“Me Too” has swept the whole Korean society. The cases that ignited ‘this movement’truly shocked people and not only the women who were angry but also men. Have the shock and angry been quenched after a year? No! It is still ongoing as the trials are ongoing. Has the public awareness on sexual harassment and violence improved since then? Well it seems to remain as a question mark. In addition, it has aroused counter attacks against false accusations. Seunghye Lee worked at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and dealt with numerous cases relating to sexual crime. She now is the CEO lawyer of Lee Seung Hye Law Office. <Power Korea> met her.
Q. Who is Seunghye Lee?
A. I worked as a prosecutor researcher at the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office and quit the job in February this year to open Lee Seung Hye Law Office. I feel proud of having worked as a prosecutor of Korea but I’m eager to engage myself in writing, lecturing and providing legal services to the people. In a word, I would like to help people in need. My specialized area is sexual crime or any cases related to it.
Q. How come you have interest in lecturing?
A. I worked as a prosecutor researcher and an exclusive sexual crime prosecutor. Naturally, I was engaged in giving lectures on sexual crime for teachers at middle and high schools in Seoul as well as fellow prosecutorsfor prevention and awareness. Interesting thing is that they showed a great response and sympathy during and after my lecture so I was convinced myself about my talent taking the podium.
Q. Can you tell me a memorable case?
A. I had investigated a lot of cases from ordinary office workers to doctors, pastors, lawyers, professors and chancellors of universities. I think two cases have impressed me most: Heejung Ahn the former governor of South Chungcheong Province and a rape case of a student. I interrogated Ahn for 18 hours overnight and I felt overwhelm with this feeling that a highly promising presidential candidate could fall into a sexual crimesuspect and lost everything; it made me think a lot about my life and how I should lead my life. The rape case of a student is that he was dead drunk one night and spotted a woman strolling in an apartment block so he hit her down to rape her. Legal punishment aside, both the criminal and the victim’s families were devastated and things have becomenever the same.
Q. How do you interpretsexual crime?
A. Things change according to the level of awareness of the people in a society. Back in the days, we Koreans were tolerant of adults touching the penis of children in a village as a gesture of fondness. If you do now, you get arrested and punished as a case of child sexual abuse. ‘Loveshot’ (crisscrossing arms ofbottoms up) and ‘hug dancing’ were tolerant in the past. If you do now, you get the legal consequence. It was socially tolerant that a husband slaps his wife’s cheek in the past. If you do now, it is a case of domestic violence. South Korea has grown much both in materials and in manners so we must act accordingly.
Q. What is your advice to victims of sexual crime from her/his boss?
A. The victim must seek a professional advice or consulting from a lawyer rather than taking action alone. The South Korean government allocates a public lawyer when a case is reported so the all necessary legal procedures must be done for the victim withoutexposing identity. And the victim pays nothing for this legal service.
Q. Tell me about your future plan?
A. Sexual crime involves many ordinances and laws and they are quite complicated. In other words, ordinary people can have difficulty to understand as it also can be the case of false accusation if not honest and careful. For this, I’m planning to write about sexual crime books for dummies so that everybody can understand what it means and what the punishments and results might be. I have to divide my time for this as I’m also actively engaged in lecturing and taking cases. But I think it worth publishing the books nevertheless.
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