Details emerge in 8-year-old’s death

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Details emerge in 8-year-old’s death

A woman who confessed to beating her 8-year-old stepdaughter to death in Ulsan has been found to have habitually abused the girl before, police said.

The announcement came after the girl was found dead in a bathtub on Oct. 24 with 16 broken ribs as a result of an assault by her stepmother.

“The woman is found to have regularly beaten her stepdaughter … the young girl’s buttocks muscle had been nearly destroyed because of [the force and frequency of] repeated hitting,” one police officer said Monday during a briefing.

The accused woman, identified only by her last name, Park, initially told police that the girl died from falling in the bathtub while taking a shower. But results from the investigation and the autopsy report revealed that the girl’s stepmother more than likely contributed to her death.

Police said that the woman told the girl to take a shower after the assault because she believed warm water might ease the bruising. According to the autopsy report, one of the girl’s broken ribs punctured her lung, causing internal bleeding that ultimately led to her death.

The victim’s father was away for business when the incident took place.

The Ulju Police Precinct in Ulsan arrested Park last week. She reportedly testified that she hit her stepdaughter because the 8-year-old had asked for permission to go on a school trip with friends.

According to local media reports, Park also claimed that the girl lied about stealing 2,000 won ($1.90).

Police said the woman had reportedly abused the girl since 2011. On one occasion in May 2011, Park hit her stepdaughter’s head and palm with a bamboo sword dozens of times when the family lived in Pohang, South Gyeongsang.

She also kicked and stepped on the girl’s thighs so severely that the injuries required 10 weeks of hospital treatment. Park said she was angry that the victim came home late.

In another incident last December, Park sprayed boiling water on the girl’s hands and feet, which resulted in second-degree burns. The woman then forced the victim to get into the bathroom after the girl’s father went out. According to police, Park took out her anger on the victim because the girl’s father disapproved of her harsh methods of discipline.

The police said they have secured testimony from neighbors and school teachers proving Park’s involvement in the death of her stepdaughter. Details of the abuse have gone unreported by neighbors until now.

In a separate case two months ago, an 8-year-old boy was beaten to death by his father and stepmother. The parents said they were angry that the boy had not inquired about his stepmother’s well-being after she returned from the hospital.



BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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