Tag Archives: murder


Friends, Family of Murdered South Korean Woman Seek Justice

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.

Kim 2In 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.

Lee BagSecurity 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.

MessageOn 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

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Cuddy Irene Park

Link Attack: East West Players Honors Susan Ahn Cuddy; North Korean Soccer; Amadeus Cho in ‘Avengers’

Interesting reads from around the Internet. Take a gander!

East West Players Honors Susan Ahn Cuddy in ‘Born to Lead’

Above photo: The 100-year-old veteran attended the performance along with her son Philip Cuddy. It was the first time she’d seen the EWP Theatre for Youth play about her life that is currently on tour. (Pasadena City College Courier)

kenneth choi

Kenneth Choi joins horror-thriller Stephanie

The Allegiance and Sons of Anarchy star has joined Universal’s horror-thriller, Stephanie, which is directed by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. The story centers on a young girl named Stephanie (Shree Crooks) who is abandoned by her parents. When her parents return to claim their daughter, they find supernatural forces are wreaking havoc, with Stephanie at the center of the turmoil. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Korea to punish local governments for paying native English teachers

The central government has threatened to take punitive measures against financially struggling local governments if they insist on paying the salaries of native English teachers. (The Korea Observer)

Songun soccer: Football politics in North Korea

NK News explores North Korea’s complex relationship with soccer and how politics eventually became involved.

It’s Time For Us To Update Our Image of North Koreans

Daniel Tudor, former Korea correspondent for The Economist, writes on The Huffington Post that we must start paying proper attention to the North Korean people themselves–they are where the only real hope, he says.

Adrian Cho

Leonardo da Vinci inspires Ottawa Jazz Orchestras latest chamber jazz

Bassist and bandleader Adrian Cho’s Ottawa Jazz Orchestra has a long track record of tackling some of jazz’s seminal works, whether its pieces by Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Charles Mingus or Benny Goodman. But this Thursday, the group mounts its first evening of all-original music, written by Cho and trumpeter Rick Rangno. (Ottawa Citizen)

The chaebols: The rise of South Korea’s mighty conglomerates

CNET’s Cho Mu-hyun details how these “cornerstones of the economic, political and social landscape” helped “save South Korea from crushing poverty and defined a country’s role on the global stage.” Part one of a series.

Joy Cho

Blogger Crush: Joy Cho of Oh Joy!

Style Bistro profiles L.A. native John Cho, who runs one of the top blogs on the Internet, as well as a thriving YouTube channel, a line of party supplies at Target and a graphic design business. She is also a wife, author and mother of two.

Man Charged With Repeatedly Stabbing Ex-Girlfriend Inside Subway Restaurant In NJ

Yoon S. Choi, 48, of Silver Spring, Md., is charged with first-degree attempted murder, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. (CBS News, Philadelphia)


Will Avengers: Age Of Ultron Introduce Amadeus Cho To The Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Dr. Helen Cho (played by South Korean actor Claudia Kim) is a world-renowned geneticist and an ally of the Avengers. From her offices in Seoul, South Korea, to sharing workspace with Bruce Banner in his lab at Avengers Tower, Dr. Cho’s research and technology help keep the Avengers in the fight. (ComicBook.com)



Four Dead in Hwaseong Shooting Spree

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

A man armed with a hunting rifle fatally shot three people on Friday in a city just south of Seoul before killing himself, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Police said the shooting occurred in a two-story house located in the Hwaseong district of Namyang. Inside the first-floor living room, they found the bodies of the 75-year-old gunman, surnamed Jeon, his 86-year-old brother, his sister-in-law and a policeman, who was one of the first officers to respond to the call.

The daughter-in-law of the deceased couple managed to escape the shooting by jumping off the second story before alerting the police. She is currently being treated for minor back injury.

According to the neighbors’ testimonies, Jeon had a turbulent relationship with his brother. He would often get drunk and demand money from his brother’s family. One witness, who refused to be identified, said Jeon and his sister-in-law were arguing outside the house before the gunshots sounded.

In a news conference, Hwaseong police chief Lee Seok-kwon said a suicide note was found in Jeon’s car. He added that the slain officer, who was not wearing a bulletproof vest and was only armed with a tazer, tried to talk the gunman into surrendering and was fatally shot in the chest when he attempted to enter the house.

