South Korea’s four major cryptocurrency exchanges, Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit, reportedly stated that they would support the local police in investigating the so-called “nth rooms” phenomenon, which turned into a nation-wide scandal.
Crypto Exchanges Reportedly Said Celebrities Were Users
For years, dozens of South Korean middle school girls, and sometimes boys, were filmed performing violent sexual acts and self-harm. The videos were then shared through Telegram chat rooms in exchange for payments made in cryptocurrency.
The Korean police found dozens of victims since the videos often displayed girls’ names and addresses.
After more than 5 million Koreans signed petitions to name the man who led the group that blackmailed girls and created the Telegram groups, the police decided to reveal his identity. The name of the 24 year old criminal is Cho Ju-bin.
The police also revealed that over 10,000 people used the Telegram chatrooms, with some paying over $1,200 in crypto for gaining access. So far, the police know about 74 people, including 16 minor girls, who had been exploited.
Elsewhere, reporters of local media agency Kookmin Ilbo discovered about 25,000 users across 30 such Telegram chat rooms.
Other estimates from local media claim that there were up to 300,000 paying customers using similar chat rooms.
He is charged with abuse, threats and coercion, and violating the sexual abuse act, the child protection act, and the privacy act.
Although the police haven’t confirmed it yet, there are reports that a local crypto exchange traced the crypto transactions and found out that some of the fee-paying members were popular artists, professors, sports celebrities, and startup founders and company CEOs.
The child porn suspect is a 24 year old man nicknamed “baksa,” which translates as “doctor” or “guru.” He managed the Telegram chat rooms where videos of child abuse were shared in exchange for payments. Cho charged the viewers in crypto, which made it difficult for the police to trace and shut down the chat rooms. However, given that South Korean law requires all crypto exchange clients to pass through KYC/AML verification procedures, the platform could help authorities find members and understand the magnitude of the incident.
So far, the police have tracked down 124 individuals related to the case. Cho and 17 others have been detained.