Zero tolerance for child porn

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Zero tolerance for child porn

We had a rude awakening about the dangerous and horrendous influence of child pornography following the spate of sex crimes against children earlier this year. A 7-year-old girl was kidnapped while sleeping at her home and brutally raped in August. In the previous month, a 10-year-old girl was also kidnapped, sexually molested and killed by a 45-year-old man under police surveillance in the southern coastal city of Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang.

The offenders confessed that they fantasized about having sexual relations with minors after watching pornography featuring children, leading to calls for a tough crackdown on such visual productions and sex crimes against minors. The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in October announced strong measures to prosecute anyone who even possesses child pornography and initiated a crackdown across the nation.

Two months into its campaign to fight sex crime, the prosecution softened from the initial “zero tolerance” stance. It now says first-time criminals will be pardoned after education. It has already indicated thousands in such a short period who have loudly protested against the strict punitive actions without advance warning or probation periods. No mercy could generate too many criminals and raise human rights concerns, the prosecution explains.

But what’s appalling is that there are so many people who own child pornography in the first place. The crackdown primarily focused on people who downloaded obscene materials featuring children and teenagers from the Internet, not those who simply watched them on Web platforms. We cannot imagine how many people access child porn on the Internet.

Korea is one of the world’s largest consumers, producers and purveyors of child pornography. According to the Internet Watch Foundation of Britain, Korea accounts for 21.6 percent of child porn products circulated online, following 50 percent of the United States and exceeding 14.9 percent from Russia and 11.7 percent from Japan. Worse, many of the materials are produced and posted by teenagers themselves.

The crusade against pornography should not end as a one-time campaign. To offset protests, law enforcement authorities should provide sufficient advance warning and grace periods first and return to the no-tolerance and strict punishment principle.

We should not stop the fight against child pornography until it no longer exists in our land and our children are safe.


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