Thousands of cameras seized over illegal recording

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Thousands of cameras seized over illegal recording

The government has seized thousands of smuggled hidden recording devices in the past five years amid concerns over illegal image capture by such devices, data showed Wednesday.

A total of 2,254 cameras able to take covert pictures were confiscated between 2013 and August of this year, with the value of the devices estimated at 149 million won ($130,989), according to data provided by the Korea Customs Service (KCS). It said many of them were embedded in key fobs, spectacles and even ballpoint pens.

There were no such confiscations in 2013, but the numbers rose to 355 in 2014, surged to 1,135 in 2015, went back down to none in 2016 and then rebounded to 764 during the first eight months this year.

No hidden cameras were seized in 2013 or 2016 because authorities did not conduct concerted crackdowns on hidden cameras in those years, a KCS official said.

The government conducted full-fledged crackdowns on hidden cameras in 2015 and this year, when public anger was aroused over a series of crimes involving such devices.

Secretly filmed sex clips were released by people in retaliation for breakups with their former partners that caused considerable upheaval.

The Prime Minister’s Office earlier this month announced measures to curb the crime of secretly filming and taking pictures, including regular inspections of subways and other public facilities to ensure they are free of hidden cameras.

The measures also called for those spreading revenge pornography to be punished not with fines but with imprisonment of up to five years.

The government and the ruling Democratic Party agreed Tuesday to explore ways to curb the import, sale and possession of cameras modified for covert image capture.

They also decided to ask internet service providers to delete or block any illicit films when they become aware of them.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of hidden camera crimes, which was 2,400 in 2012, jumped to 6,623 in 2014 and stood at 5,185 last year.

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