Shocking Nth Room Scandal Erupts in South Korea

Megan Donovon

Controversy erupts nationwide as shocking news breaks.


In the midst of of COVID-19 concerns, the exposure of a massive sex abuse scandal has shocked South Korea. A 24 year old man named Cho Ju-bin, alias baska, has been arrested for creating an online group called “The Nth Room” in late 2018. The platform was built in order to make and distribute sexually abusive videos of young women. Along with Ju-bin, 19 other perpetrators and over 100 participants have been detained. 


Unfortunately, the Korea Cyber Sexual Violence Response Center and Korean authorities reported that more than a quarter of a million subscribers have been counted across these vulgar chat rooms. Further, police revealed that about 30,000 subscribers had invested between $200 to $1200 in encrypted currency. The Nth Room operated as a hierarchy system, members being able to access channels depending on how much money they spent. Similarly, they were rewarded for submitting exploitive content of female acquaintances. 


The majority of the videos were produced by blackmailing vulnerable young women, typically through the app called ‘Telegram’. They were coaxed into filming sexual acts, beginning mild but soon escalating to brutal self-harm, or even rape. Often the personal information of victims were listed on the ‘room’ (channel) that their videos were posted to. This included details as personal as what school they attended. 74 of these women have now been identified, 16 of which were minors as young as 9. 


On March 24, one of the victims gave an anonymous interview to a local Korean radio show. She said she had been messaged through Telegram and offered a fake employment opportunity; she had been using the app job-hunt due to her family’s financial difficulties. This allowed a man to pry into her private information, which he then used to coerce her into sending pornographic material. 


“First he just asked for a picture of my body, but then he asked if I could send one that showed my face,” she began. Over a span of weeks, she was forced to send dozens of videos, despite still being in middle school at the time. Fearful of public humiliation and exposure, she complied. “He had all my personal information…I was afraid he would threaten me with that if I quit.”  


Upon hearing of this scandal, many South Koreans were outraged. A petition had been signed by 2.5 million people demanding the identity of baska (Ju-in) be made public. This has led to concern from activists regarding Korea’s often lenient punishment of sexual predators. Such lack of legal ramifications regarding sexual, specifically pedophilic, and gender based crimes has become a major topic of discussion.


Oakdale Junior Jacy Duffy voiced her concerns regarding those worries: “I think it definitely shows a need for more women’s rights movements. People ask, you know, why feminism? Well this is exactly why.” A similar sentiment was shared by fellow Oakdale Junior Noelle Bohraus. She voiced that as well as a women’s rights issue, this is “about enforcing harder rules on the bad people [Cho Ju-bin/baska] like that.” 


Duffy expressed further concern regarding the lack of international coverage for this scandal. She continued, “We are going through a lot right now as a world with the pandemic, but it’s important to talk about other things as well. I think this deserves more coverage. I hadn’t heard about this, and I check CNN everyday.” 


Hopefully, this situation will allow for much needed change not only in South Korea, but worldwide. Although, as more arrests and information keep being released, the extent of this operation remains somewhat unknown. 

Police have Cho Ju-bin address the public upon his arrest.