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Woman in mysterious child death case gets suspended prison term in retrial

15:41 February 02, 2023

DAEGU, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- A woman was given a suspended prison term in a retrial on Thursday in connection with the mysterious disappearance and deaths of two 3-year-old girls.

Reversing an earlier prison term of eight years, the appellate division of the Daegu District Court sentenced the 50-year-old woman, surnamed Seok, to two years in prison, suspended for three years.

The court acquitted Seok of charges that she had switched her 3-year-old daughter with her granddaughter of the same age years ago in the southeastern city of Gumi.

The case first surfaced in 2021 when the mummified remains of a 3-year-old girl was found at the former home of Seok's daughter, surnamed Kim. The girl is suspected to have died from starvation up to six months earlier.

However, it was only later found through DNA tests that Kim is not the mother of the girl, but her older sister. The child's supposed grandmother was in fact the biological mother.

Based on the DNA results, prosecutors added child abduction and switching charges against Seok by alleging that the two women gave birth around the same time and that their babies were switched at birth.

Prosecutors alleged that Seok had unloaded her newborn onto her eldest daughter to raise with her then husband. Kim had raised her younger sister by thinking that she was her daughter.

Seok, however, said she had not given birth to another child, insisting the DNA results are false. The whereabouts of the missing child remain unclear.

In previous rulings, the district and appeals courts had acknowledged the biological relationship between Seok and the dead girl, convicting her of switching the babies.

The Supreme Court, however, struck down the verdict, saying the DNA test results cannot stand as evidence for Seok's alleged switching of the babies.

On Thursday, the appellate court sided with the top court, acquitting Seok of switching babies and only convicting her of attempting to dispose of the body.

A Gumi woman (C), surnamed Seok, arrives at the Gimcheon branch of the Daegu District Court in Gimcheon, southeastern South Korea, to attend a hearing in a case involving the deaths of two girls, in this file photo taken Aug. 17, 2021. (Yonhap)


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