|K-pop star Koo Ha-ra talks to reporters outside Gangnam Police Station, southern Seoul, Sept. 18. / Korea Times file|
By Lee Suh-yoon
A local court in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, sentenced a man to three years in prison Wednesday for spreading sex video clips of his ex-girlfriend online — an unusually stern ruling compared to previous verdicts on similar "revenge porn" cases.
The ruling comes amid rising voices for a more punitive crackdown on revenge porn crimes, sparked by K-pop star Koo Ha-ra's recent claims that her ex-boyfriend blackmailed her with a sex video.
According to the court, the man posted the videos on various male-centered online community platforms 19 times under titles commonly associated with porn clips. He also sent the videos to around 100 of his acquaintances.
"Spreading sex videos of one's ex-partner with malicious intent destroys the victims' lives, preventing them from building normal relationships in the future; hence the damage is serious," presiding judge Kim Do-hyung said in the ruling.
Under the Sexual Crimes Punishment Act, a person who secretly films another person's body in a sexually explicit way that could cause shame, or who sells or distributes such videos can be imprisoned for up to five years or fined 10 million won ($8,760).
But punishment has been light so far, as only 8.7 percent of those brought to court on such charges have been given jail sentences in the past six years, according to National Police Agency data. Over 27 percent were released on probation, while 55 percent were let off the hook after paying a fine.
Revenge porn crimes show no signs of abating and are rather increasing. Last year, 420 people were caught for illicit filming of their partners, around 2.5 times higher than 2013's 164.