Honeymooner trapped in Thai theft case

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Honeymooner trapped in Thai theft case

A pair of Korean newlyweds’ honeymoon to Thailand turned into an ordeal when the husband was accused of stealing a cellphone and got trapped in the country for over a month.

According to Korean authorities Friday, the honeymooners set off on a cruise on Dec. 21 from the popular tourist destination of Koh Samui in southern Thailand for Koh Nang Yuan, a tiny island popular for snorkeling around an hour away.

They were in a tour group consisting of three other honeymoon couples and a guide.

As the ship arrived at Koh Nang Yuan, the 31-year old husband, who is surnamed Yim, discovered a cellphone being charged near his seat and thought it belonged to someone in his tour group. He took the phone.

When the phone rang, he answered it but didn’t understand the Thai being spoken. Yim handed the cellphone to his tour guide.

But then the owner of the phone, a Thai, appeared and accused Yim of stealing the phone. The police were called.

According to media reports, the other Korean tourists and Thai witnesses explained to the police that Yim had not stolen the phone.

But Yim was arrested and locked up for 16 hours. He was released the following day after paying bail of some 3 million won ($2,500).

Local authorities have seized Yim’s passport to prevent him from fleeing until he is indicted and tried.

Yim, a Busan native, and his wife enjoyed barely one day of their honeymoon.

The two married on Dec. 19 and arrived in Thailand the following day. They were initially scheduled to return to Korea on Dec. 25, just in time for Christmas.

Instead, his wife returned to Korea on Jan. 1 without her new husband.

Yim was reported to have five job interviews lined up in January but missed them. He was not able to attend his wife’s grandmother’s funeral last week.

Yim’s wife and family have been asking for help from the government but have not gotten much.

“The Korean Embassy, which should protect its people, is saying, ‘We do not have the power and can’t do anything,’” Yim’s mother, a 54-year-old surnamed Moon, lamented. “They say, ‘We can only wait and see.’”

“The Korean Embassy in Thailand has been in frequent communication with Yim and is trying its best to enable cooperation from the local police and prosecutors,” a Korean foreign affairs official said.

“Because confusion on both sides was not resolved in the initial stages, his case has been passed to the prosecution. But because an indictment has not yet been decided upon, we are trying our best for a favorable outcome so that he can return as soon as possible.”

BY SARAH KIM, WE SUNG-WOOK [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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