The Search for Kouk Leong Jin ...

Missing Poster: Kouk Leong Jin (or is it "Kuok Leong Jin"?)

More mystery: who is the unknown person who checked in online 4 days ago for a flight to Singapore booked under the name of the missing person Kouk Leong Jin?

Who the mysterious girl from Turkey named Fey Mar who left a comment on Facebook page "Missing Singaporean in Athens, Greece - Kouk Leong Jin" saying that Mr Kuok's disappearance "something funny and misunderstood" and that he will appear soon.

And why the woman mysteriously disappeared from Facebook nine hours later? (Of course assuming she is really a she and from Turkey...)

Anyway, the missing person's wife Ms Seow Shu Ping is also reported to be regretful of not going to Greece with the husband.

I don't want to seem cruel, but she should see it positively. If she did go with him, perhaps there will be a case of TWO missing persons, instead of one...

An unknown person checked in online four days ago for a flight to Singapore booked under the name of missing Singaporean medical student Mr Kouk Leong Jin, 28.

Mr Kouk is a fourth-year medical student at the Duke-NUS Graduate School who has been missing since last Tuesday night. He was on a trip to Athens, Greece, to attend a medical conference.

A report in The New Paper also said that someone had spotted a man resembling Mr Kouk on Monday night (Oct 3) in the capital.

A female passer-by told police she saw the man on a street in central Athens, then saw a missing person poster with Mr Kouk's photo. No details were given about what the man was doing.

Police said the man matched Mr Kouk's description but could not say for sure if it was him.

Thai Airways electronic records show that an e-ticket was issued on Oct 1, the day Mr Kouk was scheduled to leave Athens for a transit flight to Singapore from Bangkok, a spokesman for the airline told the Straits Times (ST).

However, the ticket remained unused at the Athens International Airport. No one has tried to re-book the flights either, the spokesman said.

The airline's system did not reveal when or where the online check-in was done.

According to ST, the Greek police are attempting to identify the person through the Internet Protocol (IP) address used. A unique IP address is assigned to each and every device connected to the Internet, and can be used to identify the IP address owner and location.

Mr Kouk had landed in Athens on Sept 26. On Sept 27, at about 10.40pm, he called his friend, Mr Neo Ghim Hoe, 28, but Mr Neo missed the call.

The following morning, Mr Neo tried to call Mr Kuok back, but did not get through. Family and friends have been unable to contact Mr Kouk ever since.

Mr Costas Yannopoulos, president of The Smile of the Child, told ST that police investigations have yielded some results but did not want to elaborate further other than that they believe that Mr Kouk is alive.

Smile of the Child is an organisation that helps find missing children and is participating in the search for Mr Kouk.

Lianhe Wanbao reported that the authorities in Athens have received at least three calls that say Mr Kuok was spotted at his hotel and on the streets of Athens.

However, out of the five Greek hostels and ferry terminals Mr Kouk's friends have contacted, two ferry terminals have said they have no record of Mr Kouk in their systems, a Shin Min Daily report said.

Lianhe Wanbao also reported on Tuesday night that a mysterious girl from Turkey named Fey Mar left a comment on Facebook page "Missing Singaporean in Athens, Greece - Kouk Leong Jin" saying that Mr Kuok's disappearance is "something funny and misunderstood" and that he will appear soon.

The woman mysteriously disappeared from Facebook nine hours later.

From Asiaone, "Online flight check-in done in missing S'porean's name".

If only.

Two words, filled with regret, now weigh heavily on the minds of missing Singaporean Kouk Leong Jin's wife and his friend.

Mr Kouk, 28, a fourth-year Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School student, had flown to Athens, Greece, on Sept 25 for a medical conference.

His wife Seow Shu Ping, 28, a teacher, said Mr Kouk sent her an SMS the following day at 1.10pm (Singapore time), saying: "(I'm) in Greece now. Reach (sic) about 1 hour ago. In bus to hotel now..."

But he hasn't been contactable since last Tuesday night. As of press time, he is still missing. Greek authorities are searching for him. (See report on right.)

Mr Kouk had wanted his wife to accompany him to Greece as part of their honeymoon.

They got married on Sept 17.

Speaking to the Chinese newspapers here, Ms Seow said: "When he got news (in June) about the conference, he asked me to join him for the trip.

"Even until the moment before he boarded the plane, he was still trying to persuade me..." But she couldn't make it as it wasn't the school holidays.

The couple, who held their wedding banquet at Sheraton Towers, decided to go on their honeymoon in December instead.

