[Letters]Resume capital punishment

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[Letters]Resume capital punishment


Should Korea abandon the death penalty or implement it? With the latest serial murder case, the never-ending controversy over the issue of capital punishment has resurfaced.

An argument against it is that no one has the right to take away another’s life, which is a gift given from heaven. It seems reasonable to also argue that human judgement is not perfect and real peace may come from forgiving. Or a wrongful judgement could be made that leads to an irrecoverable result.

However, in my opinion, capital punishment should be carried out at least on such a serial killer like Kang Ho-sun, in order to deter criminals and to serve the cause of justice.

Kang Ho-sun’s case has reignited death penalty debates in the country. His [self-confessed] crimes have shocked people, revealing how cruel human nature can be.

Korea has not executed a single convict since the mass execution in December 1997 of 23 criminals on death row. As a result, the country was recognized as a de facto “death penalty-free state” by Amnesty International in 2007.

However, it is a ridiculous situation that the courts have passed sentences of capital punishment on many convicts but their executions have not been carried out. The country has 58 convicts who have received the death sentence. The law has not been changed, but executions have been stopped.

Many legal experts predict that Kang will be sentenced to death for killing at least 7 women.

The courts have sentenced serial killers to death with few exceptions. Yu Young-chul, who committed the nation’s worst serial killing spree, murdering 21 citizens and dismembering their bodies, was sentenced to death in 2005. Jung Nam-kyu was also sentenced to death for killing 13 innocent people and injuring many citizens.

These brutal criminals are guilty of multiple murders, but thanks to the government’s execution-dodging, they will likely avoid execution and stay alive.

If it is hard for the government to carry out executions for many reasons, at least those convicted of serial killing sentenced to capital punishment should be executed for the sake of justice.

The latest serial killer case has an influence on people’s sentiment to demand the death penalty in the country.

In a recent poll by Hankook Research, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, 64 percent of respondents said they were in favor of the death penalty.

The poll was conducted on 3,000 people over the age of 19. A little over 18 percent of those surveyed said they were against it while 17.3 percent were undecided.

The poll reflected growing calls to resume executions since the arrest of Kang. Amid the heated controversy, the Constitutional Court is expected to decide within this year whether the death penalty is constitutional.

The highest court ruled in 1996 that the penalty was acceptable in Korean society.

Most of all, I have really been horrified by some of the statistics [reported in the Korean media] showing that murder cases have increased by a remarkable 32 percent over the 12-year period since the government suspended executions.

I used to disagree with capital punishment, viewing it as ignoring human rights.

However, I have come to realize that fear of the death penalty prevents some heinous crimes.

The time is ripe for the government to hear the flow of public opinion and to effectively prevent crimes by very carefully reactivating the death penalty.

Shin Hyun-hoon, English essay instructor, Seoul[hyunhshin@nate.com]

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