South Korean citizens and netizens unite in enragement after 23-year-old Choi Ha Min’s crime was treated as a minor offense.
In May 2022, Choi Ha Min admitted to the child molestation charges. The Mnet’s High School Rapper runner-up only received a mere suspension for a sentence after admitting to charges of child molestation. The rapper was charged with violating the Act on Special Cases concerning the Punishment of Sexual Violence Crimes (forced molestation of minors under 13 years of age). The Jeonju 1st Criminal Division of the Jeonju District Court gave him a suspended sentence of one year and six months in prison with a three-year probation. If the rapper violates his probation within the next three years, that is the only time he will do jail time.
Choi Ha Min was ordered to receive treatment for mental illness for two years and complete a 40-hour sexual violence treatment program along with his probation. He also faces restrictions on employment at children and youth-related organizations and welfare facilities for the disabled for three years. The Jeonju District Court stated, “The defendant touched the buttocks of a child walking with his parents. Given that an agreement has not been reached with the victim to this day, severe punishment is inevitable. However, the sentence was decided in consideration of the fact that the accused is reflecting on all his crimes. And the accused was in a mentally and physically weak state with bipolar disorder and committed the crime accidentally.”
Choi Ha Min “touched” his nine-year-old victim’s backside near Haeundae, Busan. The victim said, “He lightly rubbed his hand on my butt,” and the victim’s parents filed a complaint against the rapper. He was handed over for trial on June 10, 2021.
Choi Ha Min’s lawyer’s defense was that the rapper was diagnosed with a severe mental disorder in June last year. He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for 70 days and was mentally and physically weak. The rapper’s reasoning for the crime was illogical as he said, “I touched his butt to eat his poop.” He apologized to the victim and his family in his closing argument. Choi Ha Min appealed for leniency through his lawyer, stating, “It is qualitatively different from sexual assault such as grabbing or hitting a woman’s body and is a relatively minor crime.”
The rapper also took matters to Instagram and posted, “I am sorry to the victim. I acknowledged that all these events were caused by my sick mind and I am receiving treatment at the hospital. I am currently taking medication and am recovering. I apologize for embarrassing my fans.”
People do not agree with the sentence. They collectively agree that this is a dangerous path, as Choi Ha Min’s actions and reasoning can put any child’s life at risk within and after his probation. There is no guarantee that he’ll follow through and no predicting what to do next. It’s a mere slap on the wrist for a crime that changed a child’s life forever.