The National Assembly has passed a bill to toughen the punishment for child abuse after a series of cases touched off a spate of public anger last year.
Those who beat children to death will be sentenced to a minimum five years up to life imprisonment. Courts are no longer allowed to give probation to the offenders in question.
The prosecution must file a loss of parental right to courts for habitual offenders or for those who commit serious child abuse crimes.
The tougher punishment came after an 8-year-old girl was beaten to death by her stepmother in Ulsan, South Gyeongsang Province, in October last year. A 10-year-old girl was also found dead after her stepmother beat her and forced her to eat excessive salt in Incheon last year.
If people have knowledge of child abuse or even mere suspicions, they are now required to report to police or face a fine of 5 million won ($4,800).
Child support institutions can also take emergency measures if they spot children suffering from abuse. They can separate victims from offenders and bring them to shelters or their institutions for safety. The measures can be taken either by police officers or by child support institutions.
Offenders can be prohibited from contacting the victims or approaching them within 100 meters if the police request temporary measures from the prosecution.
Criminals found guilty of child abuse cannot work at child-related institutions for 10 years from the moment the penalty is fulfilled.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (firstname.lastname@example.org