SEOUL, July 12 (Korea Bizwire) – Last August, a 10-minute video filmed inside a woman’s changing room at a domestic water park was uploaded to an online adult community. The video exposed dozens of women, from children to teenagers and mothers in their most vulnerable and shameful moments.
The video was filmed by a 27-year-old woman referred to only as Choi, who was paid 2 million won by a 34-year-old male known as Kang for the footage. It turned out that Choi used a miniature camera attached to the side of a smartphone case to capture the video. Kang and Choi were sentenced to 54 months and 42 months in prison, respectively.
But this is only one of the very few hidden camera-related crimes to garner widespread publicity and public uproar. The majority of sexual harassment crimes involving hidden cameras often go unnoticed and unpunished. Even at this very moment, illicitly-taken pictures and videos of women from public restrooms and on public transports, in changing rooms, and at motels, are accessible on online communities.
Despite the poisonous nature of these crimes, the very few who are indicted on sexual harassment charges usually get off with only monetary penalties.
According to a recent study conducted by the Korean Women Lawyers Association (KWLA), 68 percent, or 147 cases, of 216 hidden camera-related cases from October 2012 to April 2016, were settled with fines at their first trial, followed by probation (17 percent, 36 cases), prison sentence (9 percent, 20 cases), and conditional release (5 percent, 11 cases).
Among the fines, 77 percent (113 cases) were for 3 million won ($2,612) or less.
As to reasons for mitigation of punishment, ‘no previous conviction’ played the biggest part with 85 cases, followed by ‘defendant feeling regret’ (32 cases).
“The common belief is that first-time offenders of such crimes will settle with monetary penalties,” said lawyer Jang Yoon-jung of the KWLA. “And courts are not reflecting the victims’ emotional and psychological damage in their sentencing because the victims remain unidentified in many cases.”
Furthermore, there were only 11 cases, of the 216, where a prosecutor appealed the original verdict in a trial.
“I also worry that prosecutors are overlooking the severity of hidden camera-related crimes,” Jang added. “These crimes can result in secondary damages (when distributed online), and can produce an unspecified number of victims, which is why there’s a need to implement stricter sentencing standards.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)