0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
... The son had become the country’s most wanted man after his father, Yoo Byung-eun, was declared dead Tuesday. The inconclusive result of the elder Yoo’s second autopsy was released yesterday.The 43-year-old son and Park Soo-kyung, a 33-year-old woman who served as his bodyguard and secretary, were apprehended without resistance.Park is a follower of the Evangelical Baptist Church, co-founded and led by the Yoo family patriarch, and the daughter of another key functionary for the Yoo family. Park is a certified Taekwondo referee.The police found 10 million won ($9,800) cash at the residence in which the two were staying. Police raided the residence after monitoring it since early May. ...A lawmaker of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy raised suspicions that the dead body was actually discovered before the Sewol ferry disaster, citing taped interviews with five residents of Suncheon Village, where Yoo’s remains were found.Representative Park Ji-won played the tapes at a meeting on Wednesday. The interviews have residents saying that they discovered the decomposed body ahead of the Sewol ferry disaster on April 16. “I interviewed five residents saying that they found the body before the ferry disaster,” Park said, “I think they [police] might have switched the bodies.”
Prosecutors found two bags containing W830 million and US$160,000 in cash when they raided a summer cottage in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province in May where ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon was hiding (US$1=W1,029). The bags were tagged with numbers 4, 5 and 6, suggesting that there are more bags somewhere else. Some suspect that a couple of bags were somehow handed over to Yoo's eldest son Dae-gyun, who has gone underground but is believed to be hiding somewhere in Korea. (He was arrested the evening this article was published)There is also speculation that the vast amounts of cash Yoo carried could have motivated someone to murder him, though forensic investigators have found no signs of foul play on the badly decomposed body.
A farmer who found Yoo Byung-eun's dead body is unlikely to receive the reward that was offered for information about his whereabouts. Park Yoon Seok discovered the fugitive's body on June 12 in a field near Yoo's vacation home in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province. At the time, Park did not know the dead man was Korea's most wanted criminal with a 500 million won ($487,186) reward being offered. According to National Police Agency regulations, reward money is only given to those who report a criminal's location so that police can apprehend him, or who hand them over to police. The purpose of the money is to catch criminals, not just to find them. Also, the regulations stipulate that in order to receive a reward, those who report the whereabouts of someone wanted by authorities must know that he might be the person for whom the police are looking. A source from the investigation team said the key is the "intention of the call." "There must be a record of his call to the police. If he said anything about Yoo, he will likely receive it," the source said. Talking to reporters nearby the scene, however, Park said, "I had no idea it was Yoo … I am just dumbfounded." Many people still believe he should receive "at least some money." "His contribution to closing the government's wasteful manhunt should be recognized. Thanks to his report, now we know Yoo is dead, and therefore it no longer has to use lots of resources to catch him," a 24-year-old college student, surnamed Jung, told The Korea Times. "Perhaps he should not get all the money promised. But he certainly deserves some of it." Some believe otherwise. "I do not think he should receive the money because he apparently did not know it was Yoo," a 26-year-old college student, surnamed Yoo, said. "If it is given, the rules are being violated." The government offered the biggest reward in history to catch Yoo, the de facto owner of the sunken ferry Sewol. It also offered 100 million won for information leading to the arrest of his eldest son. Yoo went on the run amid an intensifying investigation into what caused the ship tragedy that killed more than 300 people, mostly high school students. The National Forensic Service confirmed Friday that the dead body was Yoo, providing ample evidence, including DNA and chromosome matches. On May 25, someone called police to report seeing "many cars" near Yoo's vacation home in the region. That person missed out on the reward because police did not find Yoo during a subsequent search of the residence. Suncheon Police Station will soon form a special committee to decide whether to give the reward to Park.
