The domestic violence case between Hara and her ex continues on today, and the latest is a report that she’s trying to settle, which was given a no comment from her lawyers and affirmed by the ex’s lawyers.
According to Chosun Ilbo’s exclusive report on September 21, Hara’s side requested to end the ongoing controversy by coming to a settlement. An insider from Choi’s side stated, “Hara’s legal representative delivered their wish to come to a settlement a total of 3 times.” A reporter reached out to lawyer Moon Jin Goo of the Shin & Kim law firm and asked, “Did you really deliver the wish for a settlement (on behalf of Hara)?”, the lawyer replied, “We cannot share a comment at the moment.” Meanwhile, Choi’s legal representative, Kwak Jun Ho, confirmed the report to be true, stating, “It’s true we have received an offer for a settlement from Hara’s legal representative.” However, “We have nothing much to say as there are no changes in our client’s stance.”
Honestly, I figured a settlement was in the cards based on her latest statement, though I had thought it meant they already agreed privately. Of course, it makes sense that it’s her side that wants to make this go away given that she’s the public figure, as well as the fact that she doesn’t deny using violence herself.
That last part might seem gross to many reading it given her reported injuries, but it’s relevant. In an earlier article, one commenter noted that it was odd I wasn’t looking into this legally like I normally do, instead just discussing things from a moral standpoint. I don’t think it was intended as a critique but it was a fair one, because legal standards can obviously effect perception of events since they provide context for them. Well, as the title alludes to, after looking into things it may help explain how the case has progressed.
While self-defense laws in Korea are specific, there’s also issues that people have with it.
In 2011, the Korean police set forth new guidelines on how to determine and investigate self-defense cases. 8 factors are taken into consideration when determining if self-defense could be recognized (during investigations). They are as follows:
1. Must have been to defend.
2. Cannot have provoked.
3. Cannot have been the first aggressor.
4. Cannot have used more force/violence than the aggressor.
5. Cannot have used a deadly weapon or dangerous object.
6. Cannot have used force/violence after the aggressor had stopped the attack.
7. Cannot have inflicted more damage to the aggressor.
8. Cannot have inflicted (to the aggressor) bodily injury requiring more than 3 weeks of medical treatment.
As was pointed out by the lawyer in charge of the blog, there are concerns with this.
My main concerns are:
1) For a person who is suddenly (out of nowhere) subject to an abrupt attack, it’s hard for him/her to logically tiptoe these lines exactly. To me, requiring exact proportionality seems harsh and unreasonable. Some leeway should be granted so that the defender can confidently protect him/herself w/o worrying about being charged with a crime.
2) I’m afraid a potential aggressor will see these guidelines and think it’s actually worth it to attack a person. The message seems more to be, “Even if you randomly attack a person, you cannot not / will not be hurt that bad.” I wonder if these guidelines have any deterrent effect.
3) I’m afraid these restrictive guidelines might give the wrong impression that it’s better not to interfere or help people in distress. Ideally, third parties (wanting to help) should feel/know that their intervening will not come back to bite them in the behind. These guidelines are hardly reassuring.
One thing I think is overlooked is what could be considered “provoked” and “aggressor” is open to interpretation as well.
There’s also issues with implementation and precedent.
Korea has a “stand-your-ground law” that allows people to use force to protect themselves or others against threats. But many believe the law is nothing but a name because of its lack of flexibility for defenders.
If both sides sustain injuries, police almost always press assault charges on both, regardless of how the fight started and how serious each person is hurt, urging them to settle and drop allegations. “Police do not want to give an impression that they are taking sides with anyone,” Kwak Dae-kyung, professor at the police administration department of Dongguk University, told The Korea Times. “This is why police are cautious about making a conclusion that one of them did so for self-protection.” Also, there are too many petty altercations for police to handle. “It just takes too much time and effort to find out exactly what happened with physical evidence for every single case,” he said. “Thus, police try to conclude the case quickly for everyone involved by convincing them to settle.” Some people refuse to settle and bring the case to court. But the court rarely recognizes self-defense claims. “The court interprets the law very narrowly, which is the key of the issue,” lawyer Kim Yong-min said. “As long as the court’s current interpretation stands, there are few things police and prosecutors can do to change it.”
This information helps put Hara’s case into context a bit, especially for those puzzled by her stance on the matter from the very start if she was indeed assaulted in the manner she claims. Remember, the ex’s side is that he was one-sidedly assaulted by Hara, while her side has said from the beginning that it was a mutual assault.
So as I’ve said since her medical reports were revealed, unless those were bullshit it’s hard to entirely believe his claim. It doesn’t make logical sense to me that she would suffer those types of injuries just from him trying to restrain her. On the other side of things, Hara admits to using violence in the course of the incident, and given the implementation of the laws on assault and self-defense, plus her status as a public figure, she has all the reason in the world to settle because there isn’t any upside to dragging it out or going after him. Even if her side of things were a completely factual account of what went down, authorities would likely advise them to settle things anyway, especially if she isn’t in any immediate danger.
Obviously this doesn’t mean one has to like the status quo, but the apparent reality of the legal situation of this case does help provide valuable context, in my opinion.