The suicide of popular K-pop singer Koo Hara has prompted calls in South Korea to overhaul laws on sexual assault, while K-pop singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young was convicted on Friday of gang rape and jailed for six years.
Koo, 28, was found dead on Sunday at her home in Seoul. Her last message on Instagram showed her staring into a camera lens from beneath blankets on her bed with a message that read: “Good night.”
Police say a note was found at the scene in which she expressed hopelessness.
Many in South Korea were already aware of her past that included assault by a former boyfriend who she alleged was threatening to release a sex video of her.
The two most popular hashtags on social media in South Korea this week called for punishment of the ex-boyfriend and for the definition of sexual assault to be revamped.
A petition filed with the president’s office demanding changes to laws had 250,000 signatures.
Lawmakers said that it is time to push forward stalled measures that make it easier to impose harsh penalties on those who engage in revenge porn or clandestinely take sexually charged videos.
Lawmaker Lee Jung-mi said in a social media post that Koo’s death shows that change is needed because the nation “cannot neglect illegal filming and circulation of videos.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for a wide-ranging investigation of sex offenses linked to the entertainment industry and ordered the reopening of inquiries into past allegations.
He issued a decree in June 2017 that set punishment of up to five years in prison, with the measure mostly pertaining to filming through hidden cameras.
On Nov. 19, Moon commented on women’s social status, saying: “It’s still quite a dark reality compared with the rest of the world. I can tell you that I will pay more attention to gender equality.”
Jung and Choi Jong-hoon, a former member of boy band FT Island, were found guilty of gang rape twice in 2016.
Separately, 30-year-old Jung was also convicted of filming himself having sex with other women without their knowledge and sharing the footage 11 times without their consent.
It is the highest-profile example of an epidemic of spy cam crimes in the country, which have prompted widespread anger and seen women demonstrating in Seoul, chanting: “My life is not your porn.”
Jung was jailed for six years and Choi, 29, for five, Yonhap news agency cited the Seoul Central District Court as saying.
“Jung and Choi took part in gang rape of victims who were intoxicated and unable to resist,” the verdict said, rejecting the defendants’ claim that the sex was consensual.
“It is hard to fathom the extent of suffering the victims must have gone through,” it said, adding that the defendants had perceived the victims only as “sexual objects” to be exploited.
Known as molka, spy cam videos are largely made by men secretly filming women in schools, toilets and elsewhere.
About 5,500 people were arrested last year for molka offenses, 97 percent of them men, according to police data.
Additional reporting AFP
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