Korea Women Hotline, moving to appeal this incident as a self-defense in Agora
“Whenever my dad didn’t feel good or had something that didn’t suit him, he would punch my mom with his fist. My mom was defenseless, without a chance to stop the beating and kicking. Once when I was in middle school, my dad pounded my mom on her head with an electric screwdriver, making her bleed from her head. She wore a red sleeveless t-shirt and it was completely soaked in blood. I said, “Dad, she is bleeding,” to stop my dad, but he only swore at me telling me to back off. I cannot forget my mom’s face with tears dangling from her eyes as she went into the bathroom to wash off the blood in her hair.”
Park Su-ji (pseudonym, 25) calmly, without crying, went on with what happened in the past. “My tears all dried up because I cried too much,” she says. Her mother, Yun Pil-jeong (pseudonym, 49) lived under cruel violence and abuse from her husband during her 25 years of marriage. On September 9, she ended up murdering her husband, last name Park (pseudonym, 55). Currently, Yun, the victim of domestic violence, is imprisoned as an offender. The 1st trial took place on November 1, during which the defense counsel claimed self-defense.
The violence by the father was serious according to the testimony of the daughter, Park Su-ji. Her father and mother were involved in a household industry, the two working together in a small space of 33m2 all day to produce electric meters. Park always battered Yun with tools like nippers or wrenches, which often left big cuts in her head. She also became half-deaf when Park punched her in the ear. Su-ji’s younger sister Su-yeon (pseudonym, 17) also testified, “Whenever mom came back from work and washed her hair, the water was always mixed with blood.” When Yun’s head didn’t heal completely, Park used a multi-tap or a belt to whip her. She was never free from scars and bruises on her body.
Park was gentle and quiet outside the house but at home, he was not only a cruel husband to Yun but also a cruel father to his two daughters. Su-ji, who had rhinitis and a sinus infection, had never in her life sneezed freely. Because Park swore at his daughter whenever she sneezed, she had to go inside a closet to cough. This became a habit. Even nowadays, she cannot sneeze without being nervous. Park also didn’t allow his family to use water after 11 o’ clock saying that it was too noisy. The two daughters couldn’t even turn on their computer.
Su-ji said to her mother, “I don’t mind starving, get a divorce.” But Yun put up with all the violence saying, “I’m the only one who has to suffer, so everything will be okay if I just hang in there.” Yun couldn’t leave her husband, afraid of Park’s threat that he would kill her family and daughters. As she didn’t want her daughters to see how she was beaten by her husband, she chose to bear the abuse patiently and remain submissive. Plus, Park’s threat to kill all of her family members made Yun never even dream of calling the police.
Park’s abuse became more brutal around the time of the incident, to the point where she could not stand anymore and finally turned to the police and judicial scriveners for help. However, all she got in return was the police telling her to look for a shelter saying, “We don’t any evidence since abuse is not happening right now, it’s out of our hands,” and the judicial scriveners giving her a phone number for a shelter.
On the date of the incident, Park verbally abused her openly in front of a part-timer, which was unusual for him. He put down a hammer the size of one’s arm in front of Yun and said, “When she (part-timer) goes, I’ll smash your head and go through your brain to see what you have in your mind. Let’s wait until she goes.” She thought at his words, “I could die when she goes.” Worried that the violence could fall upon her daughters after she dies, she took a rope and strangled her husband from behind his back; the same rope that he used to strangle her and knock her out three days ago. She then tried to kill herself but failed and turned herself in.
The Korea Women’s Hotline (KWHL) is currently running a campaign in support of Yun Pil-jeong. The KWHL claims that it was an act of self-defense because “the only option left for Yun and her two daughters to break out of the persistent violence was resorting to a desperate private relief not a public relief.”
Won Min-kyeong, a lawyer from the law firm ‘Won’ and the defense attorney of this case, points out, “The Ministry of Justice needs to view self-defense from the victim’s perspective. Our society is now failing to recognize and address the issue of domestic violence properly. This structural problem of the society is too big to just hold one individual accountable for this case,” she continued. “The defendant suffered 20 years of violence, and around the time of this incident, she even received direct death threats. This incident was to save the lives of herself and her family, so this accounts as self-defense,” she argued.
Ko Mi-kyeong, the head of the counseling center for domestic violence of the KWHL says, “The gender inequality present in the power dynamics is the essence of this incident. The Ministry of Justice lacks understanding about this. We would further engage ourselves in the signature-collecting campaign and PR activities so that the court acknowledges this case as a self-defense from the perspective of human rights and justice.”