Miryang gang rape
|Miryang gang rape|
밀양지역 여중생 집단 강간 사건
|Revised Romanization||Miryang-jiyeok yeojungsaeng jipdan ganggan sageon|
|McCune–Reischauer||Miryang-jiyŏk yŏjungsaeng chiptan kanggan sagŏn|
The Miryang gang rape, known in South Korea as the Miryang middle school girls rape incident, was a criminal incident that occurred in Miryang, South Korea in 2004. At least 41 male high school students gang raped several middle school and high school girls over the course of 11 months. The case provoked controversy due to police mistreatment of the victims and lenient handling of the offenders.
The victims lived in Ulsan and Changwon, while the perpetrators were from Miryang and Changwon. The perpetrators were initially believed to be members of a high school gang, but little evidence for this was found. They met the first 14-year-old victim over the phone. When she visited them, she was sexually assaulted, with the scene being filmed for blackmail. According to police, she was raped up to 10 times by 3 to 24 high school boys in each occurrence, with at least 41 boys being involved over 11 months. The girl was ordered to bring her 13-year-old sister and 16-year-old cousin to Miryang, where the cousin was raped. The original police report stated that the younger sister was sexually assaulted as well, but it may only have been a physical assault. The boys were also accused of raping two other girls. They allegedly extorted money from their victims.
After the sisters' aunt reported the rapes to the police, three of the boys were arrested. Following protests from the victims and public, another nine students were arrested, and 29 booked without detention. Family members of the perpetrators threatened the victims, warning them that they should "watch out from now on for reporting our sons to police." In a television interview, a parent of one of the offenders stated, "Why should we feel sorry for the victim's family? Why don't you consider our suffering? Who can resist temptation when girls are trying to seduce boys? They should have taught their daughters how to behave in order to avoid this kind of accident." One girl reportedly quit school after repeated visits and verbal attacks from the offenders' parents.
A controversy erupted over allegations that the police had mistreated the victims, culminating in a candlelight vigil by 150 protesters. The victims had asked to be questioned by a female police officer, but their request was ignored. One police officer allegedly said to the victims, "Did you try to entice the guys? You ruined the reputation of Miryang. The boys who would lead the city were all arrested. What are you going to do? [...] I am afraid that my daughter will be like you." Police also leaked enough information to the media for the victims to be identified. Furthermore, they forced the victims to identify the suspects face-to-face, rather than through a one-way mirror, with the officer asking the victim, "Did he insert [it] or not?" One of the victims had to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment after these experiences. In August 2007, the Seoul High Court found the Miryang police officers guilty of negligence in protecting the victims, and ordered them to pay damages totaling 50 million won to two of the victims and their family. The decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of South Korea in June 2008, which set the compensation at 70 million won.
Prosecutors sent most of the accused to Juvenile Court or dropped charges. Ten others were formally accused of group sexual assault, with prosecutors asking for two to four years imprisonment with a three-year stay of execution. Citing the young age of the offenders and the fact that some had already been admitted to college or hired for jobs, the judges refused the charges against even these ten, instead sending them to Juvenile Court. One factor in this decision was that the father of one of the victims formed an agreement with some of the offenders to plead for leniency after receiving a large sum of money. The father was an alcoholic who had divorced the victim's mother three years prior due to his domestic violence, but retained parental rights over his daughter, and persuaded her to accept the agreement. Ultimately, only five suspects were sent to a juvenile detention center, and none were convicted of criminal charges. In 2012, it emerged that the girlfriend of one of the perpetrators had become a police officer.
- Han Gong-ju, a film inspired by these events
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