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"Deoksung 63" was the nickname given to an unidentified young woman whose skeletal remains were discovered inside of a concrete block beside an outhouse in Incheon, South Korea. It is currently suspected that she may have been a migrant worker or a runaway and was buried in the concrete block between 2006 and 2008.

Case

Discovery

On the 28th of April, 2016, construction workers in the Bupyeong district of Incheon were dismantling an outhouse attached to a three-story building in one of the many industrial complexes of the city, with the outhouse being beneath a set of emergency exit stairs. Between the outhouse being dismantled and the staircase, workers found a short block of concrete with its sides lined with cinderblocks also filled with concrete. This block was not connected to the staircase or the outhouse and seemed to serve no significant purpose, thus workers began to attempt to dismantle it. They recall it being near impossible to open the block until they began to use crowbars and dislodged one of the cinderblocks from the block. Upon this removal, the workers were shocked when they witnesses a human skull tumble from the hole where the cinderblock had been.

Inside of the concrete block, the workers discovered an entire human skeleton that had been bleached white and surrounded by miscellaneous items like a box of cigarettes, a small pillow, and a ramen soup packet with no indication that the victim had been clothed. Authorities were stunned at the discovery, initially believing they may have found a murder victim from the 1980s due to Incheon's industrial complexes being at their peak during that time. They feared that the statute of limitations on the crime had already run out, though still transported the remains to the forensics department.

During forensics tests, it was revealed that the remains belonged to a woman in her early 20s and that she had originated from Northeast Asia. Her DNA did not match any records in South Korea's DNA database, leading to the conclusion that she was either a runaway or a migrant worker due to South Korea's policy of its citizens having their DNA on file and migrant workers not being fingerprinted at the time of her death. She had no signs of trauma on her bones, and a fingerprint preserved in the concrete that held her even resulted in no matches to any citizen. In addition, it was concluded she had died 8 to 10 years before her discovery after a test with the concrete, with the building where the concrete block was found being built in 1990 and the items strewn around her being from between 2001 and 2008.

Investigation

Upon further investigation, the structure of the concrete block the woman was found in was created unusually. It was discovered that the decedent had been placed in a box-like structure made of cinderblocks and covered her body with cement. The perpetrator would then pour water over the dry concrete and repeat this process at least 3 times. Due to the outhouse lacking running water, the perpetrator would have had to carry cinderblocks, heavy bags of cement, and buckets of water to complete this process, which was found to be unusually strenuous work. Additionally, the complex was surrounded by mountains with a trail being at least 5 minutes away from the building, causing authorities to ponder why the killer went through so much trouble to bury the decedent beneath the staircase. Due to this, they began to suspect that she had been buried during the winter season when the ground is harder to dig and that the killer was avoiding the dogs used to guard the complexes at the time.

Police then tracked down who the owners of the building floors were at the time of her death, leading them to two men under the names "Seo" and "Lee". During those years, the second floor had been operating as a kitchen knife factory while the third floor was used as a dormitory with it being highly suspected that the owners of these floors knew about the concrete structure. Nonetheless, Seo and Lee claimed to have not known about the structure, though Seo submitted a photo from November 2013 of a former employee outside the complex with the concrete block being seen between the staircase and outhouse. Seo informed authorities that the man in the photo cleaned the toilets of the building and other facets of the bathroom facilities and that the man had taken the photo at the request of Seo. Though, when this employee was tracked down, he claimed that the photo had been taken in December and that Seo was the man in the photo. Seo had agreed to interviews about the case in the following year, continuing to claim he knew nothing of the concrete block, but began to vehemently refuse interviews afterward.

During the investigation, it was discovered that a Korean shaman had been summoned to the building to perform a "gut", a Korean shaman rite meant to appease the dead in an area with offerings five times in a row. Witnesses recalled this event due to its bizarre nature. While it was normal to hold a jesa, a Korean memorial service with food and drinks, residents of the industrial complex had never hired a shaman. A previous resident of the building recalled the shaman bringing a dead pig to the gut alongside a shopkeeper adding that the shaman also carried a trident. Authorities would contact shamans then, learning that the type of gut being practiced on the building by the hired shaman was specific to a murder. Similar to the exorcisms practiced in other spiritual beliefs, this gut was meant to calm the spirit of the murder victim and send them to the afterlife. Typically this type of ritual being practiced on a building was if the building had been built on top of a graveyard or if there was a body somewhere on the land. Additionally, it was mentioned that this type of gut being performed five times in a row meant that the land was either 'spoiled' or the shaman was unable to exorcise the spirit.

Residents and employees of the structure were ruled out as being perpetrators since such a structure could not have been built without the owner demanding it be removed. Though, it was commonplace for the owners of buildings to suddenly remodel one day if they desired with no questions from their tenants and employees. Thus, suspicion fell on Lee and Seo, with both men now declining interviews. Though, during Seo's last interview, it was noticed that he kept a kalopanax atop his doorway, a stick meant to ward off spirits of the dead in Korean shamanism. Although the Bupyeong district was notorious for housing those suffering from leprosy who were widely mistreated by South Koreans in the past, it was found to be suspicious that Seo kept a kalopanax even after now no longer living or working in the Bupyeong district.

Currently, no further leads have been discovered in the decedent's case. She was simply given the nickname of "Deoksung 63" for her burial in a public memorial and is set to be cremated in 2026, even if she is still unidentified by that time.

Characteristics

  • A missing molar that had been lost sometime before death, but no clear time period has been determined.
  • Forensics indicated the decedent was from Northeast Asia, which consists of the countries China, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia.
  • Long brown hair that is said to have been dyed.

Accessories

  • A small pillow that may have been used to smother the victim.
  • A pack of "Hanaro" brand cigarettes with a price said to be for cigarettes produced before 2008.
  • A packet of "Nongshim" brand 'Bogeul Bogle' cup ramen soup with packaging dating from between 2001 and 2007.
  • A piece of a cement sack.

Sources

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