|Korea's Supreme Court|
By Kim Se-jeong
The independent Sentencing Commission under the Supreme Court proposed new guidelines Tuesday that will allow judges to hand down prison terms of up to 29 years and three months for those found guilty of creating sexually exploitative content.
The guidelines proposed by the commission will become official in December if agreed to after a review by all of its members.
The proposal will also allow judges to sentence those who sell sexual content online to up to 27 years in prison, and those who are charged with distributing content and recruiting minors for content creation to up to 18 years. Those who buy the content could also receive jail time of up to six years and nine months.
This is the latest development in a drive to impose appropriate sentencing on sex criminals after two recent cases in which those found guilty were given lenient sentences enraged the public, who vented their anger at judges who have been traditionally lenient on sex crimes.
Earlier this year, Cho Ju-bin, who ran a sexual blackmail ring called the "Nth Room," was indicted on charges of creating sexually violent content and selling this in a Telegram chatroom. The 24-year-old coerced women, including minors, to record sexually violent videos and charged Telegram users who wished to enter the chatroom, called "Baksa," which in Korean mean a person with a doctorate.
Son Jong-woo served an 18-month sentence jail term for running the world's largest pornography site that included child pornography. His case went viral here as the U.S. filed an extradition request to try him there; however a Korean court denied the request. His father also drew public outrage with an emotional appeal for his son and arranging a fake marriage for him.
Under growing public pressure, the National Assembly passed relevant laws making the possession of sexually violent content a crime; law enforcement made offenders' personal information public for the first time; and the Sentencing Commission reviewed sentencing guidelines.
The new proposals are not expected to have a direct impact on Cho or Son, as they will only be applicable to offenders indicted after December.
Although criminal laws have sentencing guidelines that are broad, judges refer to the commission's as they are more specific. However, the judges are not bound by them, but are expected to respect them.