The “female version of Room N” controversy: Double standards and legal issues

The female version of Room N has arrived. The “Room N” sextortion scandal shocked the world in 2020, a digital sex crime that involved the creation, trade, and distribution of illegal pornography through group chat rooms on Telegram. At the time, the perpetrator was male and the victim was female. The case garnered so much attention that it led to the passage of the “Stop the N-Bomb Act,” which greatly expanded the scope and increased the penalties for online sex crimes, including sextortion.

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A new controversy in a women-only community

But this time, things are different. South Korea’s largest women-only community, with 844,000 members, has been mired in controversy over the “female version of Room N. On May 15, 2024, Maeil Business reported the story, stating that community members shared details of men they met on dating apps that matched them with foreign men inside the cafe.

Posts shared in this community included real-life photos of foreign men exchanging information with lewd comments about their appearance and genitals. Among them were minors. Members of the group even created a list called the “Big Data Who’s Who of U.S. Military Men,” which they claimed to be an encyclopedia of American military personnel.

Similar incidents have happened before

This isn’t the first time this has been reported. In 2021, there were some media reports of illegally filming and sexually degrading Korean men in the Yeocho community. But what’s made this incident even more impactful is that female community members have criticized the double standard.

The Double Standard Controversy and the KXF Festival

Members of the female community recently protested against the hosting of the adult festival KXF (2024 KXF The Fashion), claiming that the event “sexualizes women.” They refer to KXF as a “sex trafficking expo,” and have joined a petition to ask local governments to stop the event. KXF, which featured Japanese adult video (AV) actors, was eventually canceled due to opposition from women’s groups.

However, while publicly criticizing the commodification of women, they continued to exchange information by commenting on the appearance and physical features of Korean and foreign men. This is enough to be criticized as a double standard.

Legal issues and possible penalties

“These acts may constitute a violation of the Information and Communications Network Act because they are defamatory, and unauthorized disclosure of personal information may be punishable under the Stalking Act if it is done continuously or repeatedly,” said Kim Seung-hwan, an attorney at Law Firm GB.

Under the current law, a person who publicly discloses facts through information and communication networks for the purpose of defaming another person is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to 30 million won. A person who defames by falsehood is punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years, disbarment for up to 10 years, or a fine of up to 50 million won. A person who commits the crime of stalking can be punished by up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won.

Stereotypes and reflections on sexual offenses

“There is a stereotype that men are the perpetrators and women are the victims when it comes to the so-called ‘N room,’ but this case shows that women can also be perpetrators,” said Koo Jung-woo, a professor of sociology at Sungkyunkwan University. “It is not only discrimination against foreigners and jokes, but also a criminal offense, so it should be condemned and punished if personal information is leaked or defamed using gender as a medium.” “Whether you’re a man or a woman, you have to ask yourself if you’re participating in these sexual offenses,” he added.


This is a reminder that anyone, regardless of gender, can be a victim of a sexual offense. This shows that we need to move beyond the stereotypes associated with digital sex crimes, clarify legal responsibilities, and ensure strong penalties for all criminal behavior, regardless of gender.

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