Boy pilfers father’s safe to pay bullies
Gwangju Police said yesterday that it is investigating two middle school boys who are suspected of stealing a safe that belonged to their classmate’s father.
The police said that the victim’s son, a 14-year-old middle school boy surnamed Jeong, was bullied by the suspects to pay them up to 400,000 won ($347.6) over the past seven months.
The police said that the bullying started when one of the suspects, a 15-year-old surnamed Lee, was transferred to Jeong’s school in July.
Jeong told the police during questioning that Lee was known for bullying students by frequently extorting money and assaulting younger students in his previous school. A dozen students, including Jeong, were bullied by Lee.
The suspect immediately began hanging out with other problem kids in the school and frequently forced Jeong to pay about 3,000 won to 5,000 won.
The amount of money eventually increased to 80,000 won, which Jeong couldn’t provide unless he stole from his father’s wallet, according to the police.
The juveniles forced Jeong to bring more money when holidays such as Christmas and Chuseok, harvest festival, came around.
“I had to provide the money because I was so afraid of their brute strength,” Jeong told the JoongAng Ilbo.
“I felt so guilty when I stole the money from my father’s wallet, but I did it because I wanted to survive. They brutally beat me every time I failed to provide money.”
The police said the 15-year-old suspect stands more than six feet tall and weighs more than 90 kilograms (198 pounds).
“Every time I found out the money was stolen by my son, I punished him badly and didn’t even ask why he did it,” Jeong’s father told the JoongAng Ilbo.
“It makes me feel so sorry for my son that I couldn’t protect him from those bastards.”
He said that the suspects frequently visited his home and ate food that was provided for his son and sometimes stole clothes.
Due to fear of being assaulted along with mental stress, Jeong eventually decided to break into his father’s safe on Jan. 7, stealing 400,000 won in cash and another 300,000 won on Jan. 9.
However, the situation got worse. The bullies weren’t satisfied. When Jeong gave them the large amount of money, they boys asked him where he got it and beat him until he told them where the safe could be found.
Around 11:50 p.m. on Jan. 10, the two suspects broke into the father’s junk shop in Gwangsan District in Gwangju and stole the safe that contained about 5 million won cash. The police said it secured CCTV footage from Jeong’s shop and interrogated the suspects regarding the suspicions on Sunday.
“My son was so terrified every time the assailants called,” Jeong’s father told the JoongAng Ilbo.
“I bought a cell phone as a gift for my son because he has to stay alone frequently at home. I had no idea that the gift could turn into a tool for this terrible bullying. I can’t believe how the teenagers did such cruel things.”
By Yoo Ji-ho, Kwon Sang-soo [email@example.com]