South Korean man accused of killing and dismembering his compatriot in Thailand arrested

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Police on Thursday (Jan 24) arrested a South Korean man suspected of murdering his friend, dismembering the body and disposing of the remains in plastic bags.

Kim Chang-hoon was accused of killing fellow South Korean Choi Myong-hoon, in testimony given to police by Mr Hong Jun-kim on Thursday.

Kim was arrested in Chanthaburi's Muang district, about 80km from the Ban Pakkard border checkpoint.

Mr Hong told police via a translator that Kim stabbed Mr Choi to death and forced him at knifepoint to help dismember the body.

"I feared that I would be killed like Choi, as Kim used the knife that killed Choi to threaten me," Mr Hong said.

Mr Choi's remains were discovered when a dog was found chewing on a human calf and foot. The dog's owner alerted police, leading to the discovery of plastic bags nearby stuffed with more body parts.

Still missing are the head, a leg and an arm of the corpse.

The grisly discovery made local headlines for days before police finally identified the victim, who had previously been arrested on gambling charges before being deported.

Mr Hong, a computer programmer by profession, told police that Kim had recruited him to work on his online gambling website, so he sneaked into the kingdom to work at a three-storey house on an estate in Muang district.

"The three of us stayed in the house. I worked as a programmer while Kim and Choi handled online gambling activities and sent income to bosses in South Korea," he said.

Mr Hong said that on Jan 16, he was working on the third floor when he heard Kim and Mr Choi quarrelling. He came down and saw them fighting and was ordered back upstairs.

When he ventured down again, he saw Mr Choi dead and Kim with a knife in his hand, threatening him.

"He said if I did not help him, he would kill me too."

Mr Hong told police they moved the body to a bathroom to drain the blood then stored it in an air-conditioned room for three days.

The two then dismembered the body before stuffing the body parts into large plastic bags which they placed in two suitcases.

Mr Hong said they threw two of the bags into a forest nearby and dumped those containing the head and an arm in the Pradu Gulf.

The two then parted ways. Mr Hong later asked the South Korean Embassy in Bangkok to coordinate with Thai police to clear his name over the murder.

Escorted by a Korean diplomat, Mr Hong surrendered to the Crime Suppression Division.

Police on Thursday continued the hunt for body parts at sea and checked with shops where the suspects bought the bags, chainsaws and knives used to dispose of the remains.

Police General Chaiwat Kateworachai, meanwhile, visited the house where the killing allegedly took place. He revealed that forensic officials had found traces of blood on curtains and the toilet floor.

Pol Gen Chaiwat said he believed the murder motive stemmed from business conflicts.