|Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam speaks to child rapist Cho Doo-soon at Cheongsong Correction Center in this Mar. 16, 2010 file photo. Cho, sentenced to 12 years in prison after violently raping an 8-year-old girl in 2008 in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, is set to be released this December. / Korea Times file|
By Lee Hyo-jin
Residents of Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, are unnerved by notorious child rapist Cho Doo-soon who said he plans to return to the city in December after his upcoming release from prison, according to city officials Tuesday.
Cho, 68, said he plans to go back to his wife in Ansan, according to the Ministry of Justice. His 12-year prison term ends on Dec. 13.
Ansan citizens reacted to the news with fear and anger. The city office has received over 3,600 related phone calls urging the mayor to ban Cho's return, asking for his address and the number of surveillance cameras installed in the neighborhood.
A post regarding the pedophile rapist on a Facebook page for Ansan residents had more than 1,500 comments return as of Tuesday.
"How can I raise my children in the same neighborhood with a child rapist who has 18 criminal convictions?" wrote a resident, claiming to be a father of two daughters.
"I can't believe that after so many petitions urging to keep Cho incarcerated, the government is letting him return to Ansan, putting citizens at risk," read another comment. Some internet users insisted that Cho's real-time location data should be provided to every resident.
In response to growing calls, Ansan City has introduced a set of precautionary measures such as installing 211 surveillance cameras in 64 spots near Cho's home. It also plans to adopt a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) scheme in the area. But residents feel that such systems are not enough to ensure public safety.
"I doubt that the CCTV cameras will prevent Cho from reoffending. A more effective measure would be banning him from leaving his home," said a woman in her 20s who lives in Ansan.
|Ansan Mayor Yoon Wha-sub / Courtesy of Ansan City|
To ease the residents' concerns, Ansan Mayor Yoon Wha-sub lodged a request to the Ministry of Justice on Monday to enact a bill which may put Cho in a post-release facility. Under the protective supervision system, authorities can hold certain heinous ex-convicts in a separate facility after their release.
Yoon asked for lawmakers' cooperation to ensure the bill is passed no later than November, before Cho's release.
"Cho has reportedly received unstable results regarding pedophilic disorders in several psychiatric assessments. The lenient controls on him under the current laws are making the victim, her family and 740,000 citizens in Ansan highly anxious," Mayor Yoon said.
Cho's inhumane crimes against an 8-year-old girl shocked the nation in 2008. Cho, then 57, kidnapped a girl on her way to school in Ansan. After taking her to a church restroom, he choked, beat and brutally raped her. The victim was left with severe injuries which resulted in permanent internal damage.