It’s sometimes easy to forget that in many parts of the world, human trafficking and kidnapping is something that happens all too often.
Even in the United States, professionals like flight attendants are required to have special training to help them recognize victims of these horrendous crimes. When they spot a woman who appears unkempt and is under the control of someone else, they see the red flags and get help.
Sometimes, however, even untrained workers wind up in a position to help these victims. Supermarket cashiers are especially well positioned to spot people who might need help; and when they do raise the alarm, their actions can save countless lives.
At a supermarket in Busan, South Korea, one cashier named Kim was just doing her job in the early hours of the morning when she noticed a young woman lurking nearby. The woman was accompanied by several rough-looking men, but something in her demeanor made Kim pay close attention to her.
Seconds later, when the man’s back was turned, the woman quickly handed Kim a note.
Sensing her desperation, Kim turned away to read the note, which was written in three languages: English, Korean, and Thai.
In it, the woman asked for help and said she had been kidnapped and was being held on the fourth floor of a building. She also claimed she was “illegally working.”
The cashier carefully wrote on the bottom of the note, “Do you want me to call 112 (emergency services)?” But the woman shook her head no. It was clear that there were too many men with her in the store; she didn’t feel safe. Thinking fast, the cashier told her she needed to get her phone number for the store’s point reward system. The men didn’t object to the woman giving out the number for this purpose.
As soon as they left, the cashier called the police.
Police were able to track the phone number to a man named Lee, who had a history of running prostitution rings out of a business called Kiss Room. Police also used evidence gathered from Facebook, where someone had posted the secret note and said her friend was missing. She feared her friend had been forced into a prostitution ring, and sadly, her hunch was correct.
Armed with their evidence, the police stormed into the Kiss Room building and arrested Lee and four other accomplices. They also found five women, including the lady who bravely handed the cashier that note. All of the women had been forced to become prostitutes for pennies a day. They’d been held hostage for months.
The police are continuing to investigate this massive prostitution ring. Currently, about 300 men are suspected to have used the Kiss Room services.
This is yet another great reminder for us all — be alert! You never know when you can help save someone’s life simply by paying attention to your surroundings.
Please share this important message to spread the word.
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