A pastor and his wife were detained Sunday on suspicions of assaulting and starving their three children to death, police said.
The three children ― aged five, eight and 10 ― were found dead in their home attached to the church where their father works in Boseong, 398 kilometers south of Seoul.
“It is presumed that their deaths were caused by assault and starvation at the hands of their parents,” said an officer at the South Jeolla Provincial Police Agency.
He said the parents kept their bodies for more than 10 days until they were found by a relative Saturday morning.
The three, all biological children of the 43-year-old unordained pastor identified by his surname Park, had shown symptoms of the flu for some time, but their father chose prayer over medical intervention, the police officer said.
The parents are also accused of beating the sick children to “exorcise” them and made them fast, he added. A preliminary autopsy found multiple bruises on their bodies, but no sign of food in their stomachs.
It is suspected that the children hadn’t eaten since Jan. 23 up until they died between late Feb. 1 and the morning of Feb. 2. The parents said they had started a fast and prayer on Jan. 23.
Police are investigating the exact cause of the children’s deaths while placing a fourth child in protective custody.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org