SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) -- More than 1,200 teenagers have fallen victim to online sex crimes so far this year, an elevenfold jump from 2018, government data showed Wednesday.
The number of teenage victims rose sharply from 111 in 2018 to 1,268 this year, according to the gender ministry data released by Rep. Yang Kum-hee of the main opposition People Power Party.
The ministry tallied the number based on data from the state-run Women's Human Rights Institute of Korea.
Digital sex crime victims totaled 14,070 between April 2018 and September this year, jumping from 1,315 in 2018 to 2,087 in 2019 and 4,973 in 2020. This year, 5,695 victims had already been identified as of September.
By age, those in their 20s were exposed the most to online sex predators at 21.3 percent, followed by teenagers at 20.6 percent and those in their 30s at 7 percent. The ages of more than 46 percent of the total were unknown.
By the type of crime, illicit filming took up the biggest share of 26.2 percent, followed by distribution of sexually exploitative materials at 24.5 percent and the threat of distribution at 13.9 percent.
The women's rights institute provided victim support, including removal of exploitative materials and counseling, in a total of 437,168 online sex crime cases over the cited period.
"Digital sex crimes targeting teenagers have risen as seen in Telegram sexual offender Cho Ju-bin's case," Yang said, calling for measures to eradicate such crimes. Cho was the leader of a notorious online sex blackmail ring whose acts shocked South Korea last year.
The 25-year-old was sentenced to 42 years in prison in June for organizing the criminal ring and blackmailing dozens of minor and adult victims into filming sexually abusive materials. The sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court last week.
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