SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Korea Bizwire) — An appellate court on Wednesday upheld an eight-year prison sentence for a drunk driver who killed a Taiwanese student in a deadly car accident last year.
The appellate division of the Seoul Central District Court handed down the prison term to the 52-year-old man, surnamed Kim, maintaining a lower court’s conviction of anti-DUI law violations.
The man was indicted for hitting and killing Tseng Yi-lin, a 28-year-old Taiwanese woman, while driving under the influence of alcohol in the southern Seoul ward of Gangnam on Nov. 6.
Tseng, a doctoral student studying theology at a Seoul university, was crossing the street at the time of the accident. The driver was found to have ignored the traffic signal and been driving over the speed limit.
“The bereaved family only wishes for stern and reasonable punishment against the driver and is unwilling to accept any financial reparations or apology,” the court said, stressing there’s no ground to change the lower court’s ruling.
During a lower court hearing, Kim admitted to his crime, but pleaded for leniency, claiming he had difficulty driving at that time because a contact lens he was wearing was momentarily dislodged and his eyes were in poor condition.
The lower court dismissed his plea and levied a heavier sentence than the six-year one prosecutors were seeking, pointing out that Kim had a record of being punished for drunk driving twice in the past.
Attending the court ruling earlier in the day, Tseng’s friends and family welcomed the decision.
“Some may think that an eight-year imprisonment is harsh, but our friend died (in the accident),” one of the victim’s friends, surnamed Park, said, calling for tougher penalties against drunk driving offenders in line with the strengthened anti-DUI law.
In 2018, South Korea revised its Road Traffic Act after a high-profile accident in which a young Army conscript was killed by a drunk driver in the southeastern port city of Busan.
Under the revised law, dubbed the Yoon Chang-ho Act, named after the victim, DUI offenses resulting in deaths can be punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment.