Is it safe to wear a bikini in Korea? Summer sees spike in spyware crimes

Is it safe to wear a bikini in Korea? Summer sees spike in spyware crimes
Participants at the Poryong Mud Festival in South Korea.
PHOTO: Korea National Tourism Organisation

Statistics by the Korean police shows a spike of spycam crimes in summer, local media reported Saturday. 

The police here had reportedly arrested over 980 people nationwide between July 1 and Aug. 20 last year, who had secretly filmed others' bodies without consent, or disseminated the contents. Illegally filming or photographing others' body and or spreading the contents is punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison or up to 30 million won (S$36,625) in fines. 

The cases were especially noticeable at beach towns, where some law breaking voyeurs either outright pulled out their cell phones at beaches or livestreamed others' bodies, planted hidden cameras at public washrooms or disguised the cameras as watches or cigarette lighters. 

In July, 2017, at Busan's Gwanganli beach, a man was caught loitering around women clad in bikinis with his cell phone suspiciously positioned in his hand. 

The man attempted to flee when patrolling navy officers accosted him. He was found to have taken over 200 photos of female body parts without the women's consent. 

Similarly at Busan's Haeundae beach in August, last year, a 30-something online video jockey was arrested for livestreaming female beachgoers in swimsuits. 

The Busan police reward citizen reports of spycam perpetrators with 50,000 to 100,000 won prize money. In addition, the region has set up signs in six languages at its seven beaches to prevent sexual crimes by foreigners unaware of the cultural difference in Korea. Written cautions were distributed to some 1,800 businesses in Busan that hire foreigners.

Gyeongpo beach in Gangneung, Gangwon Province has wrapped the walls of public bathrooms with warnings against hidden cameras.

In Taean County in South Chungcheong Province, where the west coast beach is famous for unpolluted sea life, a 100-day intensive crackdown against crimes targeting women is ongoing since June 16. 

In a bid to reign in summertime misconduct, the National Police Agency will operate makeshift police stations at 78 summer holiday locations such as beaches, mountain valleys and amusement parks, between July 1 and Aug. 31.

Radio and lens detectors will be incorporated to pick up signals from hidden cameras. 

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