Missing Taiwanese women arrested for alleged fraud in South Korea

Taipei--Two Taiwanese women who were reported missing in South Korea late last month have been arrested there for alleged involvement in telecommunications fraud, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Sunday.

Police in South Korean have launched an investigation into the case and the two women will be tried in court there, according to the ministry.

The two 18-year-olds were reported as missing two weeks ago after they left their jobs in Taiwan around the time of the Lunar New Year holiday and went to South Korea, supposedly on a three-month study tour, according to Korean media.

The mother of one of the women, Chiang Yun-yi (???), told reporters in Taiwan that her daughter had called on Feb. 14 to say she had arrived safely in South Korea but had not been in contact since then.

On Feb. 25, the mother filed a missing persons report with Taoyuan police, and the matter was later referred to the MOFA.

The ministry said it immediately contacted its representative office in Seoul, which then sought the assistance of South Korean police.

On Saturday, South Korean police informed Taiwan's representative office that Chiang and her friend, surnamed Deng, had been arrested on telecommunications fraud charges in the period Feb. 14-15, the MOFA said.

The ministry said it has apprised Chiang's mother of the situation and its representative office in Seoul will keep abreast of the case and provide any necessary assistance to the two women and their relatives.

According to the MOFA, Chiang did not contact Taiwan's representative office in Seoul when she was arrested on Feb. 15, therefore the office was unaware of her plight until it received the police report on March 4.

Since 2006, there have been frequent reports of telecom fraud cases involving Taiwanese in South Korea, according to the MOFA.

Those convicted of fraud charges have had to serve their prison terms there because Taiwan and South Korea have no bilateral treaty on extradition or mutual legal assistance, according to the MOFA.

Meanwhile, representatives from Taiwan's office in Seoul and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) will visit the two Taiwanese teenagers on Monday since weekend visits to detainees are not allowed under South Korean law, according to Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Police Office.

The MOJ said it will seek to hear the teenagers' side of the story and provide any necessary assistance in the matter.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel