A Korean-born man has been jailed for at least 16 years and 10 months for bashing, strangling and throwing his ex-girlfriend off her Sydney unit’s balcony.
A “possessive, controlling” man who punched, strangled and threw his ex-girlfriend off the balcony of her 23rd-floor Sydney unit has been jailed for a crime “seen with distressing frequency.”
June Oh Seo, 38, will spend at least 16 years and 10 months behind bars for murdering Hee Kyung Choi—a crime he only admitted more than a year after claiming she killed herself.
“Like too many women before her, Choi died because the man with whom she had been involved could not accept her right to autonomy,” Justice Helen Wilson said in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.
“The offender acted from a profound sense of entitlement, clearly believing that Ms Choi had to conform to his wishes rather than pursue her own.
“The offender’s crime is one seen with distressing frequency.”
The body of 34-year-old Choi lay in a laneway for 12 hours on Oct. 9, 2017, before Seo was arrested after a stand-off with police after he climbed onto a perspex balcony roof at the top of the Chatswood block.
She died of catastrophic multiple injuries, but the exact mechanism underlying the cause of death was not entirely clear.
— Lucy Cormack (@LucyCormack) October 19, 2017
“She may have died as a consequence of impact with the ground; although it is possible that, prior to casting her from the balcony, the offender strangled Ms Choi to death, or to unconsciousness,” the judge said.
The victim’s Korean father, Jusuk Choi, described Seo as a “shameless beast with a human face,” telling the judge of the heartbreak caused to him, his wife, and their son.
“Because of this pain, we are only hoping each day of living hell passes quickly so we can meet our daughter we miss so much,” he said.
Choi, who worked in the finance industry, and Seo, a painter, became romantically involved in March 2017 and travelled to South Korea the next month to meet each other’s parents.
“In a relatively short time Ms Choi found that the offender was possessive and controlling of her,” the judge said.
“She told friends that he did not like her seeing male friends or clients of the bank for which she worked, and wanted to know her movements at all times.”
With “tragic prescience,” Choi told a friend: “He is not violent but I wonder if he can turn violent later on.”
When she tried to break up, he got onto one knee and begged her not to, saying he had no one but her and would die if she left him.
When she did break it off, he moved out on Aug. 13 but kept in contact and stayed over on the weekend of Oct. 7.
During an argument, he punched Choi to the face a number of times with such force that he broke a bone in his hand and bruised his knuckles, before throwing her over the balcony railing.
“As Ms Choi’s father said in the family’s victim impact statement, a young life full of promise, a life that is given only once, was violently cut short,” Justice Wilson said.
At the time, Seo was on a bond for assaulting his pregnant ex-wife and breaching an AVO.
“This was a brutal crime, committed as a consequence of the offender’s enraged inability to accept that Ms Choi had a life of her own, and a right to make her own choices.”
She set a maximum term of 22 years and six months.
By Margaret Scheikowski