Gangnam murder case likely revenge involving cryptocurrency: reports

Gangnam murder suspects attend an arrest warrant hearing at the Seoul Center District Court on Monday. (Yonhap)

Gangnam murder suspects attend an arrest warrant hearing at the Seoul Center District Court on Monday. (Yonhap)

The main suspect in a Gangnam murder case had previously been involved in a criminal case with the victim involving cryptocurrency, according to legal professionals and reports released Monday.

The suspect, a 35-year-old only identified by his surname Lee, had reportedly been investigated by police for trying to seize a third party’s cryptocurrency in February 2021. The third party in question would later be the victim of the murder. Lee was sent to the prosecution on charges of extortion, while the victim was dismissed for a minor misdemeanor offense.

Police suspect cryptocurrency theft as the main motive for the killing.

Apart from Lee, the other two suspects — a 30-year-old surnamed Yeon and a 35-year-old surnamed Hwang — had no known connection with the victim, according to police.

The three suspects were apprehended by police Thursday on charges of kidnapping and murder after allegedly abducting a woman in her 40s near her residence in Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, at around 11 p.m. Wednesday, before killing her and disposing of her body near Daecheong Dam in Daejeon.

Police issued warrants for the suspects on Saturday after one confessed to committing the crime to obtain cryptocurrency belonging to the victim, thought to be worth billions of won (approximately millions of dollars).

According to reports, the victim and her husband, who is reportedly in prison, run cryptocurrency-related companies.

Police added that they would investigate further to see if there were accomplices in the alleged murder, as other investors who suffered losses had also stolen cryptocurrencies from the third party.

Apart from those related to cryptocurrency, a man in his 20s was booked with the preliminary charge of murder for helping the suspects plan the killing.

On Monday, the three suspects were sent to the Seoul Central District Court for a hearing aimed at determining whether to issue a formal arrest warrant. Lee reportedly denied all his allegations of abduction and murder and refused to testify about his relationship with the victim.

Confirmation of the prosecution’s request to issue the warrants for the three suspects will be decided later in the afternoon.

By Park Jun-hee (