In Incheon, South Korea, a bizarre murder trial is taking place surrounding the 2010 death of a 22 year-old woman, referred to as Ms. Y.  The defendant is her boyfriend, 31 year-old Mr. K.  Prosecutors are demanding that Mr. K be sentenced to death for her murder.

With a key piece of evidence missing, he must convince the court of his side of the story: an octopus did it.

During the trial on 3 September the prosecution explained that “defendant K had committed a brutal crime which was premeditated.”

They went on to say “witness testimony will show that K’s guilt is clear.  This man’s method was so perfect that, he could have potentially committed this crime multiple times.  Therefore we are demanding the death penalty.”

According to the testimony, in April 2010, after purchasing an octopus Mr. K checked into a motel with his then-girlfriend Ms. Y.  Mr. K claims that “she was eating Sannakji when she collapsed and stopped breathing.”  The police were sent to the scene where Ms. Y was found dead.

Sannakji is octopus served so fresh that it is still twitching on the plate when you eat it.  It’s a somewhat popular Asian dish, which is also well known for its risk of choking. Since the suckers on the octopus’ tentacles may still function, it can easily get lodged in the throat if not chewed properly.

This was believed to be what happened to Ms. Y.  Since her death was determined to be accidental, no autopsy was performed and her body was cremated shortly after.

Afterwards, the family of Ms. Y noticed that she had taken out a life insurance policy (as all 22 year-olds do?) one month before her death.  And the beneficiary was none other than her lover, Mr. K.  As a result of the policy he stood to gain 200,000,000 won (US$175,000).

The family then requested the case be reopened.

Prosecutors claim that Mr. K forged the policy so that he’d be the sole beneficiary and that an octopus never entered the equation.  They explained:

“K murdered Y with the intent to claim her insurance money. K then made it look like Y choked on a squirming octopus. Furthermore, the defendant has a criminal record including robbery and assault, and while dating Ms. Y he was seeing two other women.”

Forensic staff testified that “no traces of octopus were found in Ms. Y’s body. In addition, if octopus was lodged in her throat, then there would have been a struggle to spit it out.  However, no such marks were found on her body.”

The family of Ms. Y requested that Mr. K get life imprisonment and wept when they heard the prosecution demand the death penalty.  Mr. K maintains that Ms. Y was not murdered and choked on a piece of octopus.

The medical evidence is thin since no official autopsy was performed to verify these claims and the body no longer exists. And although it’s damning, the evidence pointing towards Mr. K’s conviction is circumstantial, so it’s unlikely a judgment of death will be handed down.

South Korea is also currently in a 15-year moratorium concerning the death penalty, and the government has been under significant pressure to abolish it. Mr. K’s judgment will be decided on 11 October.

At the last session some spectators claimed they saw an octopus walk out of the courthouse with a pronounced limp and a smug look on its face.

Source: Kopipe Intelligence Agency (Japanese)