What made South Korea crack down on digital sex crimes?
South Korea recently strengthened its laws against online sex abuse. A particular case involving a university graduate Cho Joo-bin prompted the authorities to reconsider laws that earlier supported the assumption that minors were willing participants in crimes perpetrated against them, according to CNN.
The then 23-year-old student Cho Joo-bin was on bed rest after an operation when he styled himself as a businessman in his mid-40s and started a group chat called 'Guru's Room' on Telegram in September 2019.
The chatroom gave men a platform to spend thousands of dollars to witness and demand the abuse of young girls and became the setting for the most notorious digital sex crime case in South Korea, reported CNN.
Media attention was drawn to the widespread crime after Cho Joo-bin was sentenced to 40 years in prison in November last year for "producing and distributing illegal sexual visual material, forced sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment, blackmail, recording sexually abusive behaviors, coercion, violation of private information protection, and fraud."
In early 2020, new sentencing guidelines were introduced. According to the Korea Institute of Criminology, the average sentence for people convicted of producing and distributing sexually exploitative material of minors was 2.6 years in 2018. The new guidelines increased the prison sentence to five years for the crime.
This, however, is much below the international jurisdictions. In the US, the punishment for such a crime is a minimum of 15 years in prison under federal law.
Meanwhile, Telegram's spokesperson issued a statement clearing the platform's stand and added that publicly available content which violates their terms of conditions is taken down. "Sexual violence and the abuse of minors are not welcome on our platform," he said.However, according to the CNN, some people are concerned that even with the new sentencing guidelines, when cases are not as high profile as the Telegram case, penalties may not be as severe.