A Queens pastor spoke to the NY Times about what he feels are misunderstanding from the police about the suicide of Staten Island resident Hejin Han and the subsequent charge that her husband, Victor, helped promote her suicide. A week ago, the Han family, including their 3 and 5 year old daughters, went to Bear Mountain, where Hejin Han drove their minivan off a cliff with the girls in the back. The girls were safe, but police have charged Victor Han with "promoting" his wife's death, after he told them his wife had mentioned suicide and that he stepped out of the car before the plunge. It's unclear whether or not those charges will stick, but Han's family - including his in-laws - have been vocal in telling reporters that the State Parks Police have it all wrong.

The Reverend Youn Lee explained the cultural significance of Koreans mentioning suicide:

"He said she was upset about things like unpaid bills, but mainly it was that they weren't spending enough time together," Mr. Lee said. Mr. Han said that during their arguments, his wife did speak of suicide, the pastor said, but Mr. Han did not take her words literally because, between Korean couples, mentioning suicide is taken less as a literal statement of intention than as accepted hyperbole to emphasize discontent.

"The way an American might say, 'I could just kill you,' but not really mean it," Mr. Lee said.

"In Korean culture, when a husband and wife say to each other, 'I want to kill myself,' you do not accept it so literally," Mr. Lee said. "It means it is a request of something to your partner to correct something. It means that 'I am unhappy about something, and I want you to do something about it.' "

Mentions of suicide are common in arguments between Korean couples, the pastor said, but few carry it out because of strong cultural taboos.

Family and friends believe that Hejin Han's death was an accident.

You can read Victor Han's deposition of the events at SI Advance. Meanwhile, the psychiatric hospital observing Han has not released him, in spite of pleas saying he should not be separated from his children.

Photograph by Kathy Willens/AP