JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said investigators are now looking into the alleged involvement of a Korean mafia on the abduction and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo last October.

In a chance interview on Monday, Aguirre said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are now probing the existence of an alleged Korean syndicate.

This came after reports circulated that Police Superintendent Rafael Dumlao, the alleged mastermind in the October 18 kidnap-slay case, was referring to a Korean mafia when he disclosed that a group too big for the PNP to seize was behind the killing of Jee.

Aguirre said although it is still "premature" to conclude that there are Koreans involved, this angle will be probed by the authorities to give answers on the killing of Jee.

Aguirre pointed out that if Jee was kidnapped in exchange for money, authorities should have not killed him immediately.

"Oo (we will investigate) para magkaron ng explanation yung pagpatay agad. Kung talagang kidnapping ba ang talagang plan... Talagang mapapaisip ka, magkakaron ka ng afterthought," Aguirre said.

When asked further if there are Koreans who are now persons of interest in the case, he said: "Meron pero hindi ko muna pwede i-divulge ngayon (There are Koreans, but I cannot divulge their names now)."

The DOJ chief said the joint investigating team is also probing the alleged involvement of Jee on the illegal online gaming operations of Chinese national Jack Lam.

"Merong report na ganun. Si Jee Ick-joo is an illegal recruiter and one of his many clients is Jack Lam," Aguirre said.

Lam is one of the subjects in the investigation being conducted by the Senate after two Immigration commissioners allegedly extorted from him P50 million in exchange for the release of nearly half of the 1,316 Chinese workers arrested at his gaming operations in Clark, Pampanga.

Aguirre said the existence of a Korean mafia, as well as the alleged link between Lam and Jee are only theories at the moment and will further be investigated by the NBI and PNP to give light on the October 18 kidnap-slay case.

"But of course. There's nothing final about this. Theory muna hanggang hindi naiimbistgahan at nagkakaron ng concrete evidence," Aguirre said.

Jee was killed inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame after he was kidnapped. (SunStar Philippines)