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[Opinion] DNA Evidence

Posted January. 21, 2006 03:01,   


The statue of limitations for the serial murders that occurred in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province will expire this April. That means even if a criminal confesses to the murders, he can’t be punished for them.

The ninth of 10 Hwaseong murders involved a middle school girl who was bound and found dead on a hill in November 1990. Investigators used DNA fingerprint analysis in this particular case for the first time ever in Korea.

In another DNA evidence episode, former Attorney General Kim Jong-bin, a senior prosecutor with the Suwon District Prosecutors Office violent crimes division, stepped down amid controversy regarding the murder of professor Kang Jeong-gu. The blood type of evidence left on his body was B. The police arrested a prime suspect in the case but couldn’t hold him on the basis of blood type alone.

Kim had heard about a new technology capable of distinguishing an offender by analyzing one’s semen, blood, hair, or bodily fluids from Seoul National University professor Lee Jeong-bin. That new technology was DNA fingerprint analysis. Britain and the U.S. first convicted criminals based on DNA evidence in 1988 and 1989, respectively.

The team investigating the ninth Hwaseong murder asked a Japanese laboratory to analyze DNA evidence found on the victim’s body, but the analysis didn’t correspond.

In the movie “Memories of Murder,” there is a scene in which disappointed detectives throw data from Japan into the air in disgust, but the scene is fictional and was inserted in order to heighten the film’s dramatic effect.

In the Hwaseong murders, bodily fluids were found on the victims’ bodies in almost every case since the first in September 1986.

Kim expressed regret, saying, “If the methods for analyzing DNA evidence could have been used beginning with the first case, the chances of catching the criminal responsible would have been greater.”

The probability of an individual’s DNA matching with another person’s by chance is one in 100 billion. DNA fingerprint analysis is also used to confirm paternity or identify the remains of soldiers. There is even a case where a convicted murderer, found guilty before the advent of DNA analysis, was found to be innocent thanks to the new technology.

A rapist was arrested thanks to DNA fingerprint analysis on January 19. It is difficult for a “Memories of Murder”-type mystery to exist these days.

Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial Writer, hthwang@donga.com