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YouTuber's unauthorized disclosure of suspect's identity stirs controversy

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : June 4, 2023 - 18:12

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This photo shows a man exerting violence against a woman in Busan in May 2022. (A screen grab courtesy of JTBC) This photo shows a man exerting violence against a woman in Busan in May 2022. (A screen grab courtesy of JTBC)

A YouTuber's unauthorized disclosure of the identity of a suspect who was earlier convicted of attempting to murder a stranger, is stirring up a number of controversies, including over whether the right to privacy of a person convicted of a crime outweighs the public's right to know.

The YouTuber, who has some 729,000 subscribers and goes by the name Caracula Detective, revealed on Friday the identity of a man who in May 2022 kicked a woman in the head, knocked her down and dragged her to a place out of surveillance camera view that resulted in, what the prosecutors suspect, a sexual assault.

The video showed a photo of him, as well as his name, age and past records of his 18 convictions, among other information.

"The victim wanted the identity of the suspect to be revealed because the investigative authorities had missed the chance to do so," the YouTuber was quoted as saying in his nine-minute-long video.

"I wanted to shoulder the burden of the victim by revealing the offender's identity."

This prompted YouTube's notification, according to Caracula Detective on Saturday, that his content had breached its policy related to personal information protection, and YouTube is considering sanctions on the YouTuber, including the denial of monetization unless the content is adjusted or removed.

The man in his 30s was already sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment for attempted murder at a district court in Busan in October. The prosecution appealed the sentence, calling for stronger punishment as the district court denied his rape accusations.

The ongoing court case has impeded the authorities from revealing the identity of the suspect, in the country where law enforcement -- the police and the prosecution -- is authorized to reveal the identity of those who allegedly committed a heinous crime or sexually assaulted minors.

The victim said in the video that both the police and the prosecution rejected her request, although she felt the need to prevent similar crimes from repeating once the offender is released from jail. She was told the matter is out of their reach because the court case is ongoing, according to the video.

In Korea, there is no clear regulation disclosed to the public over the timing and procedures of a suspect's identity revelation despite the existence of the law that supports it, according to a March report by the National Assembly Research Service.

But the revelation of 32 suspects' identities from January 2010 to September 2020 was implemented by the police, before the case was referred to the prosecution for court proceedings, according to the report.

Moreover, an act of publication of facts of suspected crime is considered a crime in Korea, whose Constitution supports the presumption of innocence. Those who commit such crime may face an imprisonment for up to three years.