South Korean Ok-Kyung has been fighting for years to establish the rights to her company in Bangladesh
Two South Korean citizens – Ok-Kyung and Bo-Sun Park – fell in love with each other, married and moved to Bangladesh to earn their fortune.
However, just six years after establishing a company, they began fighting with each other – in a Bangladeshi court – over the title to their wealth.
In 1996, the duo came to Bangladesh and set up a packaging company – TaeHung Packaging (Bangladesh) Ltd – in Gazipur, the hub of Bangladesh's apparel industry.
They saw short-lived success because Ok-Kyung and her husband, Park, in 2002 quarrelled over Park's alleged attempt to claim a large amount of the company's cash.
According to Ok-Kyung, Park became involved in the Hundi business – an illegal method of business transactions – which pushed the happy couple to a state of confrontation. Park, meanwhile, allegedly laundered a large sum of the company's money in South Korea.
"At one stage, he illegally ousted me from the company, took control of it and became its managing director. He occupied all my company shares," said 58-year-old Ok-Kyung, who was then the managing director of the TaeHung Packaging.
Eventually, they divorced and Ok-Kyung resorted to the court to reclaim her wealth. In the meantime, her former husband Park also filed cases against her, from abroad, over alleged threats to his life.
Ok-Kyung said she filed 16 complaints, both criminal and civil, against Park and his associates; while Park filed seven cases against her – including two lawsuits under company law. Almost every day, Ok-Kyung goes to court.
On a cold Wednesday morning last week, she came to the High Court from Uttara, Dhaka to present her plea before a bench of the High Court.
She moved the petition before the bench of Justice Md Emdadul Huq and Justice Md Akram Hossain Chowdhury. She cannot afford to hire a lawyer and runs cases on her own with the money she gets from her brothers and sisters in South Korea.
She has no source of income in Bangladesh but does not want to go back to her country. She is adamant about recovering her lost fortune.
The regular presentation of cases, over 15 years, has taught her to draft and run a case. She has acquired the skills of a lawyer.
Ok-Kyung shared her story with The Business Standard after presenting her plea in the court that day.
She sought a High Court order in favour of her appeal to transfer the trial of a criminal case against her ex-husband from one lower court to another.
Ok-Kyung filed the case with the Gulshan police station in 2005. She brought an allegation that Park illegally transferred her company's finances from Bangladesh to South Korea.
In 2018, a Dhaka special court framed charges against Park and his associates. However, soon after that, the court's judge was transferred and a new judge took over, Ok-Kyung said.
Meanwhile, the accused filed a revision petition with the new judge and was acquitted from the case, she continued.
Disappointed, Ok-Kyung filed a plea with the High Court to get its order to transfer the case to another court. The High Court, on Wednesday, deferred the hearing for a week.
However, Park's lawyer, Barrister Mohammad Mutahar Hossain, said none of the allegations Ok-Kyung has raised against Park are true.
Park's lawyer – who practises in the Supreme Court – said Ok-Kyung has purposefully linked her personal issues with business matters and she has claimed sole ownership of the company. "But the company has several other owners too," he added.
Ok-Kyung recalled her lost family life and her shattered dreams of becoming an industrialist.
"I did a Masters of Business degree and had a high-salaried job in South Korea. Park was a taxi driver and had no education. We loved each other deeply and I willingly retired from my job. After retirement, I received a large sum of money from the company," Ok-Kyung said, recalling her colourful life back in 1996 when she was 34 years old. She came from a wealthy family.
"We [Park and Ok-Kyung] decided to come to Bangladesh to do business. I dreamt of having a happy family and becoming the owner of a big company," she continued.
She said Park shattered both of her dreams.
"I could not accept his [Park's] illegal activities and he used to quarrel with me about them. At different times, he even tortured me physically," Ok-Kyung said.
Ok-Kyung has seen both wins and defeats in her cases. Her siblings in South Korea frequently ask her to return to them. They even offered her a good business in that country.
However, Ok-Kyung resolutely said, "I will not let up. I will fight until my last breath to establish my rights and repair my broken dream."