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(3rd LD) Suspect in Naju's child abduction-rape case admits to crime
NAJU, South Korea, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- Police said Friday they have detained a 23-year-old man on suspicions of kidnapping and brutally raping a 7-year-old girl in the latest sex crime to shock the nation and cause President Lee Myung-bak to offer a public apology.

   The suspect, identified only by his surname Ko, allegedly abducted the elementary school first-grader early Thursday morning while she was sleeping at her home in Naju, 356 kilometers south of Seoul, before raping and abandoning her on a remote riverside.


Ko, who was apprehended in Suncheon, a nearby city east of Naju, confessed to the crime, according to police.

   "(I was) out of my mind after drinking. (I) committed the crime under the influence of liquor," Ko was quoted by police as saying.

   The suspect, who has no previous convictions for sexual offenses but frequently watched child pornography, had a conversation with the girl's mother on Wednesday night and asked how her children were. Ko, however, did not watch pornography ahead of committing the crime, according to the police.

   Police said the suspect lived in the neighborhood very close to the victim's house and was well acquainted with the victim's mother.

   The alleged abduction and rape was the latest in a series of appalling sex crimes that have rattled South Korean society.

   Earlier on Friday, President Lee apologized to people and urged police investigators to make the utmost efforts to arrest the criminal who left the girl with serious injuries.

   The victim, who was rushed to an area hospital for treatment for damages to her genitals and intestines, still remains hospitalized.

   The grisly case was reported by local media just hours after Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and 30 senior officials of the government and the ruling Saenuri Party met and agreed to expand the use of chemical castration for sex offenders as part of efforts to root out repeated assaults against women and children.

   The meeting came in the wake of recent sexual assaults victimizing women and children and violent crimes targeting citizens at random, which have stoked widespread concerns on public safety. Last week, a convicted sex criminal attempted to rape a woman in eastern Seoul before stabbing her to death, although the suspect was wearing an electronic tracking device at the time.


The Naju case is particularly shocking to the nation, as the government had pledged sweeping countermeasures against child sex offenders after a notorious child rape case that occurred in Ansan, south of Seoul, in 2009.

   In September 2009, a 57-year-old man named Cho Doo-soon from Ansan was sentenced by a district court to a mere 12 years in prison for brutally beating and raping a girl, known only as Na-young, after kidnapping her on her way to school in December of the previous year. Na-young sustained irreversible damage to her genitals as a result of the rape.

   Police believe Ko entered through the front door, which appeared to have been unlocked, sometime between 2:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and abducted her.

   A search for the missing girl took place and police found the victim wrapped in the blanket on a riverside road just 100 meters away from her house.

   Meanwhile, a Chinese man who was detained earlier in the day for questioning has no involvement in the rape case, police said, adding he is an illegal immigrant who ran from police officers out of fear that he would be deported.