July 25, 2012 11:01
The murder of a 10-year-old girl by a convicted sex offender has sent shockwaves through Korean society. Three days after the grisly murder of Han A-reum was reported in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, some 3.88 million people had viewed a government website that lists sex offenders. That boils down to one in five households in the country.
On Monday, when suspect Kim Jeom-deok (45) was arrested, 2.5 million people accessed the website to check whether there are convicted sex offenders in their neighborhood, and another 1.15 million visited it the next day, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said on Tuesday.
The website, which has been accessible since July 2010, contains the profiles of 2,112 convicted sex offenders. Details include ID photos, names, ages, height, weight, the crimes they committed and where they live. Until now, an average of 10,000 people accessed the website a day. That rose to about 40,000 people in April when Wu Yuanchun (42), an ethnic Korean from China, raped and brutally murdered a woman in her 20s in Suwon.
The surge in traffic, which almost paralyzed the website, demonstrates the climate of fear following Han's murder. "It looks like the public was shocked to learn that Han was murdered by a convicted sex offender with a long-list of offenses who lived in her neighborhood," said Kim Moon-jo, a sociologist at Korea University. "The tragic death of one child has raised the alarm about how shoddy our system of managing sex offenders is," said Dongguk University law professor Park Byoung-shik.
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