By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Aug. 2, 2023 8:12PM GMT+9
South Korean prosecutors have formally pressed criminal charges against an individual accused of utilizing cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology to produce explicit content involving minors.
On Wednesday, the Busan District Prosecutors Office announced the indictment of a man in his forties for alleged violations of the act on the protection of children and youth against sex offenses, which occurred on August 1. In accordance with the country’s legal framework, the individual could potentially face a sentence of life imprisonment or a minimum of five years in prison for the production of explicit content involving minors.
As stated by the Prosecutors Office, the accused is alleged to have produced approximately 360 instances of sexual content involving virtual minors through the use of a generative AI tool. Reportedly, the suspect input phrases such as “10-year-old” and “naked” into the prompt of the program, which was installed on his laptop computer in April. The specific name of the image generator has not been revealed by South Korean law enforcement.
While the suspect’s illicit actions did not involve real children, prosecutors opted to bring charges against the individual under similar legal provisions. This decision was motivated by the fact that the generated content bore a striking resemblance to actual minors. Notably, in 2019, South Korea’s Supreme Court rendered a ruling stipulating that the dissemination of sexual animations portraying adolescents could be subject to legal penalties under the nation’s statutes safeguarding children from sexual offenses. This precedent was set due to the potential for such content to convincingly portray minors to viewers.
In addition, the suspect is facing charges of disseminating illegal adult pornography through online channels. “We have not come across evidence suggesting the suspect distributed the content he generated,” a spokesperson from the Busan District Prosecutors Office informed The Readable. The spokesperson further emphasized that this marks the first instance of South Korean prosecutors bringing charges against an individual for producing underage explicit content through the utilization of generative AI technology.
The cover image of this article was designed by Sangseon Kim.
Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.