South Korea's justice system has decided to enforce the chemical castration of repeat child rapists, an official announced on May 23, 2012. A majority of South Korean net users expressed support for the newly implemented law. There were also public requests for harsher punishments for a wider range of sex criminals, and a hint of disappointment with current law enforcement, which many define as ‘generous to sex criminals with excuses’.
A sex offender and pedophile who raped children under the age of 10, known by the surname Park, would be the nation's first case to receive the castration punishment. According to an AFP news report, Park will be given an injection every three months for the next three years to reduce his sexual urges.
Twitter user @kbyeongchae tweeted [ko]:
딸 키우는 사람으로서 화학적 거세 아주 찬성입니다.
As a person raising a daughter, I am all in for chemical castration.
'Freaky dream digital rework' by Lisa Yarost on Flickr (CC-BY 2.0)
Quite many people half-jokingly tweeted that they would vote for ‘physical’ castration in stead of ‘chemical’. Another twitter user @addapapa22 tweeted[ko]:
화학적거세 돈도 많이 든다던데 물리적 거세에 한표 던집니다.
I heard chemical castration costs quite a lot of money. I am voting for ‘physical’ castration.
Jung Kyoung-hee (@sophie_style) elaborated on [ko] why there is a slight disappointment to the law.
[…] (화학적거세) 첫 대상사도 확정되었는데, 년간 1인당 500만원정도가 든다고 합니다. 본인이 경제적능력이 안될 시 국가에서 지원한다고 하네요. 인권은 둘째치고 그런 인간들한테 들어가는 국세가 아깝다는 생각이드네요.
They (the justice department) have decided the first person to whom the chemical castration would applied to. But I've heard such chemical treatment would cost 5 million Korean Won ($4,200 USD) yearly per person, and if the person cannot afford it the government will cover the expense. Setting the human rights issues aside, I can't help but feel it is such a waste of taxpayer money to spend this on such humankind.
Twitter user @sedona326 argued [ko] that such measures should be applied to all child rapists, not only repeat ones:
어린이대상 성폭력범 화학적거세 초범부터 시행해야…..어린이에 대하여 재범, 2범, 3범의 성폭력을해야 화학적거세를 시행 한다는 것은 있을 수 없는일이다.
The chemical castration should be applied to any sex offender who raped children, whether it is their first crime or not… It doesn't make sense to me at all that we wait those offenders to repeat such crime once, twice and three times before chemically castrating them.
A human rights violation?
Although public support of the government's decision appeared strong, the chemical castration itself is a highly controversial issue, especially if one approaches it from a human rights perspective. However, many still showed unyielding support for the measure and even went as far as denouncing human rights groups for ‘siding with criminals’.
Twitter user @bk007kim added this comment [ko]:
피해자 인권보가 범죄자 인권을 더 생각하나? 추가범행으로 인한 잠재적 피해자를 위해서라도 화학적 거세에 찬성…생각 같아선 영구적 거세가 더 좋지만.
Do they (human rights groups) care more about protecting the criminal's human rights than the victim's? I am rooting for chemical castration – also for the potential victims who could be assaulted if we let the assailant loose to commit additional crimes. Actually, I would prefer permanent castration if that is ever possible.
Relatively light sentences for sex offenders over the years have enraged the South Korean public and the law authorizing chemical castration is believed to have been implemented to meet public demands for stronger law enforcement.
Twitter user @wooriming's tweet [ko] reflects public concerns over the nations's lenient law enforcement against sex criminals:
[…] 4세7세아이를 수년간 성폭행 했는데도 불구하고 6년형 선고 재범우려가 없는 초범이기때문에 차후 전자발찌도 채우지 않는다네요..우리나라 법은 가해자에게 관대한 나라예요!! 착한사람만 억울한 세상!!!
(referring to an unrelated case) One guy who sexually assaulted a 4-year old kid and a 7-year old kid over several years was sentenced to just six years in prison since it was his first crime. He was not even forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet. Our nation's law is so generous to assailants. It is the good people who are being treated unfairly in this world.
The most frequent excuse of sex offenders and criminals is that they have committed their crime “under the influence of liquor” and have no recollection of it. In some cases, these excuses result in a more lenient punishment.
South Korea's famous comedian, Nam Hee-suk (@Brlove12) tweeted [ko]:
주변에 싸움 걸어 놓고, 또는 성폭행 하고나서…아주 G-ral을 하고나서 다음 날. 술에 취해 그런거다. 기억이 안난다? 아니되는말쌈..그럼 술병을 징역 보내리?
Some people, after they start a fight, rape and do all the disgusting stuff, on the next day assert they did it under the influence of liquor and dont remember anymore. Please don't say that. Because (if that is true), then we should imprison the liquor.
Chemical castration is already in use in Germany, Sweden, and some states in the United States. South Korea would be the first country in Asia to implement such a measure.