“The prosecutor swore, I broke the man who tried to sexually assault me.”
“I am so angry at the reason for the denial of my appeal토토사이트. I wrote it myself so I could read it over and over again.”
On the 15th of this month, a silver-haired woman I met at a cafe in Busan took out a piece of paper from her bag. Written in pen across the front of the paper was the title, ‘Request for retrial of this case, dismissal, reason’.
In 2021, the Busan District Court dismissed his request for a retrial. ‘The prosecution and trial of the claimant took place half a century ago in a different socio-cultural environment than today. Just because the times have changed, we cannot overturn the events of that time just because the socio-cultural environment has changed.
“They say they can’t hold a retrial because it happened half a century ago. It’s like they’re mocking me,” he said, punching himself in the chest two or three times as he vented his anger at the court. Choi, 77, is the last person to be labeled a “perpetrator” for biting off the tongue of a man who tried to sexually assault him.
“The violence I received from the state has followed me all my life with the tag of a criminal,” Choi wrote in his handwritten petition to the Supreme Court in Seocho-dong, Seoul. “I believe that only by reopening the trial and changing the outdated legal standards by clearly redefining victim and perpetrator and recognizing self-defense can women victims of sexual violence protect themselves from sexual violence and create a world free of sexual violence.”
Ms. Choi’s handwritten petition to the Supreme Court. Korea Women’s Helpline * Click image to enlarge.
On the same day that Choi submitted her handwritten petition to the court, 15,685 people signed an online petition calling for the court to recognize her self-defense. On behalf of Choi, 19 women from Busan held a relay one-person protest in front of the Supreme Court from March 30 to April 1, calling for her retrial.
“I’m very, very grateful to them for making it this far,” Choi said of the outpouring of solidarity, adding, “What and how I can repay them is my homework until I die.”
Mr. Choi is the “perpetrator” of the so-called Gimhae tongue-cutting incident. On May 6, 1964, when she was 18 years old, Choi was sentenced to 10 months in prison and two years of probation for biting off a man’s tongue (grievous bodily harm) while resisting a man, Noah Mugae, 21, who was trying to sexually assault her.
Mr. Noh, who attempted to sexually assault Ms. Choi, received only six months in prison (suspended for one year). He was not charged with attempted rape, but only with coming to Choi’s house with a knife after her tongue was cut out (special threats and special residential invasion). The prosecution and the court did not recognize Ms. Choi as a “victim.
In May 2020, 56 years after the incident, Choi requested a retrial to correct the court’s decision. However, the Busan District Court and the Busan High Court rejected his request. “There is no new evidence to recognize (Choi’s) innocence,” was the main reason.
“The police said it was self-defense, but the prosecution framed me as the perpetrator and left out the fact that he committed sexual violence. The judge found me guilty. They didn’t follow the law, they made it up as they went along.” Choi said, slapping her chest again.
It is the prosecution and the court that infuriate Choi the most. “During the investigation, the prosecutor screamed at me, ‘If you crippled a man, you should be held accountable,'” Choi said. “I said, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ and closed my eyes, but the prosecutor cursed me for closing my eyes,” Choi said. “When I think about that time, I can’t sleep because of the injustice,” Choi said.
The judge was no different. According to the October 22, 1964, edition of the Busan Daily, the judge even asked Choi, “Do you have any intention of marrying and living with the defendant?” This is a typical “secondary offense” against sexual assault victims.
In its verdict, the court also blamed Choi, saying that “if she screamed, she could be heard by the neighboring houses” and that she “followed him to the crime scene.” The court rejected Choi’s claim of self-defense and found him guilty of “causing (Noh) to become a crippled man who cannot speak for the rest of his life.” Choi was detained for more than six months.
“I was released from prison in the middle of the night in January, and my father was alone in the waiting room. I changed into the clothes and rubber shoes I was wearing when I was detained. I took a bus for over an hour and walked another five kilometers home. I think my father gave me tofu, but I don’t know if I ate it or not. I shudder to think of that time,” Choi said.
After nearly 60 years of injustice, Ms. Choi paints to cope with the anger in her heart. Courtesy of Malja Choi
The emotion that has dominated Choi since that day is “injustice.” Choi hasn’t talked about the incident with her parents, siblings, or friends. Even when a woman bit off her sexual assailant’s tongue in 1988 and cut it out, and when the victim was acquitted in a second trial for self-defense, Choi remained silent. “I was too frustrated and angry to keep it to myself and die,” Choi says, which is why she decided to seek a retrial.
“I saw the conviction for the first time when I was preparing to file for retrial,” he said. “It was full of things that made me cry, like how could the state make me a perpetrator, and I was more angry and upset about it than I was at the time of the incident.”
Choi requested a retrial in 2020, arguing that, contrary to the 1964 tribunal’s decision, Noh had the ability to speak the language and that prosecutors had detained him without an arrest warrant. He cited “new evidence” that Mr. Noh was not seriously injured as key to deciding whether to retry him.
“My assailant, who is said to be crippled, has a physical class 1, is in the army, married, and has children,” Choi said. “My actions were self-defense to avoid sexual assault, and the assailant was not seriously injured, so a retrial should be held.”
Regardless of the outpouring of solidarity from so many women, the memory of that day still haunts Choi in her daily life. Recently, she was surprised to learn that a Chinese character teacher she met at the welfare center had the same name as the perpetrator. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe because she can’t control her anger.
Some days, her chest is on fire, and she can’t breathe.