An arrest warrant was issued for a 47-year-old woman in Incheon on Friday for failing to register her mother's death for over two years, keeping her body in the house where they had lived together to collect her social security benefits.
Police are seeking charges of concealing and possessing a corpse, a crime in South Korea that can be punished by imprisonment of up to seven years. The warrant was issued by the Incheon District Court on Friday.
This comes as the welfare authorities grew suspicious "because the mother had no medical records over the past two years" while receiving pension benefits, a spokesperson of the National Pension Service said Sunday.
The authorities will also "work to get back the wrong pension payment possibly through asset seizures, depending on the police probe results," the spokesperson added.
The woman is accused of keeping the skeletal remains of her mother covered with a blanket at her house in a low-rise apartment building in Incheon.
The mother is believed to have been dead for more than two years, based on the woman's note indicating her mother died at the age of 76 in August 2020.
The daughter has since allegedly received up to 17 million won ($13,700) combined in the past two years and four months -- about 600,000 won a month -- from her mother's pension.
The woman, who is unemployed, reportedly used the money to make ends meet, and failed to register her mother's death for fear of falling into poverty.
She was discovered with her mother's body after police forced their way into the house Wednesday.
The woman comes from a family of six siblings. The other siblings had broken off contact with their mother after their father died in 1995. The discovery came after the welfare authorities were unable to contact the dead mother for two years.
The welfare officials asked one of the siblings of the accused to check her mother's eligibility as a recipient, and the sibling called the police in the middle of the process, according to the NPS.
The mother was one of some 67,000 people under suspicious of wrongfully receiving pension payments, according to welfare officials.
An autopsy report ruled out foul play, but added that it could not determine the cause of death of the mother.