While I have been generally a fan of Korea’s criminal law, a major exception to my fandom was Korea’s laws against sex crimes. But thanks to recent high-profile movies and news stories regarding sex crimes, there was a significant overhaul of the laws against sex crimes that addressed pretty much all of the common grievances.

The biggest change is that all sexual assaults are categorized as public crime. Previously, rape or sexual assault against adults were categorized as direct-action crimes [친고죄] or no-prosecution-contrary-to-intent crimes [반의사불벌죄], which meant that a private settlement precluded criminal prosecution. This meant that, previously, the perpetrator often applied undue pressure — which often bordered on extortion or blackmailing — on the victim, attempting to settle the case so that criminal charges may be avoided. After this amendment, this is no more. Another big change is to include adult men as a potential victim of sex crimes.

Penalties were also strengthened across the board. Previously, rape of a minor carried a maximum of 25 years in prison; now, a life sentence is available. The minimum sentence against sexual assault of a minor was raised from 3 years in prison to 5 years. Penalties against creating, distributing or possessing child pornography were also significantly enhanced. Also, statute of limitations against sexual assault against minors was abolished. (Previously, only rape against minors was exempt from statute of limitations.)

The diminution of mens rea based on intoxication — more commonly known as “I was drunk” defense — is no longer available as a grounds for reducing the sentence as to all sex crimes except for distribution of pornography. Sex offender registry is now easier to access, and sex offenders are excluded from a greater categories of occupations. (One notable inclusion is entertainment agencies, to protect aspiring entertainers.)