by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
A new documentary segment shedding light on the controversy surrounding Lee Jung-hee and her two unnamed American-born sons is raising serious questions about their claims of sexual abuse, which went viral last month.
The SBS-produced program, We Want To Know The Truth, has built a reputation since 1992 for their unbiased investigative reporting on current events, from government to social issues. In its July 25th episode, the show investigated Lee’s allegations of her and her sons being drugged, raped and prostituted by her pastor ex-husband and extended family members, but found a number of suspicious incidents in the case.
For one, the show’s producers discovered that Lee has a deep faith in Korean shamanism and has been corresponding with a mysterious “Shaman Kim.” They also found that Lee’s ex-husband, who was accused of bribing the police and media in order to silence Lee’s story, now makes a humble living delivering pizzas. He claimed had no idea about her latest allegations.
In light of the new details, Korean netizens have become livid over what they now deem a complete scam. Most of Lee Jung Hee’s online supporters have abandoned the #HelpLeeJungHee effort, and the blog that had sought to raise awareness of Lee’s story is being shut down by its eight admins. It remains to be seen what will happen to the funds the online community raised for Lee and her two sons’ legal fees.
On July 16, a Busan court granted Lee full custody of her children, but police booked the mother the following week on suspicion of child abuse. Police claimed that Lee had “brainwashed” her sons with details of sexual assault in order to testify against their father in court and accused the mother of not sending them to school since arriving in Korea last year. Lee was ordered to keep at least 100 meters away from her sons until further notice.
Here are the most important details included in the July 25th We Want To Know The Truth episode. You can view a more comprehensive breakdown here.
Tracking Down Lee’s Ex-Husband
In March 2015, We Want To Know The Truth producers tracked down and met with Lee’s ex-husband, only identified by his surname Huh. They found him living by himself in a small apartment in Busan and working as a pizza deliveryman without any idea of the controversy surrounding him.
Huh told the producers it had been over two years since he’d seen his children. He claimed that Lee had raised the sons for 10 years in the U.S. and “changed little by little” after she returned to Korea in 2006. Coupled with Huh’s violent temperament and incidents of physical (not sexual) abuse to his wife and oldest son, Lee eventually filed for divorce. After a year and a half-long case, the court granted custody of their children to her based on Huh’s history of abuse.
According to Huh, Lee only began accusing him of sexual abuse, drug use and prostitution after he appealed the ruling and asked the court for permission to see his children twice a month. As for being part of a cult, Huh said he was indeed part of a church (not a cult) many years ago, but it’s been eight years he left due to a dispute with his father.
In a series of Nate Pann posts, Lee and her two sons had also accused Huh of filming them getting raped and posting them on the Internet. However, when police conducted a surprise raid on Huh’s apartment and other properties he had ties to, they could not find anything to back those claims. In fact, they found home videos of the family enjoying vacations during the years Lee alleges the abuse took place.
The Mysterious “Shaman Kim”
Huh and Lee’s sister both claimed that Lee has shared a close relationship with a traditional Korean shaman, surnamed Kim, for over 10 years.
Lee apparently believed that Shaman Kim’s ritual healed her from an unknown illness in 2004. Since then, Lee has been calling Kim her teacher. Huh said the family started falling apart at that time, as Lee donated tens of thousands of dollars to the shaman for expensive rituals and ceremonies.
When asked about Shaman Kim, Lee denied her involvement in the case.
Lee and Her Sons’ Odd Behavior
During a walk through her old neighborhood with the cameras rolling, Lee accused a random man of knowing her ex-husband and being one of the many people who raped her and her sons. When the police arrived after responding to the man’s call, Lee gave her younger son a cell phone and instructed to call his brother and “tell him everything is OK.”
Producers, however, became suspicious–knowing that the older brother was unable to communicate with his family at the time since he was receiving treatment at a mental hospital. Their suspicion deepened when the younger son returned after a short conversation on the phone and told Lee that his “brother” said, “It’s OK, the man isn’t a scary person so just sue him later and let’s leave.”
Later on, the producers left Lee and her sons alone in a room under the pretense of taking a five-minute break. As soon as the crew left the room, the trio began discussing whether or not they were “persuasive enough” in telling their stories. After they realized the microphone was still on, the mother and sons became even more visibly nervous.
Psychologists, Experts Weigh In
Psychologists from various universities agreed that Lee’s sons were not like common victims of sexual abuse due to the way they described past incidents. One expert said the children didn’t seem to exhibit any trauma or distress when describing sexual intercourse, adding that the sons may have lifted their descriptions from R-rated movies.
Other psychologists said Lee and her sons all could not explain incidents of rape and drug usage in convincing detail.
The younger son didn’t help ease skepticism when he drew a smiley face at the end of this written testimony. Some psychologists said that either the story or the smiley face is not genuine. Experts unanimously agreed, however, that the testimony the younger son wrote was likely fabricated.
Psychologists also agreed that Lee and her sons were telling the truth regarding their father’s physical abuse and violence, which Huh did confirm.
Lee Jung-hee Booked on Suspicion of Child Abuse
Lee Jung-hee, Sons Make Online Plea for Help
Screenshots via Koreaboo