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Prof Canceled Class for Personal Reasons. Days Later, a Murder Arrest

Gowun Park charged with murder, kidnapping in Iowa
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2020 5:30 PM CST

(Newser) – An assistant economics professor at Iowa's Simpson College canceled her classes for what she called a "personal issue." Three days later, she was arrested for the alleged murder of her husband, the Des Moines Register reports. Gowun Park emailed students Sunday to cancel the upcoming week of classes and postpone a test to the following week; police say the 41-year-old had, on Saturday morning, used zip ties and rope to bind Sung Woo Nam's hands and feet to a chair in their home, gagged him with an article of clothing, duct-taped his mouth shut, and duct-taped a towel over his head. About six hours later, they say, Nam, in distress, asked to be released, but Park allegedly refused. Less than two hours after that, officers were called to the condo, where they found Nam unresponsive with ligature marks on his neck. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

"Ms. Park made efforts to hide and conceal the binding items prior to the arrival of emergency personnel," police said in a criminal complaint. "The injuries sustained by Mr. Nam were not self-inflicted." She was arrested Wednesday, per the college's student newspaper, and faces charges of first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping. "She was one of the sweetest ladies I've ever known," says an economics major who took five of Park's classes, worked with her on a research project, and had her as an academic adviser. He says in the three years he knew her, Park never mentioned a husband, saying that she was single and that all her family lived in South Korea. Park got her doctorate in 2017 and was hired at Simpson the same year; she has since been suspended. "The recent news has left me and other classmates in shock," says another of her advisees. "We never would have expected her to do anything like this." (Read more murder stories.)

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