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"I'll Reflect on it For You," Behind the Scenes of the Legal Industry
  • By Seo Ji-min, reporter
  • 승인 2023.03.13 01:54
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▲ Free-source image of the behind scenes law industry

As the Me Too Movement began in 2018 and the prison rate for sex crimes rose, the sex crime- related industrial market is facing an ironic boom. According to judicial statistics, the first trial prison sentence rate for sexual assault and molestation steadily rose to 20.6% in 2017, 22% in 2018, 25.4% in 2019, 25.1% in 2020, and 27.7% in 2021. Compared to the 1% increase in the prison rate for theft and robbery during the same period, it can be interpreted that the judiciary's judgment on sex crimes has become noticeably stricter, since the Me Too Movement in 2018.

As the number of sexual violence cases has soared and it has become more difficult to be acquitted in trials. However, the part of the legal industry that helps reduce the sentences of suspects has become more active. The, 'Letter of Apology Ghostwriting Company,' is a representative example of the behind the scenes legal industry. According to Article 53 of the Criminal Act, if there is a reason to take into account, the sentence can be reduced, including whether the accused and the suspects reflect on themselves. The Supreme Court's sentencing standards also include a sentence reduction through, 'serious reflection.' However, projects that write letters of apology, instead of sentence reduction, grew rapidly, and letters of apology reflected in the sentencing of the courts have become products in a capitalist society. In fact, if you search for, "reflective writing," as a keyword in the portal site search box, you can see advertisements from dozens of companies, including general businesses, administrative offices, and medium- sized law firms. The market price is usually between 50,000 won and 90,000 won, and there were also companies that advertised that they could receive it within 12 hours, when asked to ghost write a letter of apology. As of 2021, 70.9% of all sex offender’s sentences were commuted due to, 'serious reflection,' and 63.8% of sex crimes cases were sentenced to probation between 2016 and 2019 were the result of applying, 'serious reflection.' In addition to such ghostwriting companies, private statement analysis companies, are also thriving. In sex crime cases, the victim's statements often have a significant impact on the proof of the crime, therefore, the suspect visits the company to shake the credibility of the victim's statements. The growth of the behind scenes legal industry for individuals accused of sex crimes seems to have played a part in the atmosphere in which sex crime suspects actively share specifications and related information for reduction of sentencing through the online community. Sexual crime suspects advise each other on their know- how and experiences in reducing sentences, such as letters of apology, parents' petitions, blood donation certificates, confirmation of volunteer activities, donation receipts, and organ donation pledges. This shared reduction specification leads to donations for impure purposes and causes related organizations to suffer. In fact, in 2020, the Korea Cyber Sexual Violence Counseling Center returned the money after realizing that the source of the 30,000 won donation was Namkyung- eup, one of the suspects in the Nth Room case.

Making a criminal suspect truly repent his past is one of the purposes of a judicial trial. The problem is that it is difficult for the court to closely examine the sincerity of reflection. For example, Lee Young- hak, who brutally murdered his daughter's friend in 2017, submitted 43 letters of apology during the trial, and the court at the time considered it as data to judge the possibility of edification. However, Lee Young- hak, whose sentence was confirmed, later told his daughter, "Wait about a year. Let's get revenge," showed no remorse. Currently, the National Assembly has proposed the, 'Act to Eradicate Reflective Tricks.' According to a revision to the Criminal Procedure Act proposed by Rep. Song Ki- hun of the Democratic Party of Korea in January, judges were required to listen to statements of opinions from the victim's point of view when considering sentencing. It is urgent to prepare sentencing standards from the perspective of protecting victims, breaking away from the existing convenient and perpetrator-centered sentencing conditions.

By Seo Ji-min, reporter  jmseo1215@naver.com

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