The Nth Room, one of South Korea’s biggest sexual abuse scandal, has been exposed to have had sexually exploited over 76 women- 12 of whom were minors- and is trailblazing the need to protect women in this decade of untraceable technology.
In March 2020, one of South Korea’s biggest digital sex scandals got exposed when Cho Ju-Bin (will further be addressed as Cho in the article) – who went by the alias of ‘Baksa’- got arrested for being the suspected founder of the Nth Room.
What is the Nth Room?
The Nth Room is a mass digital sex scandal happening in South Korea- arguably one of the largest and most extensive one that the country has ever experienced- using the chat messenger Telegram. Telegram is famous for being untraceable, owing to its extensive security and encoding measure. It is with the help of this app that the 25-year-old Cho Ju-Bin- who is currently being investigated- enabled the business of selling sexual videos to an online community.
With the help of a tier-ranking, Cho created a number of chat rooms: 1st Room, 2nd Room, 3rd Room… Nth Room, owing to the fact that the exact number of rooms created for the circulation of this terrifying crime is unknown. Users would pay a high amount of money to gain entry to these chat rooms, and the amount of money paid determined the number of the room one could gain access to.
It is reported that the room with the lowest tier ranking had an entry fee of $80 USD while the users that paid $1,200 USD would get access to the rooms with the highest tier ranking. The lowest-ranked rooms had the ‘least’ abusive videos, and the users who paid the most got access to the room with the ‘most’ abusive videos. Over 260,000 men are said to have joined the Nth Room community, with its clientele including the country’s famous entertainers and artists, athletes, CEOS, etc.
76 female victims have been identified in the scandal, with the primary target being teenagers. 12 of them were minors and the youngest victim has been reported to be around 9 years old.
Trigger Warning: Mentions of extremely disturbing sexual assault
To obtain the videos, Cho worked with “operators”, who would find girls and women for him, steal their personal information and then use it to threaten and blackmail the victims into doing what the operators asked them to do, while other victims were women from low-income backgrounds lured in with offers of money.
The offers began with requesting for videos of the victims undressing and masturbating, which were then distributed to the “lower tier” rooms. These videos would then be used to blackmail the women into doing increasingly worse requests, which would then be distributed into the “higher-tier” rooms. These included carving the word “slave” on their bodies, putting sharp objects in their genitalia, etc. Some operators even paid other men to rape the victims. It has also been revealed that a client plotted the murder of a girl as revenge against her father but was arrested before the attempt was carried out.
The exposing of the Nth Room scandal has led to the investigation of other similar sexual abuse rings online. A 16-year-old student from South Korea who used to work for Cho is said to have been arrested for running a series of similar chat rooms called the Pacific Expedition, and had distributed sexual content of children and teenagers and had from 8,000 to 20,000 clients.
China is also investigating their own version of these chat rooms reported to have had up to 8.6 million users, with the victims being as young as 4 years old.
As technology experiences a global boom, the crimes against women shift from a primitive to a digital verse, but the crimes remain as real and horrifying as ever. The excruciating details of the Nth Room scandal are major stressors to exactly why cybersecurity and cyber laws to protect victims of sexual abuse are important, and how people- especially women to an extremely large context- need to be protected when these crimes start spilling onto the cyber verse.
More information about the Nth Room can be found here.
Featured Image Credits: Hackernoon