The primary suspect of the so-called Nth room case, who allegedly operated an illegal content ring focused on humiliation and torture of women including underage victims on the Telegram messenger app, will be shown to the public in a press photo line, Wednesday, according to the police Tuesday. This will be the first time for law enforcement authorities to disclose the face of a sex offender.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, a committee consisting of three internal members and four outside members, including lawmakers, university professors, and psychiatrists, decided to disclose the identity of the suspect, Cho Ju-bin, 25, considering his malicious methods of producing and distributing sexually explicit and disturbingly abusive video content of women and minors.
"The committee made the decision after reviewing fully the reasons for limiting disclosure of his identity, including the human rights of the suspect and secondary damage to the suspect's family and neighbors," the police said.
|Broadcaster SBS revealed the face of Cho Ju-bin, 25, the notorious child pornography suspect. Courtesy of SBS|
Cho, who attended elementary, middle and high school in Incheon, entered the department of Information and Communication at the university in 2014, and earned an average GPA of 4.17 out of 4.5 until his graduation in 2018. In particular, his writing skills were so good that he won the first prize in a book review contest hosted by the school's library in his second semester in 2014.
Cho was selected as a trainee reporter of the school newspaper when he was a freshman in 2014, and worked as a staff reporter and editor-in-chief until 2015.
"Considering the fact that the school newspaper has a tradition in which reporters recommend candidates for the managing editor to each other, Cho must have been an ordinary student who was far from (committing) such brutal crimes when he was in school," said a school official.
He appeared to begin providing sexually-related content on the messenger service in 2018, right after he graduated.
According to the National Police Agency, Cho is accused of producing and selling sexually exploitative video content of minors. At least 74 women, including 16 minors, were sexually abused, tortured and exploited for a number of months. The victims were allegedly enslaved through threats that their nude photos would be distributed if they didn't comply, the police said. They were also forced to photograph or film themselves performing sexual and inhumane acts.
In the chat room, around 260,000 members are suspected of watching and sharing the videos. Cho and others allowed users to access the content in return for cryptocurrency payments. The police said Cho operated at least 100 such chat rooms and charged users between 200,000 won and 1.5 million to join.
As the story of the pornography ring has triggered public fury, nearly 2.4 million people have so far signed the online petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website demanding the police reveal the identities of the suspects. President Moon Jae-in called Monday for a thorough investigation into the outrageous crimes.
Moon described the acts of the offenders in the Nth room case as "cruel" behavior that destroyed the lives of victims and said he understands the "justifiable" public fury over it.
In response to online petitions, filed to the presidential office, demanding a strict investigation and punishments for Cho and all related offenders, Min Gap-ryong, commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency, pledged to mobilize all available authoritative power to look thoroughly into the case.
"As chief of police, I feel a heavy sense of responsibility regarding this shocking crime which completely took away the lives of many women, including teenagers and children. The police will completely eradicate these vicious criminal acts," Min said.