In South Korea, spy cameras, or “molkas” have been a big issue for a long time. These hidden cameras can be found anywhere: public restrooms, fitting rooms, subways, and even in trash cans. As a result, women live in fear because they could be recorded and revealed on pornographic sites. According to New York Times, there have been more than 30,000 cases of filming reports in South Korea since 2013. Additionally, 6,000 cases from Korea were reported last year with 80% of the victims being women.
A recent issue that came to light was about a girl group that had cameras installed in their dorms without their permission that were recording videos of them, including videos of them changing. This stirred a lot of controversy as students such as Alexis Tabibian stated that “it’s disgusting for companies or people to film without permission and to expose videos to the public.”
Due to the possibility of being filmed, in South korea it is common to see women wearing face masks everywhere. Before undressing or using the restroom, people always check to see if there are any hidden cameras. However, spy cameras aren’t set up only by unknown people. BBC interviewed a woman, Kim, who revealed that she found out that a guy friend was recording her from under the table. As she took his phone away, she saw many other videos of herself and a groupchat where other guys were talking about her body. Kim stated that she felt “like a sexual object [and was] frightened.” In the end, the man did not receive any punishment.
In worse cases, there have been people who have taken their lives upon finding out that a recording of themselves were up on a website. In response, a protest took place in Seoul where 70,000 women fought holding signs reading “My life is not your porn.” Although there have been small changes such as releasing anti spy-kits and selling phones that make sound when a picture is taken, there has been no big change that assuaged the people’s fear and anger.
Minju Kim, junior at Academy of the Canyons, states that “it’s important for schools to educate students about such cases. Additionally, Koreans are mad about the government laws because people get really weak sentences compared to criminals in other countries. I think the sentences should be heavier.”
Minju Kim also stated that, “one thing I found out was that the criminals make extremely small cameras in the form of nails or fire alarms and you can find many tiny holes in girls’ bathroom walls which are for the cameras. This is a very serious crime which will cause more controversies between males and females because there are certain groups in Korea who severely argue against the opposite gender. Being from Korea, I think the crime really depends on the area you live in. Sometimes, I used a bathroom outside and remembered that there were tiny holes on the walls.”
Tabibian further stated, “I heard about the news regarding spy cameras. My school has had women report about boys taking up-view pictures of their skirts. We have been warned about wearing skirts and going up stairs and received emails asking us to report the perpetrators. I personally believe these steps should be taken to ensure that people are taught at a young age to respect their peers and avoid incidents such as these in the future.”
Some progress has been made. Originally, the government only had fifty workers assigned to checking for spy cameras, but now, there are 8,000 additional workers to check for cameras. However, despite the many protests and complaints throughout the years, South Korea has yet to change their laws on sexual offenses.
Susie Song, Grade 11
Academy of the Canyons