[New York Post] Musician mom held in kidnap

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A globetrotting concert violinist who absconded with her son and daughter in South Korea last year was arrested in Guam last week, sparking hope for a New Jersey father who has waged a ferocious court battle to get his children back.

But Si-Nae Shim, 33, was traveling alone — and so far has refused to divulge the whereabouts of the two children, Kristian, 5, and Haerin, 3, said a lawyer for her husband, Alejandro Mendoza, of Dumont, NJ.

Shim was busted Wednesday as she arrived at the airport in Guam, a US territory. Bergen County authorities expect she’ll be returned to New Jersey by Friday, said Mendoza’s lawyer, Jennifer Brandt.

CUSTODY FIGHT: Alejandro Mendoza, estranged wife Si-Nae Shim and daughter Haerin, who’s missing along with her brother, Kristian.
“Now that she’s in Guam, we’re able to arrest her and bring her back,” Brandt said.

Shim’s arrest is the latest turn in Mendoza’s custody battle, which has been mired in global politics and red tape because Korea does not observe the Hague Convention governing international custody battles.

“This is the most destructive thing that could happen to a parent,” Mendoza told The Post.

The nightmare began in February 2009 for Mendoza, 47, when at Shim’s request he took a temporary teaching position she had arranged for him at Suwon University in South Korea. Shim told him she wanted to expose their children to her country’s culture.

Mendoza and Shim had lived as a couple in New Jersey for 12 years. Mendoza, a Juilliard-educated violinist, gave music lessons and commuted to Manhattan to perform in orchestras for Broadway shows such as “The Lion King” and “West Side Story.”

But once they arrived in Korea, Shim orchestrated a scheme to permanently push Mendoza out of the picture, he claims on his Web site, bringthekidshome.org.

Without his knowledge, Shim gave her children Korean names and erased his surname from their identities, according to the site.

And a month into the trip, Mendoza realized his salary was only half of what his wife had promised. So in April, he flew back to the United States, hoping to earn enough money to move his family back to New Jersey.

“My wife took me to the airport, and I hugged everybody one by one,” said a tearful Mendoza. “I hugged my son last and told him I would come back in eight days. It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen him.”

Two days after he arrived home, his wife called him, saying he had molested their daughter and shouldn’t return to Korea, Mendoza’s web site says.

Shim vowed to raise the children on her own and said she had taken over his Korean teaching position.

“It was a shock, very much a shock” he said.

The devoted dad flew back to Korea in May and found that the apartment where the family had lived was cleared out.

Mendoza visited the US Embassy in Seoul to report that his wife had kidnapped their kids, he says. He was also questioned by Korean police about the abuse allegations, but was released without being charged.

Mendoza took his fight to New Jersey courts, where, Brandt said, a judge awarded him full custody of the children. An arrest warrant was issued last month — about two weeks before Shim was picked up.

Additional reporting by Jennifer Bain