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New York Couple Pleads Guilty to Enslaving Korean Children for 6 Years

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A couple in Queens, N.Y., pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of labor trafficking after they enslaved two children for six years, forcing them to work and turn over their pay, clean their house and perform body massages

The two children — a sister and brother — came to the Untied States from Korea in 2010, according to a statement released by Queens County District Attorney. They began living with the couple, Sook Yeon Park and her husband Jeong Taek Lee, who were supposed to care for them and make sure the children went to school.

But shortly after the children arrived, Park and Lee took their passports and forced the girl to do housework for 10 hours a day after school, the DA’s statement said. The young girl was also required to give Park back and foot massages, as well as manicures and pedicures.

After a few years, the couple forced both children to work jobs outside their home and turn over all money they made, even though the kids’ parents were sending money to cover their expenses. Park also regularly hit the children, slapped them and kicked them, according to the DA.

“This case is very disturbing. The Flushing pair were supposed to provide a safe home for the youngsters, but instead the children were held hostage and forced to work long hours on behalf of the couple,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in the statement. “This kind of conduct will not be tolerated in Queens County. The victims in this case have been reunited with their biological parents in Korea and this disposition will allow them to continue on with their lives without having to revisit the horrors of their time with the defendants.”

The couple’s sentencing is set for Sept. 13. Park will face six months in jail and five years’ probation, while Lee faces five months’ probation.

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Write to Abigail Abrams at abigail.abrams@time.com