Built on Sand: what prevents development of laws regarding sexual assault in Korea
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
– Matthew 7:24-27
A house built on a rock stays sturdy. A house built on sand collapses.
The exact same principles apply for any institution or constitution; their basis gives us innuendoes of what to expect from future fruits. Now let’s apply this very idea to our previously discussed laws regarding sexual assault in Korea. Tell me if you think the fundamental laws we have and the historical background we’ve emerged out of look like houses built on rock or built on sand.
Here’s a short recap on the basic laws outlining punishment of sexual assault: one who rapes someone is subject to sentence for at least three years, one who sexually harasses someone is subject to sentence for less than ten years or a fine of less than 15,000,000 KRW. Note that the United States has no restriction on the number of years in prison for a rapist.
You may say that it is irrational to compare the United States and South Korea and their laws, considering they come from different historical backgrounds. Indeed, the two nations were established upon differing principles, and citizens of these nations have grown up with different emphasized values. I don’t mean to digress from the topic, but here’s an example: in the United States, it is not “wrong” or a “crime” to publish defamatory information about someone as long as it is true. In Korea, regardless of its integrity, the act of publishing it is a crime. Korea values people’s rights to have an undamaged reputation; the US values what is true.
Very similar reasons brought forth this conflict: there has been an unusual trend of police officers, who are assigned high schools to monitor, raping high schooler victims who report to them for assistance. How ironic! Yet they are not burdened with any punishment; what kind of police officer would report such a crime coming from one of the people they work with? Who would want so much for their office, their department, to be given the reputation of being a hypocrite? At least to Korean standards, no one.
Nevertheless and obviously, “historical background” serves as no rationale for relative disrespect of human rights and eased punishment. A victim in the US suffers as much as a victim in Korea, and their nations’ backgrounds should not change the wrongdoer’s fate. Unfortunately, in the status quo, these criminals’ fates are often swayed by deeply rooted historical and cultural elements in Korea.
Amending a few words and numbers from the existing law is just like replacing a few bricks from the house built on sand. After a period of time, that house will collapse again. The already instilled, quite outdated values of Korea, are what need to change. It’s time to crush and rebuild that house from the sand dune to a strong rock.