A 29-year-old American accused of having sex with a teenage girl and posting a video of it online was extradited from Armenia to South Korea on Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice said.
The ministry has been tracking down the suspect’s whereabouts since 2010, when he fled to China as the video stirred a firestorm of criticism in the Korean online community.
“The urgency of each case decides how fast the extradition will take place. In this case, it only took three months, whereas it could take up to three years for other cases,” a prosecutor in charge of the case told The Korea Herald.
The ministry said the case will be the first to get legal cooperation in arresting and extraditing a criminal under the terms of the European convention of extradition. Korea joined the pact in 2011.
The suspect was a teacher at an English village in Daejeon, where he taught elementary school kids for 20 hours a week.
The International Communication Center, better known as a “commutable English village,” said the American man had no criminal record when he was hired.
The suspect allegedly met a high school girl online in August 2010. According to local reports, the video was uploaded and sold to porn websites outside of Korea.
He first fled to China after getting fired at the center, officials said.
The incident sparked public anger as it involved an English teacher, with critics calling for stricter rules and screening procedures for hiring English teachers from abroad.
Witnesses of the suspect’s postings said there are at least two victims, whose personal information was leaked upon the outbreak of the incident.
“We should’ve arrested and punished the guy who circulated the video, but it’s sad how the public is focused on criticizing and digging up personal information of the victimized women,” a blogger on Naver portal said.
The sex video incident also dealt a blow to Woongjin Think Big, an education company in charge of managing and supervising English teachers at the facility. The company vowed to strengthen qualification standards for new teachers after the incident.
“We offer weekly sessions on Korean laws and etiquette to prevent similar crimes from happening,” said an official at the International Communication Center where eight English teachers are currently working.
According to the Ministry of Education’s report, only 10 percent of some 7,900 foreign teachers at public schools possess teaching licenses in their home countries.
Some 25 people among them were dismissed or legally punished over drug abuse or the use of violence, the report said.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Intern reporter Seo Ye-seul contributed to this report. ― Ed.