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Unregistered 4-year-old found near body suspected to be his mother

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : Sept. 11, 2023 - 16:47

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An empty diaper box lies in front of a low-rise apartment unit in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, where an unregistered 4-year-old boy was found on Friday. (Yonhap) An empty diaper box lies in front of a low-rise apartment unit in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, where an unregistered 4-year-old boy was found on Friday. (Yonhap)

A 4-year-old boy found last week near the lifeless body of a woman at a home in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, was not registered in official documents, sparking further concerns over loopholes in the nation’s birth registration system.

According to the Jeonbuk Provincial Police Agency on Monday, the child, whose name was withheld, was found lying unconscious at around 9:55 a.m. on Friday in a low-rise apartment unit in Jeonju. Near him was the body of a 41-year-old woman thought to be his mother. The woman's identity was also withheld.

The boy was admitted to the hospital and is now in a stable condition. Other than malnutrition, the boy appears to have no other major health issues, police officials said.

The authorities have requested a DNA test with the National Foreign Service to determine the biological relation between the deceased and the boy, as the boy was not registered at birth with the government.

Authorities discovered the child and the body after the landlord of the apartment alerted them after being unable to make contact with the tenant.

When police entered the site, the house was full of trash, according to police reports.

The deceased is believed to have been living in poverty prior to her death. She had failed to pay some 1.2 million won ($901.44) worth of national health insurance bills for the past 56 months. She was also 6 months behind on paying the maintenance costs for the apartment.

Police launched an investigation into the cause of her death, but said that the possibility of suicide is “unlikely.”

Jeonju City officials claimed that they attempted to meet with the deceased in July, but failed. The city had noticed the victim’s poor financial state and tried to register her as beneficiary of a welfare program. The deceased was also not registered under the state livelihood program.

The latest incident comes amid government efforts to safeguard unregistered babies. An estimated 2,000 unregistered births are estimated to have taken place between 2015 and 2022, according to the Board of Audit and Inspection

Under the current law, medical institutions are not obligated to report newborn births to the government. It is mandatory for parents to register their children with the government within a month of birth. Those who fail to do so are punished with small fines.