On July 22, the National Forensic Service released the results of a fingerprint and DNA test of a dead body found in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, and confirmed that it was Yoo Byeong-eon (73), former chairman of the Semo Group. The news came ninety-eight days after the ferry accident, and ninety-four days since the prosecutors began their investigation of the Yoo family.Prosecutors will dismiss the case by stating “no arraignment right” after a final confirmation on the body’s identity. The chase in pursuit of Yoo, so-called “the largest operation to arrest a criminal since the founding of our nation” ended in a tragedy.In the police operation to arrest Yoo, which ended in failure, the incompetence of our country previously exposed in the ferry rescue operations were clearly revealed: failure to follow basic procedure, lack of a system, a political approach, measures just for show, and shattered trust. The government’s rescue operations and its handling of the ferry accident led citizens to ask, “Is this indeed a state?” “What is a country to the individual citizens?” The police and prosecutors’ operation to arrest Yoo was deja vu, it recalled the aftermath of the ferry accident. Prosecutors launched a public investigation of Yoo’s family on April 20, four days after the ferry accident. It was a rushed investigation which did not follow the formal procedures: internal investigation → securing of evidence through a search and seizure and a switch to a public investigation → locating the suspect’s whereabouts → judicial process. The prosecutors’ public investigation which began without proper preparations sounded an alarm for the Yoo family, telling them to “escape.”The investigation of the Yoo family, which began with a loud bang, became a black hole that swallowed every issue and problems concerning responsibility for the ferry disaster. Yoo was fingered as the main body of the ferry disaster. President Park Geun-hye personally ordered Yoo’s arrest five times. The Ministry of Security and Public Administration held temporary neighborhood meetings and encouraged people to report Yoo when they saw him. In his military uniform the head of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff attended a meeting of concerned ministries chaired by an assistant chief prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. More than 1.3 million police officers were dispatched to arrest Yoo, and the government even mobilized naval vessels. ...
After all the lavish galas in his honour at landmarks like the Louvre and Versailles, the tens of thousands of devotees following his religious teachings for decades, the hundreds of homes and businesses reportedly stashed around the globe, Yoo Byung-eun ended up alone, his body splayed on its back and rotting in the weeds, empty liquor bottles by his side.After a lifetime of craving recognition, of building a flock that showered him with cash and helped fund a business empire selling everything from toys to ships, Yoo found his moneymaking machine brought more than his own undoing, prosecutors say. It also contributed to one of the worst peacetime disasters in the nation's history - the sinking of the ferry Sewol in April that killed 304 passengers, the vast majority of them high school students.Millions of dollars from the web of companies, including the one that owns the ferry, went to Yoo, 73, and his two sons, prosecutors say, squeezed from the business through an increasingly perilous set of decisions that enriched his family at the expense of the passengers.Scores of cabins and even an art gallery laden with marble were added to the ferry's upper decks, making the ship top-heavy. So much extra cargo was crammed on board that there was sometimes no space to secure it properly with chains and lashings. And, prosecutors say, the ferry's crucial ballast water, needed to balance all the additional weight, was deliberately drained so the vessel would not sit too low - a telltale sign to inspectors that the ferry was dangerously overloaded to bring in more money."It was a miracle that the ship actually sailed as far as it did; it could have tipped over any time," said Kim Woo-sook, dean of the graduate school at Mokpo National Maritime University. "For them, cargo was cash."Reinventing a SwindlerScores of people have been arrested in connection with the sinking, including regulators, the captain, officers and members of the crew. But at the heart of the tragedy sits one of the nation's most eccentric, and now reviled, families."The Yoo Byung-eun family, which is the root cause of this calamity, is inviting the ire of the people by flouting the law rather than repenting before the people and helping reveal the truth," said President Park Geun-hye, who has also been widely criticised for her government's failure to prevent the disaster, much less find Yoo before his death. His wife and two of his four children are in custody, and one son remains at large.The Yoo family's representatives did not provide answers to questions about the disaster, their businesses or their