|A British man has been taken into custody in Korea for allegedly filming Korean women using hidden cameras. / gettyimagesbank|
By Jun Ji-hye
The National Police Agency said Wednesday it had taken a British man into custody and transferred him to the prosecution on charges that he illegally filmed Korean women via hidden cameras and distributed the videos through his website.
The man, who traveled to Korea from Aug. 9 to Aug. 18 in 2018, approached and talked to Korean women on major streets near Hongik University and Itaewon, and filmed the women without consent by using miniature hidden cameras.
The man uploaded the videos on the website he ran named www.koreangirlseasy.com.
He also allegedly secretly filmed women he had sex with in a hotel. He shared those videos with paid members of the website. The membership fee was $27 per person, according to police.
Officers stated that 10 women in Korea had been filmed without their consent, noting that the man is believed to have committed similar crimes in other countries and regions including Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Police began an investigation in September 2019 following media reports of the incident. At the time, investigators requested an Interpol red notice on the man as he had already left Korea.
A red notice request requires the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to call on its member states to locate and arrest a suspect.
The man was arrested by police in Denmark in November last year and extradited to Korea, July 31.
In a bid to prevent "additional damage" to the women, police blocked access to the website and asked a cloud storage service operator to delete 198-gigabytes of videos filmed in and outside of the country.
"We are expanding our investigation into paid subscribers of the website operated by the suspect," an officer said.
Police have stepped up efforts to crack down on digital sex crimes since March, setting up a special investigation headquarters following the so-called "Nth room" case that provoked great public anger.
In the case involving multiple Telegram chat rooms, the operator blackmailed female victims including minors into performing violent sex acts and sold access to the online videos.
Police have investigated 1,299 digital sex crime cases as of Aug. 7, and arrested 174 people.
"As we are active in cooperating with Interpol, those who fled overseas can be extradited for trial in Korea," the officer said.
Women's organizations called for harsh punishment for the man as well as other digital sex criminals, saying such crimes have continued to be a serious social problem here for years due to the soft punishments.
"Illicit filming of women has consistently occurred, but most criminals have been punished by a fine or a suspended jail term," an official from the Gyeonggi Province Women's Group Association said.