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Police reopen probe into death of Ahn Jae-hwan

Oct 15,2008
Police have reopened the investigation into the assumed suicide of actor Ahn Jae-hwan, 36, who was found dead inside his Carnival van on Sept. 8 in northeastern Seoul after his widow, Chung Seon-hee, told the media that she had been threatened by loan sharks before the discovery of Ahn’s body.

The Nowon Police Precinct announced yesterday that they decided to reinvestigate the death after they confirmed what Chung said in an interview.

Chung, 36, told the current affairs weekly magazine Sisa In that she had been harassed and threatened by loan sharks. She has not previously disclosed the threats.

She told Sisa In, “I came to know about my [husband’s] debts on Sept. 4. After my husband disappeared, some loan sharks came out and started to pressure me and other family members. One of the loan sharks said, ‘Your husband is under restraint.’ I, however, could not report it because I thought if I called the police, my husband and I would be caught in a trap.”

She added, “My husband’s friend said, ‘[Ahn’s] debt is between 3 and 6 billion won [$2.49 million and $4.98 million].’ I didn’t know about the debts before I married him.”

It has been reported that Ahn was under extreme pressure due to growing debts from a series of business failures. He reportedly borrowed billions of won from loan sharks.

The police officers said that they will try to investigate whether or not the loan sharks threatened Ahn, forcing him to kill himself.

“Our investigation into Ahn’s case was nearing a close, but we now need to resummon Chung in order to investigate the threats that she mentioned,” said a police officer who asked not to be named.

“Even though we questioned her before, we didn’t hear any statements about the threats.”

In addition, when asked about reports that star Choi Jin-sil, who committed suicide earlier this month, loaned a large sum of money to Ahn, she said: “It’s groundless. There was no lending and borrowing money between them.”

Meanwhile, Choi’s younger brother and entertainer Choi Jin-young, 37, expressed his feelings on his home page. According to his posting, Choi can’t forgive a securities company employee named Baek who is charged with spreading the rumor about Choi’s involvement in the loan business.


By Park Sang-woo Staff Reporter [spark@joongang.co.kr]



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