It's time to be aware of how perilous stalking is
Police have disclosed the identity of a suspect who allegedly murdered two sisters and their mother at an apartment in northern Seoul, March 23. The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency held a committee meeting Monday and concluded that disclosing the man's personal information, including his name and photo, was in the best interests of the public, given the heinous nature of the crime.
The suspect, Kim Tae-hyun, who had been stalking a 24-year-old woman with whom he became acquainted in January, posed as a delivery man and deceived the woman's younger sister, who was alone at home, into opening the door, before stabbing her to death. Kim, 24, then waited for the other two women to come home and fatally stabbed them as well. Shockingly, he stayed in the apartment for three days afterwards, consuming food and alcohol alongside the bodies.
The public called out for the identity of the ruthless suspect to be made known, prompting more than 200,000 people to sign an online petition on the website of the presidential office. Therefore the police decided to disclose his identity after holding a committee meeting to discuss the matter and its implications. The disclosure is quite logical because the suspect committed a horrendous crime and there was ample evidence supporting the offenses.
This incident raises the need to toughen the punishment for stalking, which has long been treated only as a misdemeanor. A new Anti-Stalking Law, which will go into effect in September, stipulates that serious offenders can be punished with a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to 50 million won ($44,000).
But the new law seems inadequate as it falls short of making stalking a felony, and because the offender cannot be punished if the victim refuses to press charges. This loophole seems to be the result of ignoring the reality that offenders may intimidate victims and their relatives into not pressing charges. It's time to be aware of how perilous stalking is and uproot the serious crime. Police should no longer consider stalking as a sign of love, as love is a selfless act.