Warning: this article includes dialogue of a Korean student speaking up about her forced child pornography.
The Telegram Nth Room case has taken South Korea by storm, with Cho Joo Bin revealed as one of the main perpetrators. The specific details on what the girls were involved in the case are gruesome, and should not be read by those who may feel uncomfortable.
One of the victims, who was a minor at the time of her involvement in the case, spoke up on CBS radio show Kim Hyun Jung‘s News Show earlier today. She shared her entire story in a 13 minute long interview, from how she was tricked to what she wishes on Cho Joo Bin. Here is the entire interview.
Kim Hyun Jung: The interview I am about to conduct is about the Nth Room case, with a victim of the case. I introduced the case yesterday but in short, the operators would entice women to work part-time for them, gather their personal information, and get them to take naked videos of themselves. Then they would threaten the women to film cruel and bizarre videos. There were videos that went beyond nudity, and moved towards self-inflicted harm on their own bodies. There were videos of others purposely being sent to rape the women. There were so many bizarre things, we can’t even mention them on the show.
Kim Hyun Jung: The room where these videos were uploaded was called the Doctor’s room, and the operator was known as Baksa (Doctor). Members who entered the room were required to pay at least ₩250,000 KRW ($199.07 USD) and up to ₩1,550,000 million KRW ($1,234.20 USD) to watch the videos. There have been 74 victims identified by police so far, but they have yet to tell their stories to the public. But the woman I am about to interview has decided to tell the world her story. She decided to do the interview because she thought she should come forward and make it public. This ordeal happened to her when she was a minor, back in 2018. Let’s meet her now. Please understand that her voice is being modified. Are you ready?
Kim Hyun Jung: First of all, thank you for raising your voice in the midst of such difficulties.
Victim: Yes. Thank you.
Kim Hyun Jung: Are things okay for you now? Were you able to stabilize [yourself]?
Kim Hyun Jung: Were you a high school student in 2018?
Victim: I was a middle school student back then.
The victim then went on to explain how she ended up caught in the scandal.
Kim Hyun Jung: It was when you were in middle school. How did you end up caught up in this situation?
Victim: Back then, I was really lacking money for personal living expenses, so I had no choice.
Kim Hyun Jung: There was no household expenses available for your family?
Victim: That’s right. I looked up a lot of chatting applications and found this one. I checked how I could manage to get some living expenses from the app. I got a chat from a person. I didn’t have any thoughts of working part-time with a sponsor. But then I got swept into this case, as I replied to the person.
Kim Hyun Jung: Did the message come first from the other person then?
Victim: Yes. I uploaded a post on the app, and the other person then sent me a message.
Kim Hyun Jung: What did the message say?
Victim: The first message was “Hello, I am looking for a part-timer for a sponsor job, I am offering 4,000,000 a month. If you are interested, contact me.
Kim Hyun Jung: Isn’t that like a conditional meeting? A part time job meeting men for 4 million a month?
After receiving the offer, the victim explained what happened after, and how he ended up obtaining all of her personal information.
Kim Hyun Jung: What happened next?
Victim: We chatted for a bit and then he said we should move to an app called Telegram.
Kim Hyun Jung: Did you use the Telegram app at the time?
Victim: I had no idea what it was.
Kim Hyun Jung: But he wanted you to install it and move to that app?
Kim Hyun Jung: So next?
Victim: He asked for my bank account number so he could send me the money. When he said he would send money, I thought “I’m in a difficult situation so let’s just send him the account number and watch what happens.”
Kim Hyun Jung: How did you decide on the idea of sending him your account information when you didn’t know his face or his name?
Victim: He sent a photo of his stocks and a picture of the money being deposited into my account. He said that it would take 5 days for the stock to be deducted from his account, so he would send the picture in advance and asked me to trust him.
Kim Hyun Jung: To show off to a middle school student how he was in stocks, he was like ‘I am a person who can deal with stocks like this’.
