Soldier accused of rape apologizes in South Korean court
November 23, 2008
SEOUL — A 2nd Infantry Division sergeant accused of raping a South Korean woman in June apologized in court Friday for the attack.
"I had a great remorse and I regret what I did. I feel really sorry," Sgt. Jonathan Kim, who is Korean-American, told Chief Judge Lee Gwang-man in Korean during his first appearance on the case. His remarks were translated through an interpreter at Seoul Central District Court.
Kim, 23, allegedly raped the 21-year-old woman at 4 a.m. on June 14 in a Dongducheon parking lot. During the attack, he allegedly beat her, then took her clothes and cell phone so she couldn’t escape quickly or call police.
DNA samples connected him to two other alleged sexual assaults in Seoul in August, South Korean police said.
Kim did not enter a plea during Friday’s 15-minute hearing.
However, statements Kim made to police and prosecutors after he was arrested in August were entered into evidence. Police have said Kim confessed to the rape.
Kim’s attorney, Kim Jong-pyo, told the judge there was one error in the recorded statements, that Kim didn’t steal the woman’s cell phone. The attorney and defendant are unrelated.
Kim’s parents, who are Korean citizens, attended the hearing. His father, Kim Young-jin, said his son enjoyed being a soldier, and he was shocked to learn of the attack.
"He was my pride," he said. "Now as a father, I feel so sorry and accountable for the great damage made to the reputation of the U.S. military forces. My heart and chest are aching. I thought my son could become a wonderful and dignified soldier."
Kim’s attorney and father said the family is trying to reach a financial settlement with the woman.
In South Korea, defendants in criminal cases often reach financial settlements with their alleged victims in exchange for a lighter prison sentence, though the settlements are not considered an admission of guilt.
Kim also made financial settlements with two women he allegedly assaulted in August in Seoul. The women, both 21, withdrew their complaints against Kim, meaning he won’t be tried in those cases.
Kim met both women on different nights at a club in Sincheon, according to South Korean police. One woman told police he raped her in his car, and another said he tried to rape her in an empty hallway but was stopped when her friends heard her screaming and intervened.
Kim’s next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 3.