by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
Friends and colleagues of Sunny Kim, a 26-year-old South Korean woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her family with funeral and legal costs.
On May 22, Kim’s ex-boyfriend, identified only by his surname Lee, turned himself into South Korean police and confessed to killing Kim before burying her body in the mountains and impersonating her for over two weeks.
Kim is remembered as a smart and loving daughter, sister and friend. She graduated from University at Albany, SUNY in 2011 with a degree in Economics and East Asian Studies.
During her time at Albany, Kim was a member of the Kappa Phi Lambda – Upsilon chapter. Her fellow sisters began the GoFundMe campaign last Thursday to help her family with funeral and legal costs. Since then, the campaign has raised over $27,000 from more than 700 donors. Kim’s sorority sisters also created a blog to share the “Story of Sunny” and raise awareness of Kim’s murder.
After moving back to South Korea, Kim was working as an English-language instructor in Busan when she met Lee, who at the time was one of her students, according to the South Korean crime and investigation TV series, Real Story Eye. The two eventually began dating.
리얼스토리 눈.E287..150527. by ufo-d
However, Kim’s relationship with Lee began taking a turn for the worse. Kim began confiding to her friends about the difficulties she faced in her relationship, including multiple instances of abuse. Kim’s friends later told investigators that she had privately shared photos of what appeared to be multiple bruises on her face as well as broken fingers allegedly sustained by attacks from Lee.
In a message to her close friend, Kim worried about what her students would think if they saw her bruised face.
On May 2, when Kim was back in Seoul, she sent a message to her family that read, “I got a job, let’s get together soon.” Sadly, Kim was unable to celebrate with her family, as Lee had followed her back to her apartment that evening and strangled her in her sleep. She had recently broken up with him.
The next day, Lee packed Kim’s body into a large wheeled luggage bag. He rented a car and drove south into the mountains near Cheongpung Lake in Chungcheong, according to the police. He buried Kim’s body, which was still inside the bag, and covered it with a layer of cement and napthalene to mask any scent.
Security cameras caught Lee at a rental car company with the bag containing Kim’s body.
To avoid suspicion, Lee used Kim’s smartphone to impersonate her, posting on social media and even communicating with her family and friends for weeks. He even messaged the company that had recently hired Kim that she was returning to the U.S. to continue her studies.
On the left, Kim’s KakaoTalk message to her younger brother, compared to Lee’s impersonation.
Kim’s parents soon received a notice over the apparent breach of contract, which only increased their efforts to get in contact with their daughter and find out where she was. Backed into a corner, Lee eventually called the police on May 22, confessing to killing her and burying her body. He also apparently attempted to kill himself, and he had lost a lot of blood by the time police reached him.
But Kim’s family isn’t buying the suicide attempt, claiming that Lee is trying to garner sympathy from the authorities for a lighter punishment. They have asked that Lee be charged with nothing short of premeditated murder.
Images via GoFundMe