Korean arrested in NZ suitcase bodies case

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New Zealand is seeking the extradition of a woman from South Korea over the murder of two children whose bodies were found in abandoned suitcases last month.

On Thursday, New Zealand police announced a 42-year-old woman had been arrested on a Korean warrant issued on request from Auckland.

Korean media is reporting the detained woman is the mother of the deceased children.

"NZ Police have applied to have her extradited back to New Zealand to face the charges and have requested she remain in custody whilst awaiting the completion of the extradition process," Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa'amanuia Vaaelua said.

An extradition treaty exists between the two countries, meaning the move is likely to succeed; although it remains subject to a Korean court ruling.

Media outlet YTN reported the woman was arrested in Ulsan, a city in South Korea's southeast, where she has been living since 2018.

The Korean news channel said the police raid occurred at 1am on Thursday morning local time.

"To have someone in custody overseas within such a short period of time has all been down to the assistance of the Korean authorities and the co-ordination by our NZ Police Interpol staff," Mr Vaaelua said.

The gruesome discovery of the human remains inside two suitcases last month shocked Kiwis and led police to open a homicide investigation.

The bodies were discovered by a family who purchased the contents of an abandoned storage locker in South Auckland at auction, without knowing what was inside.

A police assessment suggested the remains belonged to two children, aged between five and 10 years old.

"Early indications suggest these children may have been deceased for a number of years before being found," Det Insp Vaaelua said at the time.

"We also believe the suitcases have been in storage for a number of years."

Neighbours, including a crematorium worker, told local media of a "wicked smell" in the area when the remains were first unearthed.

NZ Police began working with Interpol after identifying international links through their investigation.

They completed formal identification last month, but the coroner issued a non-publication order to suppress the children's identities at the family's request.

"This is no easy investigation," Det Insp Vaaelua said last month.

"No matter how long, or how many years, you serve and investigate horrific cases like this, it's never an easy task."