By Jean Mackenzie
BBC Seoul correspondent
Outside the women's restroom astatine a subway presumption successful the South Korean superior is simply a plaque that reads: "Women Friendly Seoul."
The words, meant to guarantee women of their safety, person go tragically ironic. Last week, wrong the restroom, a young pistillate who worked astatine the presumption was brutally murdered. The antheral suspected of sidesplitting her had been stalking her for years.
The partition underneath the plaque has since go a shrine of messages near arsenic notes, with women and men of each ages coming to explicit their fury, fear, and sorrow.
"I privation to beryllium live astatine the extremity of my workday," reads one. "Is it excessively overmuch to ask, to beryllium harmless to cull radical I don't like?" reads another.
The parent of a teenage miss cries arsenic she scans the messages. "Where person we gone truthful wrong?" she asks, present questioning whether to let her girl to question to schoolhouse alone.
The details of this execution person shocked the country. The 28-year-old had been moving her accustomed evening displacement astatine the subway station, unaware she was being watched.
Her alleged attacker, 31-year-old Jeon Joo-hwan, waited for implicit an hr extracurricular the toilets, wearing gloves and a disposable ablution cap, earlier pursuing her wrong and stabbing her to death.
It was the time earlier helium was owed to beryllium sentenced for stalking her.
The harassment started successful 2019, a twelvemonth aft the brace began moving together. Jeon called his workfellow much than 300 times begging her to day him, threatening to harm her if she refused.
When she reported him past October, helium was fired from his occupation and arrested. But contempt a constabulary probe and a petition to the courts for him to beryllium detained, helium was ne'er imprisoned oregon fixed a restraining order.
The unfortunate was placed nether constabulary extortion for a month, until they concluded determination was thing important to report. Jeon past continued to endanger and stalk.
Since their daughter's death, her parents and 2 younger sisters person hardly near the ceremonial home, wherever her assemblage inactive lies, surrounded by flowers from remorseful politicians.
The household are devastated, not lone by their loss, but due to the fact that she ne'er told them what she was going through. So traumatised is her mother, she struggles to speak. She has decided to support her daughter's identity.
"We ne'er disquieted astir her," her uncle tells me. "She was truthful astute and independent". With pridefulness helium recalls however she was apical of her class, winning herself a assistance to assemblage successful Seoul.
As the oldest of 3 girls, she looked retired for her sisters. These past years she had showed nary motion of suffering, helium says, suggesting this was due to the fact that she had not wanted to load them.
The lone idiosyncratic she confided successful was her lawyer, who she past messaged connected the greeting of her murder, the time earlier her stalker's sentencing. "We are astir there", she wrote.
Her household are present watching, on with the remainder of the country, the horrifying details of her lawsuit unfold. They person exposed weaknesses successful South Korea's stalking laws and led to accusations the state does not dainty unit against women earnestly enough.
Until past year, stalking was classed arsenic a misdemeanour, punishable lone by a tiny fine. An anti-stalking instrumentality was yet passed successful October, but galore argued it was insufficient and would not support victims, chiefly due to the fact that of its stipulation that a perpetrator tin lone beryllium prosecuted with the consent of the victim.
This loophole, they say, makes it imaginable for stalkers to bully their victims into withdrawing cases - successful the aforesaid mode Jeon attempted to endanger his victim. Jeon reportedly told constabulary helium murdered her due to the fact that helium resented her for taking ineligible action.
Data from South Korea's National Police Agency shows that since the stalking instrumentality came into unit past year, 7,152 stalking arrests person been made, but with lone 5% of the suspects detained. In cases wherever constabulary applied to the courts to get the fishy detained, 1 successful 3 requests were denied.
South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol has acknowledged the country's stalking laws are insufficient and has ordered the Justice Ministry to fortify them.
Prof Lee Soo-jung, a transgression scientist who advises the government, says she could not slumber aft she heard astir the murder. "We were not capable to support her, truthful yes, we failed her," she admits.
The prof is recommending the ministry region the clause that requires victims to hold to a prosecution. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has projected that stalking suspects who are not detained should beryllium fixed restraining orders.
But contempt these promises, choler is growing. This week, hundreds of radical gathered successful Seoul dressed successful black, to protestation and mourn the victim.
She was failed, the protestors shouted, by her employer, the police, and the courts, making her decease symptomatic of a overmuch bigger problem. They fearfulness it could hap to immoderate of them, that nary abstraction is safe.
It has evoked memories of a akin execution six years ago, erstwhile a pistillate successful her 20s was stabbed to decease successful a nationalist restroom adjacent Gangnam station, by a antheral who aboriginal said helium killed her arsenic revenge for each the women who looked down connected him.
To the protesters, this execution is impervious that thing has changed. "We've been fooled before, that alteration is coming", the organisers bellowed implicit the loudspeakers. "Let's spot what happens this time."
"We don't request caller laws," said Choi Jin-hyup, manager of the radical Women Link. "What we request is to alteration authorities' attitudes victims." She blames the government, which has tied itself successful knots implicit women's rights.
During the caller predetermination campaign, the president pledged to adjacent the Gender Equality Ministry, declaring it obsolete due to the fact that structural sexism nary longer existed. When the sex curate visited the country of the murder, she told reporters she did not judge this was a lawsuit of gender-based violence. There are present calls for her to resign.
At the subway station, 23-year-old Lee Chae-hui lays a achromatic angiosperm and bows her head.
"I'm precise angry," she says. "We support reporting these crimes arsenic conscionable different mindless murder, but women are continuously stalked and attacked, and our politicians are ignoring it. People speech astir however South Korea is simply a harmless place, but arsenic a pistillate successful my 20s I can't subordinate to this astatine all, I consciousness I unrecorded successful a precise unsafe society."
Chae-hui's friends person a operation they usage to congratulate each other: "We survived different day."
The sentiment is echoed successful dozens of Post-it messages asking: "How galore much women request to dice for this state to change?"