From his bedroom, Cho Ju-bin, 25, spun illusions and masterminded one of the most notorious sex crime schemes to shake South Korea in years.
He blackmailed dozens of young women into providing sexually compromising images and videos, which he sold to tens of thousands of his users. Authorities say he and his collaborators, including a year-old boy, ran the operation through secretive chatrooms on the app Telegram.
They hunted for prey through social media and reaped their profits through the cryptocurrency bitcoin. The case has ignited a fierce debate in South Korea about justice and how to exact punishment for digital sex crimes.
Cho ju-bin: south korea chatroom sex abuse suspect named after outcry
The wide-reaching scandal has again exposed an underlying culture of cavalier consumption of material depicting sexual abuse. Among the hundreds being investigated as having ed the chatrooms are police officers and elementary school teachers.
Prosecutors had sought a life term. Others accused of conspiring with him to recruit and threaten the victims, advertise the chatrooms and monetize the profits received sentences ranging from seven to 15 years. Police say more than 70 women, many of them minors, were lured into providing personal information under the guise of a potential high-paying liaison with an older man and then blackmailed into providing sexually explicit material to Cho and others who would threaten to tell family and friends or post on social media.
When some of the operators were arrested in lateothers stepped up to take their place and new chatrooms cropped up. But he styled himself as a ruthless purveyor with access to a cache of more extreme videos to attract paying users, he said in court testimony.
He has appalled the country as a man who appears as both an average college student and a criminal who intimidated his victims into torture or self-mutilation and urged his cronies to commit rape. At a hearing for his sentencing, he tearfully apologized and said he accepted responsibility for his crimes. One of the victims wrote an anonymous letter to perpetrators published in the newspaper Hankyoreh, recounting how fearful she felt being threatened by invisible abusers blackmailing her from beyond computer and smartphone screens.
I wished it was all fiction and my reality was a passing dream. Attorneys for south korean sex chat victims argued in court that the young women live with the anxiety that the videos and images they were coerced into creating would be reproduced and live indefinitely on the web.
South korean mastermind of exploitation chat rooms gets 40 years in prison on charges of blackmailing dozens of women, including minors, into filming sexually explicit videos
Outrage over the case, which earlier this year eclipsed the COVID pandemic in news cycles and conversations in South Korea, led to the passage of a law increasing punishments for those who possess or view illegally created sexual material. The law will also hold some websites liable for hosting such content, even though the app Telegram remains out of reach because it is based overseas. An attorney for the year-old defendant, who was in high school at the time of his alleged crimes, also blamed technology for leading her young client astray. His name has not been made public. Lee, the activist and counselor, said that as the digital native generation who grew up with smartphones and high-speed internet comes of age, many of its members are likely exposed to abusive, criminal material at a young age and become inured to it.
South korean chat room operator gets 40 years for blackmail
Some online harassment cases her group was consulted on involved elementary school students, she said. She said because South Korea is at the technological forefront, the recent scandals were leading the country to wrestle with the right legal protections and prevention measures for the types of new digital sex crimes other countries will inevitably be dealing with as well.
A Pentagon panel is recommending that decisions to prosecute service members for sexual assault be made by independent authorities, not commanders.
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South korean chat room operator, 24, gets 40 years for blackmail
Imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he is ending his hunger strike after being examined by civilian doctors. Israeli police say 44 people were arrested and 20 officers were wounded in a night of chaos in Jerusalem.
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Cho ju-bin: 40 years jail for south korean chatroom sex abuse group leader
The encrypted messaging app Telegram is displayed on a smartphone in Bangkok, Thailand, in In South Korea, a ring of young men allegedly used the app to blackmail women for sexually explicit material and distributed them for profit.
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