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Her allegations along with testimony from another employee who said she was threatened by the same woman when she refused to engage in prostitution resulted in the arrest of Youkyung Jeong, the owner of the Korean restaurant at 41-18 162nd St. in Flushing.
Jeong, a Korean woman from Bayside, was charged with two counts of coercion and one count of promoting prostitution before being arraigned in Queens Criminal Court before Acting Judge Ellen Coin in Kew Gardens on $1,500 bail, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Richard Brown. If convicted, she could face up to seven years in prison, the spokeswoman said.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Officer Dennis Kim of the 109th Precinct, the following events led to Jeong's arrest.
In October 2001, one waitress whose name was withheld said she began living with Jeong at 222-08 41st Ave. and was told she was indebted by $36,000 to Jeong, police said. It was unclear whether or not Jeong assisted in the woman's immigration to the United States.
From October 2001 to February 2004, the employee alleged that Jeong coerced her into having sex with about 30 men for $500, police said.
The woman also contended Jeong threatened her both verbally and physically if she refused to have sex with the customers, according to police.
Another woman said she was also approached by Jeong to have sex with two men for $500. When she refused to continue being paid for sex, the woman said she, too, was verbally threatened, police said.
According to the criminal complaint, Jeong said to the woman, "You can't leave me like this. You can't do this to me. I'll never leave you alone. Nobody gets away from me."
Calls to Bool Ggot restaurant went unanswered Tuesday. The 109th Precinct could not be reached for comment.
Jeong's attorney, Frank Bari, said Bool Ggot was a high-end bar, not a brothel, where bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label could go for as much as $300 and fruit plates cost about $150.
"They still do many things in their country's old-fashioned ways," Bari said. "What you or I or another person might constitute as prostitution, it's called working. It doesn't have the stigma."
Bari said his client did not run a prostitution ring out of her restaurant, nor did she force women to be paid for sex. He said the establishment is considered a "room salon," not a "working house" where women would be paid for sex.
"They do business over dinners, over drinking in high-class places and that's what you would call a room salon," Bari said of Korean restaurants.
He said even the rates for sex in the allegations were inflated and false.
"I know a lot of Korean people - nobody is paying $500 for sex," he said. "The going rate at a working house is well-known at $200."
He said Jeong was "stunned and hurt" by the allegations.
She was due back in court June 14.
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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