Heinous Criminals’ Faces Should Not Be Published
A few months ago, the publishing of serial killer Kang Ho-soon's face brought about great confusion to the society, as the faces of criminals had not previously been disclosed to the public.
Chosun Daily, who was the first to publish the photo, claimed they were following the opinion of the majority, but could this really be true? It's doubtable.
The issue has struck a huge controversy on the Internet. Blogs and other Internet-based communities are blaring with voices excoriating the rights of the criminal. However, people should not readily fix their opinion according to irrational media.
To assert that there are no human rights for serial killers is somewhat obtuse. Even such evildoers own rights, regardless of the degree of their wrongdoing ― this is clearly stated in the Constitution. In the case of Kang, his face was exposed to newspapers and online even before he was legally and officially accepted as a criminal through the court.
Therefore, his rights as an innocent person were severely interrupted.
And there is another thing we should not overlook ― Kang's family.
By disclosing Kang's appearance, his three sons and other relatives will probably be banished from society. People will view them as corrupted, tainted, and immoral, thus blocking their future possibilities. They will have to suffer the cold glances and pointing fingers. We must realize that they are, in a way, victims of this incident. Kang's five murdered victims are enough. We must act wisely to prevent victimizing his family even more.
Now the question is ― is our media mature enough to handle the disclosure issue? The answer is no.
Our media is like a hot pan. Once there is something to talk about, it strikes quickly and paralyzes Internet surfers' reasoning abilities. Already, furious people who have lost their rationality are fiercely criticizing Kang's sons and siblings, cooling their own anger by pointing the finger at the guiltless ones. Comments from Agora, a forum made in Daum, included provoking remarks such as, ``We all should hate the sons of this demon,'' and baseless claims like, ``I heard Kang's sons are troublemakers at school.''
Koreans are all fond of ``mad cow disease demonstrations.'' False facts about the FTA were spread by some demagogues on the Internet and caused the up rise of a nationwide riot. The event showed exactly how dangerous and unstable our media is.
At this point, people object and point to the successful cases. The United States is one of the nations that has no problem revealing serial killers' faces and their personal information. This was possible due to the Americans' logicalness and saneness toward such happenings.
For instance, when the killer Cho sprayed bullets at Virginia Tech University in 2007, his older sister appeared on various broadcasting stations like CNN for interviews. But no one stared at her in fear or horror. She was just an individual, clearly a different being from her brother. Even Cho's friends were on television, explaining about the occurrence to listeners.
Of course, families and relatives of the victims were enraged, but they didn't fuse their anger to blameless people, thus creating an ensuring environment for those related to the criminal. It is in this type of environment ― limiting the fault only to wrongdoers ― that a government can freely provide information about criminals.
Lastly, serial killers are either to spend rest of their lives in prison or be sentenced to death. They will not return to civilian life, which diffuses the point of publicizing their faces to warn citizens to avoid confrontations with them. In the cases of murderers kept in jail or executed, citizens do not need to know their faces because there no longer exists the chance of them inflicting harm on citizens.
Also, sadly, it won't change anything and only serve to satisfy the resentment of an irate public. And with this insecure media that we have at the moment, I think the best course is to wait until firm and mature media takes place.
Ryu Hyo-jin is a freshman of Gyeonggi Academy of Foreign Language.