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Missing family found dead in submerged car

The police pulls a submerged car which belonged to Cho`s family off the shores of Wando, South Jeolla Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
The police pulls a submerged car which belonged to Cho`s family off the shores of Wando, South Jeolla Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The bodies found in a submerged car found on an island off the southern coast were those of a family reported missing, police said Wednesday. The police suspect suicide, as the family had been going through financial difficulties.

The Gwangju Nambu police station confirmed the three bodies found inside an upturned Audi sedan the day before in the waters of Wando, South Jeolla Province as those of 10-year-old Cho Yu-na and her parents, who were reported missing. They confirmed the identities through fingerprint examinations. Cho‘s fingerprints were registered in the system for missing child prevention.

Cho and her mother were seated in the back without their seatbelts, while her father was in the driver’s seat with his seatbelt on.

Though the bodies were sent for an autopsy, the National Forensic Service could not define the cause of death as the bodies had decayed from being in the water for a significant time. The National Forensic Service will run more tests on the bodies, but it will take a month for the results to come out.

Police are investigating the case as a possible suicide, as Cho‘s parents’ internet search history included sleeping pills and cryptocurrency before going missing.

According to police, Cho Yu-na‘s family was going through financial difficulties. Both of Cho’s parents had quit their jobs in the summer of last year.

It was reported that they had debts of about 100 million won ($77,000) on their credit cards. It is suspected they had invested a significant amount of money in the collapsed cryptocurrency luna, based on the testimonies of those who know the family.

But as their whereabouts before their deaths are unknown, police will also look into other possibilities, such as a car accident.

Cho was absent from her school in Gwangju for 18 school days from May 19 to June 15, as her parents requested a leave of absence for a month-long trip to Jeju Island. But the family never made it to Jeju Island. Instead, they stayed for a week on Wando.

When Cho did not attend classes after that period and could not be reached for a few days, her school reported the case to the police on June 22.

The family was last seen on May 30 at 11 p.m. through closed-circuit TV near the guesthouse they stayed at on Wando. In the clip, the mother was carrying a child presumed to be Cho on her back and was joined by the father. The family’s mobile phones were turned off within a few hours of the clip’s recording, and their phone signals disappeared. Their whereabouts after this point leading up to their discovery remain unknown.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

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