A new debate has erupted over South Korea’s judicial system over the reduced sentence and release of a man accused of brutally raping a girl.
Twelve years ago, on the morning of December 11, an eight-year-old girl left the capital, Seoul, for school in southwestern Ansan.
She was abducted on the street by Cho Du Soon, 56, and taken to a nearby church toilet, where she was brutally beaten and raped.
The girl, who was given the fictional name Na-Yong, managed to survive.
But she is still physically disabled due to the attack and is suffering from mental trauma.
After her rapist was allowed to return to the crime scene, she had to relocate.
Cho’s new home is less than a kilometer from Na-yong’s home.
A few days after Cho was released after his sentence was reduced to 12 years, the victim’s father said, “We did not want to flee, but we had no choice. What I mean is that the government forced the victim to go into hiding.” He also said that Na-yong did not want to leave the place.
He does not want to lose his close friends.
The family is also afraid that their identity will be revealed after they leave.
In 2008 South Korea, an eight-year-old girl now known by the alias Nayoung was brutally raped and beaten by a 58-year-old man in a public bathroom. Months later, she and her family received a second wave of shock when the rapist was sentenced to a mere 12 years in jail.
“[The Ministry of Justice] promised to permanently quarantine him, but will they be able to keep that promise?” Nayoung’s father said in the interview. “We’ll have to see whether that promise was just lip service.”
In the United States, for instance, various states have implemented laws regarding residency for sex offenders. One common restriction prohibits offenders from living within 1,000 feet of the property of any school or child care center; but in South Korean cases like Nayoung’s, her father says “we have no economic means to move anyway, so all we can do is trust the government.”
Yeo Woon-jae, a Ministry of Justice official from the department overseeing the cases of specific criminals, told Korea Exposé that it is possible to keep criminals from entering spaces like schools or kindergartens, but that the specifics of Cho’s case remains uncertain until he is released and evaluated.
In the 2013 film “Hope,” which is based on the Na young case, her mother shouts to the judge, “Only 12 years? Do you know how old my daughter will be in 12 years?”