Couple left dead baby in kimchi container for three years, South Korean police say

Representational image: A snack vendor prepares food at a stall on a street in Seoul  (AFP via Getty Images)
Representational image: A snack vendor prepares food at a stall on a street in Seoul (AFP via Getty Images)

A couple in South Korea was arrested after being accused of hiding their dead infant in a plastic kimchi container for three years.

Police in Pocheon, Gyeonggi province are investigating the parents of the 15-month-old infant, whose body was kept in a container measuring 35cm long, 24cm wide and 17cm tall, for three years after it died.

The Korea Herald newspaper reported that the 34-year-old mother of the baby was suspected of having left the infant to die at the couple’s home, while the father, 29, was in prison.

After the infant died, she allegedly kept the body at home and when the father was discharged from prison, he moved the body to his parents’ home. It was unclear why the man was in jail at the time.

The couple’s identities have not been disclosed by officials.

The father had allegedly put the body in a plastic container used to store kimchi and hid it on the rooftop of his parents’ house.

Police found the infant was not registered on any preschool rosters and had not received doctors’ checkups. In South Korea, parents register their babies in schools as soon as possible to not miss out on a school seat in the country’s highly competitive admissions system.

City authorities reported the mother missing on October 27 after failing to contact her. But three days later on 30 October, the police booked the mother on suspicion of violating child welfare laws.

During her interrogation by the police, the 34-year-old mother denied her daughter had died. Instead, she claimed she had abandoned her baby on a street.

But in subsequent interviews, police officials said she admitted hiding the child’s body with her husband.

Police suspect the infant died while the father was in prison and, after he was discharged, the couple hid the container on his parents’ rooftop.

The father was arrested by police on 16 November, two days after officials found the baby in the container, said the Herald report.

Police are still investigating how the infant died and evaluating possible motives of the parents.

If found guilty of fatal child abuse crimes, the parents can be punished with a minimum five year sentence or life imprisonment with labour.