The Korea Herald


Man gets jail term for killing bedridden wife after years of caring for her

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Nov. 3, 2023 - 15:59

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

A man in his 60s has been sentenced to four years in prison for the murder of his terminally-ill wife, after taking care of her for over five years.

According to the Seoul Central District Court, the mad was accused of killing the victim in April 2022. The victim was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2017, and was also suffering from dementia, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

After his wife's condition deteriorated and following a failed suicide attempt of his own, the accused reportedly took the decision to kill his wife. He left a will on his computer and mobile phone a week before the crime.

The accused pleaded guilty as charged, saying that he made a "horrible choice out of desperation" over not wanting to prolong his wife's suffering.

The South Korean Criminal Act stipulates at least five years in prison for murder. The court mitigated the length of the man's punishment by acknowledging that he took care of the victim up until the moment of the crime, that he had a good relationship with her, that he has no criminal records and that he was showing signs of remorse.

There have been other cases in South Korea where terminally-ill patients were murdered by family members.

In 2021, a then-22-year-old man was arrested for the murder of his father, who had been bedridden for months after suffering extensive brain damage. Due to financial troubles and the belief that his father was not likely to live, he cut off his medication and food supply and left his father to die.

He was sentenced to four years in prison, but the media coverage sparked nationwide interest in the young caregivers of bedridden patients. The Seoul City Council in 2022 enacted an ordinance designed to financially support young people between the ages of 14 and 34 who are taking care of family members with physical or mental conditions.