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First-Ever Crackdown on Obscene Cell Phone Material

Posted June. 13, 2005 06:32,   


Prosecutors indicted SK Telecom and obscene video clip producers for spreading pornographic materials through mobile phone services. This is the first time that adult-rated video clip mobile service providers have been prosecuted.

However, legal battles are expected since SK Telecom is complaining that the prosecution is investigating video clips that were approved by the Korea Media Rating Board.

Prosecutors’ Investigation-

Criminal Department Seven (prosecutor director Kim Heon-jeong) of the Seoul Central Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted without arrest 15 alleged violators including 40-year-old Choi who leads SK Telecom adult video service team for circulating pornography through mobile phone services.

The prosecutors indicted KTH and InterPulse, telecommunications network operators of KTF and LG Telecom, respectively, through summary prosecution, and other 26 people who made pornographic video clips with five to 10 million won fines.

According to the prosecution, SK Telecom raked in revenue of 7.8 billion won annually on average, posting 21,000 video clips and erotic stories on June and Nate, video clip services, from November 2002 until recently.

From January 2003 to April 2005, KTF put 1,900 video clips provided by its affiliate, KTH, on its Fimm’s adult-only service menu, bringing in 900 million won annually for KTF and 1.8 billion won for KTH.

LG Telecom saw 200 million won in profits a year through pornography made by InterPulse since 2003.

SK Telecom operated its adult-only video clip service directly and divided profits with content providers using a three-to-seven ratio.

KTF and LG Telecom, which operated pornography services through telecommunications network companies, distributed the profits by 10 percent (mobile phone company), 20 percent (network companies), and 70 percent (contents providers).

Three telecommunication companies earned not only part of the service fees for pornography but also telephone fees imposed during user viewings of the material in addition. When a user sees a three-minute-long video clip, he has to pay a 900 won service fee and a 900 won telephone fee.

The law enforcement prosecuted KTF and LG Telecom through a summary procedure in line with judicial precedents because it cannot punish those who used network companies.

Expected Legal Wrangles-

The telecom companies and content providers argue against the prosecution, saying that the problem video clips were sanctioned by the Korea Media Rating Board as suitable for those aged 18 and over, and that users should go through an adult certification procedure.

Meanwhile, prosecutors rebutted this, saying “The questioned video clips were re-edited from those approved by the board and under the Supreme Court precedents, providers of an alleged pornography can be subjected to prosecution even after the approval of the board.”

In March, Internet portal sites including Naver, Daum, and Yahoo Korea, which provided similar pornography, were prosecuted through a summary procedure, but they are now in the midst of legal proceedings as they requested a trial.

Jin-Young Hwang buddy@donga.com