A 47-year-old woman in Incheon, South Korea, is under police investigation for living with her mother’s corpse for two years. An arrest warrant was issued under the woman’s name on January 13, Friday.
A National Pension Service (NPS) spokesperson told the media that welfare authorities were alarmed when they noticed that the woman’s mother was regularly receiving her pension, but she had no medical records to be found over the past two years.
After being unable to contact the mother for two years, the authorities reached out to her estranged siblings, all six of whom had cut off ties in 1995 after their father’s death. When the NPS asked one of the siblings to check their mother’s eligibility as a pension recipient, they called the police in the middle of the process.
The police forced their way into the accused woman’s house in her low-rise apartment in Incheon on January 11, Wednesday. The woman was found with her mother’s skeletal remains, which she kept hidden under a blanket. According to her notes, the mother died in August 2020 at the age of 76.
An autopsy report ruled out any chances of foul play, but the exact reason for death could not be determined. The daughter, on the other hand, had taken this extreme step out of fear of poverty. As an unemployed woman, she had no means to make ends meet, so she had to rely on her mother’s social security benefits.
From August 2020 to January 2023, the daughter received around ₩17.0 million KRW (about $13,700 USD) in pension benefits, which averages at about ₩600,000 KRW (about $485.18 USD) a month. The mother was one of the 67,000 people under suspicion of wrongfully receiving pension benefits, according to welfare officials.
The NPS spokesperson said that depending on the result of the police investigation, authorities will “work to get back the wrong pension payment, possibly through asset seizures.”