+ A

Taekwondo teacher framed by his girl pupils

June 18,2018
A taekwondo instructor in Daegu accused of sexually harassing two 12-year-old girls is free from legal troubles after an appeals court judged last month that the girls fabricated their testimony to get out of lessons.

Song In-soon opened his taekwondo studio near the U.S. Army base in Daegu in 2005 and quickly became a fixture in the community. Most of his students are children of American soldiers, including the two 12-year-old girls who accused him of sexual harassment.

In November 2012, police began investigating allegations that Song kissed the girls on the lips and grabbed their buttocks. Song admitted to kissing them, but said he did so on their cheeks out of affection. He told police he treated every student equally, and that it was his way of teaching. He denied squeezing the girls’ buttocks.

Parents of Song’s other students defended him. Some even sent emails from the United States. Police said they received 37 messages. Parents attested that Song loved his students like his own children and said they would not have sent them to him if they knew about any misdeeds.

In court, Song said he was a friend of most of the students’ parents and thought it was his job to take care of them while the parents were at work. One of the two accusers returned to the United States in 2012, while the other left a year later, complicating the investigation. Prosecutors tried to summon them, but they refused to appear for questioning.

Eventually, one of Song’s students appeared in court and testified that one of the two accusers told her to lie on their behalf. The witness said the suspect seemed excited that she no longer had to learn taekwondo and assumed she made the allegation up to get out of lessons.

A lower court in Daegu acquitted Song in his first trial in February, ruling that the children appeared to have lied or exaggerated their accounts. Prosecutors appealed but were unable to find further evidence backing their charge against Song. An appeals court finalized Song’s innocence on May 17.

BY MOON HYUN-KYUNG [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]