Kim Hyun Jung: Then from a middle school student’s perspective, it must seem like this person has his hands in a lot of money. Did you have that much faith in him?
Victim: Yes. At that time, I had my faith in him.
Kim Hyun Jung: So you needed money urgently and this person was going to send you that large amount of money. Did you give him your bank account number and name?
Victim: Yes. Then a few minutes later, he said he would give me a phone as a gift, and he asked for my address and phone number.
Kim Hyun Jung: Giving a new cell phone. Was it a new one?
Victim: Yes. It was a new phone. I already trusted him at the time, so I just subconsciously let him know.
Kim Hyun Jung: Let him know what, your phone number?
Victim: Yes, my phone number and address.
Kim Hyun Jung: So your name, phone number, address, and bank account info [privacy] were all gone in an instant?
She then started to talk about the illicit photos and videos she was forced to take for the man.
Kim Hyun Jung: Everyone, after someone gets your personal information like this, you will become the victim. But you didn’t want to take these videos at the beginning, right?
Victim: Right. At first, he only asked for a picture of my body, but after a few hours, he asked if I could send one that included my face. I said that it was too much for me to do that, and I could do it after I got paid. But he said ‘I bought you a present, can’t you just do that?’ His wording was a bit coercive. He said ‘I even got you a present, you shouldn’t be like this.’
Kim Hyun Jung: So what did you do?
Victim: So I just sent him the picture. I did as I was told. But then, he told me to play with myself. He told me to wear my school uniform. And after that, he told me to put on my stockings, and then rip them. He told me to use school supplies. He kept on saying things like that.
Kim Hyun Jung: He wanted you to use school supplies for sexual ways?
Victim: Yes, yes. You know how a name pen is thick? A thick name pen. He told me to do stuff with that. His words were a bit forceful at that time. As soon as I filmed the first video, I started bleeding. I sent him the video with the bleeding, and told him that it hurt so much and I couldn’t do it anymore. I got a reply about 10 minutes later. Just do it anyway. So I kept doing it and filming it and sending it, and he kept saying do it until the end, and then take it out. Even still, it hurts. My heart hurts a lot. It was just too much pain.
Kim Hyun Jung: Oh my gosh… you were still in middle school then, right?
Victim: Yes, middle school.
After that, she explained why she felt like she had no choice but to follow whatever the man was telling her, and the number of times she had to film herself.
Kim Hyun Jung: But why was it that you had no choice but to follow his instructions?
Victim: He already had my face, my voice, my personal information. I was afraid that he would threaten me with that information if I said I would quit.
Kim Hyun Jung: So how many times did he make a middle school student do things that are too horrendous to say right now?
Victim: Videos, I think there are over 40 videos. More than 40.
The victim explained how the ordeal took a huge toll on her physical and mental health.
Kim Hyun Jung: Are there any physical scars left? Wasn’t it worth it to get treatment or go to the hospital?
Victim: More than the physical wounds, my heart was hurt more. I haven’t been able to sleep since then.
Kim Hyun Jung: It seems like that would be the case…
Victim: I’ve had bipolar disorder and depression since then, and it felt like I couldn’t leave the house for a while because I felt like I would be stalked. When I go outside, I don’t want anyone to notice who I am, so I am all covered up, even in the summer.
Kim Hyun Jung: Oh my gosh, it must have been so hard for you. Now that you think about those videos, it’s probably those videos that were uploaded to the Nth Rooms, right?
Victim: Yes. I heard that if the video is illegally shared on any porn sites, they write down the person’s names, phone numbers, and address. The people who watched the video know my face and know everything, so I don’t think any threats will come from this. Wouldn’t this bother you for the rest of your life? Even though I’m working, I still think I will be caught. A few weeks after the incidents, I changed my phone number. I even moved.
Kim Hyun Jung: I see now that you had no choice but to feel anxious. It’s just sinking further and further.
Victim: Yes, that’s right.
After being told about the number of currently identified victims, the victim interviewed explained she believes there’s many more, specifically more victims that are minors.
