Time to awaken to gravity of stalking crimes
A Seoul court has sentenced a 25-year-old man to life imprisonment for murdering a woman he stalked, as well as her mother and younger sister, in a case that raised awareness about stalking crimes. On Tuesday, the Seoul Northern District Court handed out the sentence to Kim Tae-hyun, who had been indicted on five criminal charges, including murder and breaking and entering.
Kim claimed the killings of the mother and the sister were not premeditated, saying he wasn't aware of the other family members. But the court rejected his claim and convicted him of all charges brought against him. "The mother and the sister were brutally murdered although they had nothing to do with the defendant. The crimes show the defendant's extreme disregard for human life," the court said.
Kim was arrested at the victim's home in Seoul on March 25, days after killing the three women there. He had been stalking the family's eldest daughter he met through online games last year. After she cut communications with him, Kim disguised himself as a delivery man to enter her home and commit his crimes.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for him, arguing that Kim had planned the crimes in advance. But the court rejected their request, stating that Kim acknowledged most of his crimes and had no prior serious criminal record. Nonetheless, the life sentence may seem too light a penalty, given the severity of his crimes.
The murder case should serve as an occasion to awaken our society to the gravity of stalking. Stalking is a serious crime that makes it impossible for a victim to lead a normal life. In this respect, it is welcome news that a new law on stalking was enacted in March. Under the law that will go into effect next week, stalkers can face up to five years in jail or 50 million won ($42,000) in fines. Hopefully, this law will take firm root so that no one will fall victim to stalking crimes ever again.