Prosecution questions teenager over suspected role in online sex abuse ring

April 17, 2020

 Prosecutors on Friday questioned an 18-year-old key suspect in a massive online sex abuse ring that exploited scores of victims, including underage girls.

A special taskforce at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office interrogated Kang Hun for around six hours over his alleged role in producing and distributing exploitative photos and videos of violent sex acts in mobile chat rooms.

He was put under pretrial detention about a week ago for allegedly acting as an accessory to the operation of the “Baksabang” chatroom on the messaging service Telegram, which allowed paid members to view illegally taken photos and videos of violent sex acts involving underage girls.

Kang is accused of having recruited and managed paid members of Baksabang (Korean for doctor’s room), producing and distributing sexual abuse material, and delivering criminal proceeds from the chatroom to its founder Cho Ju-bin.

Cho, a 24-year-old, has been indicted for allegedly blackmailing women into providing sexual videos to the illegal Telegram chatroom.

Kang, born in 2001, was a high school student last year when he allegedly worked for Cho.

Kang Hun, an 18-year-old accomplice in the operation of an illegal Telegram messenger chatroom dubbed Baksabang, is approached by reporters at Jongno Police Station in central Seoul on April 17, 2020. (Yonhap)
Kang Hun, an 18-year-old alleged accomplice in the operation of an illegal Telegram messenger chatroom dubbed Baksabang, is approached by reporters at Jongno Police Station in central Seoul on April 17, 2020. (Yonhap)

Kang Hun, an 18-year-old accomplice in the operation of an illegal Telegram messenger chatroom dubbed Baksabang, is approached by reporters at Jongno Police Station in central Seoul on April 17, 2020. (Yonhap)

Prosecutors, meanwhile, held a committee meeting where they agreed to release certain details of the ongoing investigation.

The 18-year-old appeared before reporters before being handed over by police to the prosecution. He was sent to a detention center south of Seoul following his first round of questioning by prosecutors.

Kang stood handcuffed and grim in front of photographers without covering his face as he was moved from the detention room of the Jongno Police Station in downtown Seoul to the custody of prosecutors around 8 a.m.

“I’m sorry. I sincerely apologize and feel sorry,” Kang told reporters, with his head down.

He did not respond to questions about whether he admits his charges and disagrees with the disclosure of his identity.

It marked the first time in South Korea in which a minor criminal suspect’s identity was made public.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Thursday announced its decision to make public Kang’s full name, age and face, saying the disclosure corresponds to public interest in terms of people’s right to know and the prevention of similar crimes. The current law permits the disclosure of the identity of sex offenders but grants exceptions for minors.

Later in the day, Kang’s lawyer filed for suspension of the execution of the identity disclosure, but the Seoul Administrative Court rejected the request.

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