The wife of convicted child rapist Cho Doo-soon, whose brutal rape of an 8-year-old girl in 2008 shocked the nation, described him as a "polite person" in a petition she wrote on his behalf while he was under trial, a TV programme revealed late Wednesday.
The petition she wrote in 2008 was disclosed as public concerns grow over Cho's release on Dec 13, 2020. Some have taken to the presidential petition board to ask for his 12-year sentence to be extended.
Cho is very likely to return to his wife's house upon release, according to experts, and with the wife's house believed to be about three minutes away from the victim's home, there are concerns that Cho and the victim could end up living in the same neighborhood.
"For Cho, there is nowhere else to go, and his wife said she continues to visit him. So I guess he will move into her house," said Lee Soo-jung, a criminal psychology professor at Kyonggi University.
The father of the victim told the "True Story" team that the whole family is in shock over the possibility that Cho could move close to their house.
"I don't know how to express in words how we feel. Should we move? Why should the victim have to pack and run?" he asked.
"Isn't it our reality that the offender is protected in the name of human rights and the victim has to go into hiding?"
Lee, however, warned against excessive concerns, saying it is not likely that Cho would commit crimes again.
"He will be wearing an electronic anklet and be under tight supervision. His personal details have already been made public."
Cho, then 57, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2008 for kidnapping and choking the girl in a church bathroom in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, until she became unconscious. Cho then raped the girl, severely damaging her reproductive system.
Cho, who has 18 previous criminal convictions, is required to wear an electronic anklet that can trace his location. Information about him will be made public on a list of sex offenders online for five years after his release.
The public had widely denounced Cho's sentence as being too lenient.
Still, Cho's wife defended him in the petition submitted in 2008 when Cho was brought to trial, according to the MBC programme "True Story."
Cho usually does well at home and causes trouble only when he gets drunk, she said in the petition.
"Cooking rice and side dishes, cleaning the home and all the household work. … My husband has done it for 20 years," she said in the petition, according to the TV show. "He has never vented his anger and he has been hailed as a polite person."
Amid criticisms of Cho's wife, Lee pointed out it is "unfair" for the offender's family to be criticised for defending him.
"Cho's wife is after all his wife," she said.