Dr. Jay Sung, a father from King County, Washington, is demanding the South Korean government do more to return his allegedly abducted son.
The alleged abduction: Sung, 43, filed a missing person report in Redmond after his ex-wife, Min Jung Cho, allegedly abducted their then-3-year-old son, Bryan, to South Korea in June 2019. Sung, who was granted full custody, allowed Cho to take Bryan to Korea for a three-week visit. However, her attorney reportedly contacted Sung on the last day of the scheduled trip and said that Bryan would not be returning to the U.S.
Legal battles: The noncustodial mother has had a Washington state warrant for her arrest since April 20, 2020. Sung had also filed a petition under the Hague Convention, which addresses international child abductions, trafficking and adoptions, in 2019. Despite years of legal battles and South Korean courts favoring Sung, a legal loophole, which prohibits authorities from using force to apprehend a child, has prevented the return of Bryan, who is now 7 years old. Although Korean authorities have arrested Cho twice and fined her, Sung said that his son has not been returned.
U.S. criticizes South Korea: The U.S. State Department criticized South Korea’s noncompliance with the Hague Convention return. The case has drawn support from the FBI and local authorities and officials, including Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA-08), who has been advocating on behalf of Sung in hopes that he is reunited with his son soon.
“It is frustrating that Korean officials have not enforced the legally required return of Bryan to his father in the United States, where he belongs,” Schrier said, according to Kiro7. “This is not a ‘civil matter’ but rather a gross injustice and a disregard for Bryan’s welfare and the U.S. justice system.”
Sung raises awareness: Sung’s efforts have also included a social media campaign, protests and a billboard in Fife featuring Bryan’s picture to raise awareness of the case. If Bryan is not returned by April, he will have been separated from his father for five years.
“He is still stranded in Korea. And there is practically no hope that I have that he will come back anytime soon,” Sung told Kiro7. “It’s been five years while Korea has been ignoring this issue, turning their head away from this big issue, this big injustice. The pain that I get as a dad will be incomparable to all the pain that eventually he will have to experience once he knows the truth. Once he finds out why he ended up growing up without his dad.”