Civilians are rarely armed with firearms as gun possession is tightly controlled in South Korea. Only those with government-issued licenses can own guns, which are usually used for hunting animals. All guns are also required to be stored at police substations and are only given to licensed owners during legal hunting periods, according to the Associated Press.

The Hawseong police said Jeon took out a hunting rifle from the station about an hour before the shooting, saying that he would return it after he finishing hunting the next day. Officers said they noticed nothing suspicious about the man when he came to retrieve the gun.

The incident comes two days after another gunman shot and killed three people in the city of Sejong before turning the gun on himself.

South Korea’s National Police Agency said it plans to tighten regulations on gun control by limiting the number of police substations that give out firearms to licensed gun owners and requiring owners to renew their license by three years, instead of five years.

As of last January, there are about 160,000 legally owned firearms in South Korea. This figure includes hunting weapons and self-defense guns, according to the National Police Agency.


Featured image via Yonhap


Man Admits Slaying Ex-Wife, 4 Others with Samurai Sword and Bat

BRIAN MELLEY, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man pleaded guilty Wednesday to five counts of murder in the samurai sword slayings and baseball bat beatings of his ex-wife, her two children, her boyfriend and a NASA engineer who was married to her cousin.

Jae-hwan Shim, 45, of Palmdale, entered the pleas after agreeing with prosecutors to testify truthfully against his best friend in the 2008 killings. In exchange, he’ll spend life in prison without chance of parole instead of facing a possible death sentence.

Shim, speaking through a Korean interpreter, said “I am guilty,” several times as the charges were read in Los Angeles County Superior Court.


Jae-hwan Shim (Photo courtesy of L.A. Sheriff’s Department)

He admitted murdering Jenny Young Park, 34, along with her 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter from a previous marriage and also pleaded guilty to arson for setting their bodies ablaze on a bed in the desert home they shared with Park’s cousin in Quartz Hill, 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

Shim also acknowledged killing Park’s boyfriend, Si Young Yoon, 34, a tae kwon do instructor, and dumping his body in Mexico to make it look like he had committed the murders and fled.

Sheriff’s deputies were initially looking for Yoon in connection with the June 23 killings until Shim and Steve Kwon were caught in Mexico. Shim later gave authorities information that led to Yoon’s body, said Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman.

Shim also killed Joseph Ciganek, 60, who worked at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base and was married to Park’s cousin. Park and her daughter Jamie, 13, and son, Justin, 11, had moved into the Ciganeks’ home after she divorced Shim.

Silverman said the motive was anger and control.

“It’s a horrendous set of circumstances, one of the worst that I’ve seen,” Silverman said. “I don’t know how anything could be worse.”

Attorney Dan Kuperberg told reporters that the defense was motivated to settle the case after emotional family members of the victims urged a judge to speed up the trial last summer.

“Their pain was obvious and evident,” Kuperberg said, according to City News Service. “It affected all the lawyers. It affected Mr. Shim.”

Shim won’t be sentenced until after Kwon’s trial on five counts of murder and an arson charge. Kwon is not facing the death penalty but could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Kwon has pleaded not guilty and his trial has not been scheduled yet. He is due in court April 2.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Featured image courtesy of istock

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Two Dead in Las Vegas Murder-Suicide

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

A woman and man died last Thursday evening in an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Las Vegas police.

Jiyeon Lee, 23, and Won Jae Lee, 26, were identified by the Clark County coroner’s office. They were found dead together in their home after a friend came by after not hearing from one of the victims in three days. Officers responded around 5 p.m. to 8900 block of Veneroso Street to investigate.

“It was a shock to pull up to the house and the whole neighborhood was quarantined,” said neighbor Damion Grau. “Nothing like this happens in this neighborhood.”

Police said that the two victims were dating, and it appeared a physical altercation had preceded the shooting in the home’s garage, according to the evidence found inside the home. They believe the woman shot the man in the head and neck before shooting herself in the head.

Photo courtesy of Review Journal


UPDATE: Three Men Arrested in Homicide of University of Georgia Student

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

UPDATE: Athens-Clarke County Police arrested a third person allegedly involved in the homicide of Min Seok Cho. Locas Amsler Raposo, 20, is charged with felony muder, tampering with evidence and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Like Cho, Raposo is a University of Georgia student set to graduate in 2016.

Athens-Clarke County police have arrested two men for their role in the homicide of a University of Georgia student, according to the Red and Black.

