A 39-year-old father and 42-year-old stepmother were arrested by police in Incheon, west of Seoul, Tuesday, on suspicion of aggravated child abuse resulting in the death of their fifth-grade son.
An investigation by Incheon Police Station found that the 11-year-old boy had sustained multiple bruises on his body, which are presumed to be wounds inflicted by physical abuse.
According to police, the father himself had called 119 -- a line for emergency and rescue equivalent to 911 in the US -- at around 1:44 p.m. Tuesday, saying his son wasn’t breathing. When emergency services arrived on the scene, they performed CPR on the boy. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment but was later pronounced dead.
The two suspects denied claims that they mistreated the child, saying that the wounds found on his body were self-inflicted.
Another investigation by police found that the father and stepmother had allegedly not sent their son to school since Nov. 24 last year, choosing to homeschool him instead.
The local elementary school had reportedly asked the parents to consider an early warning system, which enables schools and education authorities to identify students with specific needs and support them. But the parents declined the offer and said they would homeschool their child to prepare for studies in the Philippines.
According to police, the child's absences from school had been recorded as unexcused, which is when a student misses school for reasons not accepted by the school, with or without parental permission.
Officials are conducting further investigations to find out the reasons behind the abuse and neglect of the child which ultimately resulted in his death, after which they will decide whether to seek a warrant.
The 11-year-old’s two younger siblings have been separated from their parents and will be housed at a child protection facility to protect them from the suspects. Police added that the father had no previous record or reports of child abuse.