church, although many church members have said, however, that Park is trying to demonise the Yoos to deflect criticism from her government. But dozens of interviews with regulators, coast guard officials, prosecutors, dockworkers, crew members and family business associates seem to confirm the prosecutors' contention that the Yoo family played a crucial role in the tragedy by cutting corners on the ferry's safety, even as it was spending lavishly on itself.The family used a sprawling group of at least 70 companies on three continents as a personal ATM, prosecutors say. It also spent tens of millions of dollars to lionise Yoo, a convicted swindler known best in South Korea in connection with the mass suicide of 32 members of a splinter group of his church more than two decades ago.In one of their more damning findings, prosecutors say so much money was being siphoned away from the ferry company to Yoo and his relatives that it was starved of funds and spent just $US2 last year on safety training for the Sewol's crew members. The money went to buy a paper copy of a certificate.During the accident, the chaos caused by the lack of training was clear. Some crew members admitted in interviews after the disaster that they had no idea what to do during the emergency and made fatal mistakes like repeatedly telling passengers over the intercom to "stay inside and wait" as the ship began to sink.The ferry company was able to cut corners so dangerously because South Korea's system for regulating ferries is riddled with loopholes, manpower shortages, petty corruption and a reliance on businesses to police themselves. Prosecutors and government auditors said coast guard officials turned a blind eye to problems after they had been wined and dined by the ferry company.Members of Yoo's church, known as Salvationists, say such discoveries are behind the government's push to investigate the Yoos, saying it hopes to shift attention away not only from its own regulatory failures, but also the badly fumbled rescue attempt of the ferry, which had only 172 known survivors. The accident left Park's government in disarray. Her prime minister tendered his resignation, and her approval ratings have plummeted.Grand Childhood AmbitionsYoo's grand ambitions started in boyhood. A sickly child who suffered with tuberculosis, he dreamed of becoming "a sculptor greater than Michelangelo'', according to a collection of sermons published in 1981. But soon after high school in the 1960s, he found a new calling: religion.As Yoo built his church, he embarked on a second career, as a business magnate. Starting in the 1970s, he turned the church into a source of cash, say investigators and former and current Salvationists, by persuading adherents to donate or invest their savings in his growing number of companies. In 1986, Yoo was suspected of used his growing political connections to get into the business of operating passenger vessels.Even then, Yoo's vessels faced criticism for overloading. Once, when his company tried to board more than twice one vessel's maximum limit of 200 passengers during a busy holiday season, irate passengers almost rioted, said Lee Cheong, a former Salvationist who worked as a crewman on the boat.Yoo's ascent was halted in 1991, when he was arrested after the deaths of 32 members of a splinter group from the Salvationists. They were found dead in the attic of a factory cafeteria in 1987; some of them had been hanged. Yoo was not changed in connection with the deaths, ruling them a mass suicide that appeared to be the result of loans that the group could not repay.But Yoo was convicted of defrauding his church members by improperly diverting money to his businesses. He spent four years in prison.The prison sentence, and the subsequent collapse of his business group during the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s, were a fall from grace from which few Koreans expected him to recover. But prosecutors say he bounced back quickly upon release and found ways to avoid public scrutiny.First, after his companies went bankrupt, he regained control of his businesses by having his two sons buy back companies from receivership at fire-sale prices, after a government recovery program had forgiven much of the debt, government officials and prosecutors say. With his sons and a daughter, Yoo then linked these companies in murky cross-shareholdings that prosecutors contend Yoo controlled by placing family members and loyal church believers in executive jobs.Beginning of TroubleIn the ferry disaster, the Sewol's troubles appear to have begun with the addition of the extra cabins and the art gallery above the main deck in late 2012, a change prosecutors say Yoo personally ordered.The task of signing off on the new design fell to the Korean Register of Shipping, a private group the government licenses to certify ships as seaworthy, which assigned an inspector to ensure the remodel was done correctly. That inspector is now one of six regulators behind bars. His indictment says he approved the retrofitting without properly conducting a test to