Police arrested a woman in her 40s, believed to be the mother of the dead children, in Ulsan on Thursday in connection with the two bodies of children found in secondhand suitcases sold in New Zealand last month.
According to the National Police Agency, the Ulsan Jungbu Police Station arrested the 42-year-old woman of Korean descent from an apartment in Ulsan around 1 a.m. on Thursday. She is charged with the murder of her biological children, a 7-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, in Auckland, New Zealand, around 2018.
As the New Zealand police have requested a cooperative investigation through the International Criminal Police Agency (Interpol), the Korean police have been tracking her using her domestic residence records, medical records, and phone number. The police found out where she was staying and arrested her after the launch of an undercover investigation. After entering the country, she is said to have lived in Seoul and some other places, and since the beginning of this year, she has been staying with her acquaintance in Ulsan.
It is said that she disclosed her identity without any resistance at the time of the arrest. On the same day, when she was handed over from Ulsan to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, she repeated three times in a relatively calm voice, "(I) didn't do it," to reporters' questions about whether she accepted the charges.
According to the local media "NZ Herald," Vice Chairman Kim Mi-jin of the Korean Association of New Zealand said, "I heard that the woman’s depression got worse after her husband died of cancer in 2017, but she did not receive any support."
The children's bodies were found on Aug. 11 in two suitcases a family bought through an online second-hand auction in southern Auckland, New Zealand. The local police believed the children's mother moved to Korea and requested Korean police to launch an investigation jointly. Accordingly, the Ministry of Justice ordered the Seoul High Prosecutor's Office a provisional arrest. Provisional arrest refers to the arrest and detention of a criminal subject to an extradition request.
Upon arrest, New Zealand authorities need to file a request for extradition with the South Korean Justice Ministry within 45 days from the date of arrest under the extradition treaty between the two countries. After that, the review of the Justice Ministry’s request, the Seoul High Prosecutors' Office's request for extradition review, and the extradition trial by the court will finally conclude whether to repatriate her back to New Zealand.