Mother’s corpse kept at home for 6 months

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Mother’s corpse kept at home for 6 months

Authorities announced Tuesday that an 84-year-old woman’s mummified corpse was discovered in a high-end apartment in Hannam-dong of Yongsan District, central Seoul, where it had been kept for roughly six months by her adopted son.

The son, surnamed Jeon, was arrested by police on Monday on charges of neglecting a corpse.

Police could not explain why the body had not decayed, but the officer in charge said “these things are possible if bodies are kept in a dry state.”

The body was first discovered by a window cleaner, who saw it lying on a bed on Monday.

“I was too busy to host an official funeral for my mother,” the son, who is in his 40s, told police. “But I am still taking care of her at home. Why is that a crime? I am not neglecting the corpse.”

Police said when they arrived they found candles lit beside the woman’s body. The woman, surnamed Park, died of cancer last October. Rather than hire a funeral center to care for the body, Jeon chose to bring it home.

According to law, death reports must be made by family members who lived with the deceased within 30 days.

The punishment for failing to do so, however, is rather light; the families pay a fine of less than 50,000 won ($43) if they report the death after 30 days.

But things are different if families, or anyone for that matter, illegally neglect a corpse.

According to police, the security guard of the apartment said Jeon “came and went,” visiting his mother often. It was unclear, however, whether he was living in the house with his mother.

BY JEONG JIN-WOO, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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