determine whether the renovated ship was stable.The next layer of protection was supposed to come from the Korea Shipping Association, or KSA, which checks that ships are not overloaded. Critics have long said the shipping association should not monitor safety because it is an industry group funded by the shipping companies that it is supposed to monitor. KSA officials argued that shippers left them chronically deprived of the money needed to do thorough inspections.The many ways in which the ferry company cheated came back to haunt the Sewol on April 16. As it headed toward the most dangerous part of the journey, a narrow waterway with treacherous currents, it was burdened with 2142 tonnes of cargo, twice the maximum permitted, according to prosecutors. Beyond that, it had only 761 tonnes of ballast water, less than half the minimum required.Then the ship's helmsman turned too far to the right, more sharply than the 5-degree turn that the regular captain, who was not working that day, had recommended because the ship was so wobbly, prosecutors said.Soon after the first coast guard rescue boat arrived, it reported that the ferry was listing by 60 degrees, making its top deck nearly perpendicular to the water. "A ship of that size should have taken several hours to flip, not less than two," said Kim Sae-in, a coast guard official.Three months later, salvage crews are still looking for 10 missing bodies, and prosecutors have frozen more than $US100 million in assets from the extended Yoo family.Yoo, who had spent so much time and money trying to rehabilitate his image, found himself South Korea's most wanted man. His body was ultimately found in an apricot orchard, his corpse too decomposed to determine the cause of death.In the end, the accident that toppled the Yoos involved just a tiny piece of their sprawling empire. Prosecutors say the practise of dangerously overloading the Sewol over 13 months had earned the ferry company a relatively paltry $US2.9 million, or about $US9500 for every passenger who died.
Two female followers of the deceased Yoo Byung-eun gave up themselves up to law enforcement authorities on Monday.According to the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office, the two aides are Kim Myung-sook, in her 50s, and Yoo Hee-ja, the wife of the sunken ferry owner’s chauffeur Yang Hoi-jeong.The three figures -- Kim, Yoo and Yang -- have been suspected of masterminding the 73-year-old Yoo Byung-eun’s escape after the April 16 sinking tragedy.Investigators, however, have yet to determine the whereabouts of Yang Hoi-jeong, according to the prosecution and state police agency.Pundits shared the view that chauffeur Yang may hold the key to revealing the exact cause of the late Sewol owner Yoo Byung-eun's death.
Police continued a search over the weekend to find any belongings of Yoo Byun-eun, the de facto owner of the ferry Sewol, whose death was confirmed last Tuesday, 40 days after his body was found. The move came after the National Forensic Service (NFS) said Friday it was impossible to find the cause of Yoo's death because the corpse was too badly decomposed. His body was found in a plum orchard in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, June 12, just 2.5 kilometers from Yoo's vacation home. The police initially decided the body was that of a homeless person, but DNA and fingerprint tests confirmed it was that of Yoo. Since then, police have focused on combing through the area between his vacation home and the orchard, with up to 160 officers on the scene. They cut the grass while moving forward, and are followed by four search dogs and eight specially trained detectives. Police have already recovered a bottle of squalene made by one of Yoo's affiliate companies, bottles of soju and makgeolli, a wooden stick and a piece of underwear. On Saturday, offices obtained one of Yoo's neck bones and his hair from a villager, who had taken them home on early Tuesday. "I heard on the news that the body had been found near my neighborhood. I went to look at the site and found them," said the man surnamed Yoon, according to a local newspaper. On Friday, the investigation team recovered the wooden stick that they had lost when transporting the remains, 30 meters from where the body was found. The investigation team is also reviewing CCTV recordings from near the vacation home and the orchard, and emergency calls for a possible hint of Yoo wandering around Suncheon. On Thursday, police found a pair of glasses which were initially believed to be his, but turned out not to be so. A local cable TV channel also reported that the investigation team had found a bottle of urine in his vacation home. Police have stepped up efforts to find Yoo's driver and a woman who allegedly helped the fugitive evade their manhunt. The driver was last seen in Suncheon in May. On Friday, police detained Yoo's eldest son, Dae-gyun, the second most wanted man after his father, in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. His bodyguard and secretary, Park Soo-kyung, who was with him, was also taken into custody.
