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Tragic deaths of son and elderly mother in Koreatown leave community in shock

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A Korean-American man who took his own life was driven to extreme measures after the death of his elderly mother.

Kun Kim, 58, and his mother, Ok Kim, 85, were found dead in an apartment near 7th Street and Oxford Avenue in LA’s Koreatown on February 29, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.

“Mr. Kim was found hanged in his apartment room, and his mother was found dead in the living room,” said LAPD Public Information Officer Tony Lim.

“While the son committed suicide, his mother likely died of natural causes, with no signs of homicide or attack,” said Detective John Lamberti of Olympic Community Police Station, who is handling the case. “Toxicology tests are pending at the L.A. County Coroner’s Office to determine a drug overdose,” he added.

The exact circumstances of Kim’s death are still unknown. The incident occurred inside their home, which is a closed space, making it difficult to determine the circumstances.

According to Detective Lamberti, the last time Mr. Kim was seen on the apartment’s security cameras was on February 22. He was not seen entering or leaving the apartment until February 29, the day he was found dead. Within a week, both the son and his mother seemed to have died inside the apartment.

“Kim owed four months of rent, so the apartment manager went to see him,” said a neighbor surnamed Baek, “but he didn’t answer the door, so we called the police.”

Neighbors speculated that the four-month rent arrears meant that the Kims struggled to make ends meet.

The apartments they lived in were all two-bedroom units, and the current monthly rent is around $1,800. They are mostly occupied by Korean-American seniors, an apartment manager said.

The motive for Kim’s son’s suicide is still unknown. “There was no will note or suicide note found,” said Detective Lamberti, adding, “The idea that he was despondent over his living conditions is speculation.”

BY KYEONGJUN KIM [kim.kyeongjun1@koreadaily.com]