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KOREA: Internet crimes still on the rise

Number of cases has been increasing since 2001; expert says it might have to do with Korea's widespread web access

The Korea Times
Thursday, February 10, 2005

By Kim Tae-gyu

The number of libel and sexual violence cases on the Internet swelled more than eight times over the past four years, according to a Korean government panel.

The state-funded Information Communication Ethics Committee (ICEC) on Thursday reported counseling applications from victims of such cyber wrongdoings amounted to 2,285 last year, an 8.22-fold increase from 278 in 2001.

The number of applications is on a stable rise from 1,248 in 2002 to 1,916 in 2003. In particular, as many as 979 libel cases were brought to the ICEC, compared to 33 in 2001, 115 in 2002 and 894 in 2003.

"Online perpetrators are typically unaware of the seriousness of their behavior so their unlawful practices are unlikely to dwindle anytime soon," an ICEC official said.

He added that the committee is preparing to ask the authorities to prosecute more online criminals.

The panel also plans to beef up the online counseling system on a real-time basis and provide legal assistance to victims of cyber crimes.

A Seoul analyst attributed the problem to people misusing the nation’s state-of-the-art broadband infrastructure, which enables most people to keep in touch with the Internet.

Korea has the world’s highest per capita use of high-speed Internet with roughly 12 million of the nation’s total 15 million households hooked up to the always-on Internet.

Meanwhile, the National Police Agency also saw the number of reported cyber crimes rise from 118,868 in 2002 to 165,119 in 2003.

The data for last year has yet to be collected, but experts estimate the number will top the 200,000 mark.

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