'Nth room' Cho Ju-bin sentenced to additional 5 years
An additional five years were tacked on to Cho Ju-bin’s jail sentence Thursday, condemning the mastermind behind a massive online sex abuse ring to almost half a century behind bars.
The Seoul Central District Court Thursday morning convicted Cho on the charge of concealing criminal proceeds, laying down a five-year prison sentence.
He was further mandated to wear an electronic monitoring anklet for five years following his release, attend 40 hours of classes on sexual abuse crimes, and was banned from entering the vicinity of preschools and schools — all atop similar restrictions ordered by a court in an earlier trial.
Cho was already sentenced by a district court last year to 40 years in prison on various charges related to child sex abuse and the distribution and sale of illegal pornographic material. The court also mandated he wear an anklet for 30 years following release and fined him 10 million won ($9,000).
The 25-year-old college graduate is alleged to be one of the masterminds of a massive online pornography ring that blackmailed at least 74 women and girls — 16 of them minors — into providing videos and photographs of themselves involved in sexually explicit acts.
Such material was then distributed by Cho and his accomplices to hundreds of paying members on chat rooms on Telegram, a messaging app.
Cho has been under police custody since March last year, after an exposé of the so-called Nth room sex ring generated an immense media firestorm.
In October last year, Cho was separately indicted for concealing around 18 million won received from the chat room members in the form of cryptocurrency, which prosecutors said he exchanged for real currency in 53 separate transactions.
While Cho’s newest sentence was only dealt on grounds of his criminal proceeds, the court also reviewed additional accusations leveled against him regarding his operation of the sexual exploitation ring.
Cho’s argument that he did not threaten victims was explicitly rejected by the court, which upheld victims’ testimonies attesting to his role as “highly credible.”
“The testimonies of three victims all matched, saying they initially were not threatened but were later blackmailed into doing [the acts] by Cho Ju-bin using the photographs they sent him earlier,” the court said.
Whether Cho was truly repentant of his crimes in spite of his earlier conviction was doubtful, the court said, citing the arguments he made in this trial.
Cho’s lawyer following Thursday’s sentencing said the defense would appeal the case to a higher court, disagreeing with the court’s determinations of his lack of remorse.
BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [email@example.com]