The Korea Herald


SNU alums nabbed for digital sex crimes

By Park Jun-hee

Published : May 21, 2024 - 14:48

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Two alums of Seoul National University, the country’s top-ranked university, have been arrested for digital sex crimes in a Telegram group chat, reigniting public outrage following the notorious “Nth Room” scandal disclosed in 2019.

The Cybercrime Investigation Unit of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency announced Tuesday that they had arrested a 40-something man, identified only by his surname, Park, and a 31-year-old man surnamed Kang, for illegally producing and distributing pornographic material containing images of female SNU alums in Telegram chatrooms since 2021.

Officials said the two had collected multiple images of female SNU alums from their social media accounts and digitally grafted them onto sexually explicit content. Apart from creating the content, Park and Kang are also accused of distributing the victims’ personal information, including their names and ages, in the group chats.

Apart from the two suspects, three other men suspected of receiving and redistributing such content on Telegram were also handed over to the prosecution this month, officials said.

SNU was not reachable for comment.

There are reportedly more than 60 female victims, and of them, a dozen had previously filed complaints with the police, according to authorities.

Victims claimed that the perpetrators engaged in making illicit content for more than three years and requested the police apprehend them.

Police conducted four investigations into the case, but they were unable to find the suspects due to Telegram’s high level of security and privacy. Officials then closed the investigation due to challenges in securing evidence.

In December last year, the National Investigation Headquarters under the Korean National Police Agency ordered a reinvestigation of the case, which is now being probed by the SMPA.

Police said they will expand their investigation into the case as they are considering the possibility that there may be multiple accomplices who helped the perpetrators produce and share the sexual videos.

Officials added that they would “actively cooperate” with related agencies, civic groups and overseas investigative authorities to arrest other distributors and accomplices involved in the case.

Telegram has previously been used in digital sex crimes. In one, the “Nth Room” online sex crime ring blackmailed over 70 women, many of them minors, into filming explicit sexual content, which was then sold for profit on Telegram chat rooms.

The ensuing public outrage prompted a series of legal changes, collectively known as the “anti-Nth Room” legislation.

However, South Korea has seen a spike in the number of digital sex crimes in recent years. A 2023 report on support service cases for digital sex crime victims released by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family showed that 8,983 people were provided support, up 1,004 from 2022. The figure for 2018 was 1,315.