Posted by: rbbadger | December 4, 2008

Bad judges

A recent sentence given by a judge in the Cheongju District Court has enraged many and there are now calls for his impeachment.  Judge Oh Jun-keun gave four men, found guilty of sexually abusing their mentally and developmentally disabled teenage relative, three years in prison and then suspended the sentence.  This means that they won’t go to jail.

Needless to say, this has enraged the populace and there are many calls for the judge’s impeachment.  Judges are appointed by the Korean government and serve until they reach retirement age or until they resign or are found guilty of an impeachable offense.  They can only be impeached by a 1/3 majority vote in the National Assembly.  Then, at least 1/2 of the National Assembly must vote to remove the judge.  I am sure that phones have been buzzing off the hook at the National Assembly demanding impeachment of Judge Oh.  So far, an internet petition has accumulated over 16,000 signatures. 

Fortunately, the prosecutors can appeal the sentence and one hopes that the Court of Appeals is far more stricter in their applications of sentencing than a certain judge in the Cheongju District Court is.  All those found guilty of a crime in Korea can appeal their sentences.  The prosecution can also appeal if they think that the trial judge was too lenient.  For a while, if a prisoner tried to challenge the length of his or her sentence in court and the court dismissed the challenge, an additional six months was tacked onto the sentence, presumably for wasting the court’s time.  From what the police have said, what happened to the girl was sickening in the extreme.  They are only not charging the girl’s father because the statute of limitations has expired.  But for the moment, sadly, the girl’s grandfather and three uncles that abused her are at liberty in the land.  Thankfully, a private charity has taken in the girl.  And hopefully the Court of Appeals, if not the Supreme Court of Korea, will set right a great miscarriage of justice. 

The prosecutors were originally seek five year sentences, but it got dropped down to three.  I don’t know what the maximum is under Korean law, but given that the incest took place over seven years, I rather think that the biggest penalty the law affords should be used and hopefully the Court of Appeals will impose it. 

It all sends a very bad message.  An actress might go to year for a year and a half for adultery, but family members of girl who was raped by them for seven years got off with a slap on their wrists.  In the heat of anger against the judge, all the recent protests against Korea’s capital punishment laws might be forgotten for a time.



  1. that’s outrageous. and horrendous. i am just speechless. what is the world coming to?

    on another note, NEON crosses? HA HA HAA!!! that’s too funny.

    our thanksgiving was a good one! it was pretty small compared to our usual ones, but we got to see lots of family throughout the weekend so it was great. we had tons of pie–wish you could’ve been here to sample them! 🙂 maybe we can do a pie party when you get home just because those are so much fun and let’s face it: pie parties are the best! 🙂 glad you got some kimchi on thanksgiving. we were definitely thinking of and missing you!

  2. Yes, Kimberly, neon crosses are a general dead giveaway that it is a Protestant church. Catholic churches are easily identified by the lack of neon and the fact that there is a very large statue of Jesus or Mary (or sometimes both) right in front of the church.

    The reasons that the judge suspended the sentences in this matter was that the abusers are the ones who have been financially providing for the girl. In the case of her grandfather and some of the uncles, they are either elderly or in failing health. But another judge, this time in St. Johns, head arguments on providing for the livelihood of the family in the case of Arizona v. Barnes. Judge Roca sentenced him to twice the legal minimum (5 years) and said, “character is what you do when nobody is looking”.

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