffered a cerebral thrombosis and had to be hospitalized.
Qin Lu’s body was recovered from a river. According to the coroner’s autopsy, she had committed suicide. Unable to accept the news, Mr. Qin turned on Qin Lu's computer, went through her chat records one by one, and read all her diary entries to find out how his daughter died.
As it turned out, Qin Lu met a Korean student through an online English forum. Both of them usually communicated in English. The boy pretended to be a rich kid and sent many photoshopped photos of himself that made him appear extremely handsome. Like many girls, Qin Lu enjoyed watching Korean dramas. Captivated by this "long-legged oppa," she became docile and listened to his every word.
A month ago, the foreign student visited Nanjiang City and slept with Qin Lu. He claimed that his credit card was frozen and he couldn’t go back home. Qin Lu foolishly handed over thousands of yuan meant for her living expenses.
Who would’ve thought the foreign student was such an animal? He merely wanted to fool around with Chinese girls. After he left with her money, there were no more messages from him. Heartbroken and indignant, Qin Lu sent him many emails that all went unanswered. She felt too ashamed to face her parents after being cheated of her virginity and feelings so she chose to commit suicide.
Upon discovering the truth, Mr. Qin was deeply saddened. In his own words, if the bastard had been in front of him at the time, he would’ve broken his neck!
Mr. Qin mobilized everyone in the family to look for the bastard. As they say, “God watches over the righteous.” It turned out that the boy’s real name was Zheng Zaihao and he was studying in one of the universities in Nanjiang City. Although Mr. Qin was overwhelmed with the desire to kill the Korean bastard and pay tribute to his daughter with his head, he knew that it was a crime to kill, so he thought of a better revenge.
Just before the Lunar New Year, an unsuspecting Zheng Zaihao exiting the school gates was dragged into a van and forcibly brought to the village by the Qin family who laid in ambush. Throughout the journey, Zheng Zaihao muttered in Korean gibberish but since they didn’t understand the language, they pretended it was the cry of livestock and ignored him.
They locked Zheng Zaihao in the firewood shed and began to prepare for the ghost wedding. On New Year's Eve, they forced the bridegroom's robes onto Zheng Zaihao and compelled him to marry Qin Lu, who was dressed up as the bride. Then, they sealed them in the coffin together and carried them up to the hill to be buried.
During the entire process, Zheng Zaihao almost went mad with fear and repeatedly begged for mercy.
In truth, Mr. Qin didn't really intend to bury him alive. The coffin wasn’t nailed shut and was covered only with a thin layer of soil so he was fully capable of escaping on his own.
He engineered such a lesson so Zheng Zaihao would never cheat a girl’s feelings again.Previous Chapter Next Chapter