December 20, 2023
SEOUL – A South Korean teen murder suspect called emergency medical services immediately after her crime and asked what sort of punishment she would get, testimonies revealed at her trial on Monday.
The 18-year-old female suspect is accused of murdering her classmate after an argument on July 12 at the victim’s home in Daejeon, and is being tried by the Daejeon District Court. After the classmate’s death, the suspect called the 119 emergency number to report it and asked, “Is it true that I’ll get five years in prison for murder, since I’m a high school student?”
She also asked if confessing to a murder would reduce her punishment.
The suspect told the court Monday that she decided to ask the police because she could not find accurate information online. The suspect also said she considered killing herself after her crime, but said she was “scared, and thought it was irresponsible to just die.”
An investigation showed that the suspect had bullied the victim during the past two years of their acquaintance, leading the suspect to appear before a school disciplinary committee. Last year in July, school officials stepped in and relocated the suspect to another school.
In March of this year, the suspect contacted the victim again and the bullying continued, with the suspect sending threatening messages.
The bereaved family of the victim urged the court to hand down the harshest punishment allowed by the law.
“(My daughter) was cursed at and mocked for answering being late to a meeting with (the suspect), or answering her text late. She wasn’t (the suspect’s) friend. She was her underling,” the victim’s father told the court.
South Korean law states that those under the age of 19 are subject to the Juvenile Act, which stipulates that underage criminals can be punished up to 15 years in prison for a single criminal act, although repeat criminals of certain violent crimes such as murder can be sentenced up to 20 years.
The court is expected to conclude the trial by Jan. 11, 2024.