Loneliness can drive people to great lengths, as demonstrated by the elaborate deception of a 29-year-old Korean woman who faked her way into a US high school. Calling herself “Shin,” she presented a fake birth certificate claiming she was 15 years old and gained admission to New Brunswick High School in New Jersey.
For four days, Shin attended classes and socialized with other students before the school officials realized her deception. She was arrested for forging documents and charged with a felony.
During her trial, Shin’s lawyer argued that her client was feeling lonely and unfulfilled, and the act of pretending to be a high school student allowed her to relive a sense of stability and comfort from her teenage years. However, some students accused Shin of attempting to lure them into illegal activities such as prostitution.
Regardless of her intentions, Shin’s actions were a serious crime, and she now faces up to five years in prison for her forgery charges. Her lawyer has requested that she participate in a Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), which would offer her a chance to avoid a criminal conviction if she completes certain conditions.
Shin had previously come to the US at the age of 16 to attend a boarding school in Massachusetts. She went on to earn degrees in political science and Chinese language and literature from Rutgers University, but struggled to find employment afterward.
While her story may seem unbelievable, it serves as a reminder of the lengths some will go to escape their feelings of isolation and loneliness. In Shin’s case, her actions had serious consequences, but hopefully, her story will encourage society to pay closer attention to those who may be struggling with similar feelings.