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Justice Ministry seeks to restrict where sex offenders can live | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon speaks with the press at the ministry headquarters in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, on Tuesday. [NEWS1]

Sex offenders in Korea will no longer have the option to choose where they want to live, according to a new bill drafted by the Justice Ministry.
 
“Cho Doo-soon, Kim Geun-sik, Park Byung-hwa, these names are familiar to the entire nation because they committed horrific sex crimes against children on a habitual basis,” Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon told reporters at the ministry headquarters in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, on Tuesday.
 
The ministry plans to submit to the National Assembly a bill restricting high-risk sex offenders’ freedom to choose their residential areas.
 
The bill defines high-risk sex offenders as anyone who committed a sex crime against a person under 13 — or three or more sex crimes — and was sentenced to 10 or more years in prison and ordered to wear an electronic anklet upon release.
 
The legislation benchmarked Jessica’s Law in the United States, though with differences. 

Protestors demonstrate against the release of sex crime offender Cho Doo-soon near the prison in Seoul where Cho was kept, in this file photo dated Dec. 12, 2020. [YONHAP]

Protestors demonstrate against the release of sex crime offender Cho Doo-soon near the prison in Seoul where Cho was kept, in this file photo dated Dec. 12, 2020. [YONHAP]

 
The law in the U.S., enacted in Florida and other states, includes measures that restrict sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet, or in some cases, 2,000 feet, from schools. 
 
“This is something that we cannot quite apply in the same way here due to the higher population density,” Han said.
 
The U.S. legislation also mandates a sentence of at least 25 years and lifetime monitoring when the victim is younger than 12. Sentences in Korea for sex crimes against children have been much shorter.
 
The ministry’s draft mandates that high-risk sex offenders live in government-run facilities.
 
“There are pros and cons to different limitations on offenders’ residential rights,” said Han. “We will be taking in different opinions to revise the law if necessary before submitting it to the Assembly.”
 
The law will apply to 325 high-risk sex offenders in Korea, the ministry said. Another 69 will be added to the list before the end of this year, 59 through 2024 and another 59 through 2025.

Kim Geun-sik, a sex offender sentenced for raping 11 minors in Incheon and other areas in Gyeonggi in 2006 [INCHEON METROPOLITAN POLICE]

Kim Geun-sik, a sex offender sentenced for raping 11 minors in Incheon and other areas in Gyeonggi in 2006 [INCHEON METROPOLITAN POLICE]

 
High-risk sex crimes that Han mentioned in the press conference include those committed by Kim Geun-sik, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in November 2006 for raping 11 minors in Incheon’s Seo and Gyeyang Districts and various parts of Gyeonggi from May to September that year.
 
Kim was set to be released last year, but another victim came forward to file a criminal complaint against Kim, alleging he was molested by Kim when he was 13 years old in 2006.
 
The release from jail of Cho Doo-soon, one of Korea’s most notorious child rapists, upon completing a reduced sentence of just more than a decade in 2020 also rocked the nation.
 
Cho, now 71, is responsible for one of the most infamous rape cases in Korea. On Dec. 11, 2008, Cho kidnapped an 8-year-old girl — who the media later gave the pseudonym Na-young — on her way to school in Ansan, Gyeonggi.
 
Cho took her into a toilet stall at a nearby church, strangled and beat her unconscious, then raped her. He also tortured the girl, according to investigators at the time.
 
Na-young underwent eight hours of surgery, but the rape and torture left her with permanent injuries.
 
A huge public outcry followed Cho’s arrest, but what made the case exceptionally contentious was the length of the punishment he ultimately received.
 

Cho Doo-soon, right, leaves a facility on Dec. 12, 2020, in Gyeonggi upon his release. [NEWS1]

Cho Doo-soon, right, leaves a facility on Dec. 12, 2020, in Gyeonggi upon his release. [NEWS1]

In September 2009, the Supreme Court sentenced Cho to 12 years in prison and mandated that he wear an electronic anklet for an additional seven years — a sentence that took into account the defense’s argument that Cho was drunk when he committed the crime.
 
Though legal analysts said the evidence presented by Cho’s lawyers of his intoxication was flimsy at best, prosecutors did not challenge the theory and thus enabled the reduced sentence.
 
The case left a lasting impression on public opinion about the justice system that later prompted revisions to laws about sex crimes involving minors.
 
Han also addressed this problem during the press conference on Tuesday.
 
“The ministry is working on strengthening the punishment measures, separately, on sex crimes,” he said.
 
The rate of suspended sentences doled out for sex offenders who victimized children in Korea was as high as 52.3 percent in 2021, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
 
Of those sentenced, the average sentence was three years and 10 months. 
 
One out of four cases involved children younger than 13. Around 60 percent were committed by an acquaintance, and 9 percent by a family member.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [[email protected]]





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