South Korean toddler dies with ruptured pancreas, blood-filled stomach after abuse by adoptive mother

The case is causing outrage in South Korea.

Joshua Lee | January 10, 2021, 11:59 AM

A child abuse scandal is gripping South Korea.

A 16-month-old toddler, Jung-in died on October 16, 2020 after suffering from months of abuse from her adoptive mother.

When she died, Jung-in's pancreas were ruptured and her stomach was filled with blood. She also had fractured bones and bruises, indicating prolonged abuse.

When she was sent to the hospital, Jung-in suffered three cardiac arrests but doctors were unable to resuscitate her.


South Korea's National Forensic Service ruled that the child died from severe abdominal injuries and internal bleeding caused by "strong external force applied on her back".

Her adoptive mother, surnamed Jang, worked as an interpreter.


When the police arrested Jang, they found 800 videos on Jang's phone. These videos depicted Jang physically and mentally abusing Jung-in.

She will be charged with involuntary manslaughter by child abuse, while her husband will be charged with child abuse and negligence.

There is speculation that the family adopted Jung-in as a "gift" for their biological daughter and that they used this extra "family member" to attain a bigger housing loan.

Multiple red flags but police did not investigate further

There were red flags that popped up over the period when Jung-in was with Jang.

In May 2020, Jung-in's day care centre raised concerns about suspected abuse. The police closed the case citing insufficient evidence.

In June 2020, a friend of the adoptive parents made a report after they found the girl alone in a car. Again, the police closed the case because of insufficient evidence.

The third -- and the last -- one was reported on Sept. 23 by a local paediatrician who found suspected signs of abuse and malnutrition of the girl. However, the police did not investigate further.

The police has since issued an apology for their "botched initial response and inadequate investigation", promising to change the way they respond to child abuse cases.

Jang will be charged in court on January 13.

Top images via screengrab from SBS broadcasting and Twitter.