true crime

In 1991, five boys went searching for frogs. Their bodies were discovered 11 years later.


On March 26, 1991, five young boys set off for a day of fun together, catching frogs in the streams of Mount Wayong, South Korea as their country celebrated a public holiday.

But by the time the sun set, U Cheol-won, 13, Jo Ho-yeon, 12, Kim Yeong-gyu, 11, Park Chan-in, 10, and Kim Jong-sik, nine, had failed to return home. 

Worried, their parents began searching for them. But after hours of looking, they found no trace and reported the missing boys to the police.

According to the Korea JoongAng Daily, South Korea’s president at the time, President Roh Tae-woo undertook a massive search, dispatching a police force of 300,000 and operating a special investigation centre to look for the boys. They searched reservoirs, irrigation waterways, bus terminals and stations nationwide.

Schools, companies and civic groups made donations totalling 42 million won ($35,000) as a reward to those who found the boys, the publication reported.  

But none of these efforts were successful and the boys remained missing.

There seemed to be no clues. Rumours abounded about the disappearance. Some speculated that they had been kidnapped by a “mentally ill person”, as reported by Korea JoongAng Daily.

On September 26, 2002, 11 years after their disappearance, all five of the boys’ bodies were discovered by two men on Mount Waryong, only two kilometres from their homes. 

Initially, the police said that they had found no indications of homicide and that the most likely explanation is that the children froze to death. 

According to Korea JoongAng Daily, the bodies were entwined, suggesting they’d tried to overcome the cold by huddling together. 

But after the forensic medicine team from Kyungpook National University examined the bodies, they determined that their deaths were in fact the result of foul play.


“We found marks on three of the five skulls that appeared to be created by blows with metal objects, possibly a tool of some kind,” the report stated. 

According to the forensic team, the boys appeared to have been hit on the heads and died from cranial injuries. 

The family members of the boys, many of whom had given up their jobs shortly after their disappearance in order to devote their whole lives to search, were absolutely devastated by the findings. 

The boys’ mothers who had attended the scene to identify the bodies, reportedly screamed as the forensics team pointed out the damaged parts of the skulls. 

The police who investigated the murder, suspected that the murders were not premeditated; rather, that the killer may have flown into a rage.

They also said that they were looking into the possibility that the boys were killed by bullies, possibly around their own age. 

Despite various theories, the police failed to solve the murders and the killer, or killers that took the lives of five young, innocent boys remains unpunished. 

The ‘Frog Boys’ remains one of the most infamous cold cases in South Korean criminal history.  

Note: In 2006 the statute of limitations for the murders expired, meaning that authorities could no longer prosecute anyone for the murders. This was eventually lifted in 2015, which will hopefully provide an avenue for this tragedy to finally be solved.

Shona Hendley, Mother of Goats, Cats and Humans is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. You can follow her on Instagram.