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(May 02, 2008) Ten- and eight-year-old girls (Hye-jin and Yae-seul) vanished in South Korea on Christmas day in 2007. A suspect was arrested in March 2008. He confessed that he raped and killed the girls. In the same month, a man tried to kidnap a ten-year-old girl from an elevator in her apartment building by pounding and kicking her. The videotape from a camera placed in the elevator was broadcast and created great public concern about the matter. Both suspects had records of sex crimes. In Korea, cases of rape of children under 13 years of age have been increasing, while the number of arrests in such cases is declining. Statistics of the Korean Institute of Criminology show 50 percent of those convicted of sexual offenses against children are repeat offenders.

Korean society is reacting against sex crimes against children. The Ministry of Justice released a plan to submit a bill to raise the punishment for sex crime offenders when their victims are children under 13 years of age. The bill states that an offender who rapes and kills such children will be punished either with death or penal servitude for an indefinite term. Punishment for rape of children will be raised from penal servitude for five years or more to seven years or more. The bill is named the "Hye-jin Yae-seul Act" bill, after the two recent victims. The government also established a new policy that no suspension of imprisonment will be granted for those convicted of sex crimes against children. Parole will not be granted for them, either, as a general rule. Convicts who the government assesses as possible repeat offenders will be obligated to wear a bracelet with a GPS tracking device.

Korea has the death penalty, but no convict has been executed since 1997. The general public has supported the death penalty. The government has not made a clear policy on abolishment of death penalty. After Hye-jin and Yae-seul and other cases involving rape and murder of women and children, public support for the death penalty is reported to be getting even stronger. (Wan-gyu Che, Jidou sei hanzai: "hejin yesuru ho" seitei e [Sex Crimes against children: "Hye-jin · Yae-seul Act" to be enacted], CHOSUNILBO, Apr. 2, 2008, available at; Gil-sang Yi & Jin-myong Kim, Jido sei hanzai: kankoku de wa hanbun ga saihan (chu) [Sex crimes against children: in Korea half of them are repeat (part 2)], CHOSUNILBO, Apr. 2, 2008.)

Author: Sayuri Umeda More by this author
Topic: Children More on this topic
Jurisdiction: South Korea More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 05/02/2008