Victim: Korean mission in Taiwan unhelpful

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Victim: Korean mission in Taiwan unhelpful

One of the three victims of a drugging by a Taiwanese taxi driver earlier this month expressed her frustration at the lack of help they received from the Korean Mission in Taiwan after two of her friends were sexually assaulted in a cab in Taipei in a radio interview Monday.

The woman told a CBS radio program that when they called the emergency hotline, a staff member at the mission said, “‘What did you call the mission’s emergency hotline for? It’s three in the morning.’”

They explained the situation in detail and requested for interpretation but were told “interpretation is difficult” and to contact the police in the morning first and then to call back. The phone conversation lasted around 11 minutes.

On Jan. 12, the group of three young Korean women hired a taxi tour service to take them to Shilin Night Market, a popular tourist attraction in Taipei.

The taxi driver, a 39-year-old man surnamed Chan gave them yogurt drinks mixed with sedatives on the way to the market. The woman who sat in the front passenger seat, who spoke on the radio program, only took a sip of the drink. But her two friends in the back passed out after drinking it. The first woman was dropped off at the market, while Chan then drove the car to a secluded area near the market and allegedly sexually assaulted the two unconscious women.

Medical examinations found traces of sedatives in the women, and Chan, who was detained Jan. 15, admitted to drugging the three women and sexually assaulting one of them, according to Taiwanese police.

On the radio program, the woman described that because of the powerful sedative in the drinks, they returned to the hotel at around 10 p.m. and didn’t wake until the next afternoon at 5 p.m. They continued to be in a groggy state even after they awoke.

“My friends then told me that they had clear memories that they were sexually assaulted,” she recalled.

She added they continued to fret over what happened, and two days after the incident, after they were sure of themselves, on Jan. 14, they contacted the Korean Mission’s emergency hotline at 3:30 a.m. to ask for help.

But when they did not get this help from officials, they turned to Korean residents in Taiwan, who offered “continuous help” throughout the whole process.

“After the initial reports locally, reporters camped outside our hotel and we were no longer able to stay there,” she said, “so we contacted the Korean mission for help. But because there was no staff, we stayed at a resident’s house.”

She said after returning to Korea, they called the related branch in the Foreign Ministry and requested to contact the staff member who responded flippantly, but added “that employee seems to be avoiding the calls without any sort of apology.”

Following the incident, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it planned to summon an official of the Taiwanese mission in Korea to lodge a protest Monday.

There has been a public outcry after reports that the cab driver’s taxi tour service company still appears to be operating as normal though it had originally declared it will shut down after the sexual assault case.

The Foreign Ministry said through a statement that the Korean Mission in Taiwan confirmed Sunday that the taxi company is still in operation and will take steps to review administrative measures to halt its operation.

Taiwanese prosecutors have also expanded their investigation into Chan last week after receiving tips that there could have been more victims.

One person tipped off the Taiwanese prosecutors that in May last year after she also received a drink from Chan while using the taxi service and felt immediately drowsy.

When he tried to offer to help she pushed him away and ran to her lodging. Afterward, she said she slept for two days.

Another person also said that her friend had a similar experience during a trip to Taiwan after drinking a bubble tea given to her by Chan.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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