Police investigators wearing protective suits walk into a home past a red carPolice investigators work at a scene in New Zealand where two children’s bodies were discovered in suitcases in August. A woman has been arrested in South Korea over the alleged murders. Photograph: Dean Purcell/AP


A 42-year-old woman has been arrested in South Korea for the alleged murder of two children whose bodies were discovered in suitcases bought at an auction in New Zealand.

South Korean authorities arrested the woman today on a Korean arrest warrant for two charges of murder.

The remains of the two young children, who were aged about five and 10, were concealed in the suitcases for a number of years before an Auckland family unsuspectingly bought the luggage in a storage facility’s online auction. They transported their purchases home before making the discovery and contacting police on 11 August.

New Zealand police requested the arrest warrant for the woman under the country’s extradition treaty with South Korea, and have applied to have the woman extradited back to New Zealand to face charges.

The South Korean national police agency said a woman had been arrested at 1am in an apartment in Ulsan city.

The unidentified woman covered her face with the hood of her coat as officers escorted her outside an Ulsan police station and put her in a car headed for the capital, Seoul.

She will undergo a review at the Seoul high court over whether she should be extradited, said Park Seung-hoon, an official at the National Police Agency. Park said a date hadn’t yet been set but the review must take place within two months.

The children cannot be named due to a suppression order. In late August, police said they had identified a woman who they believed to be a family member of the two children. The woman, a Korean-born New Zealander, had arrived in South Korea in 2018 and had no record of departure since then, a police officer told Reuters at the time.

Det Insp Tofilau Fa’amanuia Vaaelua said on Thursday that the woman’s arrest was a result of international cooperation. “To have someone in custody overseas within such a short period of time has all been down to the assistance of the Korean authorities and the coordination by our NZ Police Interpol staff,” Vaaelua said.

They acknowledged the “overwhelming support from the public since the commencement of a very challenging investigation”.

New Zealand authorities have requested that the woman remain in South Korean custody until the completion of the extradition process.

The distressing case has been high profile in New Zealand. Vaaelua said in August, when the age of the victims was revealed, that it was “extremely upsetting for the community”.

“No matter how long or how many years you serve and investigate horrific cases like this, it is never any easier to do.”