제 9 호 Slap on the Wrist!
Issues about Law Applications
Kicker: SOCIETY (LAW)
Slap on the Wrist!
Issues about Law Applications
Yeong-Jin Choi, Eun-Jae Choi, Reporter
Have you ever heard about the ‘Nth Room’ incident* that became a big issue in Korea? ‘Nth Room’ incident was about sexual harassment* and exploitation* of women by many men. It was a very serious crime, but when citizens protested to open all the identities of men, the request was denied and only a few of them were revealed. After that, many citizens questioned the justice of Korea, that the punishment is too light compared to what the criminals committed. Therefore, I would like to focus on the ‘Nth Room’ incident over many crimes and talk about the existing problems of Korea’s law applications*.
*Incident: An event that is either unpleasant or unusual.
*Harassment: Behavior that annoys or upsets someone.
*Exploitation: The use of something in order to get an advantage from it.
*Application: A way in which a rule or law, etc. relates to or is important for someone or something.
What is Digital Sexual Violence?
Government defines digital sexual violence as any kinds of crimes that happen within online and offline by using digital devices and Internet Technology. The crime includes not only to take pictures without someone else’s permission, but also to spread it, save it, or upload it. If the action is considered to violate someone’s sexual or personal rights in cyber space, the action is recognized as a form of digital sexual violence without doubt.
Why is the Revision of The Law Important?
After the ‘Nth Room’ incident, many laws have been renewed. Since laws that deal with sexual violence have been put back for a long time, the terrifying issue of the ‘Nth Room’ made people to focus on how many laws about sexual harassment have been neglected*. Laws to protect children and teenagers, how to punish crimes that are considered as sexual violence, and laws that were related with the Internet were the three major laws that were changed and improved. Such revisions* of the laws above are important for the following two reasons: First, it identifies clearly that digital sexual violence is also a crime. Plus, it prevents further digital crimes and helps establish a safe internet environment.
*Neglect: To not give enough care or attention to people or things that are your responsibility.
*Revision: A change that is made to something, or the process of doing this.
Comparison Between Korea and America
Even now, many sexual violence criminals are sentenced a probation* instead of going to jail. Many of those who are sentenced receive a penal* servitude* with six months minimum to five years maximum in Korea. In contrast, countries abroad are severely punishing such criminals. In America, for example, these kind of criminals these kinds of criminals are sentenced for more than ten years average. The ‘Mark P. Barnwell’ incident, which happened in America, is a similar case like the ‘Nth Room’, which is also about cyber sexual harassment, as he created and distributed the photos of 43 underaged children. He was sentenced to 35 years of penal servitude. As we can see from this case, America punishes especially hard when it comes to children’s sexual harassment. Comparing with Korea and America about child sexual violence, Korea’s law application and the degree of the punishment seems illogical and unfair.
*Probation: A period of time when a criminal must behave well and not commit any more crimes in order to avoid being sent to prison.
*Penal: Of or relating to punishment given by law.
*Servitude: The state of being under the control of someone else and of having no freedom.
Digital Sexual Violence Cases in Korea
As technology advances, digital sexual violence problems in Korea have continuously existed. However, people had not been very conscious about the danger of digital sexual violence until the 'nth room' incident. This 'nth room' incident was so shocking and cruel that it caused a lot of *repercussions in society; however, there have been many other incidents before the 'nth room' case. Digital sexual violence term was first used for shutting down the site 'Soranet' that had the largest distribution of illegal pornography in Korea on October 28th, 2015. The ‘Soranet’ site avoided the network in the same way as changing its address. However, as more than 100,000 petitions and overseas cooperation investigations in the U.S. and the Netherlands were conducted, the owner of the 'Soranet' site was arrested and the site was shut down. The *court sentenced the defendant ‘A’ to only four years in prison, while the co-operator ‘B’ was fined only 5 million won.
Not only that, there were also incidents that made the entertainment industry tumultuous*in 2018. According to the case of singer Gu Ha-ra, her ex-boyfriend was accused of threatening to distribute illegally filmed sex videos while conducting dating violence against her. The first trial found the accused innocent of the allegations*and sentenced him to one year and six months in prison and three years of probation. After the first trial's ruling, she was found dead, and there was much that was pessimistic*about her personal life. This incident made many people feel sorry. In the second trial, the court issued the same punishment as the first trial, which was criticized as a light punishment. In addition, many male celebrities were charged with violating the Special Act on the Punishment of Sexual Violence for committing crimes against women by filming and distributing illegal videos, but the cases were also punished with probation, sparking anger among many people.
*tumultuous : A period of time involves many exciting and confusing events or feelings
*court : place where legal matters are decided by a judge and jury or by a magistrate
*allegation : statement saying that someone has done something wrong
*pessimistic : Someone who is pessimistic thinks that bad things are going to happen
Digital sexual violence current situation and problems
Digital sexual violence are coming out continuously even in the face of increased sentences. Critics point out that this is due to the court's light punishment. According to an analysis of the first trial of digital sexual violence over the past five years, the proportion of probation increased from 27.7% in 2015 to 48.9% as of 2020. Despite the tougher punishment, digital sex crimes were reported to have increased by 26.1% from 2015. In response, it was analyzed for a consistent reason that the court has a lot of probation rather than strictly applying the punishment standard. Furthermore, it is necessary to discuss the need for a system for crime prevention, such as the introduction of a system that punishes operators if they do not introduce a harmful video filtering program and camouflage*investigation.
*camouflage: Hide so as not to reveal
After the ‘nth room’ incident, people began to recognize the dangers of digital sexual crimes by disclosing the identity of defendants and executing policy changes. However, digital crimes are continuing with many sites avoiding investigation network and new incident cases emerging. So, people have to speak out, and it is important to solve the problem of digital sexual crimes with strong punishment by the judiciary*.
*judiciary: the branch of authority in a country which is concerned with law and the legal system