Media chastised over abuse case
“We held this press briefing because we were told that reporters swarmed to the school of the victim’s sister, and even took her to a restroom for an interview,” Lee Myung-suk, the president of the association, said during the conference, which held at the Seoul Central District Court in Seocho District, southern Seoul.
“Visiting children at school or other facilities in order to cover a story is obviously against the law. It is emotional abuse.”
Lee emphasized that the victim’s 12-year-old sister, surnamed Kim, had also been subject to physical abuse and needed time to completely recover. The girl has been living in foster care since the beginning of February.
She also noted during the briefing that the privacy and human rights of Lim, as well as Kim, must be respected, particularly because the case is still ongoing.
The association organized a defense council earlier this year with 165 of its members, which has provided legal support to children involved in abuse cases, including this one.
Lee also expressed her concern regarding the public’s negative attitude toward stepmothers and stepparents, particularly with divorces and remarriages on the rise.
“Child-abuse cases involving scorned stepmothers are relatively rare,” she said.
The case in question goes back to August, but surfaced again recently when the Daegu District Prosecutors’ Office demanded a 20-year prison sentence for Lim on charges that she fatally injured her youngest stepdaughter and then forced a false confession from Kim, the victim’s 12-year-old sister.
After the 8-year-old girl died, Lim also allegedly coerced Kim into falsely testifying that she kicked her sister in the stomach. Kim later confided to an official at her foster care center that she lied because she did not want to be scolded by Lim - a charge Lim denied.
Public outrage erupted when a letter written by Kim to the judges went viral online. According to the letter, Lim put Kim in a laundry machine and ran it; when the machine broke, Lim told her husband that the girl had broken it. The 12-year-old requested in the letter that the judges hand out the death penalty.
According to the prosecution, Kim’s father also took video clips of her little sister dying, which he showed to Kim, in what experts believe his way of intimidating his daughter.
The prosecution has also charged Kim’s father for negligence and demanded a seven-year prison term.
The first trial for Lim and her husband is slated for tomorrow.
BY KIM BONG-MOON, PARK MIN-JE [firstname.lastname@example.org]