The Frog Boys (Korean: 개구리소년, Gaegurisonyeon) were a group of five boys who disappeared in Daegu, South Korea on March 26, 1991.

Phone card with the photos, names, and ages of the Frog Boys used to raise awareness and help find them. The boys are listed as one year older due to Korean age reckoning.

Woo Cheol-won, Jo Ho-yeon, Kim Young-gyu, Park Chan-in and Kim Jong-sik, aged between 9 and 13 years old, disappeared after searching for salamander eggs in the western outskirts of Daegu on a public holiday. Their disappearance received widespread attention and caused a national media frenzy, and President Roh Tae-woo ordered a massive manhunt by the police and military to find them.

On September 26, 2002, the remains of the boys were discovered near where they went egg searching, with some showing signs of blunt-force trauma. The investigation has been inconclusive and theories abound about their deaths. The case remains unsolved.

VictimsEdit

The five boys were between 9 and 13 years old:[1]

  • Woo Cheol-won (aged 13)
  • Jo Ho-yeon (aged 12)
  • Kim Yeong-gyu (aged 11)
  • Park Chan-in (aged 10)
  • Kim Jong-sik (aged 9)

All five boys were from the Dalseo District of Daegu and attended the same elementary school. A sixth child, 9-year-old Kim Tae-ryong, left the group to go home and eat breakfast. He returned to the group after eating, but he decided not to carry on with the remainder of the boys because his mother had warned him earlier not to stay too far from home.

Circumstances and disappearanceEdit

March 26, 1991, was a public holiday in South Korea for the first ever local elections, and the boys decided to spend the day searching for salamander eggs in the streams of Mount Waryong (35°52′01″N 128°30′47″E / 35.867°N 128.513°E / 35.867; 128.513) in Dalseo on the western outskirts of Daegu.[2] The boys never went home, and after they were reported missing, their story made national headlines. President Roh Tae-woo sent 300,000 police and military troops to search for the boys,[1] with the searches shown on live TV.[3] All 5 of the boys' fathers quit their jobs to look for their children around the country.[1] Mount Waryong was searched over 500 times.[4]

Discovery of bodiesEdit

On September 26, 2002, two men searching for acorns discovered their bodies on Mount Waryong in an area that had been searched. He first reported the remains via an anonymous phone call.[5] Initially, the police said they thought the boys had died of hypothermia. But their parents rejected that conclusion and demanded a full investigation.[1] The families questioned the conclusion that the boys had simply died after getting lost due to the oddities of one of the boys clothes being found tied in knots and unused bullets found in his clothes. As well the discovery of their bodies a short distance from the village in an area the boys knew well.[6] Forensic experts found the skulls of three of the children showed blunt-force trauma, possibly from metal farming tools. Police said the children could have been killed by someone who "may have flown into a rage."[7]

AftermathEdit

In 2006, the statute of limitations expired on the case.[8] However, in 2015, the National Assembly voted to remove the statute of limitations on first-degree murder, opening the possibility of criminal charges if a suspect is found.[9] On the 30th anniversary of their disappearance the city of Daegu installed a memorial monument near the location called "Frog Boy Memorial and Children's Safety Prayer Monument" (Korean: 개구리소년 추모 및 어린이 안전 기원비). The Daegu Metropolitan police force also announced a new task force to review the case from the beginning and follow-up on any new information they receive.[10]

Popular cultureEdit

The Frog Boys incident has been the subject of two films: Come Back, Frog Boys (1992)[11] and Children (2011). Several songs also refer to the case[12] as well as the documentary In Search of the Frog Boys (2019). [13]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Sun-yoon, Hwang (January 6, 2003). "Bodies of 5 'frog boys,' missing since 1991, found on mountain". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved August 2, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "실종국교생 5명 3일째 행방묘연" (in Korean). Yeonhap News. March 28, 1991. Retrieved July 15, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Fictional resolution mars movie about unsolved murder". Korea JoongAng Daily. February 11, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "After Discovery of Taegu Remains, Cause of Death Still Uncertain". Korea Times. September 28, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  5. ^ Sung-Kyu Kim (September 27, 2002). "Police Continue Excavation, Find Loaded Shell Near the Site". Dong-A Ilbo. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  6. ^ Sun-yoon, Hwang (January 6, 2003). "'Frog boys' baffle investigators". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved August 2, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Sun-yoon, Hwang; Ki-hwan, Chung (January 6, 2003). "'Frog boys' probably murdered". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved August 2, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Statute Runs Out for Unsolved 'Frog Boys' Murder". Chosun Daily. March 24, 2006. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  9. ^ "'Cold cases' may walk again as South Korea removes statute of limitations on murder". South China Morning Post. July 25, 2015. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  10. ^ ""제보 들어오면 방대한 수사진행"…개구리소년 수사 30년째 미궁". Yonhap News. March 26, 2021. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  11. ^ "돌아오라 개구리 소년" (in Korean). Naver.com. Retrieved July 15, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "[EDITORIALS]Missing persons ignored". JoongAng Daily. January 6, 2003. Retrieved August 2, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Intrigue, scandal, heartbreak: The case of South Korea's missing 'frog boys'". CNA. February 2, 2020. Retrieved March 16, 2022.