A few foreign families were enjoying an early evening dinner in a beach side bar / restaurant.
Three of the boys age 10, 11, 12 went to the beach area just outside the restaurant to look at the fireworks. (Korea is safe to be within meters of your parents but not in plain sight?? - apparantly not).
A short while later the boys ran back into the bar / restaurant terrified. Tearful, hearts pounding and one of the boys was soaking wet. Two of the boys had been physically abused.
The boys relayed what had happened to their parents and in front of other foreign and Korean adults.
On Haeundae Beach the boys had been intimidated, frightened & manhandled (eg.quote"pulled until my arm hurt"), one boy also had his shirt lifted up his bottom 'patted' and was thrown in the sea, the other boy had his 'private' areas touched through his jeans. The perpetrators were 4 Korean adults in their late 20's, 2 men and 2 women. It was the women who did the 'inappropriate' touching. (It was later ascertained that the Korean males were aged 29 & 30).
One of the dads went onto the beach to confront the 'child abusers' (they were still there!), & asked them "what has gone on here, what have you done to these kids?". There was a 'yeah, so what' attitude from the Korean adults. One of the Korean men (who was signifigantly bigger than the foreign dad) changed his body language in an aggressive manner toward him, the other Korean man moved toward him from the side, and the foreign dad got the first 'punch' in. One foreign man & two Korean men were fighting on the beach. The father of one of the other boys, who had also been abused, eventually came to 'break the fight up' (having watched from a safe distance with the 3rd childs father!!!!) The 2 Korean women still jumping and dragging on the foreign dad as he tried to walk away.
The now slightly battered foreign dad left for home with his son.
Police were called by the 'child abusers'. The police visited the foreign dad's apt within 30 minutes of him returning home (how they knew his address remains a mystery!). The first thing the police said was "you have been accused of hitting Korean women"!
It was explained to the police that the men were certainly in a fight, not the women. It was two against one and these 'people' had been abusing children.
The allegation of child abuse was taken seriously by one of the policeman and the dad was asked if he would like to press charges. "No, not at this time, my child has been through enough" was the answer. The policeman spoke to the child alone and realised something very wrong had happened to children at Haeundae Beach. The childs statement was put into writing.
This was not a cultural misunderstanding as first implied by the police, ie.Korean people coming up to foreign blond children, touching their faces/ heads and saying "cutie". The policeman, who spoke some English, reassured the family that 'touching' a child in its 'private areas' is also, quote, "illegal in Korea". (& the hope would be that adults terrorising children in anyway is also illegal in Korea).
The police left the apt.
5 minutes later a policeman returned to the apt and now wanted the child to go with him to identify the woman who 'touched him'. He told the child, who was in his pjs, to get dressed! Again the answer was "No, absolutely not, my child has been through enough". The child was tired & traumatised.
The policeman went to leave the apt for the second time and as he opened the door there were 3 policeman and 3 of the perpertrators right outside the dad's home (2nd woman was not there). Now they know where the family lives. The Korean men (the large one in particular) continued to be aggressive & threatening in the door way of the family home, with a policeman standing in front of them. The 2 Korean men had evidence of minor cuts and scrapes on their faces (no one was bleeding!), nothing that impeded their threatening behaviour. The one remaining Korean woman looked either drunk or on drugs. These were the 'people' the child was supposed to identify?!
The policeman inside the apt quickly shut the front door. The family were very frightened.
The policeman now asked the dad to go to the station with him. The dad said he would go the following day (he wasn't going to leave his family), and the policeman was satisfied with that. The dad decided to wait until he could have an English speaking lawyer with him before going to the police station. The police did not follow up why the dad had not appeared at the station over the weekend.
A lawyer was finally contacted on Monday 16th May (everything is closed for the weekend!) & he ascertained that a complaint against the foreign dad for assaulting 2 Korean men (not women!) had been made. The extent of the foreign dad's injuries vs the Korean men's injuries was the topic of the subsequent phone conversations with the lawyer. What had gone on before the 'fight' with regard the children seemed to be of little signifigance!
