True Crime Korea: The Red Nail Polish Murder

This Korean cold case, the mystery of the red nail polish murder, has yet to be solved. After nearly 20 years, we are no closer to knowing what happened to Eom than the day she went missing.

The Mysterious Disappearance

Eom was a sophomore middle school student who lived with her dad and her mom in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province. It was November 5th,  2003 when she decided to go to her friend’s house to play for a bit after school. Worried that she might be late for her mother’s appointment, she called her mom to tell her she would take a shortcut home. She left her friend’s house at around 6 PM. It was supposed to be only a 10-minute walk but Eom never arrived home. 

After waiting for almost one more hour, her parents started calling the girl, However, her phone had been turned off and they immediately reported her missing to the police. Even though they had taken action quickly, it was already too late.

The First Traces

23 days after the disappearance, it hit the news. Unexpectedly, the things Eom was carrying were found 7 km away from her home. There was a school bag, a tie, and notebooks piled somewhere in Ujeongbu. But every name tag had been torn, an action that made people speculate the possibility that she had already been murdered.

However, the investigation didn’t have any other clues other than that. That is until weeks later, when more belongings were found, including the girl’s phone and trainers. Strangely, no other piece of clothing was found. 

Finding the Body

Frustrated with the lack of success the investigations were having, the police decided to hold an operation that also mobilized the military forces. Even so, the discovery would happen only after 95 days after the disappearance, in February 2004. On that day, a body of a middle school girl was found naked in a concrete drainage canal alongside a highway in Pocheon, with a box covering the entrance to the pipe. 

The packaging box that covered the entrance was just garbage, and there were no traces of resistance or restraint. Traces of sexual assault were also looked for, but there was no DNA found. Oddly enough, her nails and toenails were all painted red. Since she did not have it before going missing. The police reached the conclusion that the murderer did it after kidnapping her. 

Near Miss

Despite the efforts from both the police and military, finding the culprit was becoming harder and harder. Only sixteen years after the case took place did a report from an informant come. It was from a girl who was with Eom five days before she disappeared. She claimed that she had almost been kidnaped herself.

She stated in her report that a white car stalked her on her way home from school. The driver was described as being slender and having hands that seemed to be a man’s. The woman also noted that he had his nails painted. 

After her statement, new searches started. As a result of the efforts and report combined, a car plate was identified and so was its owner. After that, more people came to testify about what they knew and the pieces of information that matched the new discoveries. 

Case Turning Cold

A sketch was done right after a cashier told the police she had encountered a pale man buying red nail polish. After having more information, the police managed to find the suspect’s workplace. 

Although having broke pieces of information, nothing was concrete enough to arrest the suspect right away. More evidence had to be collected. Unfortunately, the only suspect passed away before enough evidence could be gathered. The police never knew for sure who killed Eom. After all these years and now having no primary suspect, the case was never closed and we don’t know for sure what happened. Maybe we will never know…

For more Korean true crime stories, Click Here for the mystery of the Daegu frog boys.