Sexual harassment and assault

South Korean woman jailed for secretly photographing male nude model in university drawing class

According to official statistics about 98 per cent of offenders in South Korea are men

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 2:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 9:48pm

A South Korean court on Monday slapped a woman with a rare jail term for secretly photographing a male nude model, in a case that sparked controversy over double standards.

Hi-tech South Korea has been battling a growing epidemic of so-called “molka” or spycam videos, which largely involve men secretly filming women in schools, offices, trains, toilets, changing rooms and on the street.

Spycam crimes reported to police surged from around 1,100 in 2010 to more than 6,500 last year, and many offenders share or sell photos and videos online.

According to official statistics about 98 per cent of offenders are men – ranging from schoolteachers and college professors to church pastors and police officers - while more than 80 per cent of victims are women.

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But in the latest case the woman in her 20s – also a nude model – was sentenced to 10 months in prison for taking a picture of her male counterpart at in a drawing class at Seoul’s Hongik University and sharing it on the internet in May.

The man was reportedly distressed after people made disparaging comments online about his body.

The woman was arrested days later and paraded in front of television cameras while police raided her home to search for evidence – described by many activists as an uncharacteristically swift and aggressive response.

Patriarchal values are deeply ingrained in South Korea despite its economic and technological advances.

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State data shows only 8.7 per cent of hi-tech peeping Toms are jailed on their first conviction, with most only fined or receiving suspended terms, seen by many as a slap on the wrist.

“The whole response by the police to this rare case in which a victim is male is truly unprecedented,” said Seo Seung-hui, head of the Korea Cyber Sexual Violence civic group.

“We rarely saw them act so quickly for countless cases in which victims were female,” she said.

The case of the model – who has not been named – was a catalyst for a recent series of mass women’s rallies in Seoul, at which protesters accused the police and court of treating male victims and offenders more favourably than women.

Smartphones sold in the South are required to make a loud shutter noise when taking pictures, but many offenders use special apps that mute the sound, or turn to hi-tech spy cameras hidden inside eye glasses, lighters, watches, car keys and even neckties.