In an anonymous post shared to an online community website, one Korean woman confided in her fellow netizens, asking how she might be able to report her 12-year-old daughter’s taekwondo instructor.
The woman uploaded a string of text messages exchanged between the instructor and the daughter, claiming that the male instructor in his 20s tried to “date” her. According to the post, the instructor worked part-time at the taekwondo center and quit around mid-November to get ready for military enlistment.
The messages seemingly began November 4 with the instructor advising the daughter not to “tell anyone about having [his] phone number.” Further messages captured the 20-year-old making subtle moves on the daughter.
[Thursday, November 4, 2021]
Instructor: Don’t tell anyone that I gave you my number. Okay?
Instructor: Good. ^^
[Friday, November 5, 2021]
Daughter: I’m back from the school field trip. Haha.
Instructor: Oh, you’re back? Haha.
Instructor: How was it?
Daughter: Yeah, haha.
Instructor: Did you have fun?
Instructor: Have you had dinner yet?
Daughter: I’m going to eat soon.
Daughter: What about you, instructor?
Instructor: (Censored Name), do you want to hang out later?
Instructor: Oh, no?
Instructor: Okay, that’s fine. I was just wondering.
Instructor: Don’t take that weirdly, okay?
Daughter: Haha, okay.
Instructor: What are you doing this weekend?
Daughter: I’m going to my grandma’s house.
Instructor: You got any questions for me?
Instructor: The boys [at the center] will tease us if we talk for a long time.
Daughter: Oh, I see. Haha.
Instructor: You know how they are, right? They love getting cheeky with me. Ha.
Instructor: But let me know if you ever want to eat anything. I’ll treat you. Or if you want to watch any movies or go to noraebang, that’s fine too.
Daughter: Haha, okay!
Instructor: You’re the only one I’m being this nice to. LOL.
Instructor: I mean, TBH. You’re the only one who listens to me well, right?
Daughter: I am, LOL.
Instructor: Yeah. Of all the taekwondo centers I’ve worked at and of all the students I’ve met, you’re the first and only one to be obedient.
Daughter: I see.
As the conversation continued for weeks, the instructor hinted at being romantically interested in the daughter. At one point, he suggests that the daughter “practice” dating with him so that she is “prepared for the future.”
Instructor: Do you like anyone, (Censored Name)?
Daughter: Nope. Haha.
Instructor: Maybe at school? Or at the center?
Instructor: Oh, hmm… Not even at the center, huh? Ha.
Instructor: Are you not interested in dating?
Daughter: No, haha. I’m not thinking about that yet.
Instructor: Has anyone ever told you that they like you? Hehe.
Daughter: Nope, LOL.
Instructor: Oh, wow. Haha.
Instructor: Your turn to ask me too~
Daughter: Oh, haha.
Daughter: I’m going to date when I’m an adult.
Daughter: Dating looks like a lot of work.
Instructor: But how are you going to date as a grown up when you have never dated before?
Daughter: Hmm. I don’t know.
Instructor: You wouldn’t know. what to do. You wouldn’t know what to do.
Daughter: Maybe I shouldn’t date at all, then.
Instructor: If you’re going to date when you’re an adult, you should let me teach you.
Daughter: But you said you haven’t dated anyone in a while. LOL.
Instructor: Please, I’ve been in a relationship that lasted over 64 days. LOL.
By November 28, the instructor had met up with the daughter alone, outside class, on multiple occasions. Offering to buy her food and take her to the movies, the instructor called it a “date.” The post revealed that he tried to take the daughter to an adults-only noraebang (karaoke) but failed when she refused to enter after seeing the “Adults Only” sign on the door.
Instructor: Hahaha… T-T
Instructor: Is that right?
Instructor: You’re going to wear makeup when we meet on Sunday, right?
Daughter: A little bit, haha.
Instructor: Just a little bit?
Instructor: Why not a lot?
Daughter: Because… I don’t want to, LOL.
Instructor: Oh, tch. LOL.
[November 11, Thursday]
Instructor: What are you up to?
Daughter: I just ate and now I’m at a cafe.
Daughter: I had to eat my medicine, too.
