By Kim Rahn
A local high court found a 46-year-old man not guilty of having sex with a runaway teenage girl, saying their liaison was neither forced nor in exchange for money.
The Busan District Court Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that acquitted the man, identified as Kim, of charges related to the violation of the law covering the protection of minors.
Kim bought food for the 16-year-old girl, who was wandering near Seoul Station, and allowed her to stay at his home in December 2006. He was indicted for having sex with her while the two lived together for about six months.
``The girl had already been homeless for about two years before meeting Kim, and he did not control her after offering his house as a shelter to her request. So we don’t acknowledge the prosecution’s claim that Kim made the minor (engage in sexual activity) away from her parents’ protection,’’ the court said.
The court also found Kim not guilty of violating the laws governing the protection of adolescents, saying, ``They had sex, but she did not demand money and he did not give her money. He provided her with shelter, food and about 20,000 won pocket money, but there is no evidence that the offering was in exchange for sex.’
In Korea, a person is not guilty of any crime for having sex with a minor aged 13 and over unless it is paid for or forced. Sex with those under the age of 13 is punishable even if it is carried out under mutual consent.