Lawmakers call for stronger digital sex crime laws

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Lawmakers call for stronger digital sex crime laws

Korean lawmakers are pushing to revise laws in a way that punishes those entering online chat rooms to view illegal videos of sex acts amid public outrage over an online sexual blackmail ring.

Rep. Park Kwang-on of the ruling Democratic Party said Sunday that he is proposing a revision to the acts on information protection and sexual violence as the chief author to punish those who join online chat rooms to view sexual acts carried out under coercion.

Under the revision proposal, all those involved in an organized digital sex crime could be indicted as members of a syndicate, which would allow punishment for those who enter such online chat rooms, even if they do not actively produce the content.

People who knowingly watch or hold illegal content made by coercion or blackmail will also be defined as sex offenders and receive a punishment of up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won ($24,600), the lawmaker said.

The proposal comes amid public fury over the “Nth room” case, in which prime suspect Cho Ju-bin allegedly lured and threatened victims, including underage girls, into performing gruesome sex acts and distributed photos and videos of the acts via Telegram chat rooms.

The exact number of people who took part in the chat rooms remains unclear, but some women’s rights groups say it could be as many as 260,000, including those who joined multiple groups.

“The most important thing is to cut the link connecting production, distribution, blackmail, consumption and the industry of digital sex crime content,” Park said.

“Producers, distributors and consumers should all be deemed as part of one criminal ring and be accordingly punished.”

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