The Supreme Court has ruled for the first time that a person can be punished for stalking if he or she has left a record of more than 20 ‘missed calls’ and caused anxiety or fear to the other party, even if he or she did not call them directly.
The Supreme Court’s 3rd Division (토토사이트Chief Justice Lee Heung-koo presiding) said on the 29th that it overturned the original ruling that sentenced Mr. A to four months in prison in an appeal by Mr. A, who was charged with violating the Stalking Punishment Act and the Information and Communications Network Act, and sent the case back to the Busan District Court.
Mr. A had been in a relationship with the victim, Ms. B (45, female), for more than 20 years, and in early October 2021, he asked Ms. B to borrow 10 million won in business funds. However, Ms. B refused and even blocked Mr. A’s contact information. Afterward, Mr. A said, “I’ve been coming to Jinju for days, looking for you and going down to Busan. I’ll be back tomorrow, watch what I do to you,” and sent a total of six other messages that caused fear or anxiety. In particular, Mr. A made a total of 29 calls to other people’s cell phones after learning that his number was blocked. Mr. B answered only the first of these calls, and the other 28 were recorded as missed.
Both the first and second courts found A guilty and sentenced him to four months in prison and ordered him to complete a 40-hour stalking treatment program. However, while the first court found that all of A’s texts and calls constituted stalking, the second court disagreed about the 28 missed calls. The Court of Second Instance held that “the mere fact of making a phone call does not constitute sending ‘sound’ through the information and communication network,” and that “even if the ‘missed call’ is displayed on the other party’s phone, it is only an indication resulting from the function of the phone itself.”
On the other hand, the Supreme Court overturned the trial court’s decision, stating that the legislative purpose of the Stalking Penalties Act is that repeated attempts to make phone calls constitute stalking, regardless of whether the calls actually occurred. The Supreme Court held that “the anxiety or fear caused to the victim when Mr. A repeatedly calls the victim against his will and without justification is serious enough to interfere with his daily life, even if the victim does not answer the call,” and that “the need to quickly and thickly protect the victim from the act of repeatedly attempting to call the victim against his will is also great.” In particular, “it is not necessary for the victim to answer the call to cause anxiety or fear,” and “a victim whose anxiety or fear is amplified by repeated stalking behavior is more likely to not answer the call.”