On October 20, the first-ever anti-stalking law took effect in South Korea, making stalking a crime punishable with up tp three years in prison.
Previously, stalking was categorized as a misdemeanor in the Criminal Code, subject to less that ₩100,000 KRW (about $70.80 USD) in fines. The revised law came following a horrifying murder of a subway worker in September. The suspect, a colleague of the 20-something victim for years before killing her inside the woman’s restroom at Sindang Station on Line 2.
AS public outrage surrounding this case heightened, president Yoon Suk Yeol called for stricter anti-stalking laws. “The anti-stalking law was enacted last year, but many said it wasn’t enough to protect victims. I told the justice ministry before leaving on my trip to remedy the system and fully ensure that victims are protected so as to leave no room for such crimes,” he told the press on September 16.
Under the new law, the following acts are deemed to be acts of stalking— approaching, following, or blocking a victim against their will; lurking around the victim’s residence, workplace, or school; sending unsolicitated texts, images, or videos through any forms of communication; and trying to create anxiety or fear through passive violence. The legal definition also extends to the same acts targeted at a victim’s family, friends, or cohabitants.
When a perpetrator is caught repeating these actions, they can be penalized with up to three years in prison or ₩30.0 million KRW (about $21,200 USD) in fines, as per the new law. In case a dangerous object or weapon is used by the perpetrator, the punishment can get extended to up to 5 years of imprisonment or a ₩50.0 million KRW (about $35,400 USD) in fines.
One of the most notable changes that this new law is supposed to bring in apart from the penalty structure, is the attitude towards stalking as a crime. Korean netizens highlighted how in South Korea, it is an accepted fact that stalking only ends when the victim dies. But now, armed with the new law, police are expected to be more vigilant from the very first report of stalking before it evolves into a more serious crime.
The police can now respond to acts of stalking with various measures, such as providing protection shelter to victims, issuing restraining orders against potential suspects to restrict their physical and online contact with victims. Korean netizens are very happy with the changes in law, and the efficient plan of action presented by Justice Minister Han Dong Hoon.
- “At this point, Han Don Hoon will be able to arrest drug mafias, I’m 200% sureㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ People should be rooting for this kind of person. He’s really good at his jobㅋㅋㅋㅋ How could he’s not lacking in anything? He’s smart, good at talking and writing, handsome, tall, has a good physical figure, has a great fashion sense, and also has a nice voiceㅋㅋㅋㅋ”
- “It’s great to see him work hard to protect weak people and the people of this country. His nickname is Joseon’s Best Sword, which sounds really scary. But he has really gentle eyes and doesn’t even drink at all. Not too long ago, the media followed him for a month and they didn’t get anything at all. When asked about that, he said, ‘I’m sure they were hoping I’d go into a strange pub/bar’ㅋㅋㅋㅋ”
- “I just scrolled past the post and it doesn’t look like empty words. They really made the law very detailed. I’m really touched right now. It’s the first time a child sex offender was arrested after finishing his jail time. It’s also the first time they’re assigning electronic anklets to stalkers. Not to mention that the anklets could be given from the very first report. He’s putting himself in the victims’ shoes, he has a really good empathy. Han Dong Hoon is seriously the bestㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ”