A defector from North Korea and her son were found dead in their home in southwestern Seoul last month, police said Tuesday.
The bodies of the 42-year-old woman identified by her family name Han and her six-year-old son identified as Kim were found by a janitor of the apartment in Bongcheon-dong, southern Seoul, on July 31.
He entered the house after a water serviceman reported that it smelled badly. Water supply had been cut off because of unpaid bills.
Police said there were no traces of suicide or homicide. Based on neighbors' statements, police suspect they died two months ago.
According to a newspaper report, the woman arrived in South Korea with her Korean-Chinese husband in 2009. The couple gave birth to a son and moved to China. After a divorce, she and her son return to South Korea late last year and had lived in extreme poverty, according to the report.
Police are still investigating the cause of their death and have not ruled out the possibility that they starved to death as there was no food in the house when they were found.
They are waiting for the result of an autopsy.
A government official said that a local official tasked with helping North Korean defectors' settlement tried to contact them by phone after they moved into the current apartment in October, but they did not answer or return the call.
There have apparently been no subsequent attempts to contact them and ensure their safety.
A unification ministry official told reporters that the government plans to draw up appropriate measures to better help North Korean defectors' settlement by addressing such a "blind spot" where they do not get necessary support. (Yonhap)