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Ministry makes sex offender’s identity public

The personal information of a sex offender has been made available to his neighbors for public safety, the Ministry of Justice said Monday. This is the first time public notification of this kind has been implemented in Korea after a relevant law came into effect on April 6.

According to the ministry, the offender, identified as a 37-year-old man living in an adjacent area of Seoul, was sentenced to the registration and notification for three years last month for breaking into a house and raping a woman. Following the ruling, the authorities sent letters to people with children under 19 years old living near him. In the letters, his name, age, address and appearance including height and weight as well as the details of his crime were described.

Anyone, regardless of their residence, can search for his personal information at www.sexoffender.go.kr by certifying their own identity in advance. But those who print, broadcast or distribute the details will be subject to up to five years imprisonment or up to 50 million won ($45,000) fine.

“The sex offender registration and notification is expected to protect the public from the criminals’ possible re-offense and discourage them from posing any threat to his community,” Kang Ho-sung, a ministry official, said.

Such disclosure happens in several countries including the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

The respective governments claim that they authorize public notification when dangerous sex offenders are released into the community because the criminals pose a high risk of reoffending after release from custody and that protecting the public is a major interest of a government.

The U.S. Justice Department creates a public accessible Internet-based national sex offender database allowing users to specify a search radius across the states. Canada and the U.K. have also adopted a similar system.

In Korea, after a slew of sex assaults including a Hacks on minors, a law restricting the rights of the criminals was established and became effective in April.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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