Raped Australian says South Korea ignores rape of foreign women

By @chelean on
A woman drinks a glass of craft beer at a brewed craft beer pub in Seoul, South Korea, April 8, 2016.
A woman drinks a glass of craft beer at a brewed craft beer pub in Seoul, South Korea, April 8, 2016. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

South Korea ignores rape of foreign women, an Australian victim accuses. Airdre Mattner is seeking justice for the rape she endured in the Asian country, saying the authorities have ignored and even doctored her case.

The 25-year-old English teacher from Adelaide recounted on her GoFundMe page how she was attacked in Seoul in September while visiting South Korea with her boyfriend. She decided to stay in the city for a few days alone, joining a pub crawl advertised on Facebook to meet new people and experience Seoul’s nightlife.

After a few drinks, she felt dizzy. She then found herself in a taxi with a stranger. She pleaded with the taxi driver to take her back to her hostel, but the driver ignored her and continued to drive under the instruction of the stranger seated next to her. The next thing she knew she was on a bed in a hotel room, with the man on top of her. She tried to push him away but was too heavily drugged to do it effectively.

“I woke up the next morning completely naked. All my money was gone. My clothes and belongings were torn and strewn across the room,” she wrote.

With the help of the hostel manager where she was staying and a friend, she went to a police station to report the crime. She spent more than 10 hours going back and forth between the hospital and police sections of the building, being subjected to numerous invasive treatments and tests. Later on, she found out that the staff did not follow proper rape procedures. No DNA evidence was collected from her body.

Despite spending hours giving a statement, recounting the events and describing the man, the police appeared not to have taken her seriously. Mattner said she was questioned in “often very insulting manner.” She told the authorities that she did not pass out from alcohol and that she was drugged.

Mattner, a teacher based in Japan, was told by the police they would inform her of her medical results as soon as they were released. The next day, she received a friend request from the man on Facebook. She immediately took screen shots of his photos and name and emailed them to the police. The police acknowledged the email but did not respond to Mattner’s questions about her case or the results of her medical exam.

She had to involve Australian consulates in both Japan and South Korea just to be able to obtain her medical results when the Seoul police did not get back to her for a month. She then found out that the man she suspected of being her perpetrator was not considered a suspect because their records “showed” that he wasn’t in Korea at that time. She also learnt that her police report was falsified, with the staff writing on official documents that she had been too drunk and became unconscious to remember anything about what happened.

The only investigation the police had done, according to Mattner, was to collect the CCTV footage from the hotel where she had been taken. The police did nothing with the footage. Nevertheless, Mattner has since found out that the man lives in London and working for the Metropolitan Police.

Mattner is asking for financial help online. She aims for $50,000 to help her pursue the case. As of the time of writing, she has reached $17,880 in donation from almost 500 people.

An international outcry following Mattner going public has forced the Seoul police to respond. A Nigerian man was arrested, but he is being prosecuted for sexual harassment because Mattner was unconscious and therefore cannot prove that she didn’t consent.

As “60 Minutes” have noted, reports of sexual assaults against foreigners in South Korea have risen 40 percent since 2008. Less than 10 percent of rapes have been reported, with less than 2 percent going to trial, and only about 10 percent of those found guilty have been sentenced to prison.

Reporter Alison Langdon told news.com.au that the country has a culture where sex crimes are not taken seriously. And when the victim and the perpetrator are not South Koreans, the police could care even less. Western women are considered “white whores” in some circles.

Join the Discussion