GI charged with breaking marriage promise in Korea
SEOUL — A U.S. soldier faces up to two years in Korean jail after promising to marry a South Korean woman, having sex with her, then reneging on the engagement, according to Korean court and prosecution officials.
The accusation — sexual intercourse under the pretense of marriage — is a crime in South Korea, though one rarely prosecuted against U.S. servicemembers, according to an American lawyer practicing in Seoul.
“‘I will marry you, I love you,’ then (the man) calls it off — that’s a crime” if sex is involved, said Brendon Carr, who practices with the Aurora Law Offices in Seoul. The maximum punishment is up to two years in jail or up to a 5 million won, or $5,000, fine, Carr said.
Sgt. Han Jin-hong, a 35-year-old soldier with the 2nd Infantry Division, faces the prospect of that punishment, according to the Uijeongbu prosecutor’s office.
Han, who is married, also faces a charge of adultery in Korean court, according to Yang Seung-seok of the Uijeongbu prosecutor’s office.
U.S. Forces Korea officials confirmed that Han is assigned to 2nd ID, but no further information was available Tuesday afternoon from military officials.
According to the Korean prosecutor, Han met a 36-year-old Korean woman through an Internet chat room. He told the woman he was a lieutenant colonel and single, and he promised to marry her, Yang said. They had a sexual relationship from June to September, meeting in both Seoul and the Uijeongbu areas, Yang said.
Carr, a former U.S. sailor who has worked in South Korea for eight years, said he’s never heard of another American facing this charge in the Korean court system. Carr is not representing Han, nor has he defended any clients against this charge.
He said the law existed in America decades ago and is meant to protect a woman’s virginity from being stolen. In essence, Carr said, it’s a charge of fraud: one person swindled sex from the other.
In South Korea, only women who are “not habitually immoral” may accuse their partner of this fraud, Carr said. A woman accused of prostitution or who has many partners may not be considered a victim, he said.
“It basically comes down to general reputation” of each person, Carr said.