An episode of MBC‘s “PD Notebook” that aired on the 23rd of June, exposed a detailed story about the conviction of sexual charges, in relation to the “Nth Room” scandal. It drew to light the recent petition against Judge A that was in charge of the case. Judge A was the very same judge that was in charge of Goo Hara‘s case against her ex-boyfriend, Choi Jong Bum, who was acquitted of charges for “illegal filming” during the high-trial. Judge A was also previously found to have ruled in innocence with regards to perpetrator in the Jang Ja Yeon case, as well as only given probation to a sexual slavery game scandal. Ultimately, Judge A requested a reallocation due to the petition.
However, it is not simply just the issue of Judge A. In the past 10 years, 41.4% of sexual criminals get away with only probation, and 71.6% evade sentencing. Son Jung-woo, who recently ran the world’s largest child sexual exploitation video site, was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in Korea. If it was America, he would have received a minimum of 15 years in prison. The weak charges against sexual criminals in South Korea is beginning to draw much criticism from the public.
The largest factor to reducing the sentences of criminals is in fact, agreements with the victims. Actor Kang Ji Hwan who was accused of sexually assaulting and harassing staff members got off on probation due to an agreement with the victims. However, even after an agreement was made, the representatives of Kang Ji Hwan insisted he was innocent. An agreement is an acknowledgement of penance for a crime, but his denial of it erases the meaning.
On the other hand, after 30 years, the sexual assault case in a village somewhere in South Korea where a church’s pastor had committed sexual assault, only received 8 years in prison. Afterwards, the victim received a request of agreement from the pastor’s wife. When rejected, the pastor claimed that it was consensual intercourse.
As the distrust in the judiciary system with regards to sexual crime increases, the number of citizen groups that are monitoring retrials and cases are also increasing. The production team of “PD Notebook” met with an activist that claims a huge problem is that there is a lack of understanding and protection for the victims.
As other developed nations treat sexual crimes with much gravity, people are calling out for change in South Korea too. The Supreme Court’s sentencing committee has also recognized the reality of digital sex crimes and said it would set higher sentencing standards by December this year. However, simply fixing sentencing standards does not solve the problem. At the end of the broadcast, “PD Notebook” said the fundamental problem was the low sensitivity of the judiciary to the problem and hopes that they will take one step further in line with the tide of time.