|An inspector inspects a public toilet to check for the possible installation of a hidden camera in central Seoul in this April 24 photo. Korea Times file|
By Bahk Eun-ji
More than two out of three Seoul citizens are afraid of being filmed secretly by hidden cameras in public, a survey showed Monday.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to expand crackdowns on spycams in hotel and motel rooms, the places where people have the highest anxiety about becoming possible victims of illegal recording.
According to the survey conducted by the city government and Namu Counseling for Women's Rights on 1,500 adults last month, 69 percent they feel insecure about being watched by hidden cameras installed in public places. By gender, 80 percent of women and 57 percent of men said so.
The places people were most concerned about hidden cameras was in hotel or motel rooms, with 43 percent picking them, followed by public restrooms at 36 percent and public baths or swimming pools with 9 percent. While men are most worried about spycams at lodgings, women feel the most anxiety in public restrooms.
This led 61 percent of respondents to check whether there were holes in bathroom stalls where cameras could be installed; while 44 percent said they try not to use public restrooms.
The use of hidden cameras, especially to spy on women in such public places, has been a huge problem in Korea. A variety of tiny and well camouflaged hidden cameras are available on the market, and secretly recorded explicit videos and pictures of women have been shared online. The relatively light punishment of offenders led to thousands of women pouring out their anger in massive street rallies last year.
To eradicate spycam crimes, the city government pledged a tougher crackdown.
It used to check public restrooms and public transportation hubs such as bus terminals, and subway and train stations. But under the revised Public Health Control Act, which took effect last Wednesday, local governments can now search for hidden cameras installed in accommodations, bath houses and beauty parlors even without the business owners' consent.
Some 110,000 hotel and motel rooms as well as public bath houses will be inspected during the second half of the year, the city government said. If the owners or operators of such places install hidden cameras, they could face suspension of operations or closure.