The legal term “feeble-minded person” became widely known because of the court ruling on Cho Doo-soon. The term appears only once in the sentencing in the statue application section on the fourth page. The ruling in 2009 plead down Cho’s sentence because he was feeble-minded, but there is no explanation or ground of that sentencing.
But Cho’s crime seems impossible to commit for someone who is feeble-minded. He lured Na-young (8 at the time of the crime) who was on the way to school at 8:30 a.m. to a church bathroom, saying, “You need to go to church,” and committed the crime. He went home 30 minutes later and told his wife, “I did something bad.” It seems like he fully knew what he did.
This is hard to accept for victims. They have to bear the damage done by perpetrators. The judges weigh crimes as well as damages. It would be the best case if the weight of crimes and damages is the same, but sentence reduction on grounds of feeble-mindedness inevitably brings imbalance between the two where crimes become lighter than damages.
State monopolization of punishment power is based on the social contract that victims refrain from seeking personal revenge and entrust punishment to governmental authority. The nation has a responsibility to win a consent of victims about the result of punishment. If it lightened the responsibility of a perpetrator because the person is feeble-minded, the country should take the responsibility of not taking responsibility. It needs to establish a persuasive standard and find a way to replace the reduced sentence with other measures such as treatment to console victims. But the standard of feeble-mindedness is still ambiguous and the only institution that can diagnose and treat it is the National Forensic Hospital. The judges cannot take all the blame for not being able to explain the grounds of sentence reduction in such a poor infrastructure.
The public is crying out at the news that Cho Doo-soon will be released on December 13, 2020. Cho is a brutal criminal, but what makes him more brutal is the fact that he is being released earlier than he is supposed to. A poor judicial system makes a monster more heinous.