Kim Hyun Jung: The number of women who have suffered from this is 74, as identified by police. I heard that there are 16 minors out of them. Is that really all of them?
Victim: No. In my case, we met through a chatting app. There are a lot of posts asking for sponsor part-time jobs. A lot of posts keep coming up. I wondered, with all of the posts, would only 74 be identified? There seems to be a lot.
Kim Hyun Jung: So the police says there are 16 minors involved, but do you think the number of minors is much higher?
Victim: The thing that was most shocking to me was that when a 10-year-old did something and sent a body photo, they got a ₩50,000 KRW gift coupon.
Kim Hyun Jung: Have you heard a testimony saying that there are victims that are 10 years old?
Victim: I personally think there are more minors involved than adults.
Kim Hyun Jung: You think there are more minors than adults?
Victim: Yes, because on the apps where they meet the conditions for this [position] such as Twitter, the accounts are mostly students.
Kim Hyun Jung: The Nth Room, Doctor’s room, criminals like this are mainly targeting students and minors. So then a considerable number of victims will be students or minors.
Victim: Minors, it looks like they would target minors who don’t know anything about social life.
Kim Hyun Jung: If they commit these crimes against minors, they will be punished even harsher. So it’s a very valuable thing that a minor victim has gathered the courage to testify about this. As you may have heard, the personal information of “Baksa” was released yesterday by a media outlet.
Victim: Yes, I have heard.
Kim Hyun Jung: His name is Cho Joo Bin, and he was a former reporter at his University’s academic archive. The article he wrote while he was a reporter was also revealed, and it was talking about how Universities should put in more effort into the safety of the students.
Victim: When I saw that, my hands were really shaking.
Kim Hyun Jung: Your hands were shaking?
Victim: Yes, I was so angry that he would pretend to be a good person but in reality he would be revealing pornos of minors and threatening them, and ruining a person’s life like that.
Kim Hyun Jung: Did it feel like you were going to go crazy?
Victim: Yes. Even in my dreams I would think about it. I’m very scared thinking about what would happen if the video gets leaked, and I end up with thousands of messages on my SNS.
Kim Hyun Jung: As you may have heard, Korea’s law is very lenient on punishment for crimes relating to online sex, so there is a possibility that the punishment he receives is just a slap on the wrist compared to other countries. How do you feel about that?
Victim: All I can do is sigh. In a time when I was living in pain, unable to eat or sleep or go outside and meet people, these men were using other people to fulfill their sexual desires. It’s terrible thinking that I was just a tool.
She shared her thoughts on what punishment she hopes “Baksa”, one of the leaders of the Telegram Nth Rooms would get.
Kim Hyun Jung: How do you think he should be punished?
Victim: I wish he would rot in prison for the rest of his life. There is no guarantee that he will reflect on his actions if he gets out anyway.
And finally, she shared a message to other victims, urging them to come forward to the public in order to punish the perpetrators.
Kim Hyun Jung: Right now, there are other victims like yourself who may not be able to say anything publicly. Is there anything you want to say to them?
Victim: First of all, if you don’t speak up about it, what happened to you in the past could happen again. I encourage everyone to [speak up] so the perpetrators get a strong punishment. I hope you will stop having a difficult time.
Kim Hyun Jung: I am very thankful towards you. Everyone, honestly, she has a difficult part-time job that she works all day, and she still agreed to the interview. She is working hard, all victims should gain strength and be brave.
Kim Hyun Jung: If you get discouraged and think bad things, then wouldn’t you be losing to the bad person?
Victim: Of course.
Kim Hyun Jung: I am supporting you. Fighting.
Victim: Thank you, really thank you.
Kim Hyun Jung: Thank you.
Victim: Thank you.
Kim Hyun Jung: That was a very difficult interview. In 2018, when the student was a middle school student, she met a person running a Nth room or Doctor room, and became a victim and was sexually harassed.
You can watch the interview below: