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Photographer faces charges for shooting lewd pictures

May 30,2018
Police on Monday requested that prosecutors charge a photo studio employee with sexual harassment after their investigation found that he surreptitiously photographed female university students while pretending to help adjust their outfits before shoots.

Between May 2017 and February this year, the 23-year-old photographer allegedly took a total of 225 photos featuring the body parts of 215 students. The studio, located in the university neighborhood of Sinchon in western Seoul, specialized in photos for ID cards and job applications and was well known among students for its affordability. One shoot cost 4,900 won ($4.55), about half the price of other studios in the area.

According to police, the suspect would hold a smartphone in his hand and take photos of students’ chests while pretending to adjust their outfit before a shoot. He would also ask students to type their email address on a computer and use his smartphone to take photos underneath their skirt while they stooped over a keyboard. A student reported him to police in February, and authorities arrested him later that month.

“As far as our investigation is concerned, he has not uploaded the photos online,” a police officer said. A notice posted on the studio’s door included an apology and said the company had fired the employee.

Authorities have recently been investigating a range of cases involving hidden cameras. In many of them, the images have appeared online in forums or on pornographic websites.

On May 15, the students’ association of Korea University posted on its Facebook page that it had discovered footage taken inside men’s bathrooms on campus. They appeared on Womad, a radical feminist website. Police took up the case after the students’ association sued Womad.

According to police, there were 5,185 criminal cases involving use of hidden cameras in 2016, the latest year that data is available. The number had more than tripled since 2011, when there were 1,523 cases.

In one infamous case from January, a 36-year-old man surnamed Kim was arrested for distributing 242,482 pornographic videos online, some of which was revenge porn from clients. Kim raked in about 54 million won ($50,000) from his business.

“The government needs to come up with strong policies to crack down on these sexual harassment crimes,” said Lee Woong-hyuk, a professor of police studies at Konkuk University, “because once the pornographic videos are uploaded online, it’s difficult to ensure they’re completely deleted.”

BY CHO HAN-DAE [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]