Gov’t, ruling party agree on chemical castration

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Gov’t, ruling party agree on chemical castration

Senior officials of the government and the ruling party agreed yesterday to expand the enforced usage of hormonal treatment against sex offenders as part of efforts to root out repeated assaults against women and children.

The joint meeting, attended by some 30 high-level officials, including Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, Rep. Lee Hahn-koo, the floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party and Ha Kum-loul, the chief of presidential staff, came in the wake of recent sexual assaults victimizing women and children, and violent crimes targeting citizens at random, which stoked widespread concerns on public safety.

Last week, a convicted sex criminal attempted to rape a woman in eastern Seoul before stabbing her to death, though the suspect was wearing an electronic tracking device at the time. In a separate case, a disgruntled former employee went on a stabbing rampage, attacking his former colleagues and passers-by with a knife on a busy street of Seoul’s Yeouido, leaving four wounded.

During the meeting, the government agreed with the ruling party to expand the use of chemical castration to criminals who are prone to recidivism, though details about the subjects have yet to be decided, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Currently, the punishment is only reserved for pedophiles, but the Saenuri Party wants to increase its use to include all sexual offenders.

Korea’s parliament passed a bill on the measure for convicted offenders who prey on minors under the age of 16, but the system is still in an early stage. Prosecutors earlier this month requested a court order for chemical castration of a 30-year-old pedophile for the first time in the nation.

In response to the growing public calls for more severe punishment of sex criminals, the ruling Saenuri Party said last week it will push to drastically expand the hormonal treatment to help reduce sexual desire in convicted sex offenders.

Korea is the first country in Asia to introduce this type of treatment, although Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and the U.S. state of California have used it for years.

“Despite strenuous efforts, sexual violence and random killing continue to take place. It is necessary to come up with more fundamental solutions along with thorough self-reflection,” Prime Minister Kim said, calling for finding “fundamental reasons behind the unprovoked crimes and devising countermeasures beyond a crackdown.”

The government also vowed to reinforce the police force by relocating it and possibly increasing manpower in accordance with the request from the ruling party, the PMO said.

Rep. Lee, the ruling party’s floor leader, asked the government to strive more to tackle violent crimes by “making a drastic and fundamental shift in its policies.”

“I hope the presidential office declares a war against violence and makes a scientific and systematic security system in accordance to the changing social circumstances to root it out,” Rep. Lee said, suggesting an increase in manpower and the national budget for maintaining security are needed.

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