On May 18, documentary Cyber Hell 사이버지옥 was released on Netflix, climbing to the number two spot on South Korea’s version of the streaming site. Directed by Choi Jin-seong 최진성, the documentary reconstructs the stories of 24 individuals - journalists, activists and police - who chased the trail of the “Nth Room” Case N번방 사건 of 2020, one of the most notorious sex abuse cases that rocked South Korea.
Among the activists was Park Ji-hyeon 박지현, who is now the co-chair of the Democratic Party Emergency Response Committee 민주당 비상대책위원회 공동위원장 after joining Lee Jae-myung 이재명’s presidential campaign. Park appears in her pseudonym “Bul 불” (“flame”), a nom de plume she adopted to avoid an assault from the pornographers. (See previous coverage, “Park Ji-hyeon the Rookie Leader.”)
In the style of a “true crime” thriller, Cyber Hell reenacts how the ringleaders, 24-year-old Mun Hyeong-uk 문형욱 (known by his criminal alias “GodGod 갓갓”) and 26-year-old Jo Ju-bin 조주빈 (known as “Baksa 박사”), blackmailed young women into sexual exploitation.
A typical scheme was to coax women as young as middle school students into sending racy photos of themselves under the pretense of modeling. Then using their personal information, Mun and Jo would threaten the women that they would circulate the photos to the women’s family and friends unless they sent more explicit and abusive photos and videos of themselves.
Thousands of men (estimates reach up to 60k users cumulatively) paid in cryptocurrency to join the Telegram chat rooms that Mun and Jo operated, whose names began a series of numbers - “1st Room”, “2nd Room”, etc., hence the name the “Nth Room” Case. The clients of Mun and Jo did not simply watch the videos; they actively provided personal information and photos of women in their lives, allowing the Nth Room operators to victimize more women.
By the end of 2020, the police arrested nearly 2,000 suspects involved with the case. Mun was sentenced to 34 years in prison; Jo, 42 years.