3 women found dead; suicide likely

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3 women found dead; suicide likely

A 61-year-old woman and her two daughters were found dead Wednesday at their rental home in Songpa District, southeastern Seoul, in what authorities believe is a suicide.

The bodies of the woman, whom police only identified as Park, and her children, 36 and 33, were found in a room in the house, with its windows taped shut and a burnt charcoal briquette in a brazier.

“We suspect that they took their own lives, given that they likely burned a charcoal briquette and there was no sign of a break-in,” a police officer said.

A receipt for two charcoal briquettes, charcoal and an envelope filled with cash were also found on the premises.

The police said they did not find a suicide note, though an envelope containing 700,000 won ($655) and a message to the building’s landlord was left on a chest of drawers. “[I am] sorry, this is the last rent and utility bills,” it read. “[I am] so sorry.”

“I tried to give them the electricity bill from a week ago, but they didn’t answer,” said the building’s landlord, 73, identified only by his surname Lim. “I knocked on the door and the windows because I heard the television [from inside], but no one was responding, so I called the police.”

The police believe financial difficulties led the three women to take their own lives. Park and her daughters moved into the rental house eight years ago. According to authorities, they spiraled into debt following the death of Park’s husband, who died of bladder cancer 12 years ago.

The high cost of treatment put a financial strain on the family, and Park’s husband caused his daughters to default on their credit by appropriating credit cards under their names.

The oldest daughter apparently suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure, and rarely left the house. The younger daughter dreamed of being a cartoonist but had to work part-time at a convenience store instead, though she had reportedly been staying at home more in recent days.

Park allegedly worked at a nearby restaurant and was never late with her rent payment. But once she hurt her arm in late January and could not keep working, economic hardship hit the family.

According to an official from the Songpa District Office, the three women were not receiving any sort of government assistance, and there was no record of Park applying for subsidies for lower-income families.

“[Park] was a stubborn woman and adamantly refused help whenever I offered,” said Park’s brother. “I think she did this because of economic hardship.”

BY LEE SEUNG-HO [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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