Calls for revision of South Korea’s stalking law as murder of women shocks nation | South Korea

The murder of a South Korean woman who was stalked for years by her alleged killer has sparked outrage and demands for legislative changes to better protect women.

The murder of the woman in a bathroom near the subway station where she worked earlier this month shocked South Korea, a day before her alleged attacker, dubbed by police as 31-year-old Jeon Joo-hwan, was to be convicted of stalking her. .

The 28-year-old victim, whose name has not been released, was stabbed multiple times after finishing her evening shift at Sindang station in central Seoul.

Jeon was reportedly overpowered by other station workers who rushed to the accident scene after the woman activated an alarm in the bathroom. She later died in hospital from her injuries.

According to South Korean media, Jeon had started harassing the woman after they started working for Seoul Metro in 2019. He reportedly called her hundreds of times begging her for a date and threatened to hurt her if she refused.

After the victim reported Jeon last October, he was fired and arrested, but released on bail. Like many other stalking suspects, he was not subject to a restraining order.

“We recognize the seriousness and brutality of the crime,” the Yonhap news agency quoted a panel of police and experts as saying in a statement.

Jeon has been arrested on murder charges and his stalking charges have been postponed to September 29.

The woman’s death has sparked anger and accusations that South Korean authorities do not take violence against women seriously.

Kim Hyun-sook, Minister of Gender Equality and Family, has been criticized for saying she did not believe the woman’s murder was a gender-based hate crime.

While visiting Sindang station, Kim told reporters she did not think misogyny had been a factor. “I don’t agree that this case should be portrayed as male versus female,” she said. Women’s rights activists pointed out that nearly 80% of stalking victims in South Korea are women.

Speaking to the national assembly this week, Kim caused further anger by suggesting that the crime could have been prevented if the victim had sought advice from a ministry helpline and taken other preventive measures.

An anti-stalking law with a maximum jail term of three years passed last October has been condemned as flawed, as police can only take action with the victim’s consent. According to critics, the loophole gives stalkers the opportunity to pressure their victims to withdraw their complaints.

Since the law came into effect, police have made 7,152 arrests for stalking, but only 5% of the suspects have been arrested.

The Justice Department is reportedly considering removing the consent requirement, but critics have pointed out that a similar measure has stalled in the National Assembly for more than a year, partly due to opposition from the Justice Department that the new advocated anti-stalking. law would suffice.

Before the new law was introduced, stalking was considered a crime in South Korea, according to the Korea Herald.

But now pressure is mounting on the president, Yoon Suk-yeol, to strengthen the law amid evidence that stalking often precedes more serious crimes.

A recent report from the Korean National Police University found that nearly four in ten murders of close partners were preceded by stalking incidents.

The murder case has highlighted South Korea’s ongoing fight against gender-based crime. The country has been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement in Asia, partly in response to an epidemic of Silence — invasive footage filmed on spy cameras that almost always target women — and anger that authorities weren’t doing enough to punish offenders.

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