GWANGJU, June 30 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of crimes committed by Korean adolescents is increasing, and methods are becoming more elaborate and brutal. There are increasing calls for intervention, while some demand government measures to contain such crimes that step beyond the line of teenage aberration.
A high school student, only disclosed as Choi (17), broke into an apartment in Gwangju in the morning of June 28. He brutally murdered the resident, a 50-year-old woman who was found with some 20 stab wounds to her neck, and robbed her, grabbing cash, a laptop, and credit cards.
Wounds were also discovered on the victim’s left hand, a sign of a desperate struggle to survive, but eventually left in vain.
The perpetrator, after his inhumane deeds, cleaned the premises to remove the traces of his crime. Choi even used the victim’s cell phone to message the victim’s husband to make sure he wouldn’t run into unexpected visitors.
He showed no sign of remorse or anxiety upon being arrested the next day in Busan. He was intending to escape to Japan.
“I planned on robbing the weak the moment I ran away from home,” said Choi. “I also planned crimes in Busan.”
But this is only the latest in a string of violent adolescent crimes.
On May 2, a teenager brutally assaulted a 28-year-old woman with a brick inside the elevator at an apartment complex in Daejeon. The two were strangers, and the assault was carried out at random, said Daejeon police. The 16-year-old perpetrator testified that he was “angry after arguing with a friend.”
On April 3, another 16-year-old high school student was placed under arrest for arson after burning down a music institute in Ansan, which resulted in the deaths of a 43-year-old instructor and a 26-year-old student.
“I saw a lighter, then I wanted to set the place on fire,” said the arsonist.
In Hwasun County, South Jeolla Province, an 18-year-old who had just graduated from high school was arrested on February 25 for murdering his girlfriend (18). The victim was found dead with multiple bruises on her face in a field by a stream. The investigation revealed that the killer strangled the victim to death and disposed of the body, with help from his friend, who was also 18 years old.
Crime statistics among adolescents have grown perilous in recent years.
According to the Korean National Police Agency, a total of 17,902 adolescents aged 19 years and less were apprehended for various crimes from 2011 to 2015. This year, from January to May, a total of 1,044 adolescents were arrested. Among the 1,044, 546 were charged with ‘violent crimes’, which include murder, robbery, rape, and arson.
According to experts, adolescent crimes are often impulsive and curiosity-driven, and the perpetrators are less susceptible to feeling guilt or regret. Video game addiction can also play a big role, as it often deprives these youths of relationships and real-life social exchanges, and can encourage young men and women to emulate violent crimes.
“In many cases, these adolescents have long left the boundary and supervision of their families and schools, and have no place in society to rely on,” said an official from the Gwangju Metropolitan Police Agency. “Many of the crimes take place without the perpetrators fully understanding the gravity of their deeds, the consequences, and the ultimate implications for their future. There’s an urgent need for a system that can counsel these unfortunate teenagers and provide support so that they can better settle in our society.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)