Pending release of South Korean man convicted of raping 8-year-old girl sparks concern among Chinese netizens
Published: Sep 10, 2020 10:47 PM

The production teams of the related film Hope recomposed from the South Korean case attend the 4th Beijing International Film Festival. Photo: VCG

Convicted criminal Cho Doo-soon, a South Korean man who was found guilty of attacking and raping an 8-year-old girl in 2008, will be released in December after 12 years in prison. News of Cho's release went viral in China on Wednesday, prompting Chinese netizens to discuss whether the convicted criminal should be released and express their concern for the safety of children.

The widely discussed case occurred in December 2008. Then 57-year-old Cho kidnapped an 8-year-old girl, known only as Na-young to the public, as she was making her way to school. Cho beat and raped Na-young in a public squat toilet, leaving her with severe internal injuries. 

Although the girl survived the incident, the attack left her permanently and severely disabled. The case was later adapted into the hit film Hope in 2013.

Cho was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The sentence has been considered as too light not only by South Korean netizens but many Chinese netizens as well. 

When the news about Cho's release reached China, several related hashtags quickly went viral on Chinese social media platforms. One "the criminal is undergoing 150 hours of psychotherapy" was the most viewed, earning more than 650 million views as of Thursday, on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

A majority of commenters said they do not support releasing the criminal and noted they are worried the man will hurt other children even if he wears an ankle monitor and is under constant supervision. 

"Even though the criminal has to wear an ankle monitor for seven years, I am still worried. He should be sentenced to life imprisonment or have to wear an ankle monitor for life," one netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

Other netizens said they feel that other measures, like making personal information such as his address public for the next five years, is not adequate enough to prevent him from repeating his crime.

"According to research by the US Ministry of Justice, criminals convicted of sexual assault are four times more likely to reoffend within three years of their release than other types of criminals, so the concerns of netizens are reasonable," Sun Xuemei, one of the founders of the Beijing-based Girl's Protection Foundation and chief editor of public benefit portal, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Sun said that the local government will notify people in his neighborhood when he moves in and out of the area.

"I think the most important measure is to prevent criminals from getting close to children. I think informing nearby residents about the criminal's personal information including likeness, home address and criminal history will be effective," a mother of a 1-year-old told the Global Times. 

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