A single mother's twisted love has led to the tragic death of her three-year-old baby who was brutally beaten with a peach tree stick used by shamans for exorcism.
The 26-year-old mother identified by her surname Choi and her mother Shin, 50, have been arrested on charges of child abuse and manslaughter at their home in Incheon, south of Seoul, police said.
Choi and Shin were accused of whipping the whole body of their child with a peach tree stick and a hula-hoop for two days from February 18. After their shamanistic ritual, the baby was left abandoned to starve for three days.
It all started when Choi, who was suffering from depression, was captured by an illusion that her baby was possessed with an evil spirit. On recommendations from a shaman, she performed her own exorcism with a bible and a peach tree stick.
"The two women were thinking of ways to exorcise the ghost by placing the peach tree stick near the child. But eventually, they used it to brutally beat the child," a police official told reporters.
A peach tree is regarded in Korean folklore as an effective charm to ward off evil spirits. Wooden sticks and swords made from the peach tree are commonly used by shamans.
After carrying out an autopsy, forensic experts concluded the baby died of hypodermic bleeding caused by severe beating. From mid-January, the mother allegedly started beating her crying and grizzling child with bare hands several times a week.
Brutal child abuse resulting in death have been reported occasionally in South Korea. Public anger erupted in January 2015 when a 39-year-old stepmother was arrested for abusing her foster son, naked, in a bathroom for three months and letting the kid starve to death.
Park Sae-jin = firstname.lastname@example.org