South Korea reduces jail sentence for headmistress who abuses child to death

By Duc Trung, Doan Ninh   November 23, 2023 | 03:15 pm PT
A South Korean headmistress, jailed for abusing an infant of Vietnamese origin to death, saw her sentence reduced from 19 to 18 years following an appeal.

The Suwon District Criminal Court of Appeal on Thursday sentenced the headmistress, only identified as Kim, to 18 years in prison for abusing nine-month-old Cheon Dong-min to death back in November 2022, MT reported.

Kim was previously sentenced to 19 years in jail at a trial on April 20. However, Kim filed an appeal as she believed her sentence was "unfair". Judges said it was difficult to determine that the murder was intentional, and due to the fact that certain abuse accusations do not result in charges, one year was taken off of Kim’s sentence.

Cheon, whose parents were Vietnamese, died after being sent to the Hwaseong nursery on Gyeonggi Province for a week. On Nov. 10, 2022, as the child refused to sleep, Kim used a pillow and piled it on him for 14 minutes. After Cheon became unresponsive, Kim left the child to be buried under the blankets for three hours.

After realizing that the child stopped breathing, Kim tried to resuscitate the child and called for medical help. She was arrested soon after.

The case's development came following months of strong campaigns from the public and the teachers themselves in South Korea, calling for protection of their rights and authority against unruly students and their parents.

A survey conducted by Yonhap News Agency and Yonhap News TV released on August showed that 74.3% of respondents supported granting educators immunity from child abuse charges concerning actions taken for educational reasons.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers rallied in Seoul weeks later for rights protection.

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