[Letters]A call to abolish capital punishment
I was proud that Korea has in effect abolished the death penalty by having no executions over the past decade. However, the recent capture of [confessed] serial killer Kang Ho-sun has triggered a debate on capital punishment in Korea.
Because Korea still keeps the death penalty in its criminal law, the debate is really on executions rather than on the abolition of the death penalty. I sometimes get a sense that Koreans are much too sympathetic to debate some social issues. Koreans easily align themselves with victims of crimes. In acknowledging this very beautiful feeling among us, I note that it sometimes works to curb discussion. People overcome with pity for victims of the horrible serial killings showed this inclination in the subsequent discussion and some of them lost their points on the debate.
I asked my friends what difference it would make if the government executes the serial killer and other criminals. Most of them believe executions can protect the people from serious crimes. But I believe what criminals should be afraid of above all is not the punishment for their crime, but their sin. Cruel punishment just makes them more cruel and sly. Also there is no scientific proof it prevents crime as far as I know.
Most serial murderers in Korea committed hate crimes against society, except Kang. Some victims were people vulnerable to crimes. The state is supposed to protect the lives of people. However it failed to accomplish its obligation. Furthermore, [the death penalty] gets the state and society involved in institutional killing.
We should have a chance to forgive criminals; execution permanently gets rid of the chance for both of us. Executions also make innocent people stand in fear rather than being afraid to be a criminal. The reason governments in the past carried out executions was to maintain public discipline when society is in turmoil. Executions are not for justice but for winning more sympathy. I insist the death penalty should be abolished as soon as possible.
Cho Hang-joon, Seoul, email@example.com