South Korean President, Yoon Suk-yeol, on Thursday said the decision to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 13 was intended to reflect the global trend.
On Wednesday, the Justice Ministry announced the measure of wanting to revise the criminal and juvenile laws.
This was to be able to convict youths of crimes from the age of 13.
Currently, minors under the age of 14 cannot be convicted of a crime and are referred to community service programmes or youth correction institutions if they commit an offence.
Yoon told reporters as he arrived for work that “from the parent’s perspective, they may think their child is at risk of receiving strong punishment.
“On the other hand, from the perspective of the victims or those who feel at risk of falling victim to a crime, they may think it’s too soft.
“When it comes to human rights, the rights of the offender are important, but the rights of the victim or potential victim are also important, so we decided to take a step that is in line with the global trend.”
On why the age was lowered to 13 and not his campaign pledge of 12, Yoon said the government carried out a statistical review and decided to start by lowering the limit by one year.
“The serious crimes that are judged to be difficult to prevent with two years under the protection of a youth correction institution are happening a lot among 13- and 14-year-olds, so for now we’ll try enforcing it by lowering it to 13,” he said.