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The Peninsula

More Pronounced Online Crimes in South Korea

Published December 12, 2019
Author: Korea View
Category: South Korea

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

What Happened

  • Three young Koreans were arrested last week for buying drugs valued at more than $10,000 through the dark web since 2017.
  • According to the data published by South Korean law enforcement, there has been a spike in online drug trafficking in South Korea in recent years.
  • Hundreds of Koreans were arrested after an international crackdown shut down a South Korea-based dark web child pornography site.

Implications: Despite South Korea’s high susceptibility to cybercrimes, the government is still ill equipped to address this challenge. The dark web, an umbrella term for platforms servicing criminal transactions, recently gained significant public attention as several online crime rings in South Korea have come to light. The police announced its intention to increase monitoring of the dark web in partnership with international law enforcement agencies. Earlier this year, South Korea hosted 2019 International Symposium on Cybercrime Response. However, tracking activities on the dark web will continue to pose significant challenges. With its advanced digital infrastructure, South Korea presents a glimpse of the challenges that other countries will face as they expand and enhance broadband access.

Context: South Korea boasts one of the most developed digital infrastructure and high internet penetration. Almost 96 percent of the population enjoys internet access. South Korea also ranked 1st in e-citizenship – or “the ability of citizens to use online tools and social media and thus exercise social accountability” – according to the Index of Public Integrity. Building on this robust digital foundation, South Korea has experienced a more rapid increase in cybercrimes than most countries. According to the Tor Metrix, the number of dark web users has more than tripled since 2016 in South Korea, while global user increased only 0.92 percent.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Soojin Hwang, Hyoshin Kim, and Rachel Kirsch.

From user Andrew on Flickr

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