I’m an American living in Korea who is currently caught up in a legal matter. I took a picture of someone at the gym because I thought they were being a bit of a vapid twat (making poses in front of the mirror in high heels while filming themselves, possibly for Instagram or TikTok). Yes, I was very rude and inconsiderate for thinking that about someone I don’t know, and by taking pictures of them, it was actually I who was the idiot AND a jerk on top of that. I shouldn’t have done what I did. Anyway, they saw me and now they’ve accused me of taking illegal photos with a camera.
In Korea, it is illegal to photograph someone without their consent, even without criminal or sexual intent, so long as the person says they feel “sexual shame” from it. Several lawyers and legal consultants have stated that the criteria for what qualifies as causing shame is NOT directly stated in the law, so it is entirely feelings-based and open to interpretation - courts have been inconsistent in previous rulings. This is a full-body photo with no criminal intent of someone doing poses in a public place in front of mirrors, but so long as she says she feels shame, it is illegal unless her feelings can be disproven. I had to pay her a settlement fee to drop the charges (common procedure in Korea for a wide variety of charges - someone accuses you and you pay a settlement for charges to be dropped because of the high conviction rate for many charges), but the prosecutor and/or courts can still choose to punish me if they wish - or they could drop the case entirely.
It could either be a suspension of prosecution (no record), or a fine. If the fine is above $3000 then that’s deportation, but I’ve been reassured by several lawyers that won’t happen. I could have trouble renewing my visa though. If a fine is issued, it will be expunged from the public Korean police check in two years (unless you check the box saying to show expunged offenses), but it will remain in internal police and immigration records.
As said, I am sincerely sorry for what I did, and for how my selfish and stupid “look at this vapid TikTok person” thoughts, not to mention by careless actions, resulted in this whole situation.
I lived in Taiwan before and would like to live there again. I have no criminal record in the US, Taiwan, or Japan, where I also lived once. When I lived in Taiwan before, I moved there from Japan and Taiwan didn’t directly ask me for any records from Japan. Of course, maybe that’s because I didn’t have a record in Japan.
Will I be able to move to Taiwan after this? Will Taiwanese authorities know about this record if its not in my home country? How about if two years pass and the fine (if one is actually issued, I don’t know) is expunged from public records? If it is known to them, am I auto-denied?