Angry protesters threw eggs and shouted insults as one of South Korea’s most notorious child predators was released from a prison in southern Seoul on Saturday at the end of a 12-year period.
Law enforcement authorities tied 69-year-old Cho Doo-soon with an electronic anklet and escorted him to his home in nearby Ansan, where authorities added and upgraded security cameras and promised to monitor 24 hours a day. day for a man the residents still see. as a risk to your community.
Cho was convicted of kidnapping and raping an 8-year-old girl in a church bathroom in Ansan in 2008 in a brutal attack that left her with serious and lasting injuries. The case shocked and horrified the nation and sparked a great deal of public sympathy for the girl, which inspired a 2013 hit movie titled “Hope.”
Around a million people since 2017 have signed multiple online petitions to the president opposing the release of Cho, who had been feared by Ansan residents for years.
Dozens of protesters, holding signs reading “Cho Doo, soon to hell” and shouting slogans calling for her castration or execution, gathered for hours outside the prison early Saturday amid a heavy police presence. The officers dispersed some protesters who temporarily blocked a road to the prison by lying down and locking their arms, which appeared to delay Cho’s release by around half an hour.
Protesters threw eggs and other objects as a pickup truck, carrying Cho and flanked by officers, exited the prison gate around 6:45 a.m.
Cho, gray-haired, wearing a white cap and mask, later arrived at a probation office in Ansan amid a barrage of camera flashes where officials searched his tracking device. He did not respond to reporters’ questions about whether he repented, but bowed twice before being escorted home.
The Ministry of Justice had rejected an earlier request by the mayor of Ansan for Cho to be kept in isolation in a “protection” center after his sentence ended. The ministry said it decided to transport Cho in a government vehicle because allowing him to use his own car or public transportation could risk “physical confrontations” with other citizens. Online message boards and social media have been full of comments threatening to punish him.
“Almost everyone I know was busy searching the Internet to find out the location of their house and so was I,” said Lee Do-hyung, a coffee shop employee. “There are conversations that say that the prison did not change him and that he was still a violent man. You don’t want that man walking the streets and couples with parents are particularly concerned. “
JA Nah, an office worker in Ansan, said: “I think I am going to tremble with fear to meet him anytime, anywhere if he lives near me.”
“I hope that now he lives as a normal citizen who does not harm others, but I am still afraid of him,” he said.
To ease public anxiety, authorities have recently stepped up patrols and security positions in Cho’s neighborhood.
The Ansan city government said in a statement that a team of 12 security guards, formerly special forces soldiers or martial arts specialists, have been assigned on shifts to patrol the area around Cho’s home around the clock. of the day. Officials are also adding 20 more security cameras, as well as new streetlights.
Mo Youngshin, a police officer in Ansan, said that about 30 officers are mobilized separately each day to patrol the neighborhood. He said that the police and the Ministry of Justice had recently organized a joint training on how to quickly mobilize their staff to respond if Cho commits a crime.
The victim’s family told local media last month that they plan to move from Ansan due to Cho’s return.
The father told JTBC television that his daughter “broke down in tears” over Cho’s planned return to Ansan. “It was the first time it happened since she was attacked 12 years ago. We all cried with her, ”said the man, whose name and face were not disclosed.
Despite widespread concerns, some residents cautiously questioned whether the current level of patrols, public hatred and media frenzy are too much for Cho to have completed his sentence.
The Ansan city government has also recently requested media agencies not to film or interview residents without permission, citing privacy concerns and possible negative effects on housing prices and early childhood education.