A housewife living with her two young daughters away from her husband due to a family dispute died after a heavy round of drinking, but the children stayed in her studio apartment for four days without knowing she was dead.
According to the Gangneung Police Station, Gangwon, the housewife, only identified as Ms. Choi, 36, was found dead in Gyo-dong by her neighbor, Kim, at 4:40 p.m. Thursday.
Choi’s three- and six-year-old daughters were also in the studio. Twenty bottles of soju and beer were scattered throughout the room.
. . .
“Choi’s older sister called me and said, ‘I cannot contact my sister and please check on her,’ so I went to the room,” Kim said. “The room had a rotting smell. Then I found the children.”
Police said Choi’s hungry daughters were eating raw corn when they were found but were otherwise healthy. They were taken by their father on the same day.
I remember a thread on one of the forums a couple of years ago where teachers speculated how long it would take for somebody to find them if they were to die in Korea. And, how long it would take for news to get back home. For people without a social network or careful employers, a person could easily spend a weekend or a long holiday undiscovered, their presence unfortunately not missed by anyone. It wasn't but two months ago that Korea Beat brought us a story from the Chosun Ilbo about an American teacher found dead in his apartment, undiscovered for some time to the point that, as the witness who called the police said, "there had been a strange smell coming out for several days." I also recall reading a year or two ago about elderly Koreans living alone who would sleep with their front doors open because, having no spouse or children around, they feared dying and being left undiscovered. Elderly dying alone and foreigners feeling isolated aren't exclusive to Korea at all, of course, but this being a Korea blog I brought those up here.
Being reminded of mortality while back home and how much of a process dying actually is put me in a different frame of mind, pushed, too, by that story out of Gangneung, and I started to think about what would happen . . . if something should happen to me while here. I'm embarrassed to say that I've never given it much thought before. Well, no more Crown J updates, that's for sure, but I of course meant less for the blog and more for my family who, among other things, would have to deal with the hassle, for lack of a better word, of coming to Korea and getting my affairs in order. Under the best of circumstances it can be difficult for foreigners to navigate this country, and downright frustrating when dealing with banks, post offices, pension offices, and the police. For someone who's never been to Korea before and suddenly asked to accomplish rather complex tasks relating to their dead son, I'd consider it about as close to impossible as you could get while still being possible. Complicating matters greatly would be if my death were in any way suspicious, which in all likelihood it would be, because as we've learned from cases of suspicious foreigner deaths like Michael White and Matthew Sellers, neither Korean nor American authorities can be counted on for anything but obstacles and headaches. To say nothing, of course, of any financial burden beyond my means my family might incur should I be hospitalized.
So even though it's a pretty busy time of year now, I've decided that I need to start compiling a guide to send home that will walk my parents (or whomever) through some of the things they'll have to do in Korea to square things away. I'm not talking just about distributing any assets I may have, because for the time being they can handle those however they set fit. I'm talking more about the basic stuff, the things that would be quite difficult for first-timers in Korea, especially when fatigued, under duress, and most likely alone. How to get to Suncheon, for example, from the Incheon airport. How and where to get a bus ticket, how to find my apartment, where to find all my important paperwork, how to get to my bank, how to empty my account, how to retrieve my pension funds, how to mail stuff home should they find anything they want to keep, and who they can contact for help in case there's none coming from my employer. It will take a little homework, but it seems the responsible thing to do. I'm thankfully my irresponsibility hasn't been a problem . . . in this case.