White supremacist admits killing Korean tourist

GUILTY PLEA: Shannon Flewellen, shown being escorted to an earlier court appearance, has admitted he murdered  Korean tourist Jae Hyeon Kim in 2003.
CHARLES BRUNING/The Press
GUILTY PLEA: Shannon Flewellen, shown being escorted to an earlier court appearance, has admitted he murdered Korean tourist Jae Hyeon Kim in 2003.

A white supremacist has admitted murdering a South Korean tourist on the West Coast.

Nelson beneficiary Shannon Brent Flewellen, 30, was jointly charged with Hayden Brent McKenzie of the murder of Jae Hyeon Kim in 2003.

In the High Court in Christchurch yesterday, Flewellen pleaded guilty before Justice John Fogarty and was remanded in custody for sentencing on April 29.

An Auckland-based South Korean consulate official told The Press yesterday that the case was "one of the most tragic incidents in our Korean immigration history".

In 2008, McKenzie was sentenced to at least 21 years in prison for his involvement in Kim's murder. He was already in prison for the murder of a homosexual Westport man in 1999.

The police summary of facts outlined how Flewellen, McKenzie and another man, whose name is suppressed, picked up Kim in Westport while they were travelling to Runanga in 2003.

Kim, a backpacker who was in New Zealand on a tourist visa, was hitchhiking.

McKenzie pulled into a layby near Four Mile River, several kilometres south of Charleston.

He and Flewellen left the car. When they returned, McKenzie spun the wheels, making out the car was stuck, before asking the others to get out and push.

As Kim was pushing, Flewellen grabbed him from behind, with his right arm around Kim's throat in a choke hold, the summary said.

As Kim struggled for his life, McKenzie left the car and approached Flewellen, telling him "nein blut", which McKenzie believed meant "no blood" in German.

McKenzie held on to Kim's arms and stared into his eyes until Kim stopped struggling and was dropped to the ground.

The police summary said Flewellen stomped on Kim's neck before standing on his throat to ensure he was dead.

He searched Kim for money before he and McKenzie dragged the body towards the bush.

That night, they returned to the scene and recovered Kim's clothes and pack.

They burnt Kim's clothing, pack, books, phone, camera and MP3 player, as well as footwear and clothing Flewellen was wearing at the time of the murder.

The next day, they returned to the killing scene and moved Kim's body to a secret grave.

As Kim was in irregular contact with his family, he was not reported missing until April 2004.

McKenzie's sentence for Kim's murder started four years into his term for having murdered eccentric homosexual James "Janis" Bambrough in 1999.

South Korean consul and police attache Keysun Shin described the case as "one of the most tragic incidents in our Korean immigration history".

"When I contacted his family in Korea this February, they mentioned that they are suffering from his absence and missing him badly, and this situation they are going through still seems unreal," he said.

The Press