Min Seok Cho, 21, was fatally shot in the head during a marijuana deal that reportedly went bad on Jan. 13, said the police. Cho was pronounced dead at the Athens Regional Medical Center, where a private vehicle brought him to the ambulance bay doors of the emergency room before driving away.

Cormaine Gross, 21, and Andre Ruff, 18, will face charges including felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of the felony, according to the Athens-Clarke County Clerk office. The still ongoing investigation is being conducted by ACC Police, University of Georgia Police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Clarke-County Coroner’s Office.

MugshotCormaine Goss, left, and Andre Ruff. Photo via Athens-Clarke County Police Department

Eric Yi, a friend of Cho and fellow student at UGA, told Athens Banner-Herald that his roommate was with Cho at the time of the shooting. The roommate came home with blood on him, and after cleaning up, went to the hospital, where he met with police.

Cho was a graduate of Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, where his family also resides. Yi said that Cho was passionate about international affairs and current events, and he had expected Cho to graduate next year with a degree in international studies.

“He was a good guy,” Yi told the Banner-Herald. He was soft-spoken in groups, but when he was with friends he was more boisterous and loved to hang out.”

Cho is the second University of Georgia student to die this week. A 19-year-old student was found dead in the back seat of a car after returning home after a night out with friends last Saturday.


Featured image via Athens Banner-Herald


Defector Kills 4 People in China After Fleeing North Korea

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

A North Korean army deserter allegedly shot and killed four elderly residents as well as robbed a villager’s home in the border town of Nanping, China after escaping his country, according to local media reports.

The alleged killings reportedly took place on Dec. 28 at a village near the Tumen River, an area that has been used as an escape route for North Korean defectors for decades. The soldier was later arrested by the Chinese authorities, and it is unlikely he will be repatriated to North Korea given the severity of his crimes.

China is a common route for many North Korean defectors as they often cross into a third country before seeking asylum at the nearest South Korean embassy. The defectors caught by the Chinese authorities are often sent back to North Korea, where they would likely suffer cruel punishments in prison camps.

Since the killings, China has lodged a formal diplomatic complaint with North Korea, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

“China’s public security bureau will handle the case according to law,” Hua said, hinting that the army deserter will be prosecuted in China.

The Foreign Ministry gave no additional details about the incident, but South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the suspect injured another Chinese resident of the village in Nanping in addition to killing four in their homes. The soldier reportedly broke into the home of the resident– identified only by his surname Che–ate his food, stole about $16 and wounded the man before making his escape. Reports in China, citing the head of the village, also said that the four people killed were two elderly couples, who lived alone and had children working in South Korea.

In 2013, another North Korean defector killed an elderly Chinese couple in Yanji before stealing $3,210.


Photo courtesy of AFP


‘Serial’ Revisits Murder of Korean American Teen

By SUEVON LEE | @suevlee

The Oxford English Dictionary may have recently released its “Word of the Year,” but the one buzzword on everybody’s lips these days seems to be “Serial.”

For those just hearing about it, Serial is a weekly podcast from the producers of This American Life whose first season has focused on a decade-and-a-half-old murder that took place in Baltimore County, Maryland.

The story centers around the death of Hae Min Lee, who was a senior at Woodlawn High School when she disappeared the afternoon of Jan. 13, 1999. Her body was found a month later in a city park; the 18-year-old had been strangled.

Implicated in the crime was Lee’s fellow classmate and ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who, following a jury trial in Baltimore, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to a life term behind bars, where he remains today in a maximum-security prison.

Journalist Sarah Koenig embarked on a yearlong investigation into the crime after a close family friend to Syed, convinced of his innocence, urged her to revisit the details of the incident, treated by authorities as a closed case.

First airing in early October—and available for streaming and download starting with Episode One—Serial seeks to answer the many questions that have confounded Koenig, the show’s narrator and host, since she began her investigation last year.

The ongoing podcast is a work-in-progress: Koenig continues to report and uncover new facts in real time, with each new hourlong episode airing every Thursday. The compelling part of the program is the conversational style of narration and its pacing. Koenig has said in interviews she doesn’t actually know the truth, whether Syed is guilty or not—in each new installment, she unearths some new detail or revelation that plants new doubts.

