Former Simpson College professor released from jail


by Rachel Neumann, Staff reporter

Former Simpson College assistant professor of economics Gowun Park was released from the Dallas County Jail on Thursday, March 26, after her bail was lowered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Park was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping on Feb. 19 after her husband Sung Woo Nam was found dead in their West Des Moines home. She pleaded not guilty on March 13.

According to court records, Park posted a surety bond of $150,000 as well as a cash bond of $135,000. While awaiting trial, she must wear an electronic monitoring device and only travel within Dallas and Polk Counties.

The West Des Moines Police Department maintains possession of her passport until the trial is complete.

Park may only leave her house for necessities, including food, medical supplies and gas. Also, she may leave to meet with her attorneys face-to-face.

According to the Des Moines Register, Dallas County Judge Michael Jacobsen refused to reduce Park’s bond from $5 million on March 13 because she posed a flight risk, as she does not have family in the U.S.

Jacobsen reduced her bond to $285,000 because he believed Park no longer posed a flight risk, partly because of travel restrictions put in place the past two weeks during the coronavirus outbreak.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for South Korea, Park’s native country, stating that U.S. residents should avoid traveling to parts of the country.

The Iowa Supreme Courts postponed most criminal trials until at least April 20 and most civil trials until at least May 4 because of the pandemic.

According to the Register, on March 13, Park’s attorney Tammy Gentry said the couple had a dysfunctional relationship, and Park was the subject of substantial physical and mental abuse.

Park told police Nam was abusive and gave her permission to tie him up when he became violent, according to court records.

Park bound Nam’s hands and feet with zip ties and then tied him to a chair using rope, according to a criminal complaint filed by the West Des Moines Police Department.

Police say she duct-taped a towel over his eyes and stuffed clothing in her husband’s mouth to prevent him from yelling.

The complaint states Nam requested to be untied, but Park refused. West Des Moines police officers found Nam unresponsive and with ligature marks on his neck and throat. Nam was later pronounced dead at UnityPoint Health – Iowa Methodist Medical Center.