Bush search in missing person cold case

01:43, Jan 31 2009
MISSING: Korean visitor Jae Hyeon Kim has not been seen for four years.

An area of bush on the South Island's West Coast will be scoured in the hunt for a Korean tourist missing for four years.

Jae Hyeon Kim, 25, was reported missing in May 2004 after failing to return to Korea after a year-long trip to New Zealand. The focus of the inquiry initially centred on the Nelson area, where Mr Kim was last known to have lived.

Last week, police reopened the file into Mr Kim's disappearance after discovering he made an eftpos transaction at a Westport bar and cafe on September 29, 2003, three weeks after he checked out of Alan's Backpackers in Nelson.

Police said Mr Kim was not necessarily the victim of foul play, but could have got lost while backpacking or tramping in the Nelson-Buller area.

Today, Detective Inspector John Winter, crime services manager for the Tasman police district, said information had now led police to an area of bush near 4 Mile Bridge, just out of Charleston, south of Westport.

Mr Winter said the inquiry team had learnt items connected with the missing tourist had been found in that area.


He would not elaborate on the information, but said it was being treated as genuine.

A base had been set up at the site, and police from Tasman and Canterbury District would be involved in the search.

The search of the area was expected to take between five and seven days.

The Korean Consulate has been advised of the development, and police had been in contact with the Kim family in Korea.

Mr Winter said it was too early to say what direction the investigation was taking and he retained an open mind on what had happened to Mr Kim.

The results of the search may well dictate what happens next, Mr Winter said.