Ms Seow said: "If only I had listened to him. Had I known this would happen, I would have gone along with my husband."

Her nightmare began when she did not hear from Mr Kouk after his last e-mail to her in the wee hours of Tuesday last week.

In his e-mail, he said that it was "quite sian (boring) to be travelling alone", but that he had also "explored quite a bit of Athens on foot today".

Mr Kouk said he had walked from 11am to 7pm, and that he had climbed three hills.

In the same e-mail, he said that he might be exploring some islands, and ended it with "keep in touch. Love u, LJ".

Ms Seow didn't sense anything amiss at first as she thought her husband was busy.

But when she didn't hear from him again by Thursday morning, she called Mr Kouk's friend, Mr Neo Ghim Hoe, 28.

That was when she got the first sign that something was wrong.

Both men were supposed to attend the same conference but had made their way to Athens separately.

It turned out that Mr Kouk had tried to contact Mr Neo on Tuesday night, around 10.40pm.

But Mr Neo was preoccupied and missed his friend's call. By the time he realised it, he felt it was too late for him to return the call.

The following morning, which was the first day of the conference, he tried to call Mr Kouk but was unsuccessful in reaching him.

After several attempts, Mr Neo sent a message to a colleague at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) - where both men were attached - as he suspected that the overseas network was unstable.

He asked the colleague to help send a message to Mr Kouk, saying he would meet the latter at the conference venue.

Failed to turn up

But even when Mr Kouk failed to turn up at the conference, Mr Neo didn't suspect anything amiss. He posted on Mr Kouk's Facebook wall on Wednesday evening: "Where the hell are you dude? On strike too?".

It was only when Ms Seow called him on Thursday that it became apparent that Mr Kouk was missing. The New Paper managed to contact Mr Neo in Athens around 9.20pm last night.

He spoke briefly as his handphone battery was running low.

Mr Neo said: "If only I had taken LJ's call."

He has remained in Athens to assist in the search for Mr Kouk, though he was originally due to leave for home on Saturday afternoon, Athens time.

He added that "from the concierge on duty that day, Leong Jin did not ask them for any information or places to go".

A colleague from KKH told TNP that she received a Whatsapp message from Mr Neo on Friday.

Said the colleague, who declined to be named: "It was only after Ghim Hoe spoke to Leong Jin's wife that he realised something was wrong."

She added that Mr Kouk, who had completed his third-year medical attachment at KKH in July, has always been diligent.

She said: "He is someone who would put in the extra effort and he's very serious about what he does.

"Knowing that he is such a responsible man, it's very unlikely that he would go AWOL (absent without official leave) or skip the conference.

"That's why when we heard that he is missing, everyone was worried."

Ms Seow also called the colleague on Saturday morning.

Ms Seow had earlier enlisted the help of Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School to disseminate the news of Mr Kouk's disappearance.

The colleague said: "While Leong Jin's wife sounded anxious, she wasn't crying.

"She wanted an update on the situation and sounded relieved when she knew that an emergency response team had already been assembled to render help."

Ms Seow is expected to arrive in Athens today with Mr Kouk's parents and his younger brother.

From Asiaone, "S'porean missing in Greece: If only I had gone with him".

Many netizens are offering encouragement and well wishes to the family of missing Singaporean Kuok Leong Jin.

The Facebook page set up to help find the man has garnered nearly 4,000 likes at press time, as well as messages from people all over the world.

One person who left a message is Turkish woman "Fey Mar", who resides in Athens, Greece.

She believes that the incident is probably the result of a "funny misunderstanding" and that Kuok will be found soon.

Another netizen, "Bugalu Schultz" echos the view. He added that "Greece is not advanced like Singapore" so Kuok may just be "trapped in a desert" with a broken down car and a flat battery, or stranded at the site of "Ancient Corinth" an hour away from Athens.

Other netizens, some of whom stay in Greece, say that "the whole of Greece is now aware of Mr Kuok" as there is an hourly amber alert on Greek TV channels with his photo.

Meanwhile, Kuok's parents, brother, wife and the dean of Duke-NUS arrived yesterday morning in Greece to help in the search. Kuok's wife, Ms Seow Shu Ping is staying in the same hotel room that Kuok stayed.

More details have also been unearthed in the search for Kuok.

According to the local police, phone records indicate that Kuok's last known phone call was made from a dangerous district in Athens. Also, Kuok or someone on his behalf, had checked in for his flight, although no one turned up at the airport.

From inSing, "Missing S'porean in Athens: Netizens offers encouragement".


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