The victim of groping at a restaurant told her side of the story last week, offering an alternative view of the heated public dispute over the high-profile court case -- which resulted in the conviction of the man in question -- and the offender’s wife’s online petition insisting on his innocence.
In an interview with a local media outlet, the victim stated that she had received an influx of hateful emails and a flurry of social media messages as a result of the case, which began Nov. 26 last year when a man groped her buttocks as she was coming out of a private room around 1 a.m. at an oxtail soup restaurant in Daejeon’s Yuseong district.
On Sept. 5, a local court found the man guilty of committing an “indecent act in a crowded public place.” The next day, the assailant’s wife proclaimed her husband’s innocence on an online community for car lovers called Bobae Dream.
Footage comparison (YouTube)
The heart of the wife’s argument is that security footage does not show any physical contact between her husband and the victim because an object blocks the camera’s view. This sparked a public outcry, with many online readers believing the woman’s claim that her husband might have been convicted on insufficient evidence.
During police questioning, the man reportedly denied the groping allegation at first. After seeing the security footage, however, he said he could not remember exactly what had happened because he had consumed 15 “poktanju,” or mixed drinks containing beer and soju, just before the incident.
The court sentenced him to a six-month jail term and 40 hours of treatment for perpetrators of sexual violence. He is also prohibited from seeking employment at any establishment involving contact with minors for the next three years. Now behind bars, he is appealing his conviction to a higher court.
The victim’s interview took place amid the deepening controversy sparked by the defendant’s wife, who was not at the restaurant at the time of the incident and whose online petition with Cheong Wa Dae garnered over 200,000 signatures within four days. The presidential office responds to petitions that gain more than 200,000 signatures in a month.
Surveillance footage (YouTube)
In her posts, the wife uploaded the surveillance footage shot from two angles showing the encounter between the defendant and the victim. The victim said she had experienced secondary trauma because her face was visible in the videos.
The videos went viral, with some netizens calling the victim a “gold digger.” Others joined in with sexually oriented mockery and insults. A few even joked about “tracking her down and killing her” upon the assailant’s release. The victim said she was experiencing severe psychological trauma as she has received more than 700 hate emails.
The victim also said the online petitioner’s claims were “based merely on her husband’s words.” The wife had said her husband was innocent and that the victim had demanded a 10 million won ($9,000) settlement, a claim the victim denied.
The victim said she had never asked her assailant for any financial compensation, but rather had asked him to apologize and acknowledge his lewd behavior. The defendant had denied touching the victim intentionally, but told authorities that he may have touched her “by accident,” according to police and court records.
A group of men who believe the man’s conviction was unfair are planning a protest in Seoul on Oct. 27.
By Catherine Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org