A brief look at sentencing factors in South Korean courts

April 18th, 2014 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Legal news · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.


A case in which a stepdaughter was abused and beaten to death is the second such case recently.

Yet the difference in the prison sentences in the two cases is a full five years.

The reason?

Our reporter Jang Dong-woo went looking for answers.


Courts in Ulsan and Chilgok that recently considered defendants accused of beating their stepdaughters to death handed down sentences of 15 and 10 years.

Both defendants were accused of homicide resulting from bodily injury.

The charge of homicide resulting from bodily injury carries a sentence ranging from three to five years, but if the crime is committed against a family member the maximum increases to seven years and if committed against a family member a second time then the maximum increases by half and can reach 10 years and six months.

Factor weighing in favor of a heavy punishment are if the crime is committed more than once, if the victim is a family member or ancestor, or if the crime is particularly heinous.

The Daegu District Court that handled the case of the stepmother in Chilgok found that the standard for the maximum sentence was met, and the Ulsan District Court found that the standard was greatly exceeded.

In the case of the Ulsan stepmother, the sentence was enhanced because the death of the child, just two hours after the assault, was quite cruel and she had three prior arrests for injurious assault.

In the Chilgok case the indictment was for a violation of the Child Welfar Law, not for assault, so sentence enhancments did not apply.

< Lee Jong-gil / Daegu District Court Judge> “Under the sentencing guidelines, the sentence in this case of homicide by bodily injury could range from four year to 10 years and six months and in this case, I believe a sentence of 10 years was appropriate.”

However, legal experts say that had the Chilgok case been brought for assault, which would have made it eligible for sentence enhancement, it would have been eligible for sentence enhancement the same as the Ulsan case.

 This is Jang Dong-woo for News Y.

For more on the Ulsan case, see this article in Korean (warning: disturbing X-ray photo at top of page).

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