|▲ Lawyers Min Kyoung-chul and Jun Hyun-min|
The voice for tougher penalties for sex offenders is higher than ever in South Korea. Numerous cases of sexual offences from renowned politicians to celebrities and those who ran underage porn sites have aroused public anger.
In sexual offences, however, it is not easy to pinpoint whether the case is subject to legal punishment. For example, if one side claims she was forced and the other claims he is under a false accusation. No matter how the verdict turns out, one side cannot avoid a victim in this case.
<PowerKorea> sat down with Dong Gwang lawyers Min and Jun who have been providing specialized advice in sexual offence casesfor many years.
Q. Jun, you worked as a prosecutor in the children and women crimes division. What made you turn to be a lawyer?
Jun. There are cases which are obvious and which are obscure. The case of Jo Ju-bin who ran an online underage porn room wasobvious. But there are cases that are obscurebut still subject to legal punishment becauseof the media report partly and also the anger of the people. This is the point I felt helpless. Lawyer Min and I studied together and worked in the same area so we have built good chemicals.
Q. Min, you have 15 years of experience in the field. How do you see the seriousness of unveiling sexual offences that have angered people lately?
Min. It is true that sexual offences weren’t dealt as seriously as today in the past. A crime for a 5 year sentence in prison is now subject toa 10 year in prison. What I’m worrying though is that there is a social consensus that the assailants must be punished unconditionally. What if they are innocent?Historically, whether it was a crime or not has been affected by the set of values of the time. For example, parents hitting their children were common in the past and the act wasn’t subject to legal punishment. Today, it is treated as a penal offense. And things are changing way too fast nowadays and some are slow to catch up and make offenseunknowingly. So this is the point we provide a helping hand.
Q. How do you see the Jo Ju-bin case?
Jun. Actually, I was one of the investigation team. Undoubtedly, it is a serious crime. The law must apply tougher. However, there’s one thing we need to pay attention: those who ‘possessed’ illegal videos were subject to legal punishment. But now, those who have ‘watched’ also fall under subject. What if you watched it accidentally?What if they were public servants or underage youth? Also, if someone put up vulgar videos or photos on a Kakao group talk, both the uploader and the people in the group can be subject to legal punishment. If your friend said that he had a watchable video and you said “send it”, both you and your friend can be subject to legal punishment. In this respect,I think the lawmakers should study a little deeper before introducing or revising a law.
Min. Like Jun said, the cases like Jo Ju-bin must be treated tougher. But even watching itself is subject to imprisonment, not a fine, is too much.Feeling sexual desire is natural and students having curiosity and watching sex videos alone should face imprisonment can be absurd. The sex offender’s label can ruin their life just because they watched it.
Q. So what are your advices when things happened?
Min. The case of sexual offences focus on two things: whether there was physical contact and the contact was made by consent.‘Consent’ is the keyword as it divides the criminal from the innocent. The best advice I give when things happen is to hold evidence for consent or unconsent and get a lawyer as soon as possible. But the evidence is still tricky part as most cases have no recorded photos, sounds and such. So the circumstantial evidence and consistency of statement playdecisive.
Q. What do you think should be done?
Jun. Laws are laws at the end of the day. So I advise not to do the things the laws don’t like. But when the things happen, seek advice from specialized lawyers as soon as possible.
Q. You are running 24 Hour Sexual Offences Help Line. Tell us about it.
Jun and Min. There will come a time when sexual crimes are dealt in balance for both sides. Most sexual crimes occur in a space where only the two people are there. So there’s possibility that one can accuse the other when things go not as he or she wished. In fact, sexual offencesoften lead to the rough end of the pineapple. We run 24 Hour Sexual Offences Help Line to provide our professional help promptly when things happen.
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