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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Jungmin’s Return

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In his most recent blog post titled, Jungmin’s Return, Son Jung Min’s father makes the bold claim that he found clear evidence in his son’s pockets that point to an unnatural cause of passing. He made it clear that this evidence of Jungmin’s face mask points to a culprit, not an accident. It’s been six months since the mysterious events at the Banpo Han River Park gripped the nation and threw the credibility of the Seoul police force into doubt. And in a bizarre conjunction, the Seocho Police Department announced for the second time that the Son Jung Min case had been closed and cleared of any criminal links due to the lack of evidence. Despite promising to assist with Mr. Son’s criminal filings after the abrupt closing of the case the first time, the police never once contacted SJM’s father about their progress over the past four months and unilaterally ended the investigation… again.

Thanking all of the supporters who gave him the strength to keep fighting, Son Jung Min’s dad said he was mentally prepared to go last Friday to the Seocho police department to retrieve some of Son Jung Min’s belongings, which were part of the investigation. He said he wanted to draw our attention specifically to SJM’s face mask, which we in Korea all wear religiously even now. We especially did back in April 2021 when constrained vaccine supplies meant vaccination rates stayed low. At first, he said he thought little of the mask being stuffed into his son’s pocket. But then, upon further reflection, he now sees this as irrefutable evidence of foul play. 

So what is the significance of the mask?

Mr. Son says the CCTV evidence showed that his son wore his mask without fail every time we saw him in public – in the bunny tunnel, at the convenience store and when going to meet the Coupang Eats delivery man. He said it would make sense that while drinking his son would keep his mask in his pocket because he would need it again on his return home. However, the mask in the pocket is further proof that Jung Min never strayed far from the picnic mat. It only emboldens the CCTV footage that shows he fell over the riverbank at 3:31 a.m. At 2:18 a.m., a photo shows him passed out. His cell phone never left Mr. A’s possession until SJM’s parents asked for it when they randomly bumped into him the next morning. Mr. Son believes the mask was still in his son’s pocket because he fell over the riverbank in this condition and was placed in the water against his own will. Mr. Son seems to imply that SJM was still passed out when he was shoved down the embankment. 

Moreover, the fishermen have lost all credibility as witnesses. It’s now confirmed that they testified that they saw a middle-aged man enter the water. That rules out the possibility of Jung Min. However, why was this detail never mentioned by the police in their report or in their announcements to the press? Instead, the police reported that they received photo and video evidence that Son Jung Min had played in the water at least once in his life or at least stood inside a pool – therefore, making it possible that he purposefully drowned himself in the river. WTF? This completely destroys the credibility of the police department again. Mr. Son says it’s self-evident that there is a criminal on the loose.

Mr. Son says upon further deduction, it’s clear that there were people who were loitering around the area the next morning to make sure that SJM did not bob back up from the river. Had he entered the water voluntarily as posited for a refreshing swim, he would have left his mask, wallet and shoes on the riverbank. Yet, his mask and wallet were in his pants and his shoes were missing. Plus, he hated the water and never went swimming. SJM’s father believes there must have been someone who entered the water to ‘secure’ his son’s body under water. Perhaps that explains the fishermen’s account of a middle-aged man going into the river?

He also posted a link to another petition to the presidential office that a concerned citizen created. https://www1.president.go.kr/petitions/601824

I believe anyone can sign this with a variety of social media logins. Give it a shot. Though they didn’t reply favorably to the last petition even though it got 500,000 signatures, it may serve as a platform to launch another discussion.

The moment at 3:31 a.m. when SJM’s father believes his son was pushed over the river bank. Immediately after you see another figure jump down. Then, you see the two witnesses check out the scene and run away – seemingly horrified.

Major Oversights of the Investigation

The following pieces of evidence were not investigated by the police:

  1. 3:31 a.m. Fall over the riverbank
  2. 3:37 a.m. Mr. A’s suspicious actions inconsistent with evidence and eyewitness testimony
  3. Mr. A’s own admission that he dragged up SJM’s body from the riverbank
  4. 5:14 a.m. Mr. A’s father meets a suspicious man with a bag to conduct a transaction

The Police End the Investigation a Second Time

On Sunday afternoon, the Seocho police department announced that their investigation into Son Jung Min’s disappearance had been closed, again. In heavily stilted language, many media reports led the sentence with ‘disappearance after drinking’. In fact, grammatically in Korean, the word drinking actually comes before disappearance. 지난 4월 서울 한강공원에서 술을 마신 뒤 실종됐다가 숨진 채 발견된 고 손정민씨… 

They cited lack of evidence of any criminal wrongdoing. However, critics are saying this language is now in stark contrast to previous claims of ‘no evidence whatsoever’, a position especially touted by the so-called criminal profilers featured on the highly rated TV show, Unanswered Questions, which was rushed into production to give support to the main suspect and his family. 

