Categorized | slider, South Korea

Battle over Justice in the Cyberspace

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

What Happened

  • In response to high-profile sex criminals receiving sentences that are deemed too lenient, online activists built the website “Digital Prison” to publicly expose charged individuals.
  • The suspected operator of Digital Prison was arrested for violating privacy laws and the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) banned access to Digital Prison.
  • A second Digital Prison website was established following KCSC’s shuttering of the original.

Implications: The government and the public are competing to advance their respective vision for justice in cyberspace. Digital Prison is one of these efforts, which many supporters see as rectifying perceived failures of the legal system to sufficiently punish sex abuse cases. In this environment, the many members of the public expressed anger that the government shuttered the website without changes to the court’s approach to sex offenders. The creation of the second Digital Prison website demonstrates that members of the public will continue to use digital platforms to highlight what they see as a miscarriage of justice.

Context: The general sense that the government is not sufficiently protecting people also threatens to escalate into real-world violence. With the imminent release of an infamous rapist, some citizens have discussed plans to mete out collective punishment. These discussions occurred despite police announcing several plans to ensure women’s safety in the area where the ex-felon would be released. In response, the National Assembly is proposing new legislation that would impose harsher punishments on sex criminals as a means to forestall vigilantism.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Sophie Joo, Sonia Kim, and Chris Lee.

Picture from flickr user Takashi Nakajima

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