Korean Law Demystified!

Daycare Teacher (in Korea) Going to Jail for Child Abuse!


The Seoul Central District Court recently found a female daycare teacher guilty of child abuse and manslaughter. She was sentenced to one year in prison (no probation) + received a criminal fine of 5 mil won. She will also have to attend 40 hours of child abuser’s treatment program.

Back in November 2014, she caused an 11-month-old baby boy to suffocate to death. She had used a blanket to wrap the baby (from head to toe) so that he would/could not move. As a result, the baby became brain dead and died the following month (after donating his organs).

In December 2015, the daycare teacher was summarily indicted for (only) manslaughter for which the prosecution was seeking a criminal fine of 5 mil won. (FYI: Summary indictments are normally reserved only for relatively minor crimes such as drunk driving or prostitution. No formal trial is needed if the defendant accepts the punishment sought.) But believing herself to be innocent, she asked for a formal trial.

But the public became aware of this case too. Against the backdrop of public outrage, the prosecution decided to add the crime of child abuse to their indictment. This was for the other/previous times the daycare teacher had maltreated the baby. Why was this move necessary? When a defendant (who’s been summarily indicted for a crime) asks for a formal trial, the court cannot render stiffer punishment (for that crime) than the original punishment sought. In other words, 5 mil won was the max she could receive even if found guilty of killing the baby that day.

The prosecution were themselves negligent by indicting her summarily with only a fine of 5 mil won. This is highly irregular for manslaughter. A report said the prosecutor (in charge) was in a hurry to wrap up the case because he/she was scheduled to go for training abroad.

Thanks for reading!

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