The drama ‘The World of the Married’, which ranked second as Korea’s favorite TV program based on Korean Gallup statistics deals with the subject matter stalking. The stalking refers to the act of intentionally continuing to follow suit without respecting the other person’s privacy and causing mental and physical damage. This is not a problem that only exists on TV dramas.
On April 23, Go (Ba-duk) player Cho Hye-yeon posted a petition titled, “I’m a single woman in my 30s who is afraid of vicious stalkers”. A stalker who constantly harassed her for about a year ended when police arrested him and sent him to jail.
According to a survey by the Korean National Police Agency, the number of stalking-related cases has been on a steady rise since 2014 and peaked at 583 cases last year. The causes of this ever-increasing stalking vary.
First of all, stalking often begins with revenge or violence by lovers or close people. According to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 82.1 percent of women affected by stalking said they were stalked by acquaintances. Likewise, many people suffer from retaliation, possessiveness, and obsession after the breakup of their lovers or spouses.
Also, Lee Soo-jung, a professor of Criminal Psychology, posed the possibility that the purpose of the stalking is a desire to kill. Byun Sang-wook, an anchorman on Kim Hyun-jung News Show CBS channel interviewed her. She said about stalking related to Bu-san murder case, saying “There are long periods when the assailant stalked the victim, whether in Bu-san or Gang-seo-gu in Seoul”. In the end, this tells us that the stalking is directed toward murder.
In addition, the stalking continues due to Korea’s minor punishments to those who stalk. The Korean penalty for stalking is spelled out in Article 41, a constant harassment of Minor Offences Law. The degree of punishment for most stalking crimes is a fine of up to 100,000 won. Compared to other countries such as the United States, Germany, and Japan, where stalking is regarded as a serious crime, this penalty is significantly lower. This is why Professor Lee Soo-jung consistently argues that Korea needs to legislate a stalking prevention law.
Because such light punishment continues to cause secondary damages, some people do not feel the effect of reporting to the police which discourages them from reporting. Cho Hye-yeon’s case is also the same case. She called the police 10 times, but only minor measures were taken, and the criminal’s misdeeds continued. Since this case was reported in the media, police and prosecutors have taken action against the criminal, but it is not over. In some comments in response to news articles on this crime, malicious rumors continue to defame victims and create deep wounds.
Currently, the National Assembly has not passed a bill on punishment of stalking for years; only bill proposals have been submitted. The reason behind this is many people have yet taken the matter seriously. In order for laws and systems to be set up appropriately which deal with stalking, society must first have respect for privacy and life. In addition to improving laws and systems for preventing stalking, changes in people’s views and perceptions of the stalking are also important. It is also time to have the courage to say ‘no’ to stalkers and not be afraid to report such behaviors and ask for help.