View from the outside of a police station (Yonhap)
The number of stalking complaints filed with police shot up to about 103 cases a day since the anti-stalking law went into effect a month ago from the daily average of 24 cases, police data showed Thursday.
A total of 2,774 stalking complaints were filed for four weeks since the law took effect on Oct. 21, compared with 6,939 cases reported for nearly 10 months this year before the law's implementation, according to the data.
The anti-stalking law, the first in South Korea to specifically target stalking, calls for the punishment of perpetrators with up to three years in prison. Previously, the act of stalking was classified in the Criminal Code as a misdemeanor subject to less than 100,000 won ($85) in fines.
Under the law, acts of approaching, following or blocking a victim against his or her will; waiting for or observing a victim in and around his or her residence, workplace or school; sending unwelcomed messages, images or videos through mail, telephone or IT networks; and causing anxiety or fear by destroying objects placed around a victim's residence constitute acts of stalking.
Continuous and repeated execution of these actions constitutes stalking crimes punishable by up to three years in prison or 30 million won in fines, according to the law.
Before the enactment, one of the major concerns was the possibility of excessive implementation of the law, but the police said most of the reported cases were typical stalking situations that could happen between men and women.
Rather than amending the range of acts defined as stalking, there should be stronger response measures allowed by law against such actions to prevent them from evolving into crimes, a police official said.
Under the law, police can take measures against stalking in the early stage, such as a fine of 10 million won for those who violate restraining orders banning potential suspects from coming within 100 meters of the victim and online contact if the situation is likely to take place again.
"It is difficult to believe that the fine will prevent stalking crimes, considering acts of stalking tend to take place persistently and repeatedly," a police official said. (Yonhap)