S'porean missing in Greece: If only I had gone with him

If only.

Two words, filled with regret, now weigh heavily on the minds of missing Singaporean Kouk Leong Jin's wife and his friend.

Mr Kouk, 28, a fourth-year Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School student, had flown to Athens, Greece, on Sept 25 for a medical conference.

His wife Seow Shu Ping, 28, a teacher, said Mr Kouk sent her an SMS the following day at 1.10pm (Singapore time), saying: "(I'm) in Greece now. Reach (sic) about 1 hour ago. In bus to hotel now..."

But he hasn't been contactable since last Tuesday night. As of press time, he is still missing. Greek authorities are searching for him. (See report on right.)

Mr Kouk had wanted his wife to accompany him to Greece as part of their honeymoon.

They got married on Sept 17.

Speaking to the Chinese newspapers here, Ms Seow said: "When he got news (in June) about the conference, he asked me to join him for the trip.

"Even until the moment before he boarded the plane, he was still trying to persuade me..." But she couldn't make it as it wasn't the school holidays.

The couple, who held their wedding banquet at Sheraton Towers, decided to go on their honeymoon in December instead.

Ms Seow said: "If only I had listened to him. Had I known this would happen, I would have gone along with my husband."

Her nightmare began when she did not hear from Mr Kouk after his last e-mail to her in the wee hours of Tuesday last week.

In his e-mail, he said that it was "quite sian (boring) to be travelling alone", but that he had also "explored quite a bit of Athens on foot today".

Mr Kouk said he had walked from 11am to 7pm, and that he had climbed three hills.

In the same e-mail, he said that he might be exploring some islands, and ended it with "keep in touch. Love u, LJ".

Ms Seow didn't sense anything amiss at first as she thought her husband was busy.

But when she didn't hear from him again by Thursday morning, she called Mr Kouk's friend, Mr Neo Ghim Hoe, 28.

That was when she got the first sign that something was wrong.

Both men were supposed to attend the same conference but had made their way to Athens separately.

It turned out that Mr Kouk had tried to contact Mr Neo on Tuesday night, around 10.40pm.

But Mr Neo was preoccupied and missed his friend's call. By the time he realised it, he felt it was too late for him to return the call.

The following morning, which was the first day of the conference, he tried to call Mr Kouk but was unsuccessful in reaching him.

After several attempts, Mr Neo sent a message to a colleague at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) - where both men were attached - as he suspected that the overseas network was unstable.

He asked the colleague to help send a message to MrKouk, saying he would meet the latter at the conference venue.

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