A couple from New York City pleaded guilty last Wednesday to two counts of labor trafficking charges amid accusations of keeping two Korean children as “slaves” in their home for six years.
Jeong Taek Lee, 54, and his wife, 50-year-old Sook Yeon Park, reportedly enslaved the two siblings from South Korea since 2010, back when they were just 8 and 11 years old. The children are now teenagers.
Park was sentenced to six months in prison followed by five years probation, while Lee was sentenced to five months probation.
The siblings were sent by their parents to live under the couple’s care at their home in Queens’ Flushing neighborhood in 2010, according to the Associated Press (via Daily Mail).
However, the couple confiscated the siblings’ passports upon arrival and forced them to work as domestic servants.
The siblings, who were forced to sleep on the floor without a mattress, did everything the pair asked from household chores to giving the wife “manicures and hours-long body massages”. They were also beaten occasionally, according to authorities.
In the six years that the siblings stayed in New York, they also took jobs at a grocery store, nail salon, and restaurant and surrendered all their earnings to the couple. Park and Lee also allegedly pocketed over $100,000 that the children’s parents sent for the kids’ expenses, court documents revealed.
The abusive couple was exposed last year after the siblings told school officials about physical abuse. Following an investigation by local authorities, Park was arrested in January 2016 and was released after posting bail.
Arraigned in May 2016, both Park and Lee have remained in custody after failing to post bail.
The rescued siblings, now aged 17 and 15, returned to South Korea and were reunited with their parents last year.