Taxi driver held for alleged sexual attack on South Korean (update)

Taipei-A taxi driver was detained Sunday for allegedly sexually assaulting a South Korean tourist in Taipei, an incident that could conceivably undermine Taiwan's efforts to attract more visitors from South Korea.

The driver, identified only by his surname Chan (?), was detained at the request of prosecutors and faces a maximum of seven years in prison if he is found guilty.

Some media outlets identified the suspect as 41-year-old Chan Yo-ru, who reportedly set up a fan page under the name Jerry Taxi Jack on a blog in South Korea.

He has reportedly admitted to molesting one of the three South Korean women who hired him for a day trip around northern Taiwan on Jan. 12.

Chan, a married man living in neighboring New Taipei, allegedly injected a knockout drug into a soft drink he gave the three women before sexually assaulting one of the two who passed out in his vehicle.

The third woman, who was not affected because she only had a sip of the drink, got out of the taxi to tour a night market in northern Taipei while Chan allegedly attacked one of the two other women.

The incident came to light on Saturday after the tourists reported the crime to local police. Chan turned himself in later that day and was questioned before a judge granted the prosecutors' request to detain the suspect.

In making the request, prosecutors argued that Chan is suspected of a criminal offense that carries a penalty of at least seven years in jail, meaning that he might try to run away or destroy evidence in the case if he had the chance to do so.

The alleged assault occurred at a time when the government of Taiwan is running a successful campaign to attract more visitors from South Korea, among other countries.

Tourists from South Korea have come to Taiwan in growing numbers in recent years, increasing nearly 29 percent in 2015 to 658,757. They were up another 33 percent in the first 11 months of 2016 to 784,819, according to Tourism Bureau data.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chen Ou-po (???), who chairs the Taiwan-South Korean Parliamentary Friendship Association, was cited by Apple Daily as saying on Sunday that the incident was not acceptable, and he urged relevant authorities to severely punish the driver.

The case has also triggered numerous comments online, including from taxi drivers who blasted the suspect for bringing shame on all taxi drivers in Taiwan.

"Hurry up and find the a--hole and don't ever let him drive a taxi ever again," one wrote.

According to reports, the three Korean women are university graduates and classmates and also colleagues. They arrived in Taipei on a five-day trip on Jan. 11, and stayed at a hotel in Wanhua District.

They hired Chan's cab via the Internet before their arrival in Taipei. On Jan. 12, Chan drove them to Ruifang District in New Taipei to sightsee and then to Shilin Night Market, where one of the trio got out of the cab to tour the market, leaving the other two behind.

The reports said the two women did not regain their consciousness until the next day, when they felt something was not right and guessed that they were drugged. After seeking treatment at a local hospital, they posted a message online accusing the driver of sexual assault.

With the help of South Korean officials stationed in Taipei, the women reported the case to a police station in Shilin on Saturday, the reports said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel