Why an American father of two is strolling endlessly on a treadmill in Seoul
Why an American father of two is strolling endlessly on a treadmill in Seoul
In numerous areas throughout South Korea’s capital, John Sichi has been strolling miles on a treadmill in a determined effort to attract consideration to the kidnapping of his two younger youngsters, who he claims have been taken from their residence in San Francisco and dropped at Seoul by their mom over three years in the past.
Sichi has been staging a one-man treadmill protest since October 2022, together with flyers and life-size posters of his youngsters with the phrases “I miss my youngsters a lot” written in Korean.
For Sichi, who’s “strolling however going nowhere,” the countless walks symbolize his ongoing battle with South Korea’s authorized system, which has didn’t reunite him together with his youngsters.
The daddy of two additionally hopes to speak his scenario with the general public regardless of language limitations.
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“Once I first began the protest, I believed folks would snort at me or ignore me, simply stroll on by. That’s not what occurred. So many individuals have been curious, wished to grasp what was taking place,” Sichi tells NextShark.
This worldwide child abduction case started in November 2019.
On the time, Sichi was dwelling together with his spouse and their two youngsters in San Francisco. Resulting from marital points, his spouse reportedly flew to Seoul with their youngsters in what was presupposed to be a month-long “cooling-off go to” along with her household.
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However in line with Sichi, she and the kids by no means returned.
He stated he visited Seoul in December 2019 and January 2020 to influence his spouse to come back residence with their youngsters. She initially agreed to return, however by the top of February 2020 she had modified her thoughts, canceled the return flight tickets and withheld the kids’s passports, in line with experiences.
Sichi then determined to take his case to the San Francisco County Superior Court docket, and after a months-long trial, the courtroom lastly decided in August 2020 that the kids must be returned to California. In the course of the trial, Sichi had restricted entry to his youngsters by video chat.
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Following his spouse’s steady refusal to adjust to U.S. courtroom orders, Sichi traveled to South Korea and, in November 2020, went to the Seoul Household Court docket to file his case underneath the Hague Conventiona global treaty established to set requirements for intercountry adoptions, together with circumstances of worldwide youngster abduction.
Sichi was lastly capable of go to his youngsters in 2021 after 10 months of video chatting, however these visits remained extremely restricted and inconsistent.
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In June of that yr, the Seoul Household Court docket dominated that the kids must be returned to their residence in San Francisco. The appellate courtroom affirmed this determination, and in February 2022, the Korean Supreme Court docket dismissed Sichi’s spouse’s final attraction and dominated that the kids be returned instantly.
Regardless of receiving courtroom fines of 5 million gained (roughly $3,840) and a 30-day detention sentence, Sichi’s spouse continued to defy courtroom orders.
In Could 2022, Sichi and a courtroom enforcement officer visited his spouse’s house and tried to retrieve his childrenhowever they have been in the end unsuccessful as his son and daughter — now aged 6 and 4 — didn’t consent to leaving, and the officer didn’t make an effort to implement the courtroom’s orders.
Pissed off by the inaction of legislation enforcement to hold out even the nation’s highest courtroom’s determination, Sichi says he considers the scenario “state-ordered youngster abuse.”
Having spoken with youngster psychologists, Sichi is deeply involved about the way in which officers allegedly proceed to prioritize the choices of his youngsters, who’re too younger to know the scenario, over the courtroom’s orders.
He worries that putting the burden of creating a remaining determination on his youngsters could have a destructive impression on them later in life, saying, “That is principally state-ordered youngster abuse.”
He says he’s now working towards incorporating social employees to assist with the method within the hopes that they may have the ability to present a much less demanding setting for the kids if they’re finally returned.
For a time period after the Could 2022 incident, Sichi was reduce off from communication together with his youngsters, and so they, alongside together with his spouse, have been unable to be situated.
Thankfully for Sichi, after a neighborhood broadcasting station aired his story on one among their applications referred to as “Curious Story Y,” a member of his spouse’s prolonged household reached out to attempt to join him together with his youngsters.
Though Sichi was unable to see his youngsters in particular person, he was capable of re-establish communication with them by cellphone calls.
Regardless of this “mini-breakthrough,” Sichi says he stays shut out from connecting together with his youngsters as their calls are extremely constricted, and the one phrases he hears are numerous iterations of “no” in Korean.
In a latest replace, Sichi shared that the U.S. State Division and South Korea’s Ministry of Justice have been lastly capable of affirm a brand new tackle for his spouse and kids.
All Sichi can do, nevertheless, is proceed working with the native courtroom system and hope that sufficient media consideration will result in a reunion together with his youngsters.
The daddy of two just isn’t alone in his struggle to carry his youngsters residence.
He shares that he has linked with different American mother and father going by comparable struggles to see their very own kidnapped youngsters.
One dad or mum particularly, Jay Sung, has been a serious supply of power and help throughout Sichi’s journey.
Sung, a Korean American father from Washington, has not seen his 6-year-old son Bryan since 2019. His spouse reportedly refuses to return him regardless of receiving courtroom orders, fines and detention sentences.
Sichi and Sung communicate every day, sharing sources and updates about their circumstances. Since Sung is ready to communicate Korean, Sichi has relied on him for assist with translations and navigating the language barrier.
The 2 have additionally discovered better help with the iStand Parent Networkwhich focuses on bringing collectively mother and father going by comparable conditions the world over. The group additionally hosts Camp Sumatanga, a camp held each summer time in Alabama for survivors of kid abduction circumstances.
Sichi intends to ship his youngsters to the survivor camp in the future: “I need to ship them there in order that they are often with different youngsters who’ve gone by comparable experiences.”
Since gaining traction within the media, he says one dad or mum from Texas and one from Canada have reached out for steering as they’re within the early phases of worldwide youngster abduction.
“I’m able to give them recommendation on what’s to come back, and a few of the processes that they must undergo,” he shares.
Within the newest ruling from Seoul Household Court docket, Sichi’s spouse will now be fined 500,000 gained (roughly $384) for daily of noncompliance.
The every day fines are set to start out someday subsequent week.
In accordance with Sichi, that is the primary ruling of its variety, and he’s hopeful that this extra stress will transfer his case ahead.
As a way to elevate consciousness about his case and others like his to Korea’s Nationwide Meeting, Sichi wants 50,000 petition signatures by Feb. 24.
To date, he has simply over 7,700 signatures.
Extra details about his case and methods to assist can be found on his website.
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