The dark web, which is an encrypted online space not indexed by search engines, has been associated with crimes and other illicit activities as it permits users to dodge identification and keep their browser history discreet.
Police probe into the dark web, which was hitherto handled by a six-member task force at the National Police Agency, will now be conducted jointly by cyber investigation squads at district agencies across the country.
The NPA said Sunday it would work with investigative authorities in the US and UK to clamp down on the recent surge in dark web-based crimes such as child pornography circulation, drug trafficking and trading of personal information.
The police said their probe would focus in particular on child pornography.
According to police, some of the illegal contents seized included videos of sexual acts featuring children, toddlers and infants.
Manufacturing or spreading porn involving children or adolescents is subject to a jail time of five years or more under the laws on protection of children and juveniles. The maximum punishment for possessing child or juvenile porn is a year in jail or fine of 20 million won ($17,260).
According to police data, about 13,000 Koreans, on daily average, visited the dark web in September. This figure is down from August’s average daily traffic count of 20,000 following a police crackdown.
Last month, the police busted Son Jong-woo, a 23-year-old operator of a dark web child porn site in a joint probe with law enforcement authorities from 32 countries. Of the 310 site users caught worldwide, 223 were Koreans.
Son was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in jail.
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org)