Child sex crimes rising fast in Korea

  • Published : Aug 1, 2010 - 17:05
  • Updated : Aug 1, 2010 - 17:05
Although child sex crimes were committed less frequently in Korea than other major countries, the growth rate here had been higher in recent years, a report found Sunday.

According to the Korea Institute of Criminology, which analyzed the official figures in five countries ― Korea, Germany, the U.K., the U.S. and Japan ― the nation’s rate of sex crime against children was 16.9 per 100,000 children in 2008, the fourth-highest.

The Korean figure was 6.8 times lower than that of Germany, 6 times than the U.K. and 3.5 times than the U.S., the report said. 
A teenage girl learns defensive tips from professional bodyguards during a youth summer camp in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province.                                                            Yonhap News

However, the growth rate in Korea was the highest, with a 69 percent surge in confirmed cases between 2005 and 2008.

The U.S. figure increased by just 2.9 percent during the same period, while Japan, the U.K. and Germany saw 29.3 percent, 14.8 percent and 9.6 percent decreases, respectively.

Another distinctive feature in sex crimes here was that many of the cases were committed under the influence of alcohol.

In Korea, 37.1 percent of the child sex offenders were intoxicated, while the figures in other countries were below 10 percent, the report said, urging efforts to improve the nation’s drinking culture.

The report also found that most of the victims were teenage girls, with male victims accounting for 19.4 percent in the U.S., 4 percent in Korea, 3.9 percent in Germany and 2.6 percent in Japan.

Meanwhile, most of the offenders were males, the report said. Female offenders made up 3.9 percent in Germany, 1.2 percent in the U.S., 0.6 percent in Japan and 0.4 percent in Korea.

The crime rate by an acquaintance of the victim was 69.9 percent in the U.S., 60.7 percent in Germany, 39.4 percent in Korea and 20.6 percent in Japan. That of family members was 20.9 percent in the U.S., 19.3 percent in Germany, 11.9 percent in Korea and 2 percent in Japan.

After a series of revision efforts recently, the nation’s strictness of penalties against sex offenders was considered at a similar level with other countries analyzed, the report said.

“As many sex crime victims hesitate to report, only one out of 168 cases is believed to be prosecuted currently in Korea. Considering that, imposing stricter punishment would have a limited effect in preventing potential crimes,” said Kang Eun-young, research fellow at the institute who led the analysis study.

“Efforts are needed to help more victims to inform their damage, while police investigation should increase its capability of verifying the cases,” she said.

Based on the study result, the government plans to take measures to encourage victims to report, such as tightening the duty of report on the victim’s guardians and abandoning the rule that requires a victim’s complaint for a sex crime.

By Lee Ji-yoon (