Daum Kakao CEO faces summons for inaction over child pornography

December 10, 2014
Daum Kakao co-CEO Lee Sir-goo (Yonhap)

Daum Kakao co-CEO Lee Sir-goo (Yonhap)

DAEJEON, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) — The head of South Korea’s top mobile messenger operator, Daum Kakao, will be summoned for questioning in the near future on charges of allowing massive amounts of child pornography to be shared on its social networking service, Kakao Group, police said Wednesday.

Lee Sirgoo, the co-CEO of Daum Kakao, will be questioned over allegations that he failed to prevent child pornography from being freely exchanged on Kakao Group, a mobile app designed for messaging among groups of friends, according to the Daejeon Metropolitan Police Agency.

Lee headed Kakao Corp., the original provider of the popular messenger app Kakao Talk, before his company merged with Daum Communications Corp., South Korea’s second-largest portal operator, in October.

All online service providers are obliged to take due measures to identify child pornography on their networks, according to South Korean law.

Lee was scheduled to appear before the police Wednesday evening, but is reportedly trying to reschedule via his attorney.

This marks the first time that the head of an online service provider will be investigated on charges of violating laws on child pornography in South Korea.

The move comes after the police asked prosecutors to indict a 20-year-old man, identified only by his surname Jeon, for sharing massive amounts of child pornography through Kakao Group earlier this year.

Jeon allegedly distributed sexually explicit videos of children through multiple Kakao Group accounts he created from June to August, police said.

More than 10,000 people were part of these groups, with over 80 percent being teenagers, a police official said. Some of these young users are believed to have shared pornographic videos they took themselves.

“I understand child pornography is being shared rampantly on the social networking service,” a source within the police agency said. “It seems like Kakao didn’t take any action to filter out materials considered to be child pornography.”

Fifteen teenagers were found to have created similar groups as Jeon, but were released on the condition that they seek therapy and psychiatric treatment.

Lee has been questioned since August on suspicions that he didn’t do enough to prevent child pornography on his network, but only as a witness, a Daum Kakao official said, asking not to be named, citing company policy.

This is the first time Lee will be summoned as a suspect in the alleged violation of laws concerning child pornography, the official added.