Stalking perpetrators to face up to 5 years in jail under new law
The government will push for a new law to drastically raise punishments for stalking perpetrators, the Ministry of Justice said Friday.
The ministry made a prior announcement of the plan for the legislation via the government gazette, which calls for punishing convicted stalkers with up to five years in prison.
Under the new law, acts of continuously or repeatedly approaching, following or blocking a victim against his or her will; waiting for or watching a victim in and around his or her residence, workplace or school; or causing a victim anxiety or fear through mail, telephone or IT networks are defined as stalking crimes.
Currently, stalking is considered a misdemeanor in South Korea and is punished only with a fine not exceeding 100,000 won ($90), resulting in a growing number of victims. Indeed, the number of stalking crimes handled by local police nearly doubled from 312 in 2013 to 583 last year.
The new law stipulates an imprisonment of less than three years and a fine of less than 30 million won for stalking perpetrators.
If weapons and other dangerous objects are used in stalking, the punishments will rise to a prison term of less than five years and a fine of less than 50 million won, the ministry said.
"Recently, the number of cases of severe mental and physical damage caused by stalking has increased. Failures to take proper protective measures for victims and punish the perpetrators have caused various violent crimes, such as assaults and murders," a ministry official said, explaining the background for the new law.
The new law also mandates police to rush to the scene of stalking to take emergency measures, including an application for a restraining order from a court, the ministry said.