Forensic Medicine is a field of social medicine as a medicine respecting human rights. The Medical Examiner’s Office provides scientific evidence for resolution of violent crimes by performing postmortem inspection and autopsy on dead bodies and examining forensic medical evidence, finds criminals through the evidence, and contributes to the decision of a verdict as well as the sentencing.
Scientific identification for the cause and type of death
Analysis on forensic images using imaging medical devices such as CT, etc.
Various forensic medical examinations using histopathology, microbiology, diagnostic genetics, and clinical chemical techniques
Analysis on personal identification items to confirm identify and implementation of personal identification
Victim management and personal identification of domestic and international major death cases
Currently, the Medical Examiner’s Office conducts forensic autopsy, forensic dentistry, and histopathology services. In recent years, in order to improve the accessibility of autopsy services, regional forensic branch offices have been established and in operation at Catholic University, Seoul National University and Korea University. To identify the cause of the death of a dead body with an unclear cause or a dead body associated with a criminal case, it conducts autopsy or postmortem inspection for the cases requested by investigative agencies or judicial institutions to determine the type and cause of death and notifies the result to the organization that requested the service.
The Forensic service support office provides comprehensive supervision for all tasks related to autopsy, forensic medical examination, and research to facilitate the services and also performs administrative tasks related to the entire Medical Examiner’s Office.
Histopathology services include histopathological analysis, research, and support for histopathological analysis. Histopathological analysis provides important information to identify the cause of death by examining the tissue of a dead person with a microscope based on pathological knowledge and diagnosing tissue change of the organ, pathological condition and disease. The pathological examination method is the same as that of biopsy performed in regular hospitals. However, unlike the hospitals, it mainly deals with the tissues related to a judicial autopsy. Therefore, there are many deaths by accidents caused by injury, electric shock, fire, gunshot wounds, drowning, suffocation, and drug poisoning. The histopathology office mainly performs pathologic tissue examination and improves the reliability of pathological examination by using conventional optical microscopy as well as transmission electron microscopy for precise examination, if necessary. The institute has obtained basic data for the body and organ of Koreans by experiencing many diseases and valuable forensic medical examples and performs systematic analysis on various diseases and research on physiopathological mechanisms.
The major service of forensic dentistry is forensic personal identification. Forensic dental personal identification is based on the age estimate of a dead body, dental profiling for an unidentified body, and personal identification through comparison between ante mortem and post mortem dental information. It also performs analysis on the bite mark remaining on the skin of a suspect or victim. Another major service is forensic anthropologic analysis on cremains or a dead body unidentified due to decay. Forensic anthropologic analysis enables to estimate the gender and height of a dead body and to identify the presence of trauma of the bones and the presence of disease. Forensic dental services basically focus on personal identification and play an important role in rapid personal identification in the case of large-scale disasters that cause many casualties at one time.
In order to mitigate the centralization of NFS autopsy services, increase accessibility by establishing reginal forensic branch offices near relevant authorities, and cultivate forensic manpower through cooperation with medical schools, the NFS established regional forensic branch offices in Catholic University Medical School, Korea University Medical School, and Seoul National University Medical School through an industry-university collaboration agreement. Korea University started its business on November 29, 2007 and officially opened on June 26, 2008. Catholic University opened on August 21, 2008, and Seoul National University opened on January 9, 2013.
Equipment for slicing frozen tissues so that they can be examined by a microscope. It is used to view fat cells, etc.
Equipment for dyeing sliced tissue specimens attached to slides
Equipment used to produce various models in the 3D virtual space. In the field of forensic examination, it is used for confirming an identity using the skull and producing a facial reconstruction model for individual identification. Using 3D image data of the face and skull photographed by PMCT, the elements constructing the face are reconstructed in the 3D virtual space through 3D image visualization analysis and morphometric analysis on the 3D computerized modelling system to make a face restoration model and perform identity verification.
Prior to autopsy on a body, CT and angiogram are taken to acquire information about the injury site and the diagnosis of the cause of death and to preserve 3D image data.
Personal identification and 3D facial restoration of a partial body excavated in the event of a major disaster.
Protecting the dignity of bodies through precision and minimal incision and maximizing respect for bereaved families.
Panorama shooting of a crime scene (360°×180°) and shooting of a crime scene and management of various records using the comprehensive field investigation management program 360° Full HDR, Resolution (68.9 million pixels)
Used for 3D stereoscopic photography for a small indoor scene or a crime scene requiring emergency shooting.
Acquisition of 20 million color points per session, measurable time (2.5 hours), measurable distance (0.6~3.6m) and shooting angle (57°)
Equipment using electromagnetic waves for exploring the earth’s surface and is used for investigating excavation traces or underground utilities, buried bodies, etc.
It can distinguish 1cm to 50cm size objects present at a depth of 2cm to 10m.
Overall investigation of terrain where the scene of the incident is extensive or difficult to access.
6 propellers (hexacopter), maximum flight time: 18 minutes, camera installed and shoots at various angles
In the incident, which took place in the southwest part of Seoul for over two years, 13 elementary school students and people in their 20s were killed, and 20 persons were seriously injured. The forensic medicine field contributed to the resolution of the case by providing autopsies.
In September 2008, a celebrity, Ahn Jae-hwan, was found dead in his car with burned charcoal and in October, Choi Jin-sil was found dead hanging from her neck at home. Their deaths brought about a great deal of sorrow to society. In the forensic medical field, autopsies on them have been carried out to identify the cause of death.
Hwang Jang-yeop, who had systematized the Juche idea of North Korea but was exiled to South Korea in 1997, was found dead at his home. An emergency autopsy was commissioned, and it was confirmed that he died of heart disease.
Singer Shin Hae-chul, died during treatment at a hospital after abdominal surgery. As the social controversy over the possibility of a medical accident increased after his death, an autopsy was commissioned to the NFS, and it was confirmed through autopsy that he died of complications that occurred during the surgery.
강원도 원주시 한의원에서 불임치료목적으로 지은 한약, 한약가루약(일명 반묘가루) 및 한약추출액을 혼합하여 마신 직후 환자가 사망하였으며, 감정결과 위 내용물 및 혈액에서 칸타리 딘(cantharidin)이 검출됨. 칸타리딘은 반묘의 주성분으로 치사량이 10mg이고 과량복용시 복통, 이질, 토혈, 혈뇨, 혈압 저하 등에 이어 사망한다고 알려져 있음