News is breaking?from various sources today about Seoul Police announcing details regarding the arrest of a Korean man who allegedly raped a Canadian female English teacher.
Seocho-gu Police in Seoul announced today that they arrested a Korean male accused of raping a Canadian English teacher.
According to the police, the man (only announced by his surname, Hong) raped the teacher on the 2nd floor?of a villa, around 4am on May 9, in Banpo-dong.
The police quickly arrived to the scene after the foreigner called the police, but there was not enough evidence to specify who the criminal was.
The only clue was a CCTV in the alleyway of the villa. A recorded video caught a vague image of the criminal who was wearing a suit.
A week later, a police officer known by the surname of Choi, was patrolling near Shin-Nonhyeon Station early in the morning on May 16.?Choi had previously saved a picture of the CCTV image of the man’s face to his cellphone, and often referred to the picture while he was patrolling.
Choi picked up a cigarette butt that the man threw away and took it to a forensic science lab, which was able to determine who he was.
The police were able to trace the man to a plastic surgery clinic where he worked and arrested him while he was working on May 20.
Hong didn’t have a surgeon license, but he worked as a director of the clinic with the fact that he had invested in the clinic. He has 7 past criminal convictions.
The police said, “Hong only admits the fact that he committed indecent assault and not rape.”
There was an earlier opinion that I posted along with this article, which I regrettably should’ve written more clearly to better illustrate my point. It became a distraction to the sensitive topic and so I opted to remove the opinion out of respect to put the focus squarely on the article itself and the concern that should be shown to the victim. I apologize if it caused any unnecessary grief to readers and especially to the victim.
Just to clear up some points.
1. This article surfaced among Korean news sources on June 7. Only 5 news sources were covering this sensitive, yet important story. At the same time, another story surfaced that day involving a foreigner in Korea. There were 13 articles opting to focus on a story of where an American exchange student in Sincheon ran naked in the street, as a penalty for losing a drinking game. And according to netizen popularity, the story involving the exchange student was more popular than the foreigner rape story. My initial reaction was frustration as to why things like this continue to happen in Korea, where topics involving foreigners are overlooked in Korean media, unless it involves the foreigner doing something wrong. For another example, earlier this week, news was announced that 2 foreigners in Daejeon saved a drowning Korean woman, yet only 1 Korean news source was covering the story. So I felt the need to post the June 7 article to raise further awareness of an under-reported article on a sensitive matter affecting a member of the foreign community. I apologize if the English version of the article and ensuing comments by foreigners, gave the victim any additional stress of having to relive an experience she is obviously trying to put behind her.
2. From watching online foreign communities in Korea and their responses to hot topics in Korea that pertain to them, I anticipated that there would be a mixture of responses, with some comments drifting to hate against Korea as a whole, rather than to the Korean man accused of the crime. I felt that, in order for our desire to have topics like this recognized more widely by Koreans, we need to be taken more seriously by Koreans. And potential comments that are harmful against Korea, as a whole, would be a distraction from that. So I made the pre-emptive decision to try to caution foreign readers to not misdirect blame against Korea, but more specifically to the man accused in this case. Foreign readers read this and felt that I was trying to lecture them on response. When in fact, I was hoping for the larger goal of trying to get Koreans to take these topics more seriously about the foreign community in Korea. And if Koreans see even just a few hateful comments being written about them by foreign reaction to this story, it would distract the issue. The issue indeed needs to be solely about respecting what has happened to the victim. And both the foreign and Korean community should equally recognize that. The foreign community in Korea can’t realistically bring about the change and recognition we seek without Korean understanding and support. This is why the opinion piece was written in Korean and English, where Koreans were also asked to restrain from forming judgments about foreigners based on negative news reports and overlooking ones that we consider most important to us.
3. The end result was that the story, as expected, created a train of debate and I made the mistake of stepping in front of the train, in hopes to try to steer it towards what I felt was a better destination. And get more Koreans to know and recognize that a foreigner experienced a tragedy in Korea and things like this are what should matter most, and not news about American exchange students running naked in Sincheon.
I know that I’m at risk of stepping in front of the train again and inheriting blame that people are still trying to find where to place. In the event that my revised opinion stirs up further debate among foreigners, I please ask that you read and not skim through the opinion, because I’ve tried my best to accurately express myself out of respect to the victim and the hopes that Koreans can recognize serious issues like this. And hopefully work proactively with the foreign community to raise more awareness and develop meaningful preventative solutions.