Khan Taeun LEE
Taeun Lee was last known to be snorkelling off Richmond Beach, South Durras, NSW on January 25, 2021. Mr Lee has not been seen since and there are serious concerns held for his safety.
Anyone with information which may assist in locating the whereabouts of Taeun Lee is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
FEBRUARY 8 2021 - 12:30PM
While his wife waited at home preparing for their third child, Khan Taeun Lee left the shore of a South Coast beach, while his sons played nearby. Almost two weeks later, he hasn’t been seen since. The 39-year-old Canberra man had taken his two sons, 6 and 9, to the coast for their last visit before they welcomed a new sibling. He entered the water at Richmond Beach to snorkel and didn’t return to the shore. Read more: Traffic chaos at pop-up COVID testing tent in Woonona Police were called to the scene after 3.30pm on January 25 and soon began to search the area alongside Marine Rescue and Surf Life Saving NSW.
Police say a piece of flesh found at Mollymook may belong to a vanished Canberra man.
A police investigation into human remains discovered on a south coast beach may bring to an end a month-long search for a Canberra diver who vanished on a south coast beach.
Members of the public found a chunk of stomach flesh, including a belly button, at 6.30pm on Friday after drifting ashore at Mollymook, almost 200km north of where Sydney conwoman Melissa Caddick’s foot was found at Bournda Beach.
Friday’s discovery was followed by remains being found at Cunjarong Point on Saturday and Warrain Beach at Culburra on Sunday morning.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing said the remains found at Mollymook, which is being forensically examined, could belong to a missing snorkeller.
Canberra cleaner Khan Taeun Lee, 39, has not been seen since he entered the water off rocks at Richmond Beach near Batemans Bay on January 25.
No trace of Mr Lee was found during an almost three-week search of the area.
Tragically, his wife gave birth to the couple’s third child on February 5, just days after his disappearance.
A family friend of Mr Lee and his wife, who did not want to be named, said if the remains are confirmed to be the father of three from Canberra it will allow his family to begin the healing process.
“If it is, then now we can do the funeral,” the friend said.
Mr Lee was from the popular tourist destination of Jeju Island in Korea, famously known for its seafood and crystal clear waters.
The friend described him as a “strong man who knows the water well” after growing up snorkelling around his island home.
Police suspended their search almost three weeks later after no sign of Mr Lee, or any of his belongings, were found.
The friend, who also went to church with the family, said the “happy family” has been shattered by his disappearance, and for quite some time held hopes he would be found alive and well.
“His wife went white when police told her and she didn’t know what was happening. She was worried about the kids,” the friend said.
“She didn’t believe he was gone, and thought he would come back.
“The police told us it was too dark to see anything and they had called off the search.
“She said he might be hungry if he was waiting on the beach to be rescued.
The friend said the family is coming to terms with the thought they will never see Mr Lee again.
“When his wife starts crying she cannot stop. She has really tried to stay strong,” the friend said.
“She told me her biggest fear is her kids losing their smile.”
The friend said Mr Lee had been in Australia alongside his wife for ten years as temporary residents, and were waiting for imminent “good news” on their visa application.
Tragically, the news came just after Lee’s disappearance, they said.
The friend said the struggling family have been hit hard by Mr Lee’s disappearance, and are now being forced to move out of their home, unable to afford rent.
“Now the biggest worry for the family is his family will have to move homes now,” they said.
“His wife is a really nice person, and everyone wants to help her.”
The couple’s local church and the Korean Association of Canberra both quickly started GoFundMe pages to help the family, and the friend said more help is needed.
They said the night before his disappearance Mr Lee was visited by a former church pastor, and the two spoke about how people can go missing in rough waters if they are not careful, and “emotional stuff” about how he could be the best father possible.
“He was waiting for the baby, and wanted to do the best for his family,” they said.
On the afternoon he vanished, Mr Lee didn’t take all of his diving equipment with him and was without a flotation device in large ocean swell.
The Far South Coast branch’s Director of Surf Life Saving Cheryl McCarthy said rough conditions over following days made visibility in the water difficult for emergency services.
Helicopter and drone searches were all unsuccessful and police finally suspended their investigations on February 11 after one final underwater search near the rocks where Mr Lee had last been seen.
According to Royal Life Saving Australia, 79 people have drowned in Australia this year, 17 more than for the same period last year.
*Editor's note - the remains did not belong to Mr Lee.