Thursday, March 16, 2006

A blog that I link to had this article tonight and I thought that It needed to be put unto my blog also.

Thursday, 16 March 2006
Sexual Assualts in KoreaTopic: An issue that has gained recent attention is the issue of sexual assaults in Korea.

There has been plenty of recent attention in Korea on sexual assaults against minors and other Korean women. Many of the recent high profile assaults against these women have been by repeat rapists who had received lenient jail time measured in months after their first sexual assault. These cases has caught the attention of the Korean media and hopefully this attention will lead to positive change in Korean society against sexual predators by not immediately condemning women who have been raped as prostitutes for example or giving these monsters who rape women light sentences which is right now an all to common practice in Korea. Despite the media coverage of the sexual assault problems in Korea, something that has continued to be ignored by the Korean media is sexual assaults against foreign women in Korea.

I have highlighted a number of assaults against female foreigners in Korea. Here are a few examples of past assaults on foreign women in Korea. A 19 year old female soldier newly arrived to Korea from Incheon airport was raped by a cab driver bringing her to Seoul. Then there is also the Jamie Penich murder in Itaewon that should be familiar to many expats out there. Then most recently the rape of an Army officer in Taegu that was almost totally buried by the Korean media.

If you don't believe me that these stories are buried go ask the nearest Korean if they have heard about the rape of the US Army officer. They will probably tell you they never heard about it. Now ask them if they heard about the drunk idiot GI in Uijongbu who hit a beer bottle over a Korean guy's head, they will probably tell you that they have heard of that, however.

I just find it sad that a ville incident such the beer bottle case would draw more publicity then a rape in Taegu, especially since the rapist wasn't caught and could be still out there in Korean society raping more people. It just seems to me a rape case should draw as much media attention as possible in order to identify the rapist to ensure they are caught and cannot rape more women. These cases are on top of the multiple cases of rape that have occurred on US military installations with soldier on soldier crime that I have consistently highlighted.

Despite a low crime rate in Korea, being a female here can be dangerous if you are not careful. Even those who are careful can still have bad things happen to them anyway, so it is important to understand what actions to take if something bad does in fact happen to you. In an effort to educate people more about sexual assaults in Korea, I was contacted by a young lady who was sexually assaulted and beaten while teaching English at a hagwon in Seoul.

For those familiar with prior assaults on foreign women in Korea you will see many similarities in this case with those prior cases in as far as how incompetent the Korean police are. The important thing is to learn from her story things that you can do to help yourself if you find yourself in a similar situation or maybe you are helping someone that unfortunately was assaulted because the Korean police are not there to help you. With that in mind here is a story of a sexual assault in Korea that no one has probably heard of, but should of:

I came across this blog in doing my own research about the incidents of foreign females in Korea being assaulted and saw the story from back in July when a female military officer was assaulted by a cab driver. I am so lucky that I have found this blog and can spread the word about the dangers of being a foreign female in Korea and how biased the Korean media, police, hospitals, etc. might be to you if something horrible were to happen.

I, too, was a victim and want anyone who wants to hear my story to listen up and spread the word. I came to Seoul in February of last year to teach English. This was not my first time in Korea, having visited Korea in high school with my Korean friend and having also studied Korean language at Yonsei University in 2000-2001.

I was living in Seoul in what is considered to be one of the safest (aka richest) areas: Chungdam. I am sure you know the 24 hour McDonalds, Hard Rock Cafe, etc---I lived across the street from those places. On July 31, 2005, I arrived to my one room when around 11:20pm, my window slides open and a man is in the window. In the second that I sat frozen in my computer chair in shock/surprise/disbelief, he hopped down from the window and lunged at me and began to hit me with his fist repeatedly, while choking me with his other hand.

After hitting me for a few minutes to where I was going unconscious, he ran over to my bag, grabbed my wallet, and in Korean, said the first word “Don, don, don”, which translated means “Money, money, money”. Being a Sunday night, I had just spent the last cash I had and I told him that in Korean. At this point, he began hitting me again. After only a few hits, however, he decided to begin choking me. He gave up choking me and began hitting me more until I again was drifting in and out of consciousness.

