“The Crucible,” the film depicting real-life cases of abuse in a school for deaf children, has moved beyond the box office into the legal arena. The “Dogani Law,” a revised bill named after the Korean title of the film was passed at a plenary session of the National Assembly. The revised bill allows for heavier punishments for sexual offenders, particularly those who abuse children aged 13 and under, and the disabled.
Under the new law, the prison terms for rape against the disabled and young children will increase from its minimum of seven (for abuse of the disabled) to 10 (for abuse of young children) years. The new law also allows for offenders to be sentenced with life imprisonment. In cases where the offender is the head or a staff member of a welfare organization or an educational institution, an additional sentence will be served.
A controversial clause, “inability to resist,” is now completely abolished. The clause previously provided offenders with a loophole because victims were required to prove that they were physically or mentally unable to resist properly when the crime was being committed.
In addition to the passage of tighter laws, the National Assembly has also formed a special committee of 18 legislators with the purpose of investigating other human rights violations for the disabled. The Committee is supposed to take appropriate action by the end of May.
“The Crucible,” starring Gong Yoo and Jung Yumi opened in late September. “The Crucible” has since brought to light the cases of rape in a school for the deaf in Gwangju that took place in the early 2000s and that author Gong Ji Yong wrote about in 2005.
The film sparked outrage among the Korean public, setting into motion actions from civic and government groups to prevent similar occurrences in the future. The passage of the “Dogani Law” is only the latest measure that rippled from the film. Within a few days of the film’s opening, the City Council of Gwangju had immediately cancelled the license of the school where the rapes took place, and had closed down other dormitories and facilities operated by the same organization.