By Kang Hyun-kyung
A Malaysia-based South Korean pastor who has been accused of sexually assaulting an undisclosed number of men and boys, several of whom are deaf or suffer from severe hearing loss, has come under investigation by the local police.
The pastor identified by his surname Jee was arrested by the local police in Penang on Nov. 23 after several victims reported his alleged habitual sexual misconduct to the police.
The Korea Times has decided not to disclose the pastor's full name because the investigation is in process.
Jee, 54, is known to have been working with a Penang-based church of which members are predominantly deaf. The church is a local branch of Seoul's Guro-based megachurch which Korean Protestant church group leaders consider to be a cult. The megachurch's founder is currently in jail after he was sentenced to a 16-years prison term last year for having raped and sexually assaulted several female church members.
"I was briefed on the Penang-based South Korean pastor under investigation days ago, although I don't know his name," South Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Lee Chi-beom told The Korea Times over the phone on Monday. "Our consul in charge of criminal affairs informed me of the case. We haven't heard any updates since he was arrested, though. We didn't receive a consular services request from him, either."
The reporter called the South Korean Embassy in Malaysia several times to contact the earlier-mentioned consul to learn further details about the case but no embassy staff answered the phone.
Earlier, Malaysian media outlets reported the local police's investigation of the South Korean pastor without revealing any identifying details about him, other than his hearing loss, on Nov. 23, a day after he was arrested.
Penang police chief Datuk Sahabudin Abd Manan was quoted as saying that the South Korean national was arrested early in the morning on Nov. 22 after the police received reports of his alleged crimes from several victims.
"Here in Penang, we received several reports involving disabled boys, some of whom are deaf and mute. I understand that there may be reports elsewhere in connection to the same case," he told the local reporters. "We are investigating these reports. We have also confiscated the mobile phone of the pastor, who is also deaf and mute, to assist in the probe into the matter."
The Korea Times contacted the Penang police chief via email to learn more about the case and any updates regarding the investigation but did not receive a response.
The reporter also attempted to contact pastor Jee via his mobile phone by calling and sending text messages. The phone call was automatically transferred to a voice mail service. Although his phone number can receive calls, the text messages prompted a notification stating that the number is not in service.
A source familiar with the case said the South Korean pastor is believed to have lived in Malaysia on and off for at least 22 years as one of their acquaintances met the pastor there in 1998.
According to the source, Jee was at the time working as a missionary with another Penang-based South Korean church of which members were also predominantly deaf. He then joined the current church in 2009 after he returned to Malaysia following a two-year stint at a church in South Korea.
The source claimed several church members were victimized by the South Korean pastor, saying "they have suffered trauma and depression" after they were sexually abused. One of the victims was 10 years old when he was first sexually abused by the pastor and all the victims he is aware of are male, the source claimed.
The source went on to say that the victims are poorly educated, naive boys, many of whom have severe hearing loss and they were duped by the South Korean who told them that groping and kissing are a part of Korean culture.
The South Korean is said to be married and the father of two adult children.