YANGPYEONG, Gyeonggi - An urn containing the ashes of late actress Choi Jin-sil was stolen and police were yesterday having difficulty identifying suspects because CCTVs installed near Choi’s burial site were knocked out by a lightning strike on Aug. 12.
Yangpyeong police were dispatched to the site after Choi’s cemetery management office notified them of the theft at 8:10 a.m. Saturday. “While a cemetery worker was patrolling the area at 7:50 a.m., he found flowers littered about Choi’s tomb,” an official at the cemetery office said. “He started rearranging flowers and that was when he found that a side of the tomb was smashed with her urn missing.”
Police assume that the suspect had a strong tool like a sledge hammer to destroy the late actress’s tomb.
“The side of the broken tomb is made of 7-centimeter (2.76-inch) thick marble and it would not easily break by kicking,” said Kong Byeong-gi, an official at the cemetery’s maintenance department. “I suspect someone broke the tomb hitting it with a hammer or blunt instrument at least 10 times. It appears the act was thoroughly planned.”
Police collected two empty bottles of Soju, fingerprints and pieces of broken granite. They will send them to the National Institute of Scientific Investigation for examination, believing that it is likely the pieces contain the suspect’s DNA. Police are examining other CCTVs installed along highways adjacent to the cemetery for cars that passed the cemetery during the time frame of the theft - between 6 p.m. on Aug. 14 to 8 a.m. on Aug. 15. Police are considering whether the deed could have been done by an impetuous mourner who visited to pay respects to Choi.
Shocked about the news of the theft, Choi’s mother, Jung Ok-sook, pleaded with the unknown suspect to return the urn so Choi can rest in peace. “I will not ask [the suspect] to take responsibility for [his wrongdoing] if he puts back my daughter’s urn,” Jung said. “Please return it to the family.”
Choi made her debut in 1988 at age 20 and quickly earned the nickname “The Nation’s Actress,” after she tugged the heartstrings of television and movie viewers. When the beloved actresses committed suicide in October 2008, the country fell into grief. Choi had been suffering extreme mental depression following Internet rumors that linked her to another actor, Ahn Jae-hwan, 36, who also committed suicide. Ahn was found dead in early September 2008. Choi had been accused of loaning the actor a large sum of money and pressuring him to repay it, but she denied these allegations.
By Jeon Ick-jin, Kim Mi-ju [firstname.lastname@example.org]