A father’s lost remains, some lost cash and a lost relative

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A father’s lost remains, some lost cash and a lost relative

March 4, 1999
It was 8:35 a.m. on this date when Shin Gyeok-ho, the owner of the Lotte Hotel, got a threatening phone call. To Mr. Shin’s secretary, a man said, “I’m keeping the remains of his father somewhere. Tell your boss to check the grave.” He identified himself as a Mr. Choi, from Gyeongju, South Gyeongsang province, though his accent didn’t sound Gyeongsang at all.
The grave of Mr. Shin’s father in Ulsan, North Gyeongsang province, had indeed been dug up and the bones removed, it was learned. The next day, “Mr. Choi” called again, demanding 800 million won ($660,000) in cash.
Mr. Shin said he hadn’t done anything to incur such enmity and it was the first time that he had ever been blackmailed. Due to the bizarre nature of this story, the media ran with it again and again.
But Mr. Choi was caught before he could violate any other of the Shins’ graves, turned in by a guilty co-conspirator.
The culprit turned out to be a team: Im Jong-sun and Jeong Geum-yong, close friends who were in their 40s. They later confessed that they had just wanted to be wealthy, like Mr. Shin. They knew about the grave of Mr. Shin’s father from his biography, which described how the grave was situated on a secluded mountainside.
After Mr. Shin later claimed the remains of his father, which the pair had hid in Daejeon, another funeral was held.

March 5, 2001
Kim Hong-shin, a Grand National Party lawmaker, went to the press on this date to announce that he had found something most unusual hidden in the back of his office desk: government and public bonds, promissory notes, subway notes, apartment lease agreements, commissary notes and bank statements. All issued in 1989, Mr. Kim said the monies were worth at least 300 million won.
The trove turned out to belong to Doh Young-shim, president of Korea National Tourism Organization, who had used that same office when she was a legislator prior to Mr. Kim.
Ms. Doh, in a news conference the next day, complained that Mr. Kim had exaggerated, and that the money actually amounted to “only” 1.3 million won.

March 8, 1990
It was Dec. 5, 1950, during the Korean War, when Han Pil-seong, 16, said good-bye to his younger sister, Han Pil-hwa, 8, at Jinnampo port, South Pyeongan province, North Korea. Pil-seong boarded an American cargo boat bound to the South, never to return to his family again.
On Feb. 17, 1971, the two of them had a chance to talk on the phone for 35 minutes, when Pil-hwa, then a member of North Korea’s national speed skating team, was taking part in a pre-Olympics event in Sapporo, Japan.
It would be almost 20 years before they met again, once more in Sapporo. When Mr. Han heard that his sister was visiting the Japanese city for the Asian Winter Games, he flew there and was given permission to visit her on this date. Just one week later, they had to part once more.


by Chun Su-jin
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