“Find me” after disappearance…Daegu middle school girls may be trafficked into sex trade

Middle school girls who went missing in Daegu 22 years ago and are still unaccounted for have been claimed to be alive, raising the possibility that they may have been trafficked into the sex trade.

On the 6th, the “Daegu Middle School Girls’ Disappearance Case,” which was covered on the last three days of SBS current affairs program “It Wants to Know,” was revisited online. The case involves the disappearance of Kim Min-yang and Min Kyung-mi, then 15-year-old middle school students, on Dec. 8, 2001, from a northern bus stop in Seo-gu, Daegu.

According to the broadcast, Kim and Minyang were known as the so-called “Erchan” in Daegu at the time and were popular for their outstanding beauty. On Dec. 7, the day before the incident, the two girls spent time at an arcade in Daegu’s Paldal Market, a bunsik restaurant, and a coffee shop before taking a taxi around midnight. Min Yang’s boyfriend at the time said he thought she had returned home safely because she called him from an area code starting with 053토토사이트, but when he checked later, she hadn’t returned home.

The police investigation revealed that the two got off the taxi at the Northern Railway Station, where Kim’s cell phone was turned off. At the time, there were no late-night buses at the station. The police did not actively investigate the case, believing it to be a simple runaway since Min Yang and Kim were teenagers. “They told us that if they were 15 years old, they were not children, so we could only treat them as runaways, not as missing persons,” Minyang’s mother recalled.

The case of Kim Ki-min and Min Kyung-mi, middle school girls in Daegu. Screen capture from SBS ‘I Want to Know’ broadcast

“There’s no way she could have run away,” her family and friends said. In fact, the last email Minyang sent to her mother before she disappeared contained nothing to suggest she had run away. Kim had also made plans with a friend to go to a daily teahouse for a graduation party. “She said she was going to go downtown with her brother, who had a car,” recalled a friend who saw them the day before they disappeared. Another friend saw the car.

About a week after the disappearance, Kim’s mother received a mysterious phone call. “She called from an unknown number and said, ‘Mom, help me, help me, I’m at Busan Station,’ and then hung up,” Kim said. Around March of the following year, three months after her disappearance, Minyang’s friend messaged her, “Friend, I’m scared. Please come find me,” she said. Min Yang’s boyfriend also recalled that “a man contacted her and said he was her new boyfriend.”

Experts pointed out that this situation is similar to cases of sex trafficking victims. Shin Park-jin, former head of the Daegu Women’s Rights Center, said, “It’s very similar, the kind of atrocities I saw back then. It seems too high a possibility that she could have been introduced to a sex trafficking business.”

Lee Yoon-seo, director of ‘Salim’ at the Busan Women’s Rights Center, said, “When I called 10 women (who were victims of prostitution), three or four of them said, ‘I did it when I was younger, and that’s how I first worked in a (prostitution) gathering place.’ My brother came with a car, we played together, he took me with him, and we got off at a place I didn’t know, and it was a (sex trafficking) gathering place,” she explained.

The case of Kim Ki-min and Min Kyung-mi, a middle school girl in Daegu. Screen capture from SBS ‘I Want to Know’ broadcast

Lee Soo-jeong, a professor of criminal psychology at Kyungpook National University, said, “The purpose of this case was not to kill. “It is unlikely that the two people are dead and buried in a dark place. I think they may not have died.”

“If the two students were murdered, there is a very high probability that they would be found dead,” said criminal psychology analyst Kim Sang-won, “but they have not been found yet, so it is cautiously assumed that they are still alive somewhere.”

Minyang’s mother was quoted in the broadcast as saying, “I blame the police, I wish they had been more active when she went missing,” adding, “It was my fault. I should have tried harder then. (My daughter) you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s okay. You just need to come back. Please don’t blame yourself and come back.”

“I want to cry, I can’t get rid of (her things) now,” he wrote, “I want to wail, I’ve been crying for years and now the years are over. Woe, my daughter,” he lamented.

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