Member from the ruling Saenuri Party of the South Korean National Assembly, Insuk Park, wants to send a message sure to frighten violent sex offenders across the country.  In fact it’s chilling enough to make non-offenders squirm.

Anyone convicted of a sexual offence may be subjected to castration – and not the gentle chemical kind either – the hack and slash kind.

First, to clear up the common uncertainty over how castration is performed in developed countries, there are two types: “chemical castration” and “physical castration.” Chemical castration is where a person’s sex drive is lowered to non-existent levels through medication.

Physical castration nowadays isn’t quite as severe as you may think. Centuries ago in Korea, castration was performed by having a dog bite off your junk. Nowadays only the balls are removed surgically, which halts testosterone production resulting in zero sex drive.

Chemical castration is performed in Korea as a punishment for sex crimes involving a minor.  However, physical castration has yet to be accepted.  The previous government thwarted its acceptance on the grounds of human rights.

But this National Assembly is newly stimulated to pass this bill called the “Surgical Treatment of Violent Sexual Offenders Act,” which requests the list of available penalties (prison, fine, death, etc.) be amended to include “castration.”

“Chemical castration is largely ineffective because a resistance to the drugs can be built, causing sexual drive to return,” said Assembly Member Park (while fondling a pair of hedge clippers in my imagination).

Germany’s government currently runs a controversial penal castration system and considers it a success.  They claim that of 104 castrated offenders, only 3% repeat offend.  Without surgery they claim the recidivism rate is 46%.

At the moment it looks like Korea is open to the possibility of following in Germany’s footsteps.  President Lee Myung-bak recently said: “we are considering all options.”

Child molesters certainly deserve the worst they can get, but – man, a castration penalty would be neck and neck with death for most guys.  And so, I kind of see it like the death penalty, the main problem being: what if you accidentally “punish” an innocent person.

Source: Donga (Japanese and Korean)