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Korean-Chinese suspected of killing activist’s mother

Police are investigating the possibility that an ethnic Korean of Chinese nationality may have killed the mother of a senior member of a conservative civic group earlier this month, officials said Tuesday.

Police said that DNA detected at the scene was identical to that of an ethnic Korean suspected of having robbed a house last April in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, where many ethnic Koreans from China reside.

The 75-year-old victim, only identified by her surname Han, is the mother of the secretary-general of the Korea Parent Federation, which was established in May 2006 to “stamp out leftist pro-North Korea forces.”

On March 10, Han’s body was found inside her own shop in Mia-dong, northern Seoul, by a neighbor. She had apparently been hit in the head.

Investigators said that the victim of the robbery a year ago stated that the culprit had an unusual accent often used by ethnic Koreans from China. They also noted that many criminals who were ethnic Koreans had hit victims in the head with weapons in past cases.

Police are now trying to track down the suspect. They have extracted DNA samples of some 90 ethnic Koreans from China and foreign nationals in Dearim-dong in Seoul. They have sent the samples to the National Fonensic Service for analysis.

The murder case has sparked speculation that Han may have been killed by terrorists, possibly from the North, or by pro-North Korea leftist figures as her son’s group has engaged in a series of activities that could provoke the communist regime.

The KPF, with some 1,500 registered members over the age of 70, has sent anti-North propaganda leaflets across the inter-Korean border toward the North in recent years. It has also been leading moves to address issues over South Korean soldiers and citizens being held by the North.

While leaving open all possibilities including a simple robbery, the group has taken a cautious stance. “We should wait until the results of the police investigation come out,” a KPF official told The Korea Herald, refusing to be named.

Meanwhile, some 20 groups of North Korean defectors said that they will fly anti-North propaganda leaflets in balloons to the North from Baengnyeong Island on Friday and Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the sinking of the corvette Cheonan.

The event was originally scheduled to take place on March 12, but postponed following the death of Han.

The North has responded sensitively to such leaflet-sending events as they could inform its people and pose a threat to its regime.

During the event, led by the Fighters for Free North Korea, the groups will fly some 200,000 leaflets and memory sticks that contain videos, designed to awaken North Koreans living in the tightly-controlled society with little access to outside information.

The leaflets include messages pinpointing North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as the culprit for the sinking that killed 46 sailors; criticizing the lavish lifestyle of his three sons; and comparing Kim with other autocratic rulers such as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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