The official said the woman, a New Zealand citizen, arrived in South Korea in 2018 and there was no record of her subsequently leaving the country.
According to the official, the woman held Korean citizenship before she obtained New Zealand citizenship “a long time ago.” The official did not name the woman or provide any other identifying details and could not confirm whether she was born in South Korea.
The official said her whereabouts were unknown. South Korean police have not opened their own investigation into the case, but are cooperating with the New Zealand authorities through Interpol.
The children – between the ages of 5 and 10 – may have died several years ago, possibly three or four, according to New Zealand police.
New Zealand police said the family that bought the bags at auction is not under investigation.
New Zealand police on Monday told CNN they were unable to confirm details provided by South Korean police at this point in the investigation.