Investigators have shifted their manhunt focus to two key close confidantes -- Kim Hye-kyung and Yang Hoi-jeong -- of the late business tycoon Yoo Byung-eun, hoping to determine the cause of the Sewol ferry owner’s death amid a power struggle among his followers.Kim Hye-kyung, a former female aide of the deceased Yoo and the head of Hankook Pharma, fled to a foreign country immediately after the April 16 vessel sinking disaster without responding to summons from the prosecution.She allegedly had an affair with Yoo Byung-eun, while Kwon Yoon-ja is the legal widow of Yoo, who died at age 73. There are speculations that two children of Kim and Yoo reside in the United States.Kwon, 72, who was taken into custody on charges of embezzlement, had four children with Yoo: Seom-na, Sang-na, Dae-kyoon and Hyuk-kee, all of them are in their 40s.Kim, the 52-year-old Hankook Pharma chief, has reportedly held an influential stake in several major units of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the sunken ferry Sewol. Investigators estimate that Kim’s wealth, including her shares and properties in Gyeonggi Province, is worth at least 10 billion won ($9.8 billion).Observers raised the possibility that there could be a tough power struggle after the April 16 accident among key devotees of the Salvation Sect, which was led by the late Yoo and closely linked with Chonghaejin Marine.Yoo’s regular chauffeur Yang Hoi-jeong is believed to be in South Korea as he allegedly sheltered Yoo before his death, according to investigators. But the prosecution and police have yet to determine his whereabouts.Pundits shared the view that chauffeur Yang may hold the key to revealing the exact cause of the late Sewol owner’s death.On Monday, Yang Hoi-jeong’s wife Yoo Hee-ja, 52, and Yoo’s former female aide Kim Myung-sook, 59, turned themselves in to law enforcement authorities.Kim Myung-sook, who allegedly masterminded Yoo’s runaway in April and May as one of his close followers, is a key leader of the Salvation Sect.Sources alleged that Kim’s husband had served with the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office as a senior prosecutor, which has led to rumors that investigators’ intelligence over the Sewol probe may have been leaked. He is reportedly working at a law firm.Later in the day, an Incheon court on Monday issued arrest warrants for Yoo Dae-kyoon, the oldest son of the late billionaire Yoo Byung-eun, and Park Soo-kyung, a female aide of Dae-kyoon.The Incheon District Court held the warrant hearing to review documents proposed by the prosecution and approved the issuance, citing fears that the junior Yoo, 44, and Park, 34, may flee or destroy evidence.The court also endorsed the warrant for Dae-kyoon's another female aide Ha Bo-eun, 35, for concealing the two suspects.Dae-kyoon has been suspected of the embezzling funds worth 9.9 billion won from Chonghaejin Marine and its subsidiaries.Park has been under probe for providing Yoo with hideouts after the April 16 ferry disaster.The junior Yoo and Park was captured by police at Ha Bo-eun’s residence in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, last Friday.Park’s mother Shin Myung-hee, 64, gave herself up to the prosecution on June 13 ― the day after the senior Yoo’s body was discovered at a farm in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province.
