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Government pledges harsher punishment for online child pornography crimes

The government said Thursday that it would introduce a fresh set of regulations to clamp down on operators and users of child pornography websites.

Responding to an online Cheong Wa Dae petition, Minister of Gender Equality and Family Lee Jung-ok said the administration would support the parliamentary motion to revise laws on child and juvenile protection to raise the maximum penalty for child pornography crimes.

Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)
Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)

The revised laws would subject selling or distributing child pornography to a prison sentence of three years or more, and possessing such videos or images to jail time of three years or less, or a fine of 30 million won ($25,800) or less.

Lee said the penalties for the crimes under existing laws did not reflect the public’s idea of just punishment.

“The administration will respect the decisions of the judicial branch, and will work to do what it can do to impose stricter regulations for the crimes from this point on,” she said.

The petition demanding heftier punishment for child pornography offenders was posted Oct. 21 on the presidential website following news that over two-thirds of the membership of an international darknet child pornography site was found to be South Korean.

Son Jung-woo, the 23-year-old operator of the site, was sentenced to only 1 1/2 years in jail.

The petition garnered 306,638 signatures.

By Kim Arin (