Avid listeners of the show—who have helped Serial average 1.26 million downloads per episode and become the fastest iTunes podcast to top 5 million downloads—are invited into Koenig’s repeat telephone conversations with Syed, speaking to her from prison, plus interviews with friends and classmates of Lee and Syed, in addition to the narrator’s personal ruminations about the complex web of allegations the case entails.

While there is no dispute the series has become a national obsession, it’s the program’s treatment and interpretation of its characters’ respective cultures that has touched off a feisty debate in recent days.

Lee’s parents are Korean immigrants while Syed is Pakistani American who was raised in a Muslim household. Described on the podcast as carefree, typical teens, Lee and Syed, we learn, were wrapped up in the usual teenage pursuits such as after-school track practice, homecoming dances, down time with friends, driving to the mall, after-school jobs—and clandestine dating to evade parental notice.

Their ethnic backgrounds are referenced early on, but never dominate the frame, so to speak.

Former Grantland writer and editor turned New York Times Magazine contributor Jay Caspian Kang, in an essay published on The Awl last week, argues that the podcast is problematic because it involves “an immigrant story” told by a white journalist whom Kang argues comes across as “a cultural tourist” in the ultimate example of “white privilege in journalism.”

While Kang writes he is willing to cut the episodic podcast “enough slack to regard it as an experiment in form,” he adds: “I am still disturbed by the thought of Koenig stomping around communities that she clearly does not understand, digging up small, generally inconsequential details about the people inside of them, and subjecting it all to that inimitable This American Life process of tirelessly, and sometimes gleefully, expressing her neuroses over what she has found.”

That piece, and like-minded criticism published elsewhere, led to this rebuttal published by the New York Observer, in which writer Lindsay Beyerstein poses the question, “So, why is there a cottage industry of think pieces dedicated to making us feel guilty about liking Serial?” Beyerstein argues that Koenig as narrator, if anything, subverts listener stereotypes and challenges their assumptions about the minority characters.

Rabia Chaudry, the woman who initially contacted Koenig about Syed’s circumstance, also added her two cents about the podcast’s treatment of race in this Q&A, saying: “The fact that the Serial team is all white means that maybe they won’t quite get some things about Korean culture or our [Muslim] culture, but so what? Then we explain it.”

Whatever your views on this thread of conversation—for most people, Serial is just a compelling, expertly produced true crime narrative–some omitted elements to the story seem hard to ignore. For instance, where is Lee’s family in the story?

Part of that question may have been addressed this week when a person professing to be Hae Min Lee’s younger brother acknowledged the series’ explosive popularity in a Reddit post.

“To you listeners, its another murder mystery, crime drama, another episode of CSI. You weren’t there to see your mom crying every night, having a heartattck when she got the new that the body was found, and going to court almost everyday for a year seeing your mom weeping, crying and fainting,” the post reads. “You don’t know what we went through.”

Nevertheless, the post’s author is honest about his reaction to the podcast. “Although I do not like the fact that SK [Sarah Koenig] picked our story to cover, she is an awesome narrator/writer/investigator,” the post reads.

In the meantime, Syed is appealing his conviction by arguing his trial attorney showed ineffective assistance of counsel. The state’s case against Syed rested mainly on the testimony of a friend who claimed he helped Syed dump Lee’s body in Baltimore’s Leakin Park.

We don’t know whether Serial, which aired its ninth episode Thursday, and plans at least several more episodes before concluding the season, will ever broach the family angle—but we know if it does not, it’s not for apparent lack of effort.

“It’s an upsetting story. A girl was murdered and it’s horrible,” host Koenig told Time in an interview in late October. “Getting people to talk to me about that and be honest with me about that is hard. For a lot of these people, even those not directly involved, this was the defining horror of their lives. It’s hard for them.”

The Baltimore Sun, which initially covered Lee’s murder and Syed’s conviction 15 years ago, circled back to the tragic saga in an Oct. 10 article, recalling that at Syed’s sentencing in 2000, Lee’s mother, Youn Wha Kim, told the court via an interpreter that she had moved to the United States from Korea to provide her children “a decent education and a decent future.”

“‘I would like to forgive Adnan Syed, but as of now, I just don’t know how I could,’” the Sun reported her saying. “‘When I die, my daughter will die with me. As long as I live, my daughter is buried in my heart.’”

To catch up with the beginning of Serial, start here.

Photo courtesy of WBALTV