(ATTN: RECASTS headline; UPDATES with parliamentary passage of internet-only bank bill from para 8)
SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- The National Assembly on Wednesday passed a set of bills designed to strengthen punishment for digital sex crimes, amid a public outcry over a recent high-profile online sex abuse case involving minors.
The package includes a revision to the sex crime act, under which people who possess, buy, store or watch illegally filmed obscene materials can face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won (US$24,610).
Under current laws, possession of illegally filmed sexual footage is not punishable.
The legislature also passed revisions to the criminal code calling for raising the age of sexual consent to 16 from the current 13.
Regardless of consent, an adult who has sex with a minor under the age will be charged with rape.
Public criticism of relatively light punishment for perpetrators of child sex abuse has mounted recently, especially following the revelation of the so-called Nth room case.
At least 103 people, including 26 underage girls, are known to have been exploited in the incident, in which the arrested prime suspect, Cho Ju-bin, allegedly lured victims into taking photos and later coerced them into performing more gruesome sex acts. Their images were shared on Telegram chat rooms.
The National Assembly also approved a bill intended to loosen the eligibility requirements for the largest shareholder of an internet-only bank, paving the way for telecom giant KT Corp. to own K-Bank, an online bank launched in 2017.
The current law allows information technology firms to hold as much as a 34-percent stake in an internet-only bank but prohibits a shareholder from raising the stake if the shareholder was punished for violating an antitrust law.
The revision bill calls for removing a record of antitrust and taxation law violations from the requirement.
KT has a record of violating the fair trade law.
The bill was voted down last month as many lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and minor parties are concerned it would give unwarranted favor to KT Corp.
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