Crime & Justice

South Korea president orders probe into chat room abuse ring amid outcry

Seoul, Mar 23 (efe-ela).- South Korean President Moon Jae-in has requested a full investigation into a chatroom used to share images of sexual abuse and violent acts against women, including minors, for hundreds of thousands of paying members.

According to a presidential spokesperson, Moon said his government would provide every possible level of legal, medical and psychological support to the victims of the abuse and would try to remove the illegal pornographic imagery from the Internet.

He condemned the acts of cruelty and said it destroyed people’s lives.

Moon also acknowledged the huge public outcry that erupted once news of the chat rooms came to light.

At least 74 women, including 16 minors, fell victim to the abusive chat rooms, which operated under the name Nth room on the encoded messaging app Telegram.

South Korean police on Friday said they had arrested 14 suspects in relation to the abuse ring, including the alleged leader, a man in his 20s referred to by his surname Cho.

Police believe the ring operated by accessing the personal data of their victims, which they would threaten to publish online unless the target sent pornographic images of themselves.

The suspects would then threaten to publish the images unless the victims sent videos of them self-harming or performing sexual acts.

Those videos, some of which depicted rape, were then shared in exchange for cryptocurrency in the various Nth rooms on Telegram.

Investigators believe the chat rooms had up to 260,000 members.

Moon said it was important to investigate the chat room members as well as the operators behind the abuse ring.

There was an outpouring of public anger in South Korea when news of the chat rooms broke and a petition launched Friday calling for harsh punishments for those found guilty and the removal of anonymity for the chief suspect, Cho, has garnered more than 3 million signatures.

Police will study the petition on Tuesday. Faces and names of suspects are only made public in extreme cases in South Korea. EFE-EPA

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