In 2020, Cho Ju-bin and Moon Hyung-wook were arrested for possessing and selling sexually explicit images and videos of women they obtained through blackmail. Netflix’s ‘Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror’ focuses on the hunt for Cho, Moon, and other men involved in heinous crimes. As the documentary digs deeper into the case, the viewers learn that the videos are shared on so-called Nth rooms from which others gain access. So, if you’re looking to understand what exactly happened, here’s what we know.
What Are the Nth Rooms?
Nth rooms are essentially chatrooms on Telegram where the members post sexually explicit images and videos of women and underage girls. The term Nth room was used to encompass the eight different chat rooms formed initially. These rooms first came up sometime in 2018 or early 2019. People like Cho and Moon would approach women on Twitter before asking them to move to Telegram to talk further. While some were lured in under the pretext of providing jobs, others were asked to perform specific tasks for money.
According to one survivor, she was asked for her bank information and other personal data and then blackmailed into sending photos and graphic videos. These were then sold in these Nth rooms to people who would pay to watch them. It was reported that underage girls were asked to perform deplorable tasks like lying naked on a men’s public restroom floor or barking like dogs. In other cases, they were asked to hurt themselves physically, like carving “slave” onto their bodies with a knife, inserting sharp objects into their vagina, or even being sexually assaulted by certain members of these rooms.
One survivor said, “I developed bipolar disorder and depression. I felt like I was being stalked. I couldn’t let anyone recognize me, so I bundled up my whole face and body whenever I went outside, even in summer. It drives me nuts, thinking I could wake up to tens of thousands of messages the next morning with my video spread all over social media.” The authorities believed that over 100 women were affected, including 26 underage girls. Furthermore, around 260,000 members were visiting these rooms on Telegram.
Do Nth Rooms Still Exist?
After the case gained international attention, the South Korean government looked into revising the Sexual Violence Punishment Law. The revision required online community portals that generate significant annual revenue to check for illegal footage in chatrooms. However, the law didn’t affect Telegram because its servers are not run in Korea. For now, it seems that with the arrest of Cho, Moon, and more than 200 others, Nth rooms have ceased to exist. But as per the documentary, the videos from these rooms are now being sold via foreign messaging platforms and the dark web.
However, according to a report from April 2020, other chatrooms with different names like “slave room” and “female child room” had also popped up. Furthermore, there was controversy when certain South Korean politicians reportedly made remarks that included justifying the 260,000 visitors’ actions and blaming the incident on the girls involved. All of this brought attention to the prevailing misogyny in the world.
Read More: Where is Cho Ju-bin Now?