SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The operator of a South Korean online chat room was sentenced on Thursday to 40 years in prison for blackmailing dozens of women, including minors, into shooting sexually explicit videos and selling them to others.
The Seoul Central District Court has convicted 24-year-old Cho Ju-bin of violating laws on the protection of minors and organizing a criminal ring, a court spokesman Kim Yong Chan said.
According to Kim, Cho decided that Cho “lured and blackmailed most of the victims into sexually abusive content in a variety of ways and distributed it to many people,” Kim says.
Cho claimed to have only deceived the victims in making such videos, but he did not blackmail or coerce them, forcing some of the victims to testify in court.
According to Kim, the court decided to isolate Cho from society for a longer period of time, given his attitude and the seriousness and evil effect of his crime.
Cho and the prosecutors who applied for life imprisonment have one week to appeal.
Cho and seven of his associates were arrested or charged in June for allegedly sexually abusing a video of 74 victims, including 16 minors, and distributing them in the Telegram messaging app, where users paid in cryptocurrency to watch them in 2019-2020.
Prosecutors’ statements called Cho’s group a “criminal ring” of 38 members. On Thursday, a Seoul court sentenced Cho’s five associates, one to a 16-year, 15-year prison sentence.
When he was shown to the media after his arrest, Cho said, “Thank you for stopping a devil’s life (I couldn’t stop.”
Cho’s case has sparked intense public outrage and soul-seeking in South Korea over a culture that some experts say is too lenient with sexual violence and continues to plague victims. President Moon Jae-in has previously called for a thorough investigation and severe punishment of those who operate such chat rooms, such as Cho and their users.
In recent years, South Korea has struggled to deal with crimes characterized by the government’s digital sex crimes, which include the spread of intimate photos and videos taken by smartphones or tiny spy cameras hidden in public spaces and buildings, in addition to abusive chat rooms. which provoked massive protests in 2018.