"Asian Schindler" Under Investigation for Molestation

Yet another North Korean defector story goes awry.

"Asian Schindler" Under Investigation for Molestation

Photo: Pastor Chun Gi-won (center).  Credit: Facebook page of Chun Gi-won.

The media circus surrounding North Korean defectors has been an unfortunate recent trend. (See previous coverage, “The Defectors’ Dog and Pony Show.”) This week saw another name added to the Hall of Shame: pastor Chun Ki-won 천기원 목사, founder of Durihana 두리하나, a Christian aid organization known for helping North Koreans defect. Chun’s work helping over 1,000 defectors reach Seoul since 1999 has won him glowing coverage from CNN and the New York Times, including anointment as “the Asian Schindler.

Perhaps they spoke too soon. On August 2 and 3, KBS News reported that a police investigation revealed that Chun had been sexually molesting teenage girls at the boarding school he established for North Korean defectors. Dozens of girls reported that the pastor routinely groped them over a period of several years, to the point that several girls dropped out of the school and students who stayed would lock their doors if they saw the pastor coming to the dormitory.

Chun, who had been scheduled to appear at an event in the United States, was banned from leaving the country.

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