South Korean professor ordered to pay NT$800,000 in damages for sexually harassing Taiwanese students
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A South Korean professor at National Chengchi University (NCCU), who was convicted of sexual harassment in a civil suit last year, has been ordered to pay a fine of NT$800,000 (US$26,000) in damages to two female students.
Park Jae-kyung, a full-time associate professor in NCCU's Department of Korean Language and Culture, was accused of sexually harassing nine female students from March to May of 2017. Two of the women pressed charges, saying that he had inappropriately touched them on a total of eight occasions.
After an investigation by Taipei prosecutors, he was indicted for sexual harassment. In December 2018, Park was sentenced to 14 months in prison, which is commutable to a fine of NT$420,000.
As for the civil case, a Taipei district court ruled that Park should pay the two victims damages of NT$500,000 and NT$300,000, for a total of NT$800,000, reported Liberty Times. However, Park can appeal this decision.
According to local media reports, Park was dismissed by NCCU in June of 2017, but the victims appointed a lawyer to apply for permission to restrict Park from leaving the country. Therefore, Park must stay in Taiwan until the civil case is finalized and a decision handed down.
Park was reportedly admitted to NCCU as an assistant professor in 2017 after undergoing a video interview. Shortly after he began teaching four courses at the university in March, female students reported to the school and his department that Park would openly touch the buttocks of female students in the classroom.
A total of 102 students signed a statement saying that Park was unfit to serve as an instructor at the university. In June of 2017, students uploaded posts on the popular Taiwanese online forum PTT and Facebook, publicly accusing Park of being a "sex wolf teacher" (狼師).
Also in June, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃), held a press conference to expose Park's suspected sexual harassment of the two students. NCCU's Gender Equality Education committee held an inquiry into Park's behavior and found that nine female students had reported that he had touched them inappropriately.
After Taipei prosecutors took up the case, they found that Park had touched the clavicles of two students in his research rooms for up to 10 seconds, as well as their inner thighs, arms, and buttocks without their consent, reported Liberty Times. In the case of one student, Park had touched her inner thigh, rubbed her arm, and slapped her buttocks while alone with her in his research room.
After Park had slapped her buttocks for the second time, the student had a frightened look on her face, and he allegedly laughed and said, "Why did you have such a big reaction? I consider you like a daughter; that's why I slapped your butt. In Korea, when adults pat the butt of a child it means they are trying to give them encouragement," reported UDN. Park denied the charges and accused the students of defamation, but prosecutors found no evidence for his claims.
Park was later convicted of eight counts of sexually harassing the two female students and was initially handed a sentence of three months in prison for each offense. However, this was later shortened to 14 months, with the term commutable to a fine of NT$420,000.
After Park serves his jail time and pays the fines and punitive damages, he will be deported from Taiwan.