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Lawmakers push to impose stronger punishment on digital sex criminals

All Headlines 11:44 March 29, 2020

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korean lawmakers are pushing to revise the law in a way that punishes those entering online chat rooms to view illegal videos of sex acts amid public outrage over an online sexual blackmail ring.

Rep. Park Kwang-on of the ruling Democratic Party said Sunday he is proposing a revision to the acts on information protection and sexual violence as the chief author to punish those who join online chat rooms to view sexual acts carried out under coercion.

Under the revision proposal, all those who are involved in an organized digital sex crime could be indicted as a member of a syndicate, which would allow punishment for those who just enter such online chat rooms even when they do not actively produce the content.

People who knowingly watch or hold illegal content made by coercion or blackmail will also be defined as a sex offender and receive a punishment of up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won (US$24,600), the lawmaker said.

The proposal comes amid public fury over the "Nth room case," in which prime suspect Cho Ju-bin allegedly lured and threatened victims, including underage girls, into performing gruesome sex acts, and distributed such photos and videos via Telegram chat rooms.

The exact number of people who took part in the chat rooms remains unclear, but some women's rights groups say it could be as much as 260,000, including those who joined multiple groups.

"The most important thing is to cut the link connecting production, distribution, blackmail, consumption and the industry of digital sex crime content," Park said. "Producers, distributors and consumers should all be deemed as part of one criminal ring and be accordingly punished."

Cho Ju-bin is taken into a car at a police station in Seoul on March 25, 2020, before being sent to prosecutors on allegations that he blackmailed dozens of victims into performing violent sex acts and sold the content in a mobile group chat room on the messaging service Telegram. (Yonhap)


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