The arrest on Friday of Yoo Dae-gyun, the eldest son of ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon, has dominated media coverage over the weekend, but perhaps more intriguing is the woman who was arrested with him.
Park Soo-kyung (34) is a certified international taekwondo referee who became popular for her looks. She judged taekwondo matches right up until the April 16 ferry disaster.
Park Young-ho (no relation) of the Gyeonggi-do Taekwondo Association said, "I tried to call to tell her that various matches were postponed after the ferry accident but couldn’t reach her."
Park Soo-kyung started serving as a senior referee in the Gyeonggi-do Taekwondo Association seven years ago. She took around a year off after having two children, but other than that she continued working as a referee.
Unlike the icy demeanor she displayed before reporters after her arrest on Friday, barely batting an eyelid as she faced a barrage of camera flashes, her colleagues paint a picture of a warm personality.
One colleague said, "She's a very affectionate person and really loves children. When I called her, she often said she was doing some kind of volunteer work, but I had no idea that was connected” to the cult led by Yoo senior.
Park showed no signs of remorse for helping one of the country's most-wanted fugitives evade arrest. As she entered the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office in handcuffs, she gave off an aura of a warrior rather than a criminal, in a stark contrast to the younger Yoo, who appeared tired and weary as he was dragged away.
The two have known each other since childhood. The elder Yoo created the crackpot cult in which Park's mother was a key figure. Her mother played a crucial part in helping the elder Yoo's escape and her daughter did the same thing for Yoo Dae-kyun. Now both mother and daughter are in jail.
Park has been separated from her husband, whom she is divorcing, for the past eight months while living with her two sons in an apartment in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province. But she left her children in the care of a nanny when she escaped with the younger Yoo. Her husband is also a member of the millennial cult and apparently worked for an affiliate of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine.
Park's husband told police he went to the apartment when he heard from the nanny that she had not been paid and took care of his children after that.
There are rumors that Park and Yoo Dae-gyun are lovers, but prosecutors declined to comment.