“History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.” — Sydney J. Harris
After seeing an advertisement for a high-paying fitting model job, numerous financially unstable girls ranging from young minors to adults wishing to audition to contact the recruiter. However, this ad is a trick set up by a man to obtain their personal information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and more. This man is called “Gat Gat,” the leader of the many criminals involved in a sexual crime case called the Nth Room on a platform called Telegram. The women threatened by the criminals were raped and filmed, forced to send videos of them carving words into their skin, and were subject to other unnameable, inhumane acts. These videos were then leaked and sent out to the members and viewers of the Nth Room, who paid for access to these materials. “Gat Gat” is still operating under different platforms as he has not been caught yet by the police.
Another room that operated similarly next to the Nth Room was called the Professor Room. The owner of this room was called “Bak-sa,” or Professor, in Korean. The face and identity of this criminal were exposed by the government: Cho Joo-bin, a normal, hard-working 25-year-old who had attended college and interacted with others daily. The fact that he was so normal and so well-hidden in society scared the public even more, thus leading to a national petition that passed 2.6 million signatures, to reveal the faces and identities of all viewers of the Nth Room, to lessen the public fear that anyone could be a sexual criminal.
Such heinous sexual crimes, however, are not new to South Korea. In Jan. 2019, the Burning Sun scandal was a heated issue, which involved young K-Pop idols engaging in illegal actions that involved sexual assault and prostitution. In Mar. 2019, Korean women had to fear the numerous hidden spy cameras, or “molkas,” concealed in obscure places such as bathrooms, hotels, or changing rooms, taking illegal videos of sexual material without consent. Not only were there many sexual assault cases with a large group of victims, but there also were numerous rape or sexual violence cases with individual victims that demonstrated the brutality and cruelty of these criminals. The Nth Room is simply the most recent case of a chain of events that are all inhumane crimes that objectify women.
Ignorance regarding sexual assault has always existed in South Korea, and new cases continue to occur without effective deterrence measures. The majority, if not all, of the aforementioned cases ended fairly messily without proper police investigation and government involvement, and are not paid attention to in the status quo anymore. Many also scrutinize the weakness of Korean laws addressing sexual crimes: for instance, owning video material containing the sexual abuse of a minor is subject to one year of jailtime or fines. Because of these lax regulations against sexual crimes, history continues to repeat itself, allowing more crimes to reoccur without properly being stopped every time.
Now that the public has certainly realized the consequences of inadequate punishment in the past, history has to be prevented from repeating itself again, and the damages that could possibly be caused by the same reason in the future must be avoided. Therefore, as the government is deciding the extent of punishments for the Nth Room viewers and criminals, they must give much thought to deter any more damage toward the South Korean female population.