TODAY |

'A vibrant personality' - Friends, whānau pay tribute to Kiwis killed in South Korean landslide

Friends and whānau are in shock after the death of three Kiwi-Koreans in a landslide in South Korea.

Your playlist will load after this ad

A landslide hit their holiday resort after days of heavy downpours and flooding. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand citizens Rose Kim, daughter Anna Song and her two-year-old son Taeyang were among 14 people killed during flash floods and landslides in South Korea, amidst a long monsoon season.

A landslide wiped out their home in Gapyeong, where Ms Song helped her mum run a holiday resort.

"We think, 'I'll see that person again, it's going to be fine,'" Ms Song's friend Tory Whanau told 1 NEWS.

"I think why we're in shock and why this is so hard is knowing that opportunity is now gone, and to lose such a wonderful person with such a vibrant personality is just, it's heart-breaking.

"She was so friend-focused and family-focused and kind, and I think it's just a loss for all of us when someone like that died in that way."

Taeyang's father Luke Rikiti is travelling to South Korea with Ms Song's brother Sean tomorrow.

Both were too distraught to be interviewed today but Mr Song told 1 NEWS he was in shock and disbelief about the biggest loss of his life.

Rikiti family spokesperson George Hamiona says whānau are emotionally and finally supporting Mr Rikiti to make the trip, with extra costs for travel due to Covid-19 restrictions.

"His main focus at the moment is to return to Southern Korea... and to reach our mokopuna safely, and have time with him while he's there and lay him to rest along with his mother Anna and his kuia," Mr Hamiona says.

Ms Song gave birth to Taeyang in Rotorua and worked at ANZ there, before moving to South Korea.

"Luke would video call [Taeyang] often so we were lucky to see him grow up and Luke ensured he knew exactly which hapu, which iwi he was from," Mr Hamiona says.

Mr Rikiti was granted a six-week exemption to visit South Korea.

Former ANZ manager Andrew Gurney says staff are struggling with the news, and remembering what a joy Anna was to work with.

"Anna was really driven, self-driven to be a really high achiever. I think she's a real go getter," he says.

Ms Song was also a director and treasurer for the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea.

Chairman Tony Garret informed board members of Ms Song's death in a letter, noting she was one of the most motivated and enthusiastic people he had ever met.

"The suddenness and untimeliness of this tragedy is beyond words... You left a deep impression on all who met you," he said about Ms Song.

"Beyond what Anna did with the chamber, she was an incredibly committed mother and daughter. She left me breathless on how she managed to balance all she did."

South Korea media report the monsoon is forecast to end on August 14, which if accurate will make it the longest monsoon season in South Korea's history.

President Moon Jae-in has launched an emergency response within the government, with evacuations for high risk areas.

"Please make all further efforts to prevent further loss of life by preventing any potential incidents," he says.