The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Police probe chat-room child sexual abuse ring

By Lee Jung-Youn

Published : Aug. 31, 2022 - 14:42

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The police are investigating the online sexual exploitation of minors through chat rooms similar to those used in the "Nth Room" and “Baksa Room” incidents that caused public outrage two years ago.

According to police Tuesday, the cybercrime investigation unit of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency is investigating a suspect on charges of violating of the law on protection of children against sex offenses.

The police believe that the suspect coerced several minors to take sexual videos, and then distributed them through the online messenger Telegram. The police are also considering the possibility that there may be multiple accomplices.

Earlier, local media reported that the crime was carried out through Telegram, just like the “Nth room” and “Baksa Room” cases. However, unlike Moon Hyung-wook and Cho Ju-bin, the ringleaders of each crime who used permanent chat rooms, the perpetrator of the current case used several temporary chat rooms.

The perpetrator began full-fledged activities in 2020, the year when Cho and Moon were arrested, managing at least 30 chat rooms.

The levels of chat rooms were strictly divided — some rooms were accessible through a simple online search or shared link, while some required missions to fulfill, such as some amount of inappropriate chatting and pornography sharing. A VIP room also existed separately.

Won Eun-ji, a member of “flame” – a group of two civil activists who played major role in investigating the “Nth Room” and “Baksa Room” cases -- appeared on the CBS radio Wednesday morning and said that the perpetrator has impersonated as a member of “flame” to approach to victims. Won said that six victims were confirmed as of Wednesday, most of them suspect to be minors.

Some members spread the videos shared in the chat rooms to other online sites. In particular, videos from the chatrooms uploaded to far-right online community Ilbe recorded more than 40,000 views.

There were more than 5,000 users active in the chatroom network when the perpetrator was highly active last year, Won said.

Meanwhile, Cho, the operator of the "Baksa Room," was sentenced to 42 years in prison and Moon, the operator of the "Nth Room," was sentenced to 34 years in prison last year.