It should have been obvious before, but we already have the evidence we need in the Han Rivergate case to solve what happened to Son Jung Min the night he went missing at the Banpo Han River Park. Before lawyers got involved, Mr. A and his family sat down with SJM’s family and recounted details of the night. An expert public relations campaign has led the public to forget Mr. A has already confessed to being directly involved with SJM’s fall over the riverbank.
With CCTV footage, it’s clear the timestamp is 3:31 a.m. From the video evidence, it’s also proof that Mr. A has been caught in a lie about dragging his friend back to safety. SJM stayed down by the river. He never made it back up to the grassy knoll. Now it’s obvious that Mr. A’s family lawyers, the police and a television station may have colluded to obscure the actions at 3:31 a.m. according to SJM’s father. SJM’s father can’t help but cry these days as he’s writing letters to his son on his blog as he’s answering questions about the case to the public and to SJM’s spirit.
In his letter over the Chuseok holidays at the end of September, he noted it’s already been about four months since his funeral in early May. At that time, SJM’s dad said he didn’t have the wherewithal for reflection, but in this letter today he wanted to over some key points.
Here’s a translated version of his blog entry: https://blog.naver.com/valky9/222522287012, which is in the form of a letter to his son.
Of course the biggest shock was that while we and the police were searching for you, this suspect whom we called a ‘friend’ had appointed a lawyer. As the last person to have seen you, who couldn’t save you, nor let alone even help you, it struck us as odd. At the time, we were too focused on trying to find you to give it more thought. But as time passed, it became clearer that his getting a lawyer rather than helping with the search was clearly suspicious.
We also lost out on gathering key evidence right away during that ‘golden time’. There were many people who offered to help, but it was hard to determine who had good intentions vs. bad agendas. I thought the TV show “Unanswered Questions” would help uncover the truth so I met with them at the time. But they just took the side of the suspect’s lawyer, who was a former police officer. I regret that now. I think it was careless for me to think that it would be enough to put our faith solely in the hands of the police during the initial weeks after your discovery. With that foolish move, I let that precious month of May slip by. And by May 27th, the police, the lawyer and “Unanswered Questions” joined forces in an unholy alliance to strike against us.
Without even a debate, the three forces sent their unified message to the public and made the majority of Koreans believe that your case had been wrapped up. As you saw from the petition, once a conclusion has been made in the public conscience, it’s very hard to change people’s minds.
That’s when I started to believe we shouldn’t trust the police. With the help of many people, we started to uncover evidence of the many contradictions in this case. In reality, after the May 27th press conference of the mid-investigation police report, the police have not conducted any new significant investigation. It looks like they just wanted to bide their time to maintain the conclusions they already made. However, during the month of May the police held numerous briefings that contained embarrassing mistakes and “Unanswered Questions” broadcast assertions with factual errors and manipulative reporting. And after that the briefings stopped completely.
Out of the blue, the police contacted us on the day of the press briefing of the mid-investigation police report on May 27th. They offered to show us CCTV footage for the first time. We asked about the 3:31 a.m. theory of your falling over the riverbank and the police had already known about it. This was also the day we learned about the tests on the blood stains on the rocks. Of course both these alarming pieces of evidence did not make it into the police report or the public announcement. In addition to the 3:31 a.m. footage not making it into the police report, we found many other strange inconsistencies on this day.
There was no mention of Mister A’s t-shirt being thrown away despite other articles worn that day being collected as evidence. That was really strange of the police. Even the socks he submitted were a fresh new pair that were in his bag and not the ones he wore on the evening in question. The really suspicious fishermen. And other inconsistencies. Most importantly, the photo evidence and the witness testimony recorded by the police did not match. It did not add up. They just pieced together the story they wanted the public to believe. They led the innocent public with a trail of dubious breadcrumbs so that they would falsely conclude that the dirt on your socks and the dubious testimony of the fishermen claiming someone went swimming at 4:40 a.m. meant that you woke up from sleeping and decided to walk in the water. Two days later, the TV program “Unanswered Questions” also pushed this narrative and spread it to the country with their fake reporting. On that same day, Mister A’s reporter released his second public statement. A three-pronged attack.
Knowing that we could no longer trust anyone else in this world, we relied on the 3:31 a.m. CCTV video recording and the audio recording of Mister A and his father’s meeting with us as the basis of our filing criminal charges against Mister A. The police said they weren’t going to close the case and they moved it to a special investigation committee. We filed our criminal charges. Then suddenly, the special investigation committee (which was supposed to meet for at least 2 weeks) announced the final results of its findings. However, the report we received had no transparency and no content of what was discussed or debated. It just had the final conclusion that there was no criminal link to your case. I always thought highly of the police and thought that if there were reasonable findings in your investigation that they would make them public. However, they have provided absolutely no explanations for your disappearance. Not even a theory.
Whenever we ask to view the CCTV, the police say they’re too busy and deny our request. They also deny our request to view CCTV of the day after 5 a.m. because they say that time period has nothing to do with the case.
Also, there has been no progress for months into the investigation into the criminal charges we filed. There’s absolutely no way to trust the police at this point.
It’s been 3 months since we’ve filed the criminal charges. I doubt that anything fair will come out of that police department. While we were waiting, we successfully filed a complaint against the TV show “Unanswered Questions” with the media arbitration board. And we got 100,000 people to sign a petition to the National Assembly to re-investigate your case.
