|Cho Ju-bin, a suspect who allegedly blackmailed women and minors to make sexually abusive videos and sold them, has his face go public outside Jongno Police Office in Seoul, Wednesday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul|
By Kim Se-jeong
Cho Ju-bin, 24, who allegedly blackmailed minors and women to create sexually abusive videos and distributed the material in secret chat rooms on Telegram, appeared in front of the press Wednesday, outside Jongno Police Station in Seoul.
"Thank you for putting a brake on the life of a devil that couldn't be stopped," he said unapologetically, drawing outrage from women's rights group activists and other citizens who were watching him speak outside the station.
"You're a murderer," said an online commenter. "From the chat room to prison," said another, adding, "Find all men who watched the videos and prosecute them."
Cho was wearing a neck brace and had a Band-Aid on his forehead. Earlier, police said he had attempted to injure himself, claiming he was innocent.
During his statement to the press, he mentioned the name of prominent journalist and CEO of JTBC, Sohn Seok-hee, along with the names of two other men, offering his apologies to them. Their connection with Cho was not immediately made clear, but police said the three had nothing to do with the sexually abusive videos.
The suspect didn't answer questions from journalists as he got into a vehicle that took him to the Seoul Central Prosecutor's Office.
It is rare for the police to reveal the identity of criminal suspects, but they decided to do so in Cho's case, given the public outcry against "protecting the rights" of sex crime suspects who prey on minors.
An online petition filed on Cheong Wa Dae asking the government to make him publicly known drew 2.6 million endorsements.
Cho is accused of convincing his victims to take naked photos and make sexually abusive videos, which he circulated in Telegram chatrooms in exchange for cryptocurrency. His chat room, called "Baksa," had almost 1,000 users and the police said they're investigating if he operated other such rooms.
So far, 74 victims have been identified, and the police said they have apprehended 126 related to this case. Nineteen, including Cho, have been detained.
In an interview with a local radio station, one of the underage victims who made videos for him in 2017 when she was a middle school student said Cho had asked her to play with a marker pen in her vagina. "It began bleeding and I told him that I had to stop but he told me to continue and keep recording it."
The victim said that she felt she had to do as he ordered because she had already handed over all her personal information to him and was worried that he would start blackmailing her.
President Moon Jae-in said the suspect was "especially cruel" to destroy people's lives in such a manner and demanded a thorough investigation. The prosecution announced it would launch a special investigation team and prosecute all involved, including those who paid to access Cho's videos.
On Wednesday, an online petitioner at Cheong Wa Dae asked the prosecution to fill the special investigation team with female investigators including Seo Ji-hyun, who led the #MeToo movement in Korea after speaking out about being sexually harassed by her former boss. Many women in Korea believe Korean society is too lenient with sex offenders.