On Monday, December 18, a South Korean teenager was tried in court for alleged murder. According to testimonies at the trial, she had called emergency services immediately after her crime to confirm what kind of punishment she might get.
The 18-year-old suspect is accused of murdering her classmate on July 12 after the two got into an argument at the victim’s house in Daejeon. The murder investigation revealed that the suspect had incessantly bullied the victim for the last two years and had to face a school disciplinary committee as a result. Last July, officials stepped in and sent the suspect to another school.
In March 2023, she got in touch with the victim again, and the bullying continued through threatening messages. The victim’s father told the court that the suspect psychologically tormented his daughter.
(My daughter) was cursed at and mocked for answering being late to a meeting with (the suspect), or answering her text late. She wasn’t (the suspect’s) friend. She was her underling.
— Victim’s father
The suspect showed up at the girl’s apartment, and after causing her death, she called the 119 emergency number to report the incident, as well as verify what the legal punishment would be.
Is it true that I’ll get five years in prison for murder, since I’m a high school student?
— The suspect’s question on the emergency line
She also inquired if her punishment would be reduced if she confessed. In the Daejeon District Court, where she was tried on December 18, she said she decided to ask the police about the punishment because she couldn’t find accurate information online. The suspect also added that she considered killing herself after the crime but couldn’t because she was “scared and thought it was irresponsible to just die.”
While the bereaved family demanded maximum punishment for the suspect, according to South Korean law, she could be tried under the Juvenile Act. The country’s law states that individuals under the age of 19 are subject to the Juvenile Act, and underage criminals can be punished up to 15 years in prison for a single crime. Repeat offenders of violent crimes such as murder can get up to 20 years. The court is expected to conclude the trial of this case by January 11, 2024.