The Korea Times and JoongAng Ilbo have finally decided to report on the absolutely infuriating incident that took place in Miryang, South Gyeongsang province in which a gang up 41 boys (with police saying another 30 to 70 could be involved) repeatedly gang raped five middle and high school girls over the course of a year. If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls and their families were then threatened by the parents of the boys and insulted by police investigating the crime.
Just to give you the basic facts:
On Tuesday, the 41 high school students from Miryang were caught by the police after beating and raping three middle school girls several times since January.
The boys allegedly met one of the victims, identified as Choi, 14, through chatting on cell phones, and sexually assaulted her when she visited them in Miryang in January.
They then threatened to upload the scene of the assault on the Internet, and lured Choi’s sister and a cousin then raped them as well.
The brutal crime only got worse when the police got involved:
Police at first arrested only three of the 41 boys involved, but the victims and other citizens strongly protested, demanding that other suspects be arrested and punished.
Only then did police arrest the additional nine students and book 29 others without detention on Saturday.
Police have come under strong criticism for reportedly making the young victims of the sexual assaults feel ashamed and insulted during the investigation, by failing to protect them from their assaulters and even leveling insults at them.
The victims and their families demanded questioning by female police officers, but were ignored by the police. Some of their personal details were also made public.
When the victims were questioned at the police station, family members of the assaulters besieged the victims, threatening them with additional attacks.
In the course of investigation, the girls were also able to hear abuse from one of the attackers. Police also made the victims point out their assailants in front of them, leading the girls to worry about the possibility of revenge.
Actually, to be more specific, some of the family members told the girls’ family members, “Now that you’ve reported our sons, try to survive. Watch out for yourselves from now on.” Apparently, some of the family members identified themselves as “gangsters” as well.
As pointed out, the police arrested only three of the initial 41. 12 were released on bail, six were booked without detention, and 20 were sent home with a warning. Yes, warnings for involvement in serial rape. Just goes to show you an offender need not a SOFA for the cops to drop the ball.
Oh, and just for added measure, one of the Ulsan cops took the opportunity to insult the victims:
One police officer was also found to have insulted the victims, saying: “My hometown is Miryang, and you girls have brought disgrace on the city.”
Actually, that’s not all the cop said to the girls, but to be fair to the KT, the JoongAng didn’t report was said in full, either. What was actually said was:
“Weren’t you girls waving your asses around and [kept] going there because you liked it? My hometown is Miryang, and you’ve destroyed the reputation of the town.”
Needless to say, Korea’s Internet users, a.k.a. the “Netizens,” have been furious. Lists of names, photos, phone numbers, and other personal information of the perpetrators — obtained by Korea’s industrious Netizens — have been making their way around cyberspace. Saturday evening’s candlelight protest at Gwanghwamun was planned on the Internet, with other Internet warriors planning “road trips” to Miryang to mete out some punishment of their own. One problem with such phenomena, of course, is that many of the names and photos going around have not been correct.
Readers of Korean might find this piece critical of the media coverage of the incident interesting. I’ll probably cite from it tomorrow.