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South Korean Man Arrested in Bangkok for Extortion and Kidnapping

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BANGKOK – A South Korean man detained in Bangkok is suspected of confining a Japanese woman for over two months, and two Japanese men for shorter periods, in order to extort around 10 million yen ($91,000) from them, police and other sources said.

The suspect, identified by police as 27-year-old Hwang Geonil, was detained by immigration police on Jan 28 but denies the allegations, claiming he only had an argument with the alleged victims.

Investigation so far shows that the 24-year-old woman from Yamaguchi Prefecture came to Thailand last September after getting acquainted with the suspect on a dating site.

She was allegedly beaten by Hwang, confined to a Bangkok condominium and coerced to have her parents send about 2 million yen.

The suspect then allegedly arranged to have her 21-year-old brother come to Thailand on a ruse that his sister had a money-making scheme to discuss with him.

After arriving in October, he too was allegedly assaulted, held captive and used to milk about 8 million yen from acquaintances. The same happened in January to his 21-year-old acquaintance from Hokkaido, through whom some 800,000 yen was collected.

The victims’ passports were allegedly seized by Hwang, who threatened their lives and those of their families in Japan if they escaped or reported what happened to the police, though they were sometimes allowed to leave the condominium.

He was said to have exerted control over them by claiming to have Thai police and Japanese gangster connections.

In November, the woman fled to the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok and was able to return to Japan.

But no action was taken against the suspect until after Jan. 25 when the mother of second man contacted the embassy, which alerted Thai authorities.

“I’m very scared still and don’t feel totally safe. I’m afraid the Korean man will come back and abuse me again,” that man told Japan Today News in Bangkok, where he and first man remain as authorities investigate the case.