A celebration was called for when the Constitutional Court decided on June 26 that the system of disclosing the identities of criminals involved in youth prostitution was not against the Constitution. On July 15, the Committee for the Protection of Youths held a meeting in the international conference hall of the Press Center to report on the court decision. Legislators, lawyers, academics and civic groups attended the meeting to talk about the significance of the court decision and ways to develop relevant institutional mechanisms.
Lee Seung-hee, president of the Committee, reported that "the Constitutional Court had made a difficult and important decision on behalf of our youths in Korea," and asked the meeting participants to "direct their collective wisdom towards developing the disclosure system so that it will effectively prevent sexual crimes against youths and actually protect youths from sexual violence."
Lee had already announced right after the Constitutional Court's decision that the Committee was planning to "campaign for the revision of the Juvenile Protection Act so that from the 5th round of identity disclosure, more details can be disclosed to the public regarding those found guilty of sexual criminals against youths." Following up on this announcement, the Committee is planning to disclose the criminals' photograph, address and even place of work in the 5th round of identity disclosure, scheduled for December.
Participating in the meeting was President Choi Young-hee of the Naeil Women's Center for Youths, who said, "The disclosure system was finally legalized after two-and-a-half years thanks to the signature-collecting drive, street performances and demonstrations that won the support of 90% of the public. The system will at least allow companies and institutions working with children to check whether potential employees have past records of sexual crimes against youths."
Lawyer Kang Ji-won, the inaugural president of the Committee, pointed out, "Five of the judges ruled the system to be unconstitutional and four ruled voted for constitutionality, but the final ruling was possible on the strength of the fact that the system had already been passed in the National Assembly." Thanks to the regulation stipulating that two-thirds of the panel must agree on all Constitutional Court decisions, the disclosure system passed the constitutionality test even though five of the judges had voted against it.
Professor Shim Hee-gi of Yonsei University said, "The judges who voted for constitutionality believed that disclosure does not constitute punishment, whereas the judges who voted against constitutionality thought that disclosure amounted to additional punishment by humiliating the offender. But the judges who voted against constitutionality were ignorant of the suffering that the victims had gone through, meaning that with time, more people will be for disclosure."
Shim pointed out areas where the system could be improved, such as the difficulty faced by the Committee as an administrative agency in ordering offenders to take rehabilitation courses, lack of strategies in timing the disclosure, and clauses that failed to be included in the process of legislation. Shim also talked about the global trend towards disclosure systems, and emphasized the need for exchanges with Taiwan, one of the countries which have such a system in place.
Politician Cho Soon-hyung, member of the ruling party, said, "We have finally put a stop to the debate that the system violates human rights. It is now up to the Committee to make the system a valid and effective one, irrespective of the provisory clauses attached to it."
Park Byung-shik, police administration professor in Yongin University and one of the initiators of the disclosure system, advised, "Social security numbers should not be disclosed as it may be misused in credit card frauds, but so as not to confuse people with same names, addresses should be disclosed right down to the dong (translator's note: the smallest administrative/address unit in Korea) and posted in the dong office rather than the State Hall so that residents in the neighborhood can check out the criminals' names."