Meet Ben Panangian: The hidden boyfriend of Schapelle Corby.

It must be a deep vortex: the number and intensity of emotions Schapelle Corby is feeling today.

After 13 years trapped on the island of Bali – nine of those years behind bars in Kerobokan Prison, the remainder under parole conditions in a house in the city of Kuta – the 39-year-old convicted drug smuggler has been deported and is returning to Australia.

For 13 years, coming home must have felt like a lifetime away. It has been a lifetime and Corby’s had no option – she has built a life to fill it.

She has made friends and enemies. Collected trinkets and memorabilia. She has found some comfort in the place that has also been her hell.

She has also, according to reports, found love.

Schapelle Corby. Image via Getty.

Schapelle's boyfriend is a man she met in 2006 in prison, while he was serving a three-year sentence for drug possession as she was facing 20 long years ahead.

After he was released, and she was still inside, the pair would meet in the visitors' centre. He would bring her food and clothes and desperately sought-after human connection.

He has been next to her through her break down and depression.

He was there to support her through the roller coaster that saw the Indonesian government grant clemency and Corby's sentence reduced by five years.

He was next to her when she was released from Kerobokan Prison, and has kept her company in her Kuta home. He has sat beside her at meal times, walked with her on the beach. Probably, he has listened to her fears and her anger and her sadness and he has brought her moments of joy.

His name is Bernard Simanjuntak - known as Ben Panangian - and she is leaving him behind.

Bernard Ben Panangian. Image via Facebook.

Panangian is a stand-up paddle board instructor in Kuta - Bali's main tourist town. He is reportedly deeply passionate about his trade, and exceptional in his skill.


He has dreams of becoming a sponsored, professional stand-up paddle boarder. And describes himself as a "marketer" for his water-sports touring business.

They don't know when they will see each other again. They don't know if they will see each other again.

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Before she left Bali yesterday, Corby signed her final parole papers. She was also told how long it will be until she is allowed back in Indonesia. If she'll ever be allowed back in Indonesia; which is information that has not been made public.

As for Panangian, it's unclear if he is permitted to enter Australia.

He has a history of drug charges. He was imprisoned in 2006 and, in 2014, he was arrested again for the possession of three packages of marijuana weighing 0.64g, 0.99g and 6.58g.

Reporters followed him to court where he told the judge he was 'friends' with Corby. Everyone has been interested in the connection but remarkably, he's remained a mystery.

Big thank you to my Bali family, neighbours and my brother inlaw Wayan. #realtime #abouttoleavwmyhomeof3years

A post shared by Schapellecorby (@schapelle.corby) on


Corby spent her final night in her Kuta home with her 'Bali family'. Her sister, her brother, some close friends and Panangian.

She was described by witnesses as appearing "flat" when she reported to her parole officer for the final time.

'Flat' is understandable. She must be relieved and hopeful and nervous and excited. She must be sad about the people she is leaving behind, and worried about the holes she will find in her life in Australia.

It is desperately ironic that the people who must know Corby best, are those who call 'home' the same place that has been her prison and hell for the last, unwanted, 'lifetime'.

Ben Panangian is one of the first on that list.