Ferry Owner Gave Follower Guns, Cash for Safekeeping

Police discovered five handguns and W1.5 billion in cash with a relative of a senior member of ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon's crackpot cult (US$1=W1,031).

Kim Myung-sook Kim Myung-sook

The cult member, Kim Myung-sook (59), is suspected of playing a key role in Yoo's escape after the April 16 ferry disaster.

Investigators with the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office on Monday said a raid of the relative's home turned up five bags containing the handguns, cash and other items. It is so far unclear whether the handguns can actually be fired or are just replicas.

They were one 4.5 mm airgun used by Olympic target shooters, two gas pistols and two old pistols.

According to prosecutors, the two bags with the cash were marked with the numbers 2 and 6 and contained W1 billion and W500 million. The handguns were stored in another bag marked 7, which also contained lead shot.

Two other bags marked 3 and 8 contained personal items.

The labels with the numbers were the same type as those on the bags discovered in the summer cottage in southwestern Korea where Yoo hid during his days on the run.

Those bags, which were marked 4 and 5, contained W830 million and US$160,000 in cash.

/Newsis /Newsis

Yoo was said to have escaped with W2 billion in cash, but the amount of money found in the various bags that may have constituted his escape fund vastly exceeds that amount.

Prosecutors have gone back to questioning Kim to find out why the cash and weapons were stored at the relative's home. Kim turned herself in to police on July 28 after Yoo's corpse was found.

Prosecutors quoted Kim as saying Yoo gave her the bags for safekeeping, but she did not realize what was in them. She then asked the relative to look after them.

The relative also told prosecutors he never looked inside the bags.

A prosecution spokesman said the hunt is on for the bag labeled No. 1.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 12, 2014 11:46 KST