The dad was informed by his lawyer, 10 days after the incident, that the charge was 'inflicting injury' a greater charge than 'assault'. Because one of the Korean males had a nose bleed! The dad had still not been to the police station to make a statement. Apparantly the police are only in the office one day per week?? The charge of 'inflicting injury' seems to have been decided by the police on duty the night of the incident, from the small divisional station that patrols the Haeundae area.
Due to the fact the dad wanted this matter resolved as quickly as possible and not involve his son, the lawyer advised that he would contact the Korean males and ask about Settlement. (Settlement - a defence lawyer can ring up a victim and ask how much money he/she wants to stop the complaint to the police - I think thats how it works?!) The lawyer said that because the charge was inflicting injury and not a 'minor' assault charge the police may still prosecute after the Settlement had been paid. Then the family would no longer be able to press charges against the Korean adults for child abuse (as stated in the Settlement agreement). The hope being that once the police saw a Settlement had been paid the charge would be reduced to assault and perhaps a small fine would then need to be paid. It was a gamble??
The lawyer advised the dad that one of the Korean males wanted 300,000 won and the other wanted nothing (he was 'happy' for the complaint to just 'go away'). The 2 female Koreans who seem to 'like' little boys were never mentioned. The day after receiving the Settlement agreement to sign the lawyer contacted the dad again to say now the second Korean male also wants 300,000 won! The lawyers advise to the dad was to pay it & he did.
Exactly 2 weeks to the day after the incident the Embassy called the family full of apologies! The Embassy had been contacted the night of the incident, via email, by the family. On Monday 16th May the Embassy emailed a list of lawyers and a telephone number for free legal advice and interpretation! (This came after the family had sorted their own representation). The Embassy staff member who called 2 weeks later had been away, and was shocked to discover the family had been offered no support particularly when a child was involved. The same staff member called the family several times after that to give advice & support and offered to meet with the family / accompany the dad to the police station etc.
On Wednesday 1st June the dad finally went to the main police station (for the first time!) with the signed Settlement agreement & confirmation he had 'paid his dues' all 600,000 won of them!!! He spoke to a policeman via his lawyer and gave his side of the story. Which included the fact that had the Korean males been moving away from him and not toward him the couple of punches he got in would have had a lot less impact! The policeman agreed. (The dad also being outnumbered, smaller, unarmed and considerably older with the added mitigating circumstances begged the question why the inflicting injury charge?). The original statement his son made to the policeman, within an hour of the incident, was also taken into account. This was treat seriously as an assault on a child as told by the child. The dad was advised the charge being put forward to the prosecutor, by that policeman / dept, would be the more minor one of assault (the inflicting injury charge was now dropped).
The family will still need to wait to see what the penalty, if any, is going to be. This could take up to a month +.
The story was not posted until now as was unsure if posting it when the case was on going would have a negative impact on the dad.
FYI - Although the family have recieved much support from shocked friends (& right minded people!). Amazingly some foreigners (mothers!!!) reactions have been "Mmmmm its a difficult one isn't it? The culture is sooooo different. Koreans are very touchy people."
& even down to some foriegners, who were there, interpretation of events at the beach,. (If you are reading this, you know who you are, they weren't teenage boys being silly they were fully grown adults terrorising children, as well you know it!). There are police reports, CCTV footage & witnesses to corroborate every thing that has been written here.
This is the 2nd post on Koreabridge this year that relates to the abuse of foreign children in Busan. First was the incident at Bexco and now Haeundae Beach (the latter being far more serious). The posts relating to the Bexco incident were removed, by the parents who posted them, after some of the foreign families involved recieved a formal apology.
(50 billion won invested in the new Foreign School in Gijang by Busan city government, apparantly to encourage foreign trade and ultimately foreign families with children to Busan???????).