A court in South Korea this week sentenced a taxi driver to 16 months in prison for blackmailing gay passengers. According to a Seoul Central District ruling, Lee Ji-heon picked up drunk, homosexual passengers from the capital’s gay district Jongno 3-ga and convinced them to touch his genitals. ‘These days, I’m curious [about men]’ he would reportedly tell passengers after luring them to sit beside him in the front passenger seat.He would then tell passengers they had sexually assaulted him. The taxi driver threatened to go to police if they didn’t pay up, and is reported to have extorted a total of US$4,238. While homosexuality is legal in South Korea, conservative attitudes, especially among Christians, still force many LGBT Koreans to live in the closet. Police arrested and charged Lee Ji-heon with blackmail in November of last year. He worked together with another man who was sentenced to one year in prison. The judge ruled that ‘the victims seem to have suffered considerable mental damage, but the defendants did not take any action to recover the damage caused nor did they show a genuine attitude of remorse’.
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