‘PD Notebook’ talk lenient sex crime rulings by judges with focus on Hara’s ex & Kang Ji Hwan

PD Notebook‘ recently took a look at how the justice system handles cases involving sex crimes, with focus on how much the judge’s views on women can impact things.

The show looked at Hara’s case where she was abused and blackmailed by her ex, Choi Jong Bum, obtaining audio that detailed the complete picture of what he told her.

On an episode that aired on the 23rd, an acquaintance that lived with Goo Hara met with the production team and revealed that Goo Hara’s ex-boyfriend had threatened Goo Hara with the sex tapes. The informant A revealed phone recordings between Goo Hara and Choi Jong Bum where Choi is heard threatening Goo Hara saying, “I have sex photos and videos.” The acquaintance A is heard dissuading him saying, “If you send them to anyone then that’s blackmail.” Choi Jong Bum then shamelessly states, “Let it be blackmail then” and sends two sex videos to Goo Hara as proof. Goo Hara’s lawyer stated, “Choi Jong Bum contacted Dispatch and promised to share the videos for money saying that “he was going to end her celebrity life. However, the court sentenced Choi Jong-bum to 1.5 years in prison and three years probation because he was a first-time offender and because he had “reflected” on his actions.”

It’s nothing that we didn’t know in regards to blackmail happening, but providing the transcripts does reinforce things, and the point of this is to emphasize that the ex got probation mainly because the judge bought into the reflection aspect.

Similar conclusions were reached by the judge in Kang Ji Hwan’s case.

In addition, ‘PD Note’ also uncovered details behind actor Kang Ji Hwan who was arrested for sexually harassing and assaulting two co-workers in 2019 and sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and three years probation. The judge stated that “he gave Kang Ji Hwan a lower sentence because he regretted and had reflected on his actions and reached an agreement with the victims.”However, the victims’ lawyer stated, “Kang Ji-hwan’s family threatened the victims that they would find out the address, telephone number, etc. through the employees at their agency if they didn’t agree to settle.”

These details were known before, as I covered during the case, but most importantly the judge seemed to ignore this or didn’t care.

And that brings up the core of the ‘PD Notebook’ episode, questioning the problem with judges in these cases. Particularly the fact that the judge that was lenient on Goo Hara’s ex-boyfriend and Jang Jayeon’s assailant will take on “Nth Room” case.

On the 23rd, MBC’s ‘PD Notebook’ drew attention for covering the handling of sex crime rulings and gender sensitivity of judges that rule on sex crimes contrary to the public’s legal sentiment. Recently, a public petition was filed against Judge A in charge of “Nth Room case.” The petitioner asked “for a change in the judge” writing that “the same judge that ruled Goo Hara’s ex-boyfriend and Jang Ja Yeon’s assailant innocent is the judge assigned to the Nth Room case.” However, this wasn’t just a matter involving Judge A. Reportedly, over the past decade, 41.4% of all sex crime rulings received suspended sentences with 71.6% of the criminals avoiding prison. Son Jung-woo who ran the worlds largest child molka site received a 1.5 yr prison sentence in Korea when he would’ve received at least 15 years in the U.S, sparking criticism that Korea is lenient with sex crimes.  According to ‘PD Note’, the biggest factor in reducing sentences is agreement with victims as evident in actor Kang Ji-hwan’s sexual assault case. Other criminals are using more creative methods like obtaining “psychiatric records” and citing “serious reflection.” Another factor is gender insensitivity. One judge openly expressed his values during trial stating that “it was morally problematic for women to drink and have sex.”Lawyer Kwon In-sook stated, “the court’s opinion of women is usually the key to ruling.”

Right, I think the important point to make is that these aren’t just isolated cases that are getting a lot of press because they involve celebrities and are high profile. It’s a systemic issue that reflects an issue in Korean society that has rose to prominence in recent years and courts haven’t responded due to generally seem stuck in old ways. I don’t think it’s hard to see why some view the justice system as achieving anything but for at least certain victims.

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