[Seoul, South Korea] The family of Sunny Kim is asking for help in sharing her story.
On May 2nd, 2015, the suspect, identified only by his surname, Lee (25), murdered his girlfriend Sunny Kim (26) by strangling her to death in her sleep after she broke up with him earlier that day.
(Note, the South Korean judicial system does not allow the identification of victims or suspects of a crime without approval. Sunny Kim’s family has approved the use of her name in the media. However, the suspect will only be referred to by his surname, Lee.)
Mr. Lee placed Sunny’s dead body in a wheeled luggage bag, captured on surveillance footage. He then proceeded to drive, body in tow, to a forested area at a nearby hill. He then poured cement and naphthalene over her body to hide the scent of her cadaver and left the scene.
To avoid suspicion, Mr. Lee impersonated Sunny, using her own cell phone to post on social media and chat with family and friends for weeks. It was only until Sunny’s employer questioned why their newly hired employee had not shown up for work that Mr. Lee’s façade began to unravel.
Sunny Kim graduated from the University at Albany (SUNY) in 2011 with a degree in Economics and East Asian Studies. She was working as a professor in Busan, South Korea when she first met Mr. Lee. The two eventually started a relationship.
On May 2nd, the day of the crime, Sunny had just landed a job offer and signed her contract for a salary of about $135,000 USD (₩ 150 million KRW). The company grew suspect after Sunny failed to show up for work for days. The company tried to contact Sunny to inquire about her whereabouts and to recoup the money if she no longer planned to work. It was then that Mr. Lee, pretending to be Sunny, sent a message to the company saying “Don’t contact me. I am going back to the United States to study.”
At the same time, Sunny’s family was also wondering where their daughter was, as their family was close and communicated regularly with one another. The family received notice from Sunny’s employer over the breach of contract. Seeing this as uncharacteristic of Sunny, they re-doubled on efforts to contact Sunny.
With the pressure mounting on Sunny’s whereabouts, Mr. Lee called 911, stating “I killed my girlfriend and buried her body. I also tried to kill myself.”
However, Sunny’s family is not convinced that this was a genuine act of guilt or remorse on Mr. Lee’s part. Sunny’s younger brother, Sun-Baek Kim (21), believes that Mr. Lee never really planned to kill himself. Rather, he pretended to do so in an attempt to gain sympathy from the authorities to receive a lesser punishment for his crime.
In fact, Sun-baek and his family have gathered multiple pieces of evidence from Sunny’s friends that show Mr. Lee had a long history of abuse towards his sister. The pictures show multiple bruises on Sunny’s face, black eyes, and broken fingers, sustained after attacks by Mr. Lee. All this points to an escalation of violence by Mr. Lee, and not a random act of violence that led to murder.
A South Korean TV program, Curious Story Y, featured Sunny’s story. In it, a prominent criminal psychologist, Dr. Changwon Pyo, stated his opinion that Mr. Lee’s motive for the murder was likely two-fold: retaliation for Sunny leaving him and a way in which to “keep Sunny to himself forever.” Pyo’s professional opinion is that Mr. Lee planned this murder beforehand and that it was “no accident.”
Perhaps the most heartbreaking detail of the case was the last message Sunny sent to her family on the same day of her death. In it, she writes, “I got a job, let’s get together soon.”
Sadly, what should’ve been a time of celebration has turned into tragedy. Sunny’s family is grieving but is also afraid that Mr. Lee will indeed receive a lesser punishment for his crime due to his suicide attempt. When Dr. Bokjun Kim, a South Korean police academy professor, was asked by a news reporter on whether or not Mr. Lee’s suicide attempt might lessen his punishment, Dr. Kim replied, “Yes, that is a possibility.”
Thus, please share Sunny’s story – give a voice to her suffering and unjust death at the hands of a violent man who stole the life of a loving daughter, sister and friend who had such a bright future ahead of her. Help get justice for Sunny Kim. #StoryofSunny
100% of the funds raised will go to Sunny’s family to help with funeral and legal expenses.
Korean News Media Links
News Feature of Sunny’s Story w/ Comments by Dr. Changwon Pyo [in Korean]: http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/k2oiqiosLi2YG3bkvSa
“Help Bring Justice to the Man who Killed my Sister” [In Korean]: http://www.insight.co.kr/view.php?ArtNo=22168&fb_ref=Default
Photo Slideshow Article [In Korean]: http://www.etoday.co.kr/issue/newsview.php?idxno=1132277
MBN News Article w/ Commentary by Dr. Bokjun Kim [in Korean]: http://m.media.daum.net/m/media/society/newsview/20150522124511805