[Writer's Choice] Hundreds of Hotel Guests Secretly Filmed and Livestreamed in South Korea

Jay Yim, March 22, 2019, 4:55 p.m.

On Thursday, South Korean police said that they arrested four people on suspicion of secretly recording videos of about 1,600 guests in their hotel rooms and posting or streaming them on the internet. According to the Korean National Police Agency, mini spy cameras were set up in TV set-top boxes, hair dryer cradles or electrical outlets in hotels in central and southeastern South Korea.

Authorities said that the men who work at the hotels set up 1-millimeter lens cameras in August last year in 30 seperate hotels across 10 South Korean cities. The men supposedly earned about 7 million won ($6,210) in total from posting or livestreaming the videos on an overseas-based internet site between November and early March last year.

If found guilty, according to police, the two main suspects could face up to seven years in prison.

One of the suspects allegedly set up the cameras after entering the hotel as a guest. The other suspect was accused of launching and managing the website. Finally, the other two suspects, allegedly bought the cameras and funded the internet site's operation, police said.

It was reported that the men posted 803 videos in total and evaded the law by basing their server overseas.

According to police, these men are the first to be arrested in South Korea for allegedly livestreaming the private lives of hotel guests via an overseas-based website.

The illegal distribution of secretly filmed videos as such is a serious social problem in South Korea. Thousands of women joined in rallies in Seoul several times last year and demanded the government take stronger measures against the spread of such videos.

In 2017, according to BBC, South Korea saw more than 6,000 cases reported. More than 5,400 people were arrested for hidden camera related crimes in 2017, but less than 2 percent were sent to prison.

In a similar case, South Korean police arrested former K-pop singer Jung Joon Young on Thursday for allegedly illegally sharing explicit videos of women he had sex with without their knowledge or consent.

The Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant for his arrest for hours after appearing at a hearing and apologizing to the victims and to "everyone who has showed affection for me." He was later escorted to a downtown Seoul police station in handcuffs.

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