Photo: Lee Eun-hae (right). Credit: JTBC.
The crime of the month in South Korea has been the drowning death of Yun Sang-yeob 윤상엽 at the mountain streams in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do Province 경기도 가평, which initially appeared to be an accident when first reported in June 2019. An investigative report by SBS News revealed something more heinous: Yun’s wife Lee Eun-hae 이은해, together with her boyfriend, pushed her husband who could not swim into the deep water for the sake of life insurance money.
The case caused a sensation as the 31-year-old Lee was a minor celebrity who had previously appeared in a reality television show as a child of an impoverished home receiving a surprise house makeover. Lee and her boyfriend had attempted to kill Yun twice before, finally succeeding at the third try. After having spent four months on a run, the couple were arrested on April 16.
In a time when criminal justice reform is the biggest political topic, a sensational crime like this one was bound to be political fodder. On April 17, Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office 인천지방검찰청 issued a statement arguing that the initial investigation by the police in Gapyeong was not adequate to support a murder charge, and it was only after the prosecutors’ own investigation that enough facts were discovered to unveil the murder plot.
The next day, Nam Gu-jun 남구준, the head of the National Office of Investigation 국가수사본부 under the National Police Agency 경찰청, noted that it was the police agency in Ilsan, Gyeonggi-do Province 경기도 일산 that re-opened the case and discovered the murder plot, before the Incheon prosecutors were involved. “The prosecutors and the police each played their role,” said Nam. “It’s not appropriate to say someone did well and someone did not.”