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Father Desperate to Find Missing Daughter

Posted March. 21, 2008 03:00,   


Yun Bong-won, 45, joined the search by police officers and retired commandos at the upper part of Gunja Stream in Siheung, Gyeonggi Province, where some of body parts of Woo Ye-seul, one of the missing school girls, were found on Tuesday.

He lost his daughter when she went missing on her way from a school field study nine years ago. She was in the second grade at the same elementary school that Woo attended.

He said, “I am fully aware that the body would hardly be my daughter. But I feel desperate to delve the ground all over the country to find her.” He spent all night in Woo’s funeral chapel prepared in Anyang City.

▽ Lack of early investigation

Parents of missing children lamented over the murder of the school girls, Lee Hye-jin and Woo who had gone missing on Christmas day last year, saying, “We really hoped the police would find the living girls, not the bodies.”

They blamed the police, saying, “This was the result of their disregard of our request for earlier investigation into missing cases. We demanded the police not handle these cases as a simple report of runaway children.”

When a child is kidnapped, the possibility of finding the child alive is drastically cut unless the case is settled within 12 hours. Under current police practices, however, police start its investigation in 24 hours after receiving a report, unless they have specific evidence of a crime, such as witness statement.

In the case of Lee and Woo’s disappearance, police gave an official order of the Amber Alert system for missing children after a week passed.

For these reasons, parents of missing children would rather take their own hands to find their loved ones, instead of relying on police investigation.

Park Hye-sook, a mother who had lost her four-year-old son five years ago, resented, complaining about the insincerity of police, “I went to the police station to report my child’s missing only to hear that I should return home and wait for my son. They even refused my missing child report, saying he would come home soon. How can I trust such incompetent police?”

▽ Urgent need for a task force team dealing with missing children

Although each year sees a dramatic rise in the number of missing children, police has remained idle in handling of missing children cases as it has neither a task force team nor trained experts.

The typical police department has one or two police officers in charge of receiving report of missing children and most of such investigations are dealt with those in charge of violent crimes.

A police officer said, “Investigators usually refrain from launching the probe into cases of missing children since they take much time and energy. Police officers are running out of time due to piles of criminal investigation cases to deal with. Thus, it is true that we can’t afford to search for missing children.”

Professor Pyo Chang-won at the National Police Academy in Korea said, “As for advanced countries, they have specialized divisions in charge of missing children such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. or the Police Administration in the U.K. Unfortunately, the shortage of manpower and specialists in police stations here are often attributed to the failure of securing crucial evidence.”

Police has been reinvestigating the cases of missing children nationwide this month.