A man accused of stalking a woman for years and later murdering her has been sentenced to 40 years in prison by a South Korean court on Tuesday. Terming it a ‘revenge killing’, the court said the stalker was out and about to kill the girl. 

“From the defendant’s testimony, it appeared he was determined to murder the victim unless she agreed to settle,” observed the Seoul District Court in the judgment. 

“Despite the victim’s wish to cut ties, the defendant forced her to suffer stalking and committed a revenge crime… instead of reflecting on his misdeeds.”

The case and its chilling details had sparked an outcry across Korea. Calls have been raised by the public to reform the legal fabric of the country which was responsible for the death of the victim. 

31-year-old Jeon Joo-hwan, a subway worker, for the better part of last two years stalked the victim and threatened her on 300 occasions after she repeatedly refused to date him. 

Despite the victim’s complaints, the police shrugged it off saying Joo-hwan was a ‘low risk’ individual. After multiple complaints, the police finally took cognizance, and in October 2019, Joo-hwan was fired from the job and arrested. 

However, he was soon let out and later never imprisoned or given a restraining order. The victim was placed under police protection for a month before being left out on her own. 

On September 14 last year, the day before Joo-hwan was scheduled to be sentenced for the offences, he went to the subway station the girl had been working. 

He waited outside the toilet for over an hour, wearing gloves and a disposable shower cap. After the girl came, he followed her inside and stabbed her to death. 

An anti-stalking law that was passed in the aftermath of the murder has been deemed too weak by the public. It currently carries a maximum three-year prison sentence. However, in light of the case, the justice ministry is looking to clock in the changes. 

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