‘Angel father’ beat disabled men, hid them in a hut

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‘Angel father’ beat disabled men, hid them in a hut

A man who was deemed an “angel father” by the media for adopting mentally disabled people and taking care of them has now been accused of abuse of the disabled by the National Human Rights Commission.

According to the human rights commission, a 72-year-old man surnamed Jang, who called himself a minister running a care home for the mentally disabled, has adopted a total of 21 disabled people since 1969.

It turns out the “minister” was actually physically abusing these mentally disabled men in their 30s and extorting the government for subsidy money after registering them as his adopted children.

He even locked some of them up in a crude hut on a mountain and tattooed them with phone numbers in case they escaped.

The commission requested that prosecutors investigate Jang after running a probe upon the request of the Ministry of Health and Welfare in July and also requested legal action to the Korea Legal Aid Corporation to invalidate Jang’s parent-child relationship with the disabled men.

Over the years, Jang called himself a minister and the media went along for the ride, even deeming him an “angel father.”

His wife, surnamed Shim, 67, was honored as “proud mother of the year” by a child relief and support agency in 1980.

In 2000, Jang published a book detailing his good deeds.

These good deeds, however, turned to be a complete lie after a TV program exposed the true Jang in June.

The program revealed that only six of the 21 adopted disabled people had been located and the remaining 15 haven’t been found.

Two of the six had died due to severe malnutrition in 2000 and 2002 and their bodies were left in a hospital for 10 years because Jang accused the hospital of malpractice and refused to properly dispose of the bodies.

The surviving four were locked up in a mud hut deep in the forest of a mountain in Wonju, Gangwon.

Those four received about 1.08 million won ($994.61) in monthly subsidies from the government, which Jang took.

Whenever they attempted to escape, Jang beat them with sticks, according to the human rights commission.

The four men were rescued in July by a civic group after the program aired.

When they were rescued, the word jangaein, meaning disabled, and Jang’s mobile phone number were found tattooed on their fingers and arms.

Police said one of the four rescued people is suffering from stage 3 rectal cancer and another one was toothless from neglect.

The police later discovered that Jang never was ordained as a minister.

Jang, however, complained of injustice regarding his allegations. “There is a misunderstanding that I didn’t even have a funeral for the dead men,” Jang was quoted as saying in the TV show.

“They died due to medical malpractice.”

The JoongAng Ilbo attempted to contact Jang but he didn’t respond.

By Song Ji-young, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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