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Couple Who Kept Korean Teens as 'Slaves' at Flushing Home Plead Guilty

By Katie Honan | July 20, 2017 10:30am
 The couple plead to two labor trafficking charges.
The couple plead to two labor trafficking charges.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

​FLUSHING — The couple who kept two Korean teens as "slaves" in their home — forcing them to work long hours and withholding contact with their parents — plead guilty to labor trafficking charges Wednesday in Queens Criminal Court.

Sook Yeong Park, 50, was sentenced to six months in prison followed by five years probation after taking a plea deal from the 60-count indictment that included grand larceny, forcible touching and assault for her treatment of two siblings from Korea who had lived with her since 2010, the DA said.

Her husband, Jeong Taek Lee, 53, also plead guilty to labor trafficking and was sentenced to five years probation.

After Park's arrest, the siblings — who came to Queens when they were 9 and 11 years old — returned to South Korea and were reunited with their parents. They were consulted about the plea deal, according to the DA, and didn't want to return to the United States for a trial.

"This will enable them to move on with their lives," Assistant DA Jessica Melton said.

Park was arrested in January 2016 after the teenage boy living with her told officials at his middle school about the alleged abuse — and a teacher at his older sister's high school noticed bruising on the older girl's body.

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The pair had confiscated the passports and immigration documents of the siblings and extorted money from their parents back in South Korea, demanding cash for their education, although they went to a public school, the DA said last year.

Throughout the six years they lived with Park and Lee, the siblings were forced to clean their home, perform body massages and pedicures, and were forced to work in local supermarkets — turning over all their money to their caretakers, prosecutors said.

"The Flushing pair were supposed to provide a safe home for the youngsters, but instead the children were held hostage and forced to work long hours on behalf of the couple," Queens DA Richard Brown said.

"The children’s passports were seized and, using both fear, intimidation and physical force, the youngsters were coerced into doing numerous household chores and to work outside the home and on payday turning over all their earned wages."

Both Park and Lee will be formally sentenced in September.