Korean netizens expressed shock and outrage when news of disabled people being taken from their families and used as slaves in various locations around Jeolla was revealed by the maritime police.
Tens of mentally-disabled people were sold into forced labour on farms on remote islands around North and South Jeolla provinces after having been invited to “earn some money”. Most were put on fishing boats, suffering forced labour as slaves, and were exploited for money. One of the victims had been worked to the bone for almost thirty years, and had never received a penny. When the article was reposted on the popular internet portal site Daum it attracted hundreds of comments within a matter of hours.
The article noted that on April 9, the Korean maritime police arrested a gang of eleven people; six were detained on suspicion of kidnapping and enticement, including a Mr. A (47), while a further five people, including a Mr. B (45) were taken into custody on suspicion of aiding and abetting the crimes of Mr. Lee.
According to the maritime police, Suspect A and others operated a travel inn in the city of Gunsan, North Jeolla, telling the mentally-disabled and homeless they encountered: “We’ll give you food, somewhere to sleep, and we’ll help you to earn money,” and after forcing them to work on fishing boats and outlying islands in the Mokpo region, they are suspected of conning them out of their earnings over a period of decades.
It is also understood that Mr. A’s elder sister, Ms. C (57), organised the mentally-disabled into a prostitution ring, and took money for the sexual activities therein.
Among the victims, Mr. D (47), who has the mental ability of a ten year-old child, had been performing forced labour for almost thirty years, since he was nineteen years of age, yet he had never received a single penny.
After joining insurance schemes for death and injury in the names of the disabled victims, it was seen that Mr. A had meticulously planned for his son to collect the insurance money.
The police investigation also revealed that of the hundred disabled victims administered by Mr. A’s parents, over seventy had been sold to fishing boats and islands around the Mokp’o region, while the remaining thirty, whose mental ages were very young and who had nowhere to go, were still being used as slaves.
The maritime police also announced that following a psychological evaluation of the disabled victims, it was revealed that their social ages were on average 9.5 years, while their social intelligence was on average 19.8 years, and that their adaptive reasoning towards daily life was remarkably low.
On the one hand the maritime police are expanding their investigations to see if there are further illegal operations of this kind around Kunsan and Mokpo, on the other hand, around April 20 which is the Korean “Day for People with Disabilities,” they are also scheduled to crack down on the state of human rights violations on boats and outlying islands.
Korean netizens seem united on this issue, with most expressing surprise that this kind of slavery could have existed, unhindered, on South Korean soil for several decades. Many are questioning whether or not the police had been harbouring information on the criminal activities of the gang without acting upon it, with strong criticisms emerging of the manner in which the investigation might have been conducted. But all are extremely sympathetic to the plight of the disabled citizens who had been deprived of their freedom. This is not the first instance of disabled people being abused in recent times, such with the Dogani scandal and the rape of deaf students in their dormitories covered by koreaBANG.
Comments from Daum:
When you’re born with a disabled body, even to go on living is difficult and depressing, but those people, I really wonder about the minds of those people who did those inhumane actions…Please, if there is a god, rain your thunder down on them. Amen.
I guess there are a lot of those fucking beasts who wear human masks all over the country…Arrest them, get back all the overdue earnings, and punish them to the full extent of the law… put other things aside; this is the most urgent business.
It’s unacceptable if they ever release these criminals…People who buy and sell humans must be punished with a severe sentence…It is unthinkable that they shouldn’t be locked up. And I also think that those who knew the situation but still made [the victims] work should be heavily punished, too. It seems to me that though this kind of thing has been going on for more than ten years, the fact that it is still happening means that even the judiciary can’t get away with this..Especially the police bureau involved…the police working in the police station, if you can call them that. It seems that even the people working in the regional office had no reason not to know about this…Doesn’t everyone in these island communities stick together?I want them to take this opportunity to investigate thoroughly.
If they don’t lock them up for doing this, then they’ll just go on doing the same thing…Such a shocking article.
The article had more comments from daum. But then this post would be huge. So go to the original source if you want to read the rest