The police state that they made the decision on October 22nd to end the investigation and reject any request to transfer the investigation to the prosecution. On June 23rd, SJM’s family filed criminal charges of violent physical assault and abandonment against Mr. A. On June 29th, the police opened a special investigation committee into the case and disbanded right away – ruling that the investigation could find no evidence of criminal negligence. However, it said it would keep one investigation team on the case to respond to the Son family’s charges. They submitted SJM’s t-shirt to the National Forensic service but found nothing suspicious that would trigger an investigation. 

The police reportedly looked at SJM’s head wounds again but found no evidence that they were linked to the direct cause of his death. They added that Mr. A had endured investigations for four months, but there was no evidence found that could link him to any crime. 

SJM’s parents protested the police’s refusal to send the case to the prosecution. They can request the case move over the prosecution themselves. Then, the prosecution can request that the police investigate the case again. 

Korea’s Laws on Privacy

Even in public spaces you are guaranteed the right to privacy. People cannot take your photo without your consent. They especially cannot distribute it. Even truth cannot be considered free from libel or slander unless it’s been deemed to be in the public interest. This even applies to someone who has died.

Beyond fear of public shame and the ease of weaponizing private details, there’s great latitude in Korean society for having a double life to let off steam. Since the official role you have to play is full of strain and oppression, people are willing to accept a messy release valve from everybody including themselves. Nobody wants to see it and everybody’s been there so there’s a general acceptance that a hidden shield is better for everyone. Once you lift the carpet, there’s a lot of dirt underneath. And everyone knows it. That’s why you have resistance in Korea whereas in the United States, if you’re doing something shady in public, you’re most likely doing something really shady. Because life is freer, you don’t need secret lives of sin as much to maintain your sanity and social harmony. Thus, people are more willing to be filmed in public as odds are they’re not doing anything crazy. And even if they were, nobody really cares so weaponization is low and it reflects more poorly on the accuser than the accused. And if anything really does go wrong, Americans have stronger institutions that are non-partial where you can stand up for yourself, report it to authorities and expect to get a fairer result. Not so in a nation where we see from this case — the father said he was foolish to trust the police. And the police are withholding evidence in their own investigation.

Moral Relativity

In the Yoo Young Chul case, Korea’s famous serial killer, which is now a Netflix special, a major whistleblower was a former cop who became an owner of a service for ladies of the night. He noticed that many of his employees were going missing and then one customer called to request services. He recognized the number because it belonged to one of his missing girls. He started making calls to his contacts within the police force. He couldn’t get the right teams to take him seriously at first so he worked the different teams he had in his pocket. OK, talk about vigilante justice. And moral relativism. He had access because he was an ex-cop. But he had continuous contact because he was in a business that fed cops bribes. And because of said bribes, he was one of the ‘good guys’ and now he was going to be a hero and help catch a criminal.

Now let’s say this former cop who had this business needed a favor and a coverup. Don’t you think the cops will go the extra mile to help one of the ‘good guys’ in the world? 

Imagine a doctor who helped save many girls and men in dire predicaments from this trade throughout the decades. Wouldn’t he be one of the ‘good guys’ that earned some protection too? Especially if his son just made a bad choice after a fatal accident?

In their minds, this son is not a criminal. And certainly not on the level of a serial killer.

The same profilers who appeared in the documentary on the Yoo Young Chul case show up in Unanswered Questions. You can see how they would feel they’ve seen much, much worse. You can see how their moral relativism would put this case in a different category. Good for them if they have the power to play God, judge and jury outside the corrupted legal system they work in. But had the tables been turned and Mr. A were the victim, you’d see the same institution bring their force upon the Son family to get ‘justice’. They take care of their own. Their clan.

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