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Man kills ex after having her surveilled

Activities of detectives are technically in breach of the laws
Nov 05,2018
A 49-year-old man who fatally stabbed his ex-wife in a parking lot in Gangseo District, western Seoul, last month was found to have paid a private detective agency to illegally spy on her.

The body of a woman in her 40s surnamed Lee was found stabbed multiple times in the neck and stomach in a parking lot of an apartment complex in Deungchon-dong of Gangseo District on Oct. 22.

A passerby found her body in the morning and reported it to police.

After examining CCTV camera footage, the police narrowed down the suspect to the woman’s ex-husband, a 49-year-old man surnamed Kim.

He was arrested the same day.

The Gangseo Police Precinct handed the case to the prosecution on Thursday, suggesting Kim be indicted for murder and other charges including domestic violence and violating the Act on the Protection, Use, etc. of Location Information.

Police found that Kim may have planned the murder for at least two months, hiring a private detective agency to spy on his ex-wife and report the pattern of places she visited.

When the JoongAng Ilbo contacted a similar agency on Sunday, it offered to find out a person’s residential address, contact number, phone calls and text message records, as well as the current location of the person and his or her movements, for a price ranging from 500,000 won ($448) to 1 million won.

These agencies can secretly place a GPS-tracking device on the person’s car or follow the person throughout the day, according to the JoongAng Ilbo’s findings.

Most of the services provided by these agencies are illegal.

According to the Credit Information Use and Protection Act, only those licensed by the Financial Services Commission can collect private information on a person such as their residential address or contact information.

According to the Act on the Protection, Use, etc. of Location Information, “No one shall collect, use, or provide the location information regarding an individual or mobile object without the consent of the individual or the owner of the mobile object.”

The act states that only people licensed by the Korea Communications Commission may locate any individual’s whereabouts.

If one is caught running such an illegal spying service, the person can be punished with prison time of less than 10 years or fined up to 100 million won.

But actual sentences for people convicted of those crimes has been light.

A suspect caught running one such agency last year was sentenced to one year in prison for violating the Credit Information Use and Protection Act and was given a suspended sentence for violating the Act on the Protection, Use, etc. of Location Information by the Seoul Central District Court.

Private detective agencies advertise their services on portal websites.

A user who claimed to be Lee’s daughter petitioned the Blue House for a death sentence for Kim.

“During the time that they were together, my mother had to endure severe domestic violence,” a user who claimed to be Lee’s daughter wrote on the Blue House petition website on Oct. 23. “For the four years they have been divorced, [Kim] continually threatened my mother’s life as well as the well-being of others around her.

“She could not lead a normal lifestyle and had to change her address five times,” the petition said. “But he kept finding her whereabouts and threatened her life … In the end, he stabbed her 13 times and took her life.

“My father is a dangerous man, he used to say that even if he kills her, he will get out of prison within six months,” the petition said. “Please dole out a death sentence on him so that there is no other victim.”

The petition was signed by 167,820 people as of Sunday afternoon.

Police found that Kim had threatened Lee and their daughter at least once after he allegedly ran into them in Gangbuk District, northern Seoul, in January 2016 and asked them to have a talk inside a restaurant.

Once inside, Kim allegedly showed Lee a knife under the table and threatened her.

The case was reported to police but wasn’t pursued.


BY ESTHER CHUNG, KIM DA-YOUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]