A New York woman was arrested on labor trafficking charges after allegedly holding two foreign teens captive for more than five years and forcing them to perform slave labor.
Sook Yeong Park of Flushing, Queens, took in two South Korean children, aged 9 and 11, in 2010. The boy and girl, given to Park by a relative, were forced to do housework for up to 10 hours a day and were beaten repeatedly if disobedient, NBC reports.
They were given no beds, but instead, made to sleep on the floor with only one blanket. In addition, Park allegedly cut off the kids' contact with their parents in South Korea, confiscated their passports, and forced them to give her hours-long massages, manicures and pedicures. She also allegedly took the earnings they made from their jobs at grocery stores in Queens.
The victims, who are siblings, are now aged 14 and 16. According to reports, Park was arrested after the younger victim notified officials at his middle school of the abuse he and his sister faced. Officials then notified Annette Palomino, assistant principal at Francis Lewis High School, where the girl attends.
Palomino noticed multiple cuts and bruises on the girl's face and legs, and after verifying the boy's story with the elder sister, Palomino personally went to Park's home to demand the return of the teens' passports.
Park was charged with labor trafficking, assault and child endangerment. She faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. It remains unclear if the children will remain in the United States or return to South Korea.
Citations: New York Woman Accused of Keeping Two Immigrant Children as Slaves (Cosmopolitan), Korean Teens Held as Slaves at Flushing Home Until School Intervened (DNA Info), Queens Woman Accused of Holding 2 South Korean Kids as Slaves (NBC)