In addition to the investigation of medical matters related to death requested by courts, prosecutors and police, the Institute provides forensic services on death or morphologically detectable injuries on behalf of insurance companies and individuals within the framework of legal requirements. Based on pathology, the institute also conducts medical research on various body damages and changes associated with injury or death. Most frequent cases include:
- Autopsy to determine the cause of death and the situation at the time of death
- Estimation of postmortem interval
- Reconstruction of damage and events
- Extemal and histological examination for signs of damage
- Research on sudden death
The Department of Forensic Medicine and the Institute of Forensic and Anthropological Science, in cooperation with the National Police Agency and the National Forensic Service, operate local branches to reduce the burden on autopsies of national institutions and to educate future generations by conducting autopsies in specific areas on a regular basis.
The Institute provides a variety of services for personal identification and paternity. Paternity is usually requested by the family courts and individual referrals, and the assessments are used as legal documents. To this end, the Institute regularly participates in external quality control evaluation tests on paternity and personal identification conducted by the Korea Institute of Genetic Testing and Evaluation. In addition to the conventional paternity test, the Institute also has a number of autosomal, Y and X chromosome analysis systems that allow genetic analysis to identify identical maternal, first- and second-degree relatives.
Forensic DNA analysis can be also used to identify the deceased when identifying unknown deaths (e.g. the body is no longer clearly identified by a fire, a large number of dead persons needs to be identified due to a mass disaster, or a sciatica is to be identified.) Based on this technique, the Institute has participated in the identification of the deaths in the Korean war and the gene identification of the victims in the Jeju Uprising.
In addition, the Institute conducts genetic and epigenetic studies for effective DNA analysis of crime scene samples and reference samples. The Institute also carries out ancestry predictions, mixture analysis studies based on SNP analysis, and studies related to body fluid identification, age estimation, and lifestyle estimation using DNA methylation. The outcome of the studies is verified with the National Forensic Service and the Criminal Investigation Command and applied to actual cases.
The Institute conducts research in a number of socio-medical areas related to medicine, including medical law, medical accidents and reparation. As an independent institute, the Institute provides a range of medical and scientific opinions for legal judgment when requested. Forensics and Forensic Science are inseparable from law since they are related with medicine and science in the field of law. Although the interpretation of the law is done in the legal perspectives, it is also accessible from a medical or scientific perspective. In other words, it is a part that requires various interpretations, understandings, and exchanges.
Therefore, the Institute plays a central role in the exchange of medicine, science, and law on a wide range of medical and scientific subjects in legal and ethical terms, as well as in specific academic fields such as medical law, medical accidents, and reparation.
Anatomical and histological methods as well as various biochemical analyses are used to reveal patterns of changes in the physical or pathological characteristics of ancestors at each stage of human history. Primary research areas include paleopathologic studies on bone and studies on virus, bacteria or parasitic pathogens in archaeological human specimens such as mummies. Benefits of these studies is to restore the vividness of people in the past. Thus, their actual health conditions and disease patterns need to be interpreted from medical and socio-cultural perspectives. In addition to laboratory exercises, the Institute is actively involved in researching ancient tombs and graveyards around the world with archaeologists at home and abroad. Currently, studies on archaeological sites in Asia, Europe, and America are underway. In particular, active comparative research in collaboration with India, Russia, and Europe, has led to a more scientific study of the health and disease status of Koreans in the past times.
On the other hand, mummies whose skin and tissues are found dry can be very effective samples for forensics, such as identifying the cause of a disease or death. Therefore, the Institute will be able to maximize the positive effects on the development of both forensic and paleoanthropology through the cooperative research.