Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ignorance was bliss...

I haven't kept up much on Korean news. I was talking with some other foreigners about how safe Korea is. But it's not safer than the West--it just seems that way because we don't have Nancy Grace to tell us what to be afraid of.

This past week I've been getting wind of some really sad, sick stories in Korea. Just this past Sunday, a women in Gohyeon threw her two children out the window. One died and the other fell into a tree and survived. Nothing in the news about it, just people at the crowded apartment complex saw it happen.

There also seems to be this growing awareness of sexual predators in Korea. First, my school director made a comment about kids not being outside as much because of recent kidnappings. Then this story really made me sick to my stomach. The attempted kidnapping of a girl by a convicted sexual predator was caught on security camera. The girl was threatened with a knife, then beat and kicked. When he tried to drag her out of the elevator (by her hair) she screamed. A neighbor ran to help and the guy bolted when we saw her.

Despite the witnesses and video evidence, when the mother reported the incident to the police, they tried to downplay it, and write it off as a simple assault by drunk man. I guess an brutal, attempted kidnapping by a sexual predator requires more paperwork than an ajeossi who had a bit too much to drink.

Brian in Jeollanam-do has followed the story well and has a great write-up here. Here's a video from a Korean news site that shows the attack (the music is really cheesy--I suggest muting before playing). Warning, its very disturbing.

If the assault wasn't bad enough, the poor response from police compounded the problem. This line from the story really got me:
With criticism growing, the police station launched a full-scale investigation three days after the incident took place, examining the CCTV which recorded his face and his beating the girl. The move came after the parents had already distributed leaflets about the incident to neighbors to catch the suspect.
The guy was later caught and confessed. Then, to add to the circumstance of the attack and poor response, the background of the attacker really got me:
He was previously in jail for 10 years for habitually sexually assaulting minors and was released two years ago, police said.
Despite the fact that this guy was known to be a habitual offender, due to Korea's insane laws that protect the identity of criminals, they won't release his name or mugshots. So, if he ever gets out of prison (again), he'll be free to attack another kid (again). Hopefully, Korean police will learn from this incident and actually do their jobs to prevent these crimes, or at the very least, investigate them when they happen.

Also, I hope lawmakers step up and change laws to protect the public at least releasing the identities of criminals.

Since I'm really powerless to do anything about these problems as a foreigner in Korea, I kind of wish I was just ignorant again.

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