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Jeju murder suspect claims a rape self defense

But police think she came prepared with weapons to meeting

June 11,2019
The woman held for allegedly killing and dismembering her ex-husband on Jeju Island told police that she stabbed him to death in self defense when he tried to rape her, officers told local media Monday.

The suspect, Koh Yu-jeong, told Jeju police officers during recent questioning that the victim, surnamed Kang, tried to force her into having sex with him, which prompted her to murder him with a knife she had bought to “slice watermelon.”

Police, however, aren’t buying that explanation.

One reason they think the murder was planned beforehand is that Koh, 36, was found to have done internet searches for the terms “murder tool” and “nicotine fatal dose” on her cellphone before May 25, the day police think she met and killed Kang, 36.

On May 22, Koh was caught on CCTV cameras at a supermarket in Jeju purchasing rubber gloves, butane gas, bleach and “a lethal object,” all of which police believe were used in the crime in some way.

Adding up to those suspicions, police said Monday that zolpidem, a type of drug commonly used for short-term treatment of sleeping problems, was detected in Kang’s blood stains collected from a blanket found in Koh’s car.

Officers believe Koh drugged Kang before murdering him to avoid having to physically control him. Koh has a much smaller build than the victim. She stands at 160 centimeters (5.2 feet) and weighs 50 kilograms (110 pounds), whereas her ex-husband was some 180 centimeters tall and 80 kilograms.

Forensic officials initially couldn’t find any traces of drugs from Kang’s blood stains, citing a lack of blood. When police asked specifically to look more thoroughly for drugs, however, forensic officials found zolpidem, which requires a doctor’s prescription in Korea.

Koh told police she had a cold last month and was prescribed some medicine by a hospital in Cheongwon County, North Chungcheong, on May 17. Koh bought the medicine near the hospital, but is currently refusing to tell police whether she consumed all of it.

Kang and Koh divorced two years ago, after Koh gave birth to their son. The son, who’s now six years old, has been living with Koh’s parents on Jeju Island. Koh remarried in 2017, soon after the divorce, and moved to Cheongju, North Chungcheong. Kang remained in Jeju.

According to police reports, Kang wanted to see their son after separating from Koh, but Koh refused him access. Kang asked a local court for permission to visit him and the court recently granted Kang visiting rights.

The former couple agreed a visit would take place on May 25 at a pension in Jeju. Koh took a ferry from Wando Port in South Jeolla on May 18 to reach the southern resort island.

CCTV footage showed Koh, Kang and their son entering the pension on May 25. The next day, Koh was seen exiting the place with her son, and it later turned out she was taking him back to her parent’s house. Koh was caught on camera returning to the pension later that day.

On May 27, she was seen leaving the pension alone with a box, loading it into her car.

Police believe Koh murdered Kang on May 25, the day they entered the pension, which means their son would have been present in the pension at the time of the murder. Koh told police she dismembered Kang on May 26.

On May 27, in what appears to be an attempt to create false evidence, Koh took her ex-husband’s cell phone and texted her own phone: “I’m sorry I tried to rape you. Please don’t turn me in.”

The next day, she was caught on CCTV at a local supermarket in Jeju buying rubber gloves, 30 plastic bags normally used for garbage, perfume and a carry-on bag. At 8:30 p.m. that day, she was seen riding a ferry destined for Wando Port. About an hour after the ferry took off, she was caught on CCTV hurling plastic bags into the sea for seven minutes.

Koh admitted that Kang’s body parts were inside.

On May 29, Koh arrived at a house in Gimpo, Gyeonggi, owned by her father. She put Kang’s remaining body parts in trash bags and threw them away on May 31.

Police said Sunday they found what appeared to be “numerous” bone parts at a recycling scrap yard in Incheon, but they weren’t sure whether they belonged to a human being, and if so, whether they were from Kang.

The bones were sent to the National Forensic Service but it remains to be seen if forensic authorities can identify the DNA in light of the fact that they were incinerated in heat as high as 500 to 600 degrees Celsius (932 to 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit) at a garbage incineration plant in Gimpo.

BY CHOI CHOONG-IL, CHOI JONG-KWON AND LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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