Capital punishment in South Korea
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On August 27, 2015, the Supreme Court sentenced a man called "Jiang Jaechin" to death for multiple murder, rape, and child rape. This is the last civilian on death row.
On February 19, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence passed on a man known by the surname 'Lim', a 24-year-old army sergeant who killed five fellow soldiers and injured seven others in a shooting rampage near the border with North Korea in 2014. He became the 361st person on death row in South Korea. According to Yonhap, of the 361 people on death row, 45, including Lim, were soldiers.
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Executions in Korea have existed since 1895. The purpose of executions was to cause reactions and stop crimes. Methods of executions included slow slicing, hanging, and dismemberment. Heads of executed people were displayed to the public both to serve as public warning and enforce military courtesy. However, bodies of executed people were allowed funeral proceedings.
In contemporary history, the first execution law was established on March 25, 1895, by the Supreme Court of Judicature of Japan acting under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. The first death sentence was given four days later, on March 29, 1895 to Jeon Bongjun.
Currently, the Penal Code of South Korea regulates executions as a form of punishment for some crimes according to the Criminal Law section 41. Those crimes include: Rebellion (Section 87), Conspiracy with foreign countries (Section 92), homicide (Section 250), robbery-homicide (Section 338), and other 12 sections. People under 18 cannot be executed according to Juvenile Law (Section 59, Juvenile Law).
In February 1998, then-president Kim Dae-jung enacted a moratorium on executions. This moratorium is still in effect as of 2013. Thus, executions in Korea are considered to be abolished de facto. The last executions took place in December 1997, when 23 people (each of whom has murdered at least 2 people) were put to death. However, there are still at least 60 people with a death sentence, as of 2013.
In 2010 the Constitutional Court of Korea ruled that capital punishment did not violate “human dignity and worth” in the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. In a five-to-four decision, capital punishment was upheld as constitutional. Institutions such as Amnesty International considered this a ‘major setback for South Korea'. Later in 2010, Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam alluded to a possibility of resuming executions. In 2013, three bills which proposed abolishment of the death penalty lapsed at the end of the National Assembly’s term.
Kang Ho-sun was convicted of kidnapping and killing eight women between 2006 and 2008, and of burning to death his wife and mother-in-law in 2005. Kang, 38, was arrested in January for the murder of a female college student and later confessed to killing and secretly burying seven other women. Other death row inmates include Yoo Young-chul and members of the Chijon family, a former gang of cannibals.
In March 2010, in contrast to prior speculations, Minister Lee Kwi-nam hinted that the executions of death row inmates will resume, breaking the virtual 13-year moratorium. The remarks came a few days after Kim Kil-tae, who raped and murdered a 15-year-old schoolgirl, was convicted. However, this did not happen.
In December 2010, Kim's death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment and the prosecutors did not appeal to the Supreme Court.
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