A South Korean man was found guilty of stabbing his grandmother about 60 times but was handed a lenient sentence as the court ruled the killing to be “accidental.”
The man, 19, killed his grandmother out of rage because she was nitpicky and scolded him and his younger brother, according to Korean local media. The brothers had lived with their grandparents since 2012, after their parents got divorced and cut communication.
The older brother, found guilty of murder, was given seven to 12 years in prison. The prosecution had asked for life imprisonment, the maximum sentence for murder in the country.
The younger brother, 17, was handed a two-and-a-half year sentence. He was found guilty of assisting his older brother in the murder by closing the windows so their 77-year-old grandmother’s screams couldn’t be heard from outside.
This case has sparked outrage among Koreans who have disagreed with the court’s decision that the repeated stabbing was “accidental,” criticizing Korea’s judicial system as too lax on teenagers.
Some critics also took issue with the judge gifting the brothers the book “Bicycle Thief,” a Korean short story collection in which one story details a boy who tries to keep his good conscience among materialistic adults.
“What a joke,” one Twitter user said of the gift, calling the judge “crazy.”
In Korea, the juvenile justice system’s main objective is rehabilitating offenders, as opposed to punishment. Courts would encourage offenders to participate in correctional treatment programs to reform behavior instead of handing them a longer prison sentence.
But some lawmakers say this system unfairly gives immunity to juvenile offenders, defined as those under 19, simply because they’re young. Some are urging for a clause that would more heavily punish offenders of serious crimes, such as rape and gang violence. The brothers were tried as juveniles.
The court previously heard that the brothers experienced poverty and a tumultuous childhood. Citing a psychological analysis showing that the elder brother had a tendency toward “explosive emotional expressions,” the court said he did not commit the crime out of malice, the newspaper Korean Herald reported.
“He is well aware of his wrongdoing and seems to have sufficient room for reformation,” a judge said.
The older brother reportedly attempted to murder their grandfather too, but was stopped by his sibling.
During the trial, the younger brother said, “Although I hated my grandmother’s nagging so much when I was a child and I dreamed of killing her, I never actually did it,” according to Korean outlet News1.
On Jan. 14, a South Korean court sentenced a woman to 18 years in prison for killing a U.S. soldier’s 3-year-old son.
On Tuesday, a 25-year-old South Korean man who murdered three women in the same family was sentenced to life in prison.