Citizens at Ansan Station in Gyeonggi Province are very upset and fearful at the news that the infamous child sex offender Cho Doo Soon may return to his original hometown of Ansan after being released from prison in December. Many citizens showed signs of uneasiness and anxiety as they are wary of the sex offender returning to the place where he committed the crime.
Back in 2008, Cho Doo Soon kidnapped and raped an eight-year-old girl who was on her way home from school. The incident took place in Ansan, South Korea. Cho Do Soon was drunk at the time and brought the girl to a public restroom to beat her and rape her. The child received severe injuries to her internal organs due to the rape. Cho Doo Soon was arrested and was sentenced to twelve years in prison as he claimed he did not remember what he had done while he was drunk.
According to the Ministry of Justice, Cho Doo Soon said that he wants to return to Ansan where he used to live during a meeting with psychological counselors at the Ansan probation office. Cho Doo Soon stated he wanted to live the rest of his life in Ansan without causing any more trouble.
However, citizens in Ansan have expressed deep concerns about Cho Doo Soon's return to Ansan. A resident who has been running a shoe repair shop at Ansan station for 15 years expressed his anger and stated, "I was working here when that incident happened. And the whole town was in commotion. But that Cho Doo Soon guy is going to return? I'm nervous. Who knows what that criminal will do again? And this is the place where he committed his crime. All the residents here have painful memories, how can he say he will return to this place?"
He continued to state, "I want to say something else. I still don't understand but I don't know why they gave him a lesser sentence just because he said he doesn't know what happened and has no recollection of the incident just because he was drunk. This is preposterous and I'm frustrated. How can the law be like this?"
Other business owners in the area are also against Cho Doo Soon returning to Ansan. Ms. Lee who owns her business near the station stated, "The government stated they will strictly monitor Cho Doo Soon. However, how can anyone know what that person is doing or what crimes they are committing? If he cuts off the ankle bracelet and commits the same crime, how will they prevent that? Who will be certain of his actions and why does he want to come back to Ansan?"
There are many citizens who are expressing their anxiety and are even traumatized by the name Cho Doo Soon.
A real estate business owner who had his business at Ansan for ten years stated, "The people who come to look at houses near Ansan ask about the closed-circuit surveillance cameras around the area including alleyways. A lot of people worry about security (because of the incident). I really wonder why Cho Doo Soon is even being released."
According to another resident, they stated Cho Doo Soon should not be sent back to Ansan for the sake of the victim and the victim's family. They stated, "For the sake of the victim's family, Cho Doo Soon should not return to Ansan. I really wish the government can rethink this. Isn't there a law about this? All the residents here are against Cho Doo Soon returning to Ansan."
There are even citizens who do not even want to mention his name. One resident who runs a supermarket in Ansan expressed her anxiety and stated, "I don't even want to mention his name. If no one talks about his name, the people of this town will forget about him and live on. I don't understand. Is he really coming here to Ansan?"
Experts claim that it is only natural for the residents of Ansan to be uneasy and anxious.
Oh Yoon Sung, a professor of police administration at Soonchunhyang University, explained, "It's natural for citizens to be anxious about the news that Cho Doo Soon will return to Ansan. In the eyes of ordinary citizens, the criminal should have received a life sentence but he is being released from prison after twelve years. Therefore, many citizens are angered and unable to understand the court's decision."
He continued to state, "Cho Doo Soon stated that he has self-reflected and wishes to apologize to the victim. However, many citizens cannot trust in Cho Doo Soon's words since he has committed such a horrendous crime. Therefore, citizens feel uneasy."
As for whether there are possibilities of Cho Doo Soon to commute a second offense, the professor explained, "The government did say they will strictly monitor Cho Doo Soon's whereabouts and his actions. However, there is doubt whether the criminal can be monitored 100% of the time. Therefore causing the anxiety."
Meanwhile, Yoon Hwa Seop, Mayor of Ansan, sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice asking for legislation on the law - The protection and acceptance law calls for isolating violent criminals such as child rapists, habitual sexual offenders, and serial killers from society for a certain period of time and accommodating them in separate facilities.
Cho Doo Soon, who was previously put on trial in December 2008 for kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and seriously injuring an elementary school student in front of a church in Danwon-gu, was sentenced to life imprisonment. However, the court reduced the sentence in prison to twelve years, citing his advanced age along with mental and physical conditions caused by alcoholism. He also pleaded guilty and stated he had no memories while being drunk.
At that time, there was social unrest because Cho Doo Soon was sentenced to life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. Cho Doo Soon will be released from prison on December 13.