Changes in Traffic Laws1)
On September 11, 2019, Kim Minsik, a 9-year-old child, was killed in a car accident that occurred in Child Protection Zone in Asan, South Chungcheong Province. The driver of the car was only driving at 23 kilometers per hour, but his sight was blocked because the opposite lane was filled with cars waiting for the light. Minsik also did not see the car because of the traffic, so he naturally crossed the street because all the cars had stopped at the light. However, the driver did not stop and caused the accident. The driver couldn’t see the child crossing the street. After the accident, family members of the victim posted a petition on the Cheong Wa Dae national petition board to voice injustice. They also appeared on broadcasting company shows and appealed directly to the President. To prevent these types of accidents, the National Assembly quickly proposed a new bill. It is called the ‘Minsik Law’. It took effect from March 25, 2020. The new law stipulates that traffic lights and speed control cameras must be installed at all Child Protection Zone, and any violators or people responsible for an accident within a Child Protection Zone will be subject to aggravated punishment. The punishments are divided into two types. If a child is killed in violation of a law, the criminal will be sentenced to between three years to life in prison. On the other hand, if a child is injured, the criminal will be sentenced to prison terms of between one and 15 years.
The controversy over this law continues to this day. People who favor the law think it will prevent accidents in Child Protection Zones. They believe the law aimed at ensuring the safety of children will contribute to the establishment of a mature transportation culture in Korea. On the other hand, people who disagree with the law argue that the punishments set out in the Minsik Law are excessive. Also, they claim that is unreasonable to make a judgment solely on the results without considering the cause of the accident and whether there was intent or not. They are calling for a revision to the law on the basis that the law should be equitable and proportionate. At the moment, the law has not received much public attention, but since it is disputable, the public needs to keep an eye on the changes by the law.
1) Jung Jaehun, “A Month Passed Minsik Law Appeared…Speed Driving at School Zone Has ‘Stopped’”, Chungcheongtoday news, May 1, 2020