Family Marks 100 Days Since Woman’s Death in South Korea

The family of Y Silen, a Cambodian woman who South Korean police suspect was murdered by her Korean husband, on Saturday marked 100 days since her death in a ceremony covered by reporters from two major Korean TV stations.

Y Silen was cremated in South Korea on August 25, two days after she was killed in a car accident that police there believe was orchestrated by her husband—who was in the driver’s seat and survived—in order to cash in on 26 life insurance policies he had taken out in her name that would pay out more than $8.6 million.

Y Silen poses with her daughter in an undated photograph provided by the Cambodian Embassy in Seoul.
Y Silen poses with her daughter in an undated photograph provided by the Cambodian Embassy in Seoul.

But Y Silen’s ashes have not yet been returned to her family, who live in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district, and the parents of the Korean husband are now caring for her 5-year-old daughter, Ork Saveng, the victim’s mother, said Sunday.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised me to submit a request [today] for the ashes, my granddaughter and money that belonged to my daughter,” she said.

Ms. Saveng said she decided that having her daughter marry a man in South Korea in 2008 was a good idea after seeing some of her neighbors, who had previously married their daughters to Korean men, receive a steady flow of money from abroad.

“My daughter agreed to marry [her Korean husband] because she saw that others had good families after marrying Korean men and they got jobs with better pay,” she said. “We saw a lot of people marry Korean men and they had no problems.”

Ms. Saveng said both the initial news of her daughter’s death in August, when it was thought to have been the result of an accident, and recent reports that it may have been a case of premeditated murder, had come as a surprise.

“He had good behavior and always sent me some money,” she said of the husband, whom South Korean police identified only by his surname, Lee. “I was very surprised when I heard this news, because I never thought he would kill his own wife.”

Reporters from South Korea’s state broadcaster Seoul Broadcasting System and the private Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation visited Y Silen’s family over the weekend, according to Va Sambath, chief of police in Kroch Chhmar district.

However, South Korea’s ambassador to Cambodia, Kim Han-soo, said Sunday he had yet to receive information about the case.

“The Korean Embassy in Cambodia knows nothing,” he said, adding that the investigation was still in the hands of South Korean police.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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