Angry protesters threw eggs and shouted insults as one of South Koreas most notorious child predators was released from a prison in southern Seoul on Saturday at the end of a 12-year term.
Law enforcement authorities strapped the 69-year-old Cho Doo-soon with an electronic anklet and escorted him to his home in nearby Ansan, where authorities have added and upgraded security cameras and vowed around-the-clock monitoring for a man residents still see as a risk to their community.
Cho was convicted of kidnaping and raping an 8-year-old girl at a church bathroom in Ansan in 2008 in a brutal attack that left her with severe, lasting injuries. The case shocked and horrified the nation and prompted an outpouring of public sympathy for the girl, which inspired a 2018 movie called Hope. Around a million people since 2017 signed multiple online petitions to the president opposing Chos release, which had been dreaded by residents in Ansan for years.
Dozens of protesters, holding signs that read Cho Doo-soon to hell and shouting slogans calling for his castration or execution, rallied for hours in front of the prison early Saturday amid a heavy police presence. Officers dispersed some protesters who temporarily blocked a pathway to the prison by lying down and locking arms, which appeared to delay Chos release by around half an hour.
Demonstrators threw eggs and other objects as a van, carrying Cho and flanked by officers, rolled out of the prisons gate at around 6:45 a.m.
The gray-haired Cho, wearing a ballcap and a white face mask, later arrived at a probation office in Ansan amid a barrage of camera flashes where officials registered his tracking device. He didnt answer reporters questions on whether he repented but bowed twice before being escorted home.
The Justice Ministry had rejected an earlier plea by Ansans mayor for Cho to be kept isolated at a protection facility once his prison term ended. The ministry said it decided to transport Cho in a government vehicle because allowing him to use his own car or public transport could risk physical clashes with other citizens. Online message boards and social media have been flowing with comments threatening him with punishment.
Nearly everyone I know was busy searching the internet to figure out the location of his house and I did too, said Lee Do-hyung, a coffee shop employee. There are talks going around that prison didnt change him, and that he was still a violent man. You dont want that man walking on the streets and couples with parents are particularly concerned. J.A. Nah, an office worker in Ansan, said, “Ill tremble with fright about encountering him anytime and anywhere. I hope hell now live as a normal citizen who doesnt harm others, but I still have fears about him, she said.
To ease public anxiety, authorities have recently stepped up patrols and security postures around Chos neighborhood.
Ansans city government said in a statement that a team of 12 security guards formerly special forces soldiers or martial arts specialists have been put on shifts patrolling the area around Chos house 24 hours a day. Officials are also adding 20 more security cameras as well as new streetlights.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)