Professor detained after torturous assault claims

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Professor detained after torturous assault claims

A college professor has been detained on charges that he allegedly assaulted his 29-year-old male student over the past two years, causing physical harm that led to three surgeries and 11 weeks of hospitalization over four different occasions, the Gyeonggi police said on Tuesday.

Officers from Seongnam Jungwon Police Precinct said that two others were detained and one person had been booked without detention for their involvement in the crime. All are reportedly the instructor’s students.

In a country where professors sporadically make headlines for sexual harassment, Tuesday’s case instantly went viral after authorities announced that the instructor, 52, had carried out grotesque forms of torture ? from forcing the victim to swallow human feces to pepper-spraying him in the face.

In online reports and accounts, the case has been referred to as a “modern form of slavery.”

The case dates back to March 2013, when the student, only identified by his surname Jeon, was hired by the professor, surnamed Jang, to work in a design-related office he was running in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, just 19 kilometers (12 miles) south of Seoul.

According to the police, the attacks, which continued until May, were allegedly motivated by Jang’s dissatisfaction with Jeon’s performance. Officers began their investigation two months ago, when Jeon alerted the police.

Jang reportedly denied the accusations at first, but begged for clemency when authorities presented him with evidence, some of which has spread online.

The professor is suspected to have collected his own excrement and forced Jeon to swallow it on 10 separate occasions, sometimes bringing in other students to donate their waste.

About 40 other times, Jang is alleged to have tied the victim by his hands and feet, covered his face with a plastic bag and sprayed him with pepper spray, which led to burns on his face.

Police did not disclose which incidents had led the victim to seek medical attention or what sort of operations he had undergone.

But the harassment continued even when Jang was out of the office, and he is accused of ordering other students to physically assault Jeon on his behalf and record the process with a webcam so that he could monitor it in real-time through his cell phone.

Some videos, which were streamed through the online broadcaster AfreecaTV, have already gone viral on the Internet; one shows a male student punching Jeon in the face.

Jang is also said to have coerced Jeon to sign a contract promising that the student would compensate the professor with about 100 million won ($87,542), citing financial losses the office incurred due to Jeon’s poor work performance.

Police added that, to some degree, Jeon reportedly kept silent for so long, hoping that he would eventually gain Jang’s support to enter into the same profession.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, PARK SU-CHEOL [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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