Published:  09:45 AM, 29 November 2019

The K-pop star and the suffering of spy cam victims

The K-pop star and the suffering of spy cam victims

When K-pop star Goo Hara, who died last week, was secretly filmed by a boyfriend, she publicly fought for justice. For this, she was viciously attacked online. The sentences for so-called "spy cam porn" are relatively lenient in South Korea, but as the BBC's Laura Bicker in Seoul writes, their victims can face a different kind of punishment.

"I feel like he's still watching me," Eun-ju Lee told her dad.

It was around 1am, and she had called her dad yet again after waking in terror from another nightmare.

A few days later she would take her own life.

Eun-ju, not her real name, was a victim of South Korea's so called spy camera epidemic. Her colleague at a major hospital in the south of the country had drilled a hole to place a tiny camera in one of the ladies changing rooms. When he was caught upskirting a woman, police seized his phone and found illicit footage of four victims.

Her parents played me a phone call Eun-ju had made in her final days, which they believe shows the effect this had on their daughter's mental health.

She had accidentally run into the culprit on her way to the hospital. In a panic she phoned the hospital's union representative who taped the call. She appears unable to breathe and her voice is barely audible.

"Just come out, just leave the hospital now," urges the union representative.

Her fear is palpable.

"I just can't. I can't. I'm afraid I will run into him again," she manages to say before handing the phone to another nurse.

The encounter, her parents say, caused such anguish that it made her feel she would never be free of the perpetrator.

"You can kill someone without using weapons," her father told me. "The weight of the harm caused might be the same, but the effect can differ for each person - some might be able to pull through, others like my daughter might not be able to.

"The perpetrator knew a lot of the same people my daughter knew. So what she feared the most was [that] maybe he shared the video with people she knew. Even if he didn't share it online maybe he would have showed it to other people. She was really afraid of that."

Earlier this month the man, whom we cannot name for legal reasons, was sent to prison for ten months. Prosecutors had asked for a two year sentence. The maximum penalty for illegal filming is five years.

Eun-ju's parents have decided to appeal against the decision.

"People don't take it seriously," Mr Lee told me. "The sentencing is so light."

"Even two years would have been so little," said Mrs Lee. "Now, as a parent of someone who's been a victim of it, ten months is not enough."

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