Sexual Abuse Survivor Lee Jung-hee, Sons Make Online Plea for Help

Above photo: Lee, center, with her sons.

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim


A South Korean woman has taken to the Internet to seek justice against her abusive pastor husband and extended family. In a series of posts published on a Nate Pann blog under the username “Please Help Us,” a woman identifying herself as Lee Jung-hee has accused her husband of abuse and rape over the last 20 years, as well as forcing her and their two American-born sons into prostitution for over 10 years.

The Pann blog posts, the first of which was published on June 20, have gone viral among netizens. On Tuesday, Lee and her two sons uploaded three videos to YouTube asking for help and emphasizing that their accusations against their father, whom they called a “devil,” were true.

Wearing surgical masks, sunglasses and hats, the family implored netizens to spread the word about their dire situation. In the video, the two sons reveal that they have attempted to sue over 30 people who had continuously raped them, but claim that the police have been unable to help due to their father’s influence. They also mention that their father has been making efforts to censor any reports about their abuse in Korean media.

“We are running away from our father because he is currently and consistently chasing us, like a coyote chasing a rabbit,” one of the sons says in a video. “None of this is a lie, we are telling the truth.”

“My children were never able to express what they were going through as they were growing up,” Lee writes in her June 24 post. “Now they are old enough to speak. … Give all the punishment to me, and let my children be free of that. They did not do anything wrong, and they have lived truly terrible lives.”

Their story has recently gone viral under #HelpJungHeeLee on South Korean social media and news sites, as well as on Western ones such as Reddit. Some commenters have expressed skepticism regarding the claims made by Lee and her sons, as there is no confirmation from major news outlets or the South Korean government. Lee also did not name her husband in any of her blog posts or videos, although some netizens have floated around an unconfirmed name.

Lee’s posts recount a disturbing story. She writes that she first met her husband as an oppa, or older brother figure, in church. When she moved to America (Los Angeles, Calif. according to one of the videos) some 20 years ago, he pursued her and eventually married her. He first raped her when she was 22, and the beatings and rape soon escalated into a regular occurrence, according to Lee’s second blog post. She became pregnant, and when she told her husband, he arranged for her to get an abortion through a fellow church member.

According to Lee, her husband began selling her as a prostitute in their home and a “camping car” he drove around. This continued for three years, after which she became pregnant again, and her first son was born (now 17 years old).

Lee claims her husband later became a pastor in order to lure other church members into trusting him, so that he can slip drugs into their drinks. Once the church attendants became addicted to the drugs, Lee’s husband would keep them close to his side.

In her blog posts, Lee writes that her own family members knew about the abuse she endured, as they also worked in the prostitution industry. She says that her family even encouraged her husband to continue “taming” her.

Recently, Lee’s younger son wrote two blog posts—“Hello, I am a 13-year-old kid that wants freedom,” as he introduces himself—claiming he was raped by his father since he was 5 years old, as well as by extended family and strangers his father brought home. The family moved back to Korea when he was 4 years old—first to Seoul and then Busan, where the father became involved in a local church. At some point, the father confiscated his son’s American passports.

Lee’s sons claim that their father dragged them to “sex rooms” all over South Korea where he would solicit them for sex to random clients. Other times, the pastor would force his sons to take aphrodisiacs and rape their mother, while she lay unconscious from ingesting sleeping pills.

The younger son goes into further details about his hellish day-to-day life, saying he was forced to attend an international school so that he wouldn’t learn Korean and be able to communicate the abuse to Korean authorities. After school, his father would immediately bring him home and subject him to physical and sexual abuse. His older brother, who was subject to similar treatment, now receives treatment in a mental hospital due to the trauma.

Lee and her sons escaped from her husband’s custody sometime in or before 2014—it isn’t clear from Lee’s written account. Her husband apparently wanted to fake a divorce and have Lee sue around 10 people who had raped her in the past, hoping to profit from legal settlements. In order to make the fake divorce convincing, he told Lee to “pretend” to run away with their two children.

It was an “opportunity from God,” according to Lee, and she took it. She left her home with her sons and never returned, claiming that she wanted to “hide and live in a small town.”

Upon realizing his family’s escape, Lee’s husband filed an actual divorce suit and demanded custody of the children. In 2014, Lee reported her husband to the police, but the officers apparently did not take her call for help seriously.

Last October, Lee and her sons held a public press conference, but apart from a video on YouTube and a few hard-to-find articles, it’s difficult to find much coverage.

“I tried to contact all broadcast stations, regardless of whether they were big or small,” Lee says. “But my husband pressured the media from the other side, and I was in a position where I could not go on broadcast. All the articles [about our abuse] that were on the Internet were withdrawn in unison.”

In his most recent post, Lee’s younger son says he wishes to have a normal life and a swift end to his family’s terrible situation.

“I don’t want to live with my father or be anything like him,” he writes. “Please help us live. Please help us three live happily.”

To learn more about Lee Jung Hee’s case, visit the #HelpLeeJungHee campaign’s website or follow them on Twitter @HelpLeeJungHee


subscribe button