Your Guide to This Deeply Disturbing Case

Netflix’s latest true crime documentary isn’t for the faint of heart. Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror chronicles the rise of two online sex trafficking rings that emerged in South Korea only a few years ago. The leaders of these organizations would gain access to intimate pictures and videos of their victims, leveraging them as blackmail as they asked for progressively more sexual and violent content. That was only the tip of the morally depraved iceberg that is this case.

Because the Nth Room and the Doctor’s Room targeted South Korea, there’s a chance you haven’t heard of one of the grisliest internet cases in recent history. Before you press play on Netflix, here’s what you need to know about this deeply disturbing true crime case.

What Was the Nth Room? What Was the Doctor’s Room?

The easiest way to describe the Nth Room was as a sexual slavery ring that unfolded between 2018 and 2020 in South Korea. It took place almost exclusively over Telegram, an encrypted cloud-based instant messaging service, and the name of the eight groups came from their ordinal numeral. Women and young girls were blackmailed into sending images and videos of themselves, many of them violent and degrading. Theses images would then be advertised and sold to selective groups.

As far as sexual exploitation schemes, the Nth Room was about as nefarious as it gets. The organization would typically find its victims in one of two ways. They would access the private photos and social media accounts of their perspective victims and threaten to reveal the photos to family, friends, and professional colleagues if they didn’t cooperate. The other recruiting option was even more disturbing. Others were recruited through job offers. They would get money in exchange for seemingly harmless tasks before the asks escalated. Before long, victims were asked to perform sexual acts or violence on themselves.

But the most horrific thing the Nth Room did pertained to location tracking. In some cases, these abusers were able to discover the location of their victims and would track them down. As they were sexually assaulted, the group would film the crime.

The Nth Room was the first of these Telegram-based sexual slavery rings to appear and was run by a user with the nickname “God God.” Roughly a year later in 2019, a copycat user appeared. Known as the “Doctor,” his group was named the Doctor’s Room. This user would recruit his victims through part-time job offerings on Twitter, using the personal information provided by applicants to track them down and blackmail them. It’s been estimated that roughly 260,000 people paid up to £1,200 to access this pornography. Because of this crime ring, 100 women and 26 minors were forced into sexual slavery.

How Did Authorities Learn About the Nth Room and the Doctor’s Room?

The credit for this case goes to the media and everyday citizens. Several men reported these child pornography groups to the police, but the authorities did not initially act on these reports. It’s unclear if this failure stemmed from not understanding what was happening or if they did not find these reports credible.

Both Seoul Shinmun and Sisa Journal, two South Korean newspapers, worked on stories about Telegram distributing child pornography. But the Electronic Times was the first outlet to report specifically on the Nth Room in August of 2019. The story immediately ignited a public fury, resulting in an online petition signed by more than 5 million people that demanded the police publicly release the Doctor’s identity.

“If (he) is not a devil, who else can you say is a devil? (He) should stand on a photo line, with his bare face … Human rights are a luxury for someone who thinks lightly of other people’s humiliation,” the petition read.

Who Was Arrested for the Nth Room and the Doctor’s Room?

Thankfully, the two biggest names in this sex ring case were apprehended. First, there’s God God himself. Before his arrest, God God taunted the police, maintaining that the authorities wouldn’t be able to charge him because he never used his own phone and only used gift vouchers that couldn’t be tracked. On that count, he was wrong. In April of 2021, Moon Hyung-wook was sentenced to 34 years in prison.

Then there was the Doctor. In March of 2020, the Doctor was revealed to be Cho Joo-bin. He was found guilty of blackmail and sexual harassment and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. In addition to these major names, Mr. Jeon was arrested for being the “Watchman,” the nickname given to the user who made the Nth Room popular. For his crimes, Mr. Jeon was sentenced to three years and six months. Mr. Shin, an Nth Room operator who took over the organization from God God, was given one year.

It’s impossible that these arrests account for all the criminals who were responsible for the Nth Room and the Doctor’s Room. Both groups were elaborate organizations that relied on systems of administrators, harassers, recruiters, and blackmailers. That’s without mentioning the people who subscribed to these groups that sold child pornography. But at this very least, this story ends with the two biggest names in this criminal case behind bars.

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