The driver of ferry owner Yoo Beung-eon, who helped his boss evade capture after the April 16 ferry disaster, turned himself in on Tuesday morning but told prosecutors he does not know how Yoo died. That makes it ever less likely that the cause of the death of Yoo, who was found dead in a badly decomposed state on June 12, will ever be known for sure. The driver, Yang Hoe-jung, told prosecutors he had already fled when Yoo apparently wandered into the woods near the cottage in southwestern Korea where he had been hiding until a raid by investigators on May 25. Yang said Yoo's death came as a shock to him and he decided to turn himself in after learning that his wife, who also helped Yoo's escape and turned herself in on Monday, was allowed to go home after questioning.Yang faces charges of aiding the escape of a felon after he helped Yoo escape from the sprawling compound in Anseong south of Seoul owned by the ferry owner's crackpot cult, and prepared his hideout in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province. Yang is the last of Yoo's helpers to turn himself in to police, who believe he was one of the last people to see the cult leader alive and hoped he would provide vital clues to the cause of his death. But Yang said the last time he saw Yoo was on May 24, and he did not know of Yoo's death until he saw the media reports. When Yoo was driven in his Bentley to the cottage on May 3, five members of his sect accompanied him to the hideout. All have now turned themselves in to police. Yang served as Yoo's right-hand man during his days on the run, shuttling back and forth from the cottage in Suncheon and the compound in Anseong, delivering water and food. He also communicated with others on behalf of the fugitive and taking them to meet him.He said the last time he saw Yoo was on the night of May 24 right before investigators raided a restaurant near the cottage. At the time, Yoo and his secretary, identified by her surname Shin, were hiding at the cottage while Yang was staying at a training center owned by the sect just 700 m away. Yang left Yoo's cottage on the evening of May 24, and in early morning of May 25 he heard investigators drive up to the parking lot of the training center. That was when Yang said he ran away to Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, where his sister-in-law lived. Yang was sure that investigators would be guarding the gate of the training center but was surprised to see it empty and simply fled into the night. Yang said he left Yoo in the cottage because he was afraid of exposing him by attempting to go there. A prosecution spokesman said questioning will continue. This means that the last person to see Yoo alive was his secretary, who had taken him to the secret compartment inside the cottage when investigators raided to property. Shin was arrested on the spot and Yoo emerged from the cubbyhole after investigators left and was found dead two weeks later in a field 2.5 km away.
Ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon's driver outwitted police twice during a manhunt that came to an end when he turned himself in on Tuesday morning. On the first occasion Yang Hoe-jung escaped a raid on the cottage in southwestern Korea where Yoo had been hiding on May 25. He slipped away from a nearby training center owned by the ferry owner's cult, where he was spending the nights, when investigators arrived. When he heard investigators drive up to the parking lot of the training center, he was sure that they would be guarding the gate but was surprised to see it empty and simply fled into the night to Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, where his sister-in-law lives. He then moved to the sect's sprawling compound in Anseong south of Seoul on the night of the same day. When investigators raided the compound on June 11 and 12, deploying 10,000 police with sniffer dogs and electronic sensors, Yang hid in a small space inside a supply shed.Yoo himself fooled investigators during the May 25 raid of the cottage by hiding in a secret compartment Yang had built there. The ferry owner escaped from the cottage the following day. Yang told prosecutors that when he took Yoo to the cottage in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, he modified an existing cubbyhole in the cottage and even had Yoo practice hiding in preparation for a raid.The secret compartment was cleverly crafted since Yang is also a carpenter. Yang also installed blackout curtains at the cottage and fitted a padlock on the outside of the entrance door to make it look as if the house was empty.A prosecution spokesman said more investigation is needed to confirm if Yang's account is true, but it looks as if his escape is another in a long line of official blunders in the wake of the ferry disaster.
Police said Thursday they will investigate false Internet rumors about the death of a business tycoon who owned the Sewol ferry that sank in southern waters in April.The state forensic lab has confirmed that a body found on June 12 at a plum farm on the south coast is that of Yoo Byung-eun after conducting DNA and other tests, but it has failed to determine the cause of his death.Some netizens claim that the body belongs to another person, while others insist that Yoo's X-ray pictures were manipulated."We're going to embark on an internal probe into false Internet postings as groundless rumors about the tycoon's death are spreading, causing social confusion," the National Police Agency said.Police said they will track down those who ill-purposely and repeatedly uploaded such postings and investigate them on defamation charges. ...