Instructor: How about we go to a noraebang and then watch a movie?
Instructor: Or if you have any ideas, let me know.
Daughter: No, that sounds good.
Instructor: Okay, then. Let’s eat tteokbokki, take pictures, get coffee, hit up a noraebang, and finish with a movie. Okay?
Instructor: But you know…
Instructor: This is what people do on dates, haha.
Daughter: I don’t think I can watch the movie though, haha.
Daughter: I have to go to church by 4PM.
The woman pointed out while the daughter later admitted to having “felt uncomfortable about texting” the instructor, she “didn’t realize it’s wrong to be eating and hanging out with an adult man.”
My daughter had a male teacher in fifth grade. He went off to the military, too. When he got out on vacation, he visited the school. His former students, including my daughter, got to see him on campus. She thought meeting up with the taekwondo instructor would be more or less similar to that.
— Original Poster
While according to the daughter the instructor made no sexual contact, the woman claimed that “four out of six stages of grooming had taken place.” According to Women Against Crime, grooming is “the act of gaining someone’s trust by building an emotional bond for the purpose of sexual abuse, exploitation, or trafficking.” And the six stages are:
The best way to protect you and your children from grooming is to know the signs that it is occurring.
1. Choosing: Targets are almost always chosen because they have a vulnerability causing them to be easily manipulated or seduced.
2. Gaining Trust And Information: Knowledge is vital to the predator’s scheme.
3. Filling A Need: The information gained is leveraged to make the target become dependent on the predator (for money, drugs, love, friendship, etc.).
4. Isolating: The predator attempts to distance the target from friends and family.
5. Abusing: The perpetrator demands repayment of the need that has been being filled. Often, sex with the predator himself is required of the victim, and/or the victim is forced into prostitution.
6. Maintaining Control: Threats, violence, and/or addiction to drugs are often used to maintain control over the victim.
— Women Against Crime
When Korean media outlets picked up and reported on the online post, the woman removed the chat log from the original post in order to “protect [her] daughter’s identity as well as the small business that is the taekwondo center.” While the woman feared that the instructor may seek revenge on the daughter—especially because he knew the location of the daughter’s school—she reported the pedophilic behavior.
Daughter: I didn’t really think about first impress-
Instructor: Oh, really?
Instructor: Well, my first impressions of you were…
Instructor: She’s pretty. She’s cute. She’s nice. She looks like she’s a good girl. LOL.
Daughter: I’m pretty?
Instructor: Of course.
Daughter: The good girl part, I hear a lot. Everyone says I look like I’d follow directions well. LOL.
Daughter: Even yesterday, I was in an elevator with some woman. She said I look like a good girl, too. Haha.
The woman has since consulted with legal representatives and the case has been assigned to the police for further investigation.
The police, the city hall, and the children’s welfare center are all providing me with the proper assistance to handle this matter… The instructor tried getting in touch with my daughter even after I reported him to the police. I heard he has been notified to stay away from my daughter and that any more contact will result in bigger consequences.
The owner of the taekwondo academy has apologized to me and my daughter for what has happened. I’ll be taking her to the Seoul Crisis Intervention Center for Women and Children for additional crisis counseling.
— Original Poster
Meanwhile, Korean netizens are expressing rage at the instructor and demanding higher penalties for predatory crimes against women and children.
- “Oh UGH…”
- “What the f*ck, man?! If I were the mom, I wouldn’t be able to send the daughter to school. What if he comes looking for her?”
- “What on earth did I end up reading… He’s obviously out of his mind.”
- “You can tell the daughter thinks it’s all harmless. It’s the instructor who’s literally horny over these messages. Damn pedophile.”
- “What is wrong with him? Adults need to start acting like adults. How is he not ashamed of himself for doing this? It’s disgusting.”
- “She is a child. Children don’t know why it’s weird for adults to buy them food. That’s why they’re children. Sigh… What a sicko. I hope the parents and the daughter aren’t blaming themselves.”
According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), “Online grooming crimes recorded by police jumped by around 70% in the last three years reaching an all-time high in 2021.” NSPCC is pushing for social media companies to take responsibility and protect young users, as “offenders are exploiting apps and platforms popular with children.”