Under the current law, convicted sex offenders can be sentenced to chemical castration for up to 15 years for assaulting minors under the age of 16.
A revision bill, which passed the Cabinet on Tuesday for submission to the parliament, would add more offenses, including the abovementioned two, to the list of sex crimes punishable by the measure.
Chemical castration involves administering medication -- either via injection or tablets -- to reduce libido and temporarily prevent the ability to have an erection. The effects are reversible when the person stops taking the drug.
South Korea became the first Asian country to introduce it in 2011, after several high-profile sex crimes against minors.
The revision bill also seeks to allow those serving prison terms on the anti-libido medication to request for the termination of the treatment six to nine months prior to the end of their jail time. Whether this is allowed is determined through psychiatric assessment by mental health professionals and the chief of the probation office.
However, opponents have raised questions over chemical castration due to the possible infringement of sex offenders’ human rights and the high cost of medication.
Some medical experts also say that a clear cause-and-effect relationship between testosterone levels and sexual offenses remains uncertain, with a lack of sufficient research into the effectiveness and side effects of such treatments.
According to data from the Justice Ministry, those who took sex hormone-regulating medicine saw their testosterone levels drop to a one-eighth level over a nine-month period in 2013.
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org)