|The Seoul High Court / Korea Times file|
By Jung Da-min
An appellate court overturned a lower court ruling that handed a one-year jail term to a man who had tried to enter a woman's house, holding a weapon and ringing the doorbell, because he "did not actively try to break into the house by turning the doorknob."
The Seoul High Court acquitted the man, 23, of the attempted breaking and entering charge on Thursday. According to the court, the man tried to break into the home of a woman living upstairs in his apartment building in Yeongdeungpo District, Seoul, at around 12:20 a.m. on Aug. 31 of last year. He rang the doorbell and knocked on the door, holding a weapon.
He was detained at the scene as she called the police.
The man, who was found to have schizophrenia, had told police that he had tried to get inside the woman's home and sexually assault her.
A local court had found him guilty and sentenced him to a jail term, saying that his act had impaired the woman's safety and caused her considerable fear and mental pain. But the local court had found the man guilty of attempted breaking and entering rather than actual breaking and entering, because the door was not opened and the man did not enter the woman's residence.
But the appeals court did not find the man guilty of attempted breaking and entering at all, saying that he had only rung the bell and knocked on the door, without making any further attempt to enter the woman's house, such as turning the doorknob or trying to enter the password of the digital door lock.
"If he had attempted to open the door forcibly, it would have been an actual threat and he would have been found guilty. But he only rang the bell and knocked on the door. He was detained while standing in front of her door, so we don't believe that he started the action to break into the house," the high court said in the ruling.