We’re done with all the BS coming out of the police department. Right now, we can only trust the people’s representatives at the National Assembly. However, because we’re in campaign season for the presidential election, nothing is for certain.
We’re not asking for the police to do another investigation. It’s not necessary. We already have audio recordings of Mister A and his family from our meeting the day after your disappearance. That’s when they had already destroyed the evidence of his clothes and shoes before coming to meet us.
Audio Recording #1:
Well, one thing I remember… Jung Min was… the picture I remember was… he ran and you know that slope? That’s where he fell.
Audio Recording #2:
A: So he was running and then he yelped ‘ack’ and stumbled down. So then as I was dragging that thing back up, my clothes and shoes got all muddy. So…
SJM’s Parents: Where? Where did he fall?
A: Uh, So… that slope you saw. There was a slope and the riverbank. And the river. That hill with the embankment. Yeah, there.
SJM’s Parents: There? That’s the place where he fell?
A: He fell. Yeah.
Then when we asked about the 3:37 a.m. call to his parents that they had previously kept hidden, listen to how Mr. A’s father stutters as he recalls what happened.
Audio Recording #3:
Mister A’s Father: So when I heard he dragged him up like that after I went to the Han River later… later… I said, “So he fell down there?” But my son said he didn’t really fall, but sort of was hanging there… he used the expression “hanging”.
SJM’S Parents: So SJM was on the side of the river, then? On that side?
Mister A’s Father: Yeah, yeah. I think so. I don’t think he was totally at the bottom but sort of just slumped there I think. My son dragged up the dangling kid. Ah, that…
SJM’S Parents: That’s the side of the Han River right? There’s the ground and that little valley type area.
Mister A’s Father: Ah, well, that…
SJM’s Parents: That’s correct, right?
Mister A’s Father: Yeah, that seems right. It seems right. Yes. Ah, also… also… it might just be circumstantial but I…
Exactly where is this place that he’s referring to here? Your so-called friend, the suspect, has never once come out to show us. We asked but only his parents came out to the park but it was of no help. We even went as far as north of the river to look for you.
After watching the CCTV footage that has been available hundreds of times, there is one area of truth that intersects with the audio testimony above – the moment at 3:31 a.m. He claims to have dragged you back up to the grassy knoll to sleep after 3:31 a.m., but no witnesses saw you after then. The police have not even once gone to investigate the site of your fall. How they could not do so with a testimony with such a fresh memory is quite a mystery.
Also in the 3:37 a.m. ‘picture of the moon’ that captured Mr. A on the phone, you’re nowhere to be seen. That means the only other place you could be is on top of the rocks near the riverbank. This doesn’t match his testimony above. The phone call that he made to his parents, which he hid from us, also doesn’t match his testimony above. Even an elementary school student can tell something is off about that. The police just stuck to their own implausible reasoning and never gave an explanation about this inconsistency in facts. It’s probably because whatever they say, nothing would make sense.
According to the results of the autopsy, behind your head, there were two open concussions. On your right cheek there was internal hemorrhaging. They were caused by blunt force trauma sustained while you were alive. However, these facts were widely ignored. Instead, the focus was placed on how those injuries weren’t the main cause of your death. However, the police have shown no trace of how they reached that conclusion so quickly when they announced it. On the day the police found your body, the police had not yet conducted an autopsy. Yet they released reports to the media that your injuries were due to scrapes from currents in the river. Those reporters who wrote that false account have never revealed their source in the police department. And I doubt any police officer would fess up to saying they told this lie to reporters.
It breaks my heart to witness the police failing to investigate and instead just lead the public on through the media. However, no matter how much we can’t trust them, since they have the power to investigate, we will always be in a powerless position against them. It’s stifling and unfair.
When I reflect upon why, it’s clear I should’ve spoken up about the botched initial investigation. Otherwise, the crucial evidence at 3:31 a.m. and 3:37 wouldn’t have been ignored. That’s how they got away with parroting their phrase of ‘no criminal connection’ to the case. Why did they wrap up the case without explanation and embarrassingly try to cover their tracks? After expanding their powers, the police really messed this case up. They probably did not want to close this case as an unsolved mystery after sending it to a special committee. If they couldn’t admit they botched the initial investigation, they should’ve left it an open case with no end date so that even the smallest detail can be submitted and the investigation continued.
A few days ago I went to the police station and ran into a reporter who had interviewed us before. I was happy to see them but they were a bit surprised. When I had asked why they were there, they said they were there to give their Chuseok greetings to their police contacts. It was in that moment when I heard that and saw the awkward expression on his face that I realized the business we were wrapped up in. It would be hard for the reporter to ask the police for a re-investigation into our case because they also rely on the police to feed them information on other cases. Without friendly relations with the police, they can’t do their jobs properly. They have to see each other everyday to exchange information and be pals. They can’t burn bridges just because of us.
Even though we cleared the first hurdle with the National Assembly petition, nothing about the road ahead looks easy. But I’ve seen hope. If everything had gone their way, your case would’ve been buried and all these people wouldn’t have cared. Even having come this far proves that hope exists. Just as no one could expect what had happened to get us here, who knows what will happen next? But two things will be for certain: first, we will find out what sort of country we live in and second, your father will have done everything to find the cause of your death. Also, beyond our expectations, all these people are sending you love and holding you in their hearts. Please don’t worry about us. We will make sure those who wronged you will pay.
SIGN THE PETITION! https://www.change.org/sonjungmin