More than 4,500 stalking cases were reported to police across the country last year, but offenders were punished by law in only 1 in 10 cases, police data showed Saturday.
According to the National Police Agency's data released by an opposition lawmaker, police received reports of 4,515 stalking cases in 2020 but closed 4,027 cases, or 89.2 percent, on the scene without taking further action. Of the total, 1,444 cases were reported in Seoul.
Offenders were punished by summary procedures or other means under the Minor Offenses Act in only 488 of the reported cases, the data said.
There were 5,468 stalking cases reported to police nationwide in 2019. In the first two months of this year, 629 cases were reported.
Early this month, the nation was stunned after a Seoul man in his 20s was arrested for killing a woman whom he had stalked, her mother and younger sister at their home in northern Seoul.
Until now, stalking has been categorized as a misdemeanor and was punished only with a fine not exceeding 100,000 won ($88) or 29 days in jail, sparking criticism that weak punishment has led to an increase in related crimes.
The National Assembly last month passed a bill to strengthen the punishment for stalkers amid growing public voices calling for increasing penalties for the offense.
Under the new law set to take effect on Oct. 21, stalkers can face up to three years in prison or a 30 million-won fine. The punishment could be raised to a maximum of five-year imprisonment or a fine of 50 million won when a weapon or other dangerous object is used. (Yonhap)