Revealed: Man behind South Korean Telegram porno ring with 260k members and 74 exploited victims

YouTube screengrab / SBS News

On March 19 last week, the Korean police arrested a man who allegedly operated a pornography ring on Telegram. The case is now known as the Telegram Nth Room case.

He is suspected of exploiting 74 people, including minors, into doing sexual acts and sharing them online in return for cryptocurrency payments since December 2018.

According to The Korea Herald, the man who went by the Telegram nickname "baksa" ("doctor" or "guru" in Korean) is among others who are accused of blackmailing women and minors into creating sexual videos.

The news outlet reported: “Cho is also suspected of securing private information about the victims and chat room members through administrative aides at local government offices to blackmail the users and victims.”

The police stated that the man had allegedly tricked the victims into sending him nude photos with their faces in it in exchange for a high-paying part-time job. Some of the videos depicted the victims carving the word “slave” onto their bodies.

The three Telegram chat rooms that "baksa" is said to be involved in holds around 260,000 members. Each group has a monetary tier: 200,000 won to 250,000 won (S$228 to S$285) for level 1; 700,000 won (S$799) for level 2, and 1.5 million won (S$1,716) for level 3.

Police have confiscated 130 million won of cash from his home.

"Baksa" is also suspected to have used some of the victims for illegal activities such as money laundering. So far, 13 of his suspected accomplices have been apprehended and four have been arrested. Some of his accomplices allegedly sexually assaulted some of the victims. The suspects’ average age ranges between 24 and 25.

Public outcry

The case has caused public outrage. There are two petitions going on: one called for the revelation of the identity of Cho, while another that called for the identities of all members of the chat rooms to be divulged now. The former has more than 2 million signatures to date, while the latter has more than 1.5 million signatures.

Celebrities such as former Infinite member Hoya, Girls’ Day Hyeri and Sojin, Moon Ga Young, VIXX’s Ravi and many more raised awareness about this case and encouraged their fans to sign it.

Ravi wrote on his Instagram story, along with a screenshot of one of the petitions: “I don’t want the people I love to live in such a frightening world.”

Since then, Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency assured that the identity of “Baksa” will be publicly revealed. 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=re-fcyNw774&feature[/embed]

According to SBS News, the mastermind behind the pornography ring is Cho Joo Bin, a 25-year-old graduate of Inha Technical College.

A communications major, it was reported that he was a hardworking student who made it as the chief editor of the school’s newspaper but frequently got into trouble with professors over his articles. 

Aside from the disagreements he had with his professors and his peers, he was never involved in cases related to sexual assault. 

He would later on become the man behind a chatroom that shared heinous videos, including raped middle school students and women being made to carve the words “Baksa” and “slave” onto their bodies. 

This article was first published in CLEO Singapore. Additional reporting by AsiaOne.