Missing tourist enjoying NZ, email reveals

An email written by missing Korean tourist Jae Hyeon Kim reveals a young man enjoying a foreign country and making new friends.

Police believe Mr Kim has been a victim of foul play and that a small number of Westport people know what happened to him.

They searched unsuccessfully for items belonging to Mr Kim last week at a layby near Charleston, about 32km southwest of Westport, where he last made an eftpos transaction to buy a meal, possible for two, at a cafe bar.

Inquiry head Detective Inspector John Winter, who received an anonymous letter with information about Mr Kim last Friday, has urged the author to contact him again to clarify details.

Today they released an email thought to be the last written by the 25-year-old economics student.

Sent from a Nelson backpacker's on September 7, 2003, he said: "I think I like this life, anyway it's my life."

Mr Kim signed off by telling his friends he won't be returning home until he's achieved his dream - to immerse himself in New Zealand culture and improve his English.

"I have quite missed you guys, but I'm not going back until I reach my dream," he wrote.

"I hope your own dreams come true as soon as possible. Take care. Catch you later."

The email was sent to an unidentified person at the New Zealand Language Academy in Auckland, about a dozen of Mr Kim's friends and his brother in Korea. It's one of about six emails police have recovered and had translated into English.

Mr Kim said his trip so far had been "pretty good".

Wellington was "much more narrow and sloper than Auckland because of a lot of pretty tall mountains which made me remind Pusan, my hometown".

He had had great views of the Marlborough Sounds on the ferry trip to Picton and met some kind people in Picton to gave him a ride to Nelson.

"I am staying at Alan's place, a homestyle backpackers hostel, which is very small as much as they don't have an office for reception.

"Owners and staffs at this hostel are very helpful, kind and friendly and barbecue for their guests every weekends."

He said he'd been cycling around Nelson on bikes the hostel lent for free.

Mr Kim said he had been unable to do "woofing" - working on organic farms for free in return for board - as soon as he arrived in Nelson but was scheduled to start the next day.

"I guess I will do gardening and housework. I'm used to them, you know.

"I believe I have no problem to have them feel a good impression for me."

Mr Kim failed to return home as planned in December 2003. His parents reported him missing six months later, but a police search then found no trace of him. Police re-opened the cold case last month.

- NZPA

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