Remember the case of Sunmee Kim, who met Korean men living in Southern California online, moved in with them, accused them of domestic battery and, as they were being hauled off to jail, returned to their homes to clean them out?
The 40-year-old conwoman pleaded guilty to the charges against her recently and was immediately sentenced to four years in state prison.
Her trail of deceit was cut short in December 2011 by Irvine Police Officer Joseph Jun, who while taking the domestic violence report found it odd the “victim” could produce no identification with the name she gave for herself. That's because she did not identify herself as Sunmee Kim but as a woman whose identity she had stolen.
I doubt that this is being rolled into KoreanCupid.com's marketing campaign but that was the dating website of choice for Kim. It's how she met Deukman Lee, who went from suitor to suspect on Dec. 13, 2011, when Kim called the Irvine Police Department to his Stanford Avenue home to say the businessman had hit her 10 times with a wooden practice sword.
Using the other woman's name, Kim told Officer Jun she had lived in Lee's home for a month, that they were engaged and that she was pregnant. When Jun asked her for identification, she claimed it was in a purse Lee had hidden from her.
Since Kim displayed injuries consistent with domestic abuse, Lee was taken into custody, Irvine Police said at the time. Lee later sued the city of Irvine on grounds Jun did not do enough to confirm Kim was who she said she was as Lee was jailed for a night. The city denied Lee's false arrest accusation.
Jun returned to the station, did some nosing around and through government databases was able to find a photo I.D. of the woman whose name Kim provided. Their physical descriptions matched, but the cop still felt something was not exactly right. So Kim was asked about it, and she explained she'd recently had cosmetic surgery.
Still unconvinced, Jun took the woman's fingerprints, and they came back as belonging to Sunmee Kim. The prints had also been taken in a 2010 grand theft out of Garden Grove, where a businessman who had met Kim through KoreanCupid.com (ask for it by name!) was later accused by her to have tried to rob her. He was taken into custody, and Kim went back and pulled valuable out of his house, too.
It was also discovered Kim had a warrant out of Los Angeles, where she tried to extort money out of a man who provided her shelter in Koreatown in 2009. Kim had threatened to tell LA cops he had kidnapped and beat her.
Jun went back to confront Kim, but she was gone–allegedly with Lee's stuff, because the Stanford Avenue residence had been burglarized. Irvine detectives traced Kim to a Koreatown home on Dec. 21, 2011, and police believe she was in the process of stealing the identity of a woman who took pity on Kim because she allegedly claimed to be recovering from cancer.
Cops later tied Kim to pulling the KoreanCupid.com act on a second Irvine businessman, at which time she passed herself off with the identity she stole from a Korean woman traveling in the U.S. Kim had offered her a place to stay, and while the visitor was in a day spa, Kim took her clothing, jewelry, passports and other paperwork that were later recovered in Irvine and returned to the victim.
And Kim was also tied to a false police report in Orange in August 2011, when she claimed the family of another man she had met through KoreanCupid.com kidnapped and assaulted her.
Kim pleaded guilty recently to eight counts of false imprisonment, four counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of grand theft and a count of identity theft, all felonies, according to court records.
Men who visit the websites of lonely women in prison looking for love, consider yourselves warned.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.