South Korea: woman reportedly kills herself after being secretly filmed by doctor

Family said she was suffering nightmares and trauma after the incident as nations spy cam epidemic continues

A woman in South Korea has reportedly killed herself after discovering she had been secretly filmed in a hospital change room, amid growing public alarm at the voyeurism epidemic gripping the country.

The woman, referred to in local news reports as A, was found dead at her home in the south west of the country last week. Her family said she had suffered nightmares and trauma after finding out that she had been filmed at the hospital without her knowledge.

A statement from her family said she had made an extreme choice.

A clinical pathologist at the same hospital was arrested in August for allegedly filming female co-workers in the employees changing room. Police allege he made a hole in the changing room wall to film the four victims.

They are investigating a link between the allegations against the pathologist and the womans death.

The woman is among thousands of South Korean victims of molka, in which women are covertly filmed and the footage uploaded to websites visited by men who often pay subscription fees to access the illegal films.

In 2017, there were a reported 6,400 cases of illegal filming reported to police in South Korea, up from 2,400 in 2012.

Earlier this year, two men were arrested for secretly filming 1,600 people in 30 hotels across 10 cities in South Korea. The films were uploaded to a subscription website.

Na-Young Lee, a professor of sociology at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, saidSouth Korean women were increasingly alarmed by the molka epidemic.

There are cameras everywhere from toilets to motels, houses where you are living alone, to school, and these pictures or film footages are distributed on pornography sites while you are not aware of them, she said. They are combined with other graphic images to be pornographies and circulated again.

The molka crisis has sparked widespread protests in South Korea. In August last year, 70,000 people marched in Seoul with signs stating my life is not your porn.

Lee said many women felt that the police and prosecutors were not taking the cases seriously.

Even [if] they make a report to police, [police] just dismiss the case and men are soon released, she said. [Women] insist there are biased investigations and rulings involved.

Lee pointed to a case last year where a female model was sentenced to 10 months in detention for filming a male colleague and deliberately posting his pictures online, while in a similar case with the genders of the perpetrator and victim reversed, there was just a 2m won fine.

The spy cam itself is problematic, but the attitude of police prosecutors and the judges who are dealing with the cases are also problematic.

Josh Taylor travelled to South Korea as part of the Walkley Foundations Australia-Korea journalist exchange program in partnership with the Korea Press Foundation.

In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National SuicidePrevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

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