He then decided to rape me. He first tried covering my bloodied face with a shirt but I quickly bled through it so he told me in Korean, “Wash your face”. He went into my kitchen to get a knife and I knew it was my chance to get away. In that instant I found my cell phone and locked myself in the bathroom. Once locked inside, I called the police.

According to their police report was at 11::40pm. They did not arrive to my apartment until well after 12am despite a police station being only 5 minutes by walk from my house. I didn’t trust that the police believed me and understood to come so I also called my friends, but they too, were all far away. When the 2 policemen showed up, the man was gone. I told the police what happened and that I need to go to a hospital right away but their first words to me was to say “Where are your panties and give me your Alien Registration ID card”.

I managed to find my ID card and I gave it to him and then ran out my door to try to get someone else to get me an ambulance. The police came out and told me to sit in the back of their police car, which I did. Soon after, the ambulance came and they did not help into the ambulance on a stretcher.

They opened up their sliding side door and told me to walk in. I did and lay down on the stretcher, unattended by anyone The first place I was taken was called Samsung Medical Center. When we arrived there, again I was not taken in on a stretcher, but instead the two ambulance workers opened the door and told me to get out. As we were walking in, they did not assist me in walking and wouldn’t even open the hospital doors for me until I pulled up the back of my running pants which had slipped down to reveal the top of my panties.

I was laid on a stretcher and someone came to clean my face and photograph my injuries. Within a short amount of time a number of my friends and coworkers began arriving and immediately we worked together to recall what I could of the attack while the hospital workers were deciding where to send me.

I explained to them first of all what happened and asked them to please test my fingernails for his DNA because I probably scratched him. My friends (no police were to be found now) then got a pen and paper and were asking for his description and also began listing the places I could remember he touched: My window, my wallet, my bag, my refrigerator, my door lock, my sink faucet---all places that could be tested for fingerprints.

This first hospital also took pictures of my injuries which now are LOST. The hospital has told the US Embassy that they do not have a camera to even take pictures; while they told my friend who inquired about them that they just don’t have record of my name for that date. After I would guess about 40 minutes-1 hour, I was moved to a 2nd hospital---Hye-Min hospital in the northwest part of Seoul. I was put into the ambulance on a stretcher but again, was not tended to by any professionals.

My two friends rode with me and when I began feeling nauseous and throwing up from the bumpy ride and my head injury, my friends were helping me not any professional workers. I do not remember the emergency room of Hye-Min Hospital and what I will tell you comes from my friends who were dealing with admitting me.

This comes from 2 Korean friends, 1 American friend, and 1 Canadian friend. My friends were speaking with the man admitting me, he said that the hospital would not help me unless I paid him $1000.00 in cash because I was a ‘Russian prostitute who probably deserved what I got’. Finally after convincing him I was neither Russian, nor a prostitute and having my boss show up, they decided to admit me into Intensive Care. Despite my major injuries being associated with my head and eye, there was no eye doctor even available at this hospital. However, the first hospital claimed that the bigger hospitals’ ICUs were all full and they could not take me.

At this hospital, I basically laid for 1 day on an IV ---no medications were given and very little monitoring was done. My blood pressure was checked maybe 2 times per day and I was given no heart/oxygen or any other standard monitors. Besides being in pain from my head injuries, I was unable to sleep or lay without pain due to severe neck and back strains from being choked. The bed was flat in a very uncomfortable position and I was told if I needed to be moved I would have to pound on the side of my bed to get a nurses attention because they didn’t have call buttons.

Of course, when I did this, nurses would ignore me for 10-15 minutes or more. I was finally moved into the ICU of Yongdong Severance Hospital where I was given good treatment and finally tests were taken. I was given an immediate CT scan, along with X-rays and an eye doctor looked at my eyes. It was decided that I had a brain hemorrhage, fractured skull and other facial bones, ocular hemorrhaging.

On day 3 of my ordeal, I was visited by a deputy of the US embassy and a Korean detective, who through my best Korean friend, interpreted what happened and the suspect description. No sketch was taken, however. While in the hospital I was thinking about who this guy might be so I gathered a list of the places I walk a lot. Based on his skin tone and build, I figured he must work outside and suggested to the police to check 3 nearby construction sites near my house that I regularly walk by, 2 car shops or local taxis. Based on the glove marks around my neck, I figured he could be a taxi driver and a taxi driver lives in my building, yet the police never interviewed anyone in my building or the surrounding buildings.

My friends interviewed my neighbors on their own who said they did in fact hear screams, but were too afraid to help and saw nothing. The police interviewed no one, took no suspect sketch, no DNA, and despite claiming that they took fingerprints, there was no evidence of the traditional black soot fingerprinting would leave at my apartment.

There were no police reports sent out to the media and despite me and my friends calling every Korean and English news and television media outlet, no one would cover my story or even just release information regarding the suspect’s appearance. I also remembered that because I lived in the nicest area of Seoul, for “security” they have CCTV cameras up around the neighborhoods.

My Korean friend called the police with this information and all of my other suggestions about where to find the suspect and their response to us was “We do things our way, we are handling it, leave us alone”. I was never contacted by the police again. During my final day in the hospital, I finally got enough courage to look at the shirt I was wearing during the attack. The police did not collect it for evidence or DNA. Upon my examination, I found a short black hair to which I applied a piece of tape and called the police asking them to please come and pick it up----it could be the suspect’s hair! Again, they responded, “We do things our way; we don’t have time for that”.

Finally, after returning to America and complaining to the Embassy, the police agreed to look at the hair and we fed-exd the shirt to the police. It was returned “tested” with the hair still in tact. Nice, right?

I do not even want to get into my school. Of course we know how hagwons are. All I will say, is that they deemed me to be too problematic to the school because they feared I would reveal where I worked and make them to have a bad reputation. When I was released from the hospital, I had made flyers to distribute throughout my neighborhood with a suspect description and I was told by my school and the police that I could not do so because it would make all Koreans look crazy. So, despite being promised I would have a job when I was completely, recovered, I never got the offer back.

After returning back to the USA, I am not aware of anything going on in the investigation. About 3 weeks after my attack, a Korean girl was found naked and murdered, dying from the same injuries I sustained and she only lived about 5 minutes from my house by walk. So after 1 month, the police requested I get a sketch of the suspect and started sending me pictures of sex offenders about 2 months after my attack. But of course, the mind is a great thing and tries to forget something like that, so making a sketch now is difficult.

Due to the recent string of serial rapes in Korea, I have taken it on myself to try to find out anyone who is arrested in case I may recognize the guy. After seeing a picture the Taejon serial rapist who was captured in Seoul in February, he seemed familiar to me and so I contacted the Embassy. They said the police determined it was not the same man who attacked me based on a DNA mismatch.

Oh, now they do have my perpetrator’s DNA? Up until this point, I was told they didn’t have anything. Suspicious is the fact that they will not give the embassy pictures of the man for me to identify. That is my story.

My goal is not to shock, not to expound hate on Korea or Korean people. My goal is to make us foreigners living in a seemingly “safe” country aware that even though these things do not appear in the papers, they can and do happen. More importantly, I am looking for ways I can help to get started programs for foreigners to provide safety education and resources. If you would be attacked, do you know enough Korean to call the police, or do you even know the police number?

If you do suffer an attack, there are no rape crisis lines or centers for foreigners. Finding a psychologist who speaks English is also difficult. We need to get together and make a positive change. Acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step. Now, let’s make a difference.

I know this post is long but I think the information provided in it is very important because I know I learned plenty from the writer's tragic experience and hopefully others did as well.

1 comment:

Lillian Roo said...

Yeah. The man that raped the female officer was never caught. And, he had raped another woman in Pohang (the DNA matched). He's probably still out there raping women, and as far as the Korean police are concerned, this is an inactive case.