J Korean Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry.  2023 Oct;34(4):222-228. 10.5765/jkacap.230049.

The Current State and Legal Issues of Online Crimes Related to Children and Adolescents

  • 1Judge, Seoul Family Court, Seoul, Korea


There are two categories of online crimes related to children and adolescents: those committed by adolescents and those committed against children and adolescents. While recent trends in criminal law show consensus on strengthening punishment in cases of crimes against children and adolescents, there are mixed stances in cases of juvenile delinquency. One perspective emphasizes strict punishment, whereas the other emphasizes dispositions aligned with human rights. While various forms of online crime share the commonality in that the main part of the criminal act occurs online, they can be categorized into three types: those seeking financial gain, those driven by sexual motives, and those engaged in bullying. Among these, crimes driven by sexual motives are the most serious. Second-hand trading fraud and conditional (sexual) meeting fraud fall under the category of seeking financial gain and occur frequently. Crimes driven by sexual motives include obscenity via telecommunication, filming with discrete cameras, child and adolescent sexual exploitation material, fake video distribution, and blackmail/coercion using intimate images/videos (“sextortion”). These crimes lead to various legal issues such as whether to view vulgar acronyms or body cams that teenagers frequently use as simple subcultures or crimes, what criteria should be applied to judge whether a recorded material induces sexual desire or shame, and at what stage sexual grooming becomes punishable. For example, sniping posts, KakaoTalk prisons, and chat room explosions are tricky issues, as they may or may not be punished depending on the case. Particular caution should be exercised against the indiscriminate application of a strict punishment-oriented approach to the juvenile justice system, which is being discussed in relation to online sexual offenses. In the punishment case of online crime, juvenile offenders with a high potential for future improvement and reform must be treated with special consideration.


Online crimes; Digital crimes; Children; Adolescents; Sextortion
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