South Korean DJ accused of killing delivery rider while drunk and with pet dog on lap

South Koreans have railed at a DJ who is accused of killing a delivery rider while drink-driving and rejecting a breathalyser test, marking the latest in a string of alcohol-fuelled incidents that had turned fatal.

Police said a 54-year-old man died after he was knocked off his motorcycle last week by the suspect, surnamed Ahn, whose pet dog was sitting on her lap in her car at the time of the incident.

Ahn allegedly did not stop to help him, and the wheels came to a halt only after moving 100m from the accident spot.

If convicted, Ahn, who was arrested on Monday on suspicion of death due to dangerous driving, could be punished by life imprisonment.

Government data showed more than 130,283 drunk drivers were caught in 2022. Photo: Shutterstock

Many South Koreans have denounced the accused, following eyewitness statements that Ahn had remained in the car holding her dog, declining to cooperate with police who tried to test her for drink-driving.

One onlooker told local media that the woman appeared not to understand the gravity of the situation and “just sat blinking her eyes while holding a dog”.

Ahn was also witnessed engaging in an argument with officers who attempted to separate her from the pet.

Police said she tested negative for drugs in a reagent test, adding that her hair samples would be sent to the National Forensic Service for a thorough analysis, The Korea Herald reported.

Some YouTubers exposed the identity of Ahn, prompting the DJ to change the settings on her social media accounts to private.

South Korea’s alcohol culture under scrutiny after spate of drinking incidents

The case also highlighted South Korea’s entrenched drinking problem and the strong social pressure to participate in binge-drinking, The Herald said.

Government data showed more than 130,283 drunk drivers were caught in 2022, up from around 110,000 in the previous two years. Some 42 per cent of those caught were repeat offenders. The number of people killed in drink-driving accidents rose to 214 in 2022, from 206 the year before.

South Korea’s health ministry has banned the display of alcohol advertisements on public transport to safeguard minors amid a rise in the underage drinking rate, which went up from 10.7 per cent in 2021 to 13.0 per cent in 2022.

In recent months, local media had reported about multiple intoxication-linked incidents in which drunk drivers consumed more alcohol to compromise post-accident tests.

Other incidents included a surgeon who was caught performing an operation while inebriated, and an elderly man entering the wrong home and stabbing its occupant. The offender had left a flat in Incheon after drinking with friends, and tried to return when he realised he was wearing another person’s shoe. Mixing up the address, he got into a quarrel with the victim and killed him with a kitchen knife, receiving a 19-year jail term.

The man claimed he had depression and sought leniency, but the Supreme Court rejected that argument, saying “the defendant had long been treated for alcoholism, and had been punished multiple times in the past for felonies committed while drunk, thus leading the court to believe that he was fully aware that his drinking could lead to a violent crime”.

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