A Flushing woman allegedly held two Korean children as slaves in her home, forcing them to perform household chores, sleep on the floor and pamper her with massages and manicures, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Sook Yeong Park, 42, of 196th Street in Flushing held the two children — now aged 16 and 14 — hostage in Park’s home after she seized their passports. The children were brought from Korea to Park in January 2010 by one of her relatives; they were cut off from any contact with their parents in their home country.
According to the criminal complaint, Park forced both to clean her house, sometimes well into the night, and to work outside of the home and turn over to her all of their income. The victims were allegedly forced to sleep on the floor without a mattress, with the older child given a sleeping space in a closet.
“The defendant lives on a quiet, tree-lined Queens street with neat brick veneer homes that offered no clues to the horrors that she allegedly made her two young victims endure beginning when they were 9 and 11 in age,” Brown said.
Shortly after her arrival in the U.S., prosecutors said, the then-11-year-old female victim was forced by Park to work almost every day after school meticulously cleaning Park’s residence from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Additionally, Park allegedly forced the girl to give back massages, foot massages, manicures and pedicures. In one instance, Park watched television while forcing the young girl to give her a 5-hour body massage.
Park also allegedly required the children to work at a New York City grocery stores for up to nine hours a day and turn over all their wages to her.
According to the criminal complaint, Park routinely beat them by striking them with objects, slapping them, stepping on their legs and kicking them about the body for not obeying her orders. The female victim has suffered scratches about the legs with a nail clipper, been kicked in the head and had her hair cut off by Park.
Although the girl has been a student at Francis Lewis High School, she was often absent from school — in one instance for an entire month — and had difficulty staying awake during classes.
When the high school’s assistant principal observed bruising on the victim’s legs from the abuse, the educator went to Park’s residence and was ultimately successful in procuring the two victims’ passports. The assistant principal also brought both victims to the grocery store where they worked and collected the salary due to them.
The physical abuse was reported to police after the children notified school officials of their situation.
Park was arraigned on Saturday, Jan. 9, on charges of labor trafficking, third-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. She faces up to seven years in prison if convicted and is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 16.