News / Vancouver

Korean billionaire's sexist attitude toward women factor in Vancouver divorce case

A Korean billionaire's sexist attitude toward women was a determining factor in a recent divorce case involving his ex-wife and children, who live in Vancouver.

The judge granted the divorce and ordered that the wife should retain $9.1 million in Canadian assets, including a $7-million home on Allison Road, two blocks from the University of B.C. campus.

The husband, Sang Ho Hong, was also ordered to pay his former wife, Yang Soon (Jane) Kim, retroactive spousal support of $612,000, based on payments of $12,000 a month.

The father will pay another $94,550 in retroactive child support for his 15-year-old daughter, who attends a $20,000-a-year private school in Vancouver, and $81,059 retroactive child support for his 23-year-old son, who is attending university in Canada.

The couple moved to Canada in 2000 but the husband has returned to Korea, where he is a billionaire, with assets worth 17.4 billion Korean Won, or roughly $15.6 million in Canadian dollars.

The father makes about $350,000 a year and owns apartments, commercial property and a cattle ranch business in Korean known as Suwon, which is worth an estimated $1 million.

Hong claimed he had little income, but B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin noted the man spent $250,000 on personal expenditures in 2011, mostly on “personal entertainment such as gambling.”

The judge found that Hong was “deliberately deceitful” about his assets and finances, which he never fully disclosed to his wife during the marriage.

The judge said Hong was very candid about his attitude toward women.

“The respondent made it plain that in his view, a woman has very little say in Korean culture: she must obey her husband’s opinion and do what he tells her to do.” the judge observed.

“Pressed to explain this further, he went on to testify that in Korea, there is an old saying that a woman before marriage will obey her father, a woman after marriage will obey her husband, and after giving birth to a son and the son is old enough, then a woman will be obedient to her son,” the judge added.

“I have to give credit to the respondent [Hong] for being so frank about his attitude.  I make no finding that this is indeed part of Korean culture, but it is certainly alien in the Canadian cultural context where equality is a fundamental cultural and legal value.”

The judge took into account Hong's sexist attitude and his failure to obey previous court orders when determining whether to grant the father's request for his son to travel to Korea to visit his dad, which the judge rejected.

“I find that there is reason to be concerned about the respondent’s possible misconduct if the respondent feels he has the son under his control outside of this country and in Korea, which does not have an enforceable child custody treaty with Canada,” the judge concluded.

“I make no finding that he would indeed do so, but I find that the evidence of this risk outweighs evidence of any potential benefit to the son.”

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