South Korean student says she was beaten up in racist attack on London’s Oxford Street while onlookers ‘filmed on phones’

‘Out of all the people walking by, it was only two people who were trying to help me,’ says victim

Zamira Rahim@ZamiraRahim
Saturday 01 December 2018 14:29
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The alleged assault occurred on Oxford Street and lasted between six and seven minutes
The alleged assault occurred on Oxford Street and lasted between six and seven minutes

A South Korean student studying in the UK has described how she was attacked in an alleged hate crime while visiting Oxford Street in London.

Yeon Jeong Lee was walking down the street, which sits at the centre of the busiest shopping district in Europe, with a friend on 11 November.

A group of people began following the friends and threw rubbish at them, Ms Lee claims.

The student said she turned and told the group to stop. One girl then approached her, saying “Oh, you speak English? You alright?”

“I got angry, and I threw her back some of the rubbish I was holding,” she wrote, launching a petition on Change.org in the assault’s aftermath.

“The next thing I know, this girl started ranting at me ‘How dare you hit me’ and pushed me to the ground. I fell, and around 10 people came up to me and started beating me up.”

Ms Lee said that the group, who appeared to be teenagers, surrounded her and began kicking and punching her in the body and head.

Her friend was stunned and unable to physically stop the group from assaulting her.

“I remember shouting, ‘This is 21st century, stop being racists’,” she wrote.

According to the student, despite the attack taking place at around 5.50pm in a area of central London teeming with pedestrians, few people came to her aid.

“Out of all the people walking by, it was only two people who were trying to help me out and the rest would just be filming the scene,” she said.

The attack continued for six to seven minutes. The attackers then left and ran towards a nearby McDonald’s.

Ms Lee said that she “almost lost consciousness” during the attack.

The student added that despite repeatedly calling the police, nobody arrived to assist her.

She returned home to Canterbury, where she is studying at a nearby university, and filed an online report.

“That night, the police had only sent me an email telling me to see a therapist,” the student claimed.

“They were incredibly apathetic in helping me out/looking into the incident.”

Ms Lee contacted the Korean embassy in London but officials told her that they could not step into “civil affairs” outside their jurisdiction.

“A few days later at this point, I can feel several bumps on my head and my chin has entirely swollen up,” the student said.

She has experienced severe panic attacks after the assault and had to make an emergency trip to the hospital at one point.

The student union at the University of Creative Arts, where Ms Lee studies, condemned the attack in a statement.

“We are saddened by the news that one of our students, Yeon Jeong Lee, was the victim of a violent hate crime in London earlier this week,” a spokesperson said.

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“We have been in contact with Yeon in the last few days and are doing all that we can to support her going forward.”

Figures released this year have shown an increase in reported hate crimes on public transport and in and around schools and colleges.

Ms Lee has now set up a petition aiming to stop race hate crime and raise awareness of the problem.

Her post quickly attracted attention online and has been signed by almost 30,000 people.

“I hope the police will arrive right on time,” she wrote. “I don’t want other people be a victim like me.”

The Metropolitan Police has been contacted for comment.

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