Send to

City of Miryang apologizes for 2004 gang rape case

June 25, 2024 - 18:16 By Yoon Min-sik

Mayor An Byeong-gu (front) of Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province, bows along with government officials and community leaders of the city in a public apology issued jointly for the 2004 Miryang gang rape case, at the Miryang City Hall on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Government officials and community leaders in the southeastern city of Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province, jointly issued a public apology Tuesday for an infamous gang rape case that occurred two decades ago, saying it was "all of our responsibility."

"We all share the responsibility to make a better community, yet we (the people of Miryang) have not apologized or reflected on this tragedy, just because it is not directly related to our family or friends," said Mayor An Byeong-gu, a Miryang native himself who took helm of the city in April this year. "We apologize for everyone who has been hurt."

Officials of the city government, city council and some 80 civic and religious groups based in the area participated in the public apology at the city hall, collectively bowing their heads for one of the worst sex crimes in South Korean history. They did not take questions from reporters who attended the event.

The 2004 Miryang gape rape case has recently reentered the national consciousness after YouTubers began revealing the personal information of some the alleged perpetrators. Forty-four high school boys in South Gyeongsang Province were alleged to have brutally assaulted a then-middle school girl physically and sexually over the course of a year, but all of them escaped criminal punishment on account of them being minors at the time.

A subsequent investigation found that four other underage girls, including the primary victim's older sister, had been raped by the group who called themselves the "Miryang Coalition."

What fueled public furor was the widespread victim-blaming by the local community and secondary damage inflicted by the police. A 2005 survey of 645 residents of the city showed that 64 percent pointed the finger of blame at the victim for the heinous crimes, and a police officer's blunder led to the victim's family having their information leaked to the public.

Several officials were found to have taken part in victim-blaming, causing damage and stress for which the Supreme Court in 2008 ordered the state to pay compensation.

The primary victim and her family recently issued a statement that they do not want the YouTubers revealing the information of the perpetrators of the gang rape, saying they only want to move on from the horrid experience. The Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, which has been supporting the family, recently launched an ongoing fundraiser for the family's benefit.