By Jay Kim
As I watch the seemingly constant news stories about child rapists, I am
curious about who ordered the police to put so much effort into
covering the faces of the criminals. Don’t parents need to know what
these brutal criminals look like to protect their young sons and
daughters in the future? It is regrettable to see the police pulling a
hat over the criminal’s face, lest the wind should blow it off and
reveal his identity. Who protects whose human rights?
These people are taken to the scene of the crime to reenact it, and even
confess in detail that they planned to kill the victims to prevent
their faces from being identified. Does it follow from the principle of
protecting human rights to conceal the faces of these monstrous
The media is not that different. They will report on criminals for a few
days, only to move on once the next incident happens. There is no way
for the parents of victims to know how long these criminals are in jail,
or whether they are included in the one million convicts that were
freed by the Aug. 15 special presidential amnesty.
I read that one arrested sex offender turned out to be a repeat offender
with a history of having committed the same kind of crime 12 different
times. On the 13th time, the person committed murder, which led to the
culprit’s capture and the revelation of his monstrous deeds. Parents are
trembling in fear that many cruel career criminals still yet to be
arrested are walking the streets and targeting their children right at
They say that these heinous criminals are the most afraid of the
exposure of their identities. Thus, Korea must be heaven for them, since
the police go to such lengths to hide their faces with hats and masks.
Furthermore, three out of eight sex criminals are on probation, which is
ridiculous. Being arrested does not seem to mean much.
What about the United States, a country that’s dedicated to preserving
human rights? The U.S. is the most cold-hearted country toward crime.
Criminals who eat away at society are not wanted in America. In China,
those who commit sexual molestation of children are put to death without
exception, and even in the U.S., they have to be put in jail for at
least 30 years. Even after the 30 years in prison, their criminal
records continue to follow them, and there is no community in the U.S.
that will accept them. If an ex-criminal who committed a sexual crime on
children moves to a different town, the pictures of the person will be
posted all over it to warn parents. Thus, these sexual molesters of
children have to move to desolate places, change their names and spend
the rest of their lives in hiding.
In contrast, it seems that, for whatever reason, there is so much
respect for the rights of murderers in Korea while there is little
consideration for the families of the victims. Their suffering from the
crimes is totally ignored.
To protect human rights is to protect good citizens. Those who commit
such cruel crimes have already given up their own rights as human
beings. Being drunk while committing a crime reduces a criminal’s
sentence in Korea, while increasing it in the U.S.
We Koreans are compassionate. We act like mortal enemies during a fight,
but forgive each other over a bowl of makgeolli; we are a warm-hearted
people. However, we have to find a certain degree of cold-heartedness
now. Those who commit crimes should pay the price, no matter who they
are. Letting them off because they are rich, because they have
contributed much to society, because they were drunk or because they
grew up poor only encourages more crimes as a result.
Recently, criminals in our society have become bolder, and crime has
increased at a dangerous rate. This is no time to put forward
compassion, pitying criminals for the faults of society. According to a
foreign press source, international drug rings are considering moving
their bases to Korea because of its leniency on crime.
Where are the victims’ rights that the Republican Party of the U.S.
contend for? I have not seen many news reports about the families of
victims, whose lives have been torn apart forever. Our country should
not become a place unfair to victims. It is deplorable: who argues for
whose human rights for whom? It is a negative side effect of
interpreting the meaning of human rights too far.
Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the
Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s