Nayoung or Na-young is a pseudonym of a raped victim from South Korea, the true identity has never been revealed, this decision was made to protect the child. What is known is that girl was 8 years old at the time of the case, her parents were married, and her mother was pregnant.
Nayoung’s family was poor, her parents worked many hours a day, and yet they could only maintain basic living conditions.
The case occurred in the city of Ansan, South Korea. The girl must be between 18 and 20 years old today, and her identity is being protected to avoid unnecessary exposure.
Background of the case
Nayoung’s school was only a few meters from her home, about a three minute walk. Her mother always accompanied her on the way to school. The day and month of the event is not known for sure, only the year, which was 2012.
Nayoung’s father worked in a factory and her mother ran a small shop in front of the house while doing housework and raising her daughter. She was 5 months pregnant, the baby was not planned and her husband did not yet know that a new child was on the way.
The financial conditions were bad.
Very little is known about the victim’s personality, but according to some speculation Nayoung led a quiet life with her parents, was dreamy, and enjoyed studying.
Day of the crime
It was a rainy morning, and on that particular day Nayoung left late for school. It is believed that her mother was very busy with work and could not accompany her to school.
In South Korea, especially in the more remote cities, it is common for children to go to school alone around the age of 6. It should not be forgotten that it is one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in the world.
It was only a three-minute walk, but less than 10 meters from the school, Nayoung was intercepted by a middle-aged man, who forcibly took her to a church restroom. The location was very close to the school.
Rape and extreme violence
Nayoung was strangled, drowned in a bucket of water until she lost consciousness, and cruelly raped through the vagina, anus, and ears. She was also bitten on the cheek by the man.
Some journalists who covered the case said that the girl’s intestines started coming out of her anus during the rape, and the perpetrator put them back inside to continue the act. He then made her sit down in order to continue the act.
After half an hour the girl was abandoned at the scene, completely bloodied and badly bruised, but still managed to make an emergency 911 call and was rescued.
The rescue of Nayoung
The place quickly filled up with journalists, and parents of students began to panic. What was known was that a girl, approximately 8 years old, had been taken away by ambulance in serious condition.
At the time of the rescue, Nayoung oscillated between periods of consciousness and mental confusion. But she was able to say her name and give her father’s phone number.
The father was contacted by the police, and quickly attended the hospital. The mother was in a state of shock, and the father took over the decisions.
Extensive injuries and surgery to remove the anus
The doctors could not believe that Nayoung was still alive. She had significant internal bleeding and major trauma to her face and abdomen.
Soon she had emergency surgery. Nayoung’s anus had to be removed or she would bleed to death. As an alternative, a colostomy was made.
Nayoung’s mother was unwell in the hospital, had a vaginal bleed due to stress, was hospitalized on bed rest but the baby was fine.
Colostomy: is an operation that creates an opening for the colon, or large intestine, through the abdomen. A colostomy may be temporary or permanent. It is usually done after bowel surgery or injury.
Post-operation and identification of the perpetrator, Cho Doo-soon
Nayoung was in a lot of pain, receiving intravenous painkillers 24 hours a day.
When her father could see her, he was horrified, an 8-year-old girl struggling between life and death. At this point she tells her father that “the bad man needed to be caught,” and said everything she remembered with great difficulty to open her lips.
The investigation begins, fingerprints from the crime scene are cross-referenced with those of an ex-convict.
The man was identified as Cho Doo-soon, 56-year-old man. But according to the police, that was not enough to incriminate him.
During her hospitalization, in great pain and discomfort, Nayoung had to identify her rapist through photos. A video statement was recorded and sent to the police.
Cho Doo-soon was held on remand; he already had several criminal records, including a charge of raping a 19-year-old girl in the 1980s.
Cho Doo-soon’s Trial
Korean justice did not seem to cooperate. Various nonsensical arguments were included by the defenses of the criminal.
Cho Doo-soon’s lawyer was working with the theory that he was an alcoholic man, and when he was under the influence of the substance he lost his memory about his actions.
He even said that the clothes found with the victim’s blood on them had been lost by the defendant three days earlier at a construction site he had worked on.
A few months later the video of Nayoung identifying the criminal was challenged by the defense, which forced the girl to appear in court and make a new identification in the presence of a full jury.
Her suffering, recovery time, and the trauma of the case were not respected at any time.
Cho was originally sentenced to life in prison , but after Nayoung testified that he smelled of alcohol, his sentence was reduced to 12 years in prison, since he “was not conscious while committing the crime.”
Nayoung’s parents have filed a lawsuit against the prosecutor for subjecting their daughter to physical and psychological suffering.
The prosecutor questioned her right after she came out of surgery and made her sit upright and answer the same questions four times due to the prosecutor’s mistakes during the recording.
They violated protocol by taking the testimony of a minor and recording it in public.
In 2011, the government paid 13 million wons in compensation to Nayoung for violations committed by the prosecution. After the news of his sentence was released, many petitions were left on the Blue House (the official residence of the President of the Republic of Korea) website asking for a new trial.
Physical and emotional damage
Nayoung was left with permanent damage to her lower abdomen and was told she would be permanently disabled.
She needed 8 months of treatment and had to travel to Seoul every weekend. Later she underwent successful surgery to implant an artificial anus, and no longer needed to use the colostomy bag.
She suffered from depression and mental stress after the crime. A year after the rape, after receiving psychiatric treatment, she recovered 70 percent. Shortly after she started attending school again.
According to her father, in 2020, after a news report, she only watches cartoons, so she doesn’t have a chance to see anything related to sexual violence.
How the case is in 2021
Cho Doo-soon was released on December 13, 2020, and returned to live with his wife 1km from the victim’s family.
“We didn’t want to run away, but there was no alternative. I want to say that the government did nothing but force the victim into hiding.”the girl’s father told to BBC, just days after Cho was released, after serving his reduced 12-year sentence.
He added that Nayoung was reluctant to move because she did not want to leave her closest friends. The family was also afraid of exposing their identity with the change of address. But they felt they had no other option.
Movie Hope, 2013
In the film feature, Nayoung is named Sowon and is played by child actress Lee Re, born in 2006, who also worked on the drama Super Daddy Yeol (2015) and the film How to Steal a Dog (2014).
Lee Re gives an Oscar-worthy performance in Hope, masterfully representing moments of pain, suffering, trauma, and sadness, as well as childlike innocence, with a smile on her face when she sees her favorite character Kokomong, a kind of monkey that, according to the character herself, has no gender – and if it does, it doesn’t matter: it’s just Kokomong.