Ministry pushes for overhaul of sex offender data

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Ministry pushes for overhaul of sex offender data

Yesterday, 41-year-old Seo Jin-hwan, an ex-convict wearing an electronic tracking device on his ankle who killed a 36-year-old woman surnamed Lee after failing to rape her, was taken to the crime scene by police to conduct a reenactment investigation.

Seo, who had his face covered with a white mask and a hat, reenacted his crime in the house’s main room, living room and the front door.

The one-hour long reenactment wasn’t open to the media or public, but the police made the pictures from the demonstration available to the public.

On Monday, Seo fatally stabbed the victim after she left her house to take her two children to preschool. He saw that the door of her house was open, entered the house and hid behind the door of the main room to rape her. The attempt failed as the victim fought back, but Seo stabbed a knife in her neck when she opened the front door to try to get away.

When Seo appeared again outside the house after the reenactment, angry neighbors who were gathered to witness the demonstration yelled at him.

“Take his mask off!” a resident shouted. “Show his face! He doesn’t deserve protection!”

Another angry resident tried to hurl a one-meter (40-inch) stick at him, but was stopped by the police.

As the nation has been terrified by a series of brutal murders and sex crimes, the Ministry of Justice is pushing to replace old profile photos that are posted on the Internet database of registered sex offenders (www.sexoffender.go.kr) with more recent photos.

“Many pictures in the database are old or were submitted by offenders arbitrarily,” Lee Cheol-hee, a spokesman of the Ministry of Justice told the JoongAng Ilbo. “We are also considering revising the law so underage people can check the information.”

When the JoongAang Ilbo logged onto the Web site and checked some offenders’ identification, uploaded photos appeared along with the offenders’ name and age, but it didn’t say when the photos were taken. For some of them it was difficult to even distinguish the faces due to poor quality.

The ministry said they will submit a revised plan to the National Assembly in September.

In the revised plan, they will enlarge the current standard photo size - 3.5 centimeters in width and 4.5 centimeters in length - and also give more details about offenders’ residence information.

The ministry is also considering including the identification of abnormal paparazzi offenders who secretly take pictures of women in public places.

The ministry also will remove the upper limit of psychotherapy that an ex-sex offender can receive. Currently, ex-convicts are forced to receive treatment for up to 15 years in accordance with a report submitted by criminal psychologists.

By Kwon Sang-soo, Song Ji-young [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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