North Korean defector arrested after body found in suitcase

defector
South Korea police arrested a North Korean defector in connection to a homicide in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on Tuesday. (Yonhap/EPA-EFE file photo via UPI)

HWASEONG, South Korea (UPI) — A North Korean defector was arrested in connection to the murder of a woman, another defector in the South, after police found her body stuffed inside a suitcase, according to local press reports.

South Korean police in the city of Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, said Tuesday they have arrested a man who may have been in a domestic partnership with the victim at the time of her death, local newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported.

The suitcase containing her clothed body with stab wounds was found inside a second-floor apartment where the couple resided at the time of the woman’s death, according to multiple press reports.

The defendant, identified only as a 40-year-old North Korean defector, was reportedly engaged in a physical altercation with the victim, a 36-year-old woman, before she was stabbed.

According to the defendant’s testimony to police, the victim tried to stab him during a verbal argument. The defendant said he snatched the weapon from the victim then used it against her. The defendant also had stab wounds on his body, police said.

Police in Hwaseong said the defector will be charged with murder. Police also said the incident took place on Sunday morning, and that the defendant had fatally stabbed the victim in the neck. Police reportedly launched an investigation after an acquaintance of the victim reported she had become “unreachable.”

The two North Koreans had resettled in the South in 2019 and first met at Hanawon, the South Korean government-run detention and re-education center, local paper Donga Ilbo reported Tuesday.

The defendant fled the scene of the crime, and police were able to track him down using mobile positioning on the defendant’s phone that disclosed its actual coordinates.

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According to the Donga, police said the defendant “generally acknowledges” his crimes, and that they plan to send the victim’s body to Seoul’s National Forensic Service for further analysis.

Neither defector had immediate family in the South, reports say.

According to South Korean government statistics, there are now more than 33,000 North Korean defectors in the South.

Reporting by Elizabeth Shim

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