‘Asian Schindler’ pastor hailed a hero for smuggling out hundreds of North Koreans is jailed five years for sexually abusing child defectors

  • Chun Ki-won sexually abused five children and adolescents at boarding school 
  • The school was set up by the pastor to give escapee children a place to stay
  • He was originally going to be jailed for 13 years but sentence was reduced to five 

A paedophile pastor in South Korea has been jailed for five years after sexually abusing runaway children at the boarding school he founded to protect them.

Chun Ki-won, 67, who is a considered a national hero in the country for his work smuggling children out of North Korea, ran his boarding school in Seoul.

Ki-won set it up especially to give the escaped children somewhere to stay as part of the refugee-smuggling mission he has led for the last 25 years – the Underground Railroad.

The pastor has made international headlines over the years – being known as the Asian Oskar Schindler.

Ki-won is said to have helped over 1,000 people escape the North, many of which have been children, hence setting up his own school for them.

He was arrested in September. 

Paedophile pastor Chun Ki-won sexually abused five young people between 2016 and 2023

Paedophile pastor Chun Ki-won sexually abused five young people between 2016 and 2023

America’s North Korean-focused newspaper, NK News, reported that the allegations began in August.

According to the police in South Korea,  between 2016 and 2023, the pastor molested six children and adolescents between the ages of 13 and 16 – although one of the charges ended up being dropped.

He was expected to be sentenced for 13 years but this was dropped to just five after the shorter term was recommended by prosecutors. 

It is said to be common in South Korea for children of defectors to attend boarding schools as their parents do not have the finances to look after them at home.

There is potentially a very good reason Ki-won was able to get away with his crimes for so long.

Some believe that due to the autocratic nature of North Korea, where strict rules are followed and freewill seems a distant dream – and the few people sitting at the top of the towers have complete control, the real society on street level secretly route for the pariahs.

Similarly to how in every dictatorship throughout history, large swathes of citizens have listened to their leader, but behind closed doors, admired the rule-breakers far more.

This has caused some to believe these rule-breakers are able to somewhat openly hide in the shadows and therefore, get away with what they want – such as paedophilia.

Eric Foley from Martyrs Korea, an Non-Government-Organisation that promotes freedom of religion in North Korea, told NK News: ‘Books, movies and social media tend to glorify the ‘lone rangers’ in North Korea work – guys working in the shadows to do seemingly miraculous rescues singlehandedly – but situations like this are a painful reminder that even the most important covert work requires real accountability relationships.’

Those who have wanted to escape the tyrannical nation over the years have done so with the help of people like Ki-won, using underground tunnels in operations like the Underground Railroad.

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