Fury swells in South Korea over spy cam porn

SEOUL • Even a record heatwave will not keep student Claire Lee from joining tens of thousands of South Korean women at a mass protest today against secretly filmed spy cam pornography - as anger over the issue swells.

Since May, the monthly protest in Seoul has become the biggest women's protest in South Korea where the global #MeToo movement has unleashed a wave of female-led activism.

The target of their fury: spy cam videos that largely involve men secretly filming women in schools, offices, trains, toilets and changing rooms, and which are so prevalent they make headlines daily.

Ms Lee, 21, said that when she uses public toilets, she would check the walls for suspicious holes. "You'd never know if there's a spy cam lens hidden inside." She would also stab the holes with a pen to shatter any secret lenses, or stuff tissue paper inside them.

The number of spy cam crimes reported to police has surged from around 1,100 in 2010 to more than 6,500 last year. The offenders included teachers, church pastors, government officials, police officers and even a court judge. In some cases, the victim's boyfriend or relatives were behind the crime.

The women are fighting back. More than 55,000 attended last month's protest in Seoul, said its organisers, but police put the number at around 20,000.

South Korean women staging a monthly protest in June against spy cam crimes. Among the offenders were teachers, church pastors, government officials, police officers and a court judge.
South Korean women staging a monthly protest in June against spy cam crimes. Among the offenders were teachers, church pastors, government officials, police officers and a court judge. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

South Korea takes pride in its tech prowess but it has also given rise to tech-savvy peeping Toms, with videos widely shared in Internet chatrooms and on file-sharing sites, or used as ads for websites promoting prostitution.

While all manufacturers of smartphones sold in South Korea are required to ensure their devices make a loud shutter noise when taking photos - a move to curb covert filming - many offenders use special apps that mute the sound, or turn to spy cams hidden inside eye glasses, lighters, watches and car keys.

Most offenders are fined or given suspended jail terms. Campaigners have called for harsher punishments for those who film, distribute and view such images, as well as tougher regulations to restrict the sale of high-tech spy cam equipment. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2018, with the headline 'Fury swells in S. Korea over spy cam porn'. Print Edition | Subscribe