S. Korea child rape case sparks outcry
By Bae Hyun-jung, The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
October 6, 2009, 10:08 am TWN
A shocking case of child rape has driven South Korea into fury ever since it was revealed to the public by a television documentary program on Sept. 22.
The anonymous eight-year-old primary school student called by the alias Na-young was on her way to school in Ansan south of Seoul last December when a drunken man surnamed Cho took her to a nearby church toilet.
As the child resisted, the 57-year-old abuser beat her and strangled her. He also repeatedly drowned her in the toilet until she lost consciousness.
During the following hour, Cho not only sexually abused Na-young several times but also caused a rupture in her intestines by attempting to remove his semen from her body.
The aggressor then left the unconscious victim on the toilet floor to flee to his home but was caught within hours, having left biological evidence all over on the scene and on himself.
Na-young, found to be near death by her parents, was taken to a hospital but was permanently deprived of her normal sexual functions despite an eight-hour surgery. She was also forced to have an artificial sack to replace her missing organs.
Cho, who was handed down a 12-year jail term in the two lower courts, appealed for a commutation and the Supreme Court last month confirmed his term by upholding the high court's ruling.
The criminal, when released from jail, is to wear a traceable electronic anklet for seven years and have his personal information open for public reference for five years, said court officials.
Cho was a second offender, having been sentenced back in 1983 to three years in jail for rape and also to seven years and four months for non-sexual charges such as the use of violence. He was under no restriction or supervision, despite his past crimes.
Citizens have raged over the brutality of the crime and what seemed to be too light a sentence. In a major online portal, tens of thousands of netizens joined a campaign to censure the aggressor and to demand that he be put to a heavier punishment.
Some even requested Cho be retried in court, blaming the court for being lenient on the infamous criminal, especially as the ruling judged him to be in temporary mental disorder under the influence of alcohol.
Others criticized the prosecution for assenting to the court ruling and not making an appeal. Under criminal procedure law, a higher court may not hand down a heavier sentence than the lower court unless the prosecutor appeals.