My research aims to examine sentencing decision-making in serious sexual offence cases in order to understand the differences between the rhetoric and approach of sentencing legislation in South Korea. The significance of sentencing has long been acknowledged due to its impacts on offenders, victims and the society. The difference between law and practice has also received a noticeable attention in various other jurisdictions. In the case of Korea, however, the area of sentencing has been a relatively recent development in general due to the lack of relevant research. Since the 1980s, as sexual offences have emerged as a serious social problem, there has been a constant criticism on sentencing results of sexual offences being lenient. These concerns resulted in enormous changes in the overall sentencing system and legislative changes of sexual offence legislation based on a harsher approach. Although these transitions were intended to bring about a harsher punishment, the criticism on lenient sentencing results in practice has been ongoing.
The principal aim of my research is to examine sentencing decision making in serious sexual offence cases to understand differences between the rhetoric and practice of sentencing law. To address this central aim, the study will also address following objectives:
- To examine the legal and policy frameworks for sentencing of serious sexual offences over time.
- To identify sentencing decisions in cases involving serious sexual offences.
- To explore the factors and influences that are taken into consideration in sentencing serious sexual offences.
- To analyse judges’ perspectives on sentencing decisions in cases of serious sexual offences.