S Korean vigilante website targetting sex crimes shuts down amid outcry

WION Web Team
Seoul, South Korea Updated: Sep 10, 2020, 06:28 PM(IST)

Sex crimes in South Korea Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The "Digital Prison" website had listed, among others, 170 people it accused of roles in a network that blackmailed at least 74 women and underage girls into what authorities called “virtual enslavement” by sending them increasingly degrading and violent sexual imagery of themselves.

A South Korean vigilante website that published personal details of people it accused of sex crimes suddenly shut down after a public backlash sparked by the death of one of its targets. 

The death had goaded the police to hunt for its operators.

Calls have grown for tougher punishment for those guilty of sex crimes after a South Korean man convicted of running one of the world's largest online child pornography operations was released this year from 18 months in jail.

The "Digital Prison" website had listed, among others, 170 people it accused of roles in a network that blackmailed at least 74 women and underage girls into what authorities called “virtual enslavement” by sending them increasingly degrading and violent sexual imagery of themselves.

The website put up personal details of those it said were criminals, ranging from photographs, names and ages to telephone numbers and employment data.

Regulator the Korea Communications Standards Commission said it had been processing an August 14 takedown request from police before the site went offline on Tuesday.

A Seoul university student was found dead early in September following weeks of harassment by strangers after the website featured his photograph and details.

Those behind the website, set up in March, have yet to be identified, despite police arrests of more than 100 suspects in the blackmail ring, including a 24-year-old accused of having founded it.

A message on the website said it existed to serve the public by bringing down social judgment on sex crime suspects despite lenient legal punishment.

Psychiatry professor Chae Jeong-ho said he received hundreds of expletive-laden texts and calls from strangers after he figured on the site.

Police cleared Chae, who works at the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